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Unknown bamboo seeds: part 2

Unknown bamboo seeds: part 2

Growing bamboo seedlings again

I already started a post about growing bamboo seeds again this winter. Among many seeds I ordered online from a Chinese vendor on Aliexpress, I decided to try their bamboo seeds as well. Later I found that most of the received seeds were fake. Instead of stuff I ordered, I received all kind of weeds – perhaps I’ll write about growing those one day as well.

Spectabilis seedling on the left, Moso on the right

Bamboo seeds were true Phyllostachys seeds, the puzzle remains, though, their true ID. I ordered Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ and Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ seeds. First one is readily available all the time, so it’s most likely correct, but the second one doesn’t flower at the moment which means it’s most likely fake. I assume that both seed packs had Moso seeds in them.

LED grow lights

Like all my latest seedlings, I’ve used full spectrum LED grow lights which proved to work very well, especially with Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings. In the beginning, seedlings were slow to start and I expected that to happen with Moso seedlings. None of Moso seedlings I’ve tried growing could compete with other bamboo seedlings, they seem to be delicate and resent everything.

Darker green leaves of Moso seedlings. Newest leaves show nutrient deficiency

Later I noticed that grow lights don’t work as efficient as my previous LED chips. Other plants were also less vigorous, Drosera carnivores didn’t color-up as much as they could. Bamboo seedlings have a bit longer internodes than I remember which could be result of lower light intensity.

Yellow-ish colored seedlings

Some of the seedlings came out with some pigmentation issues. Affected seedlings were not completely albinic, yet, they were yellow or very pale green. Their leaves were delicate and didn’t stay alive long, they just shriveled and dried out. Lack of proper pigmentation resulted in extremely slow growth and much slower shooting cycle. To delay leaf loss of yellow leaved seedlings, I placed the seedlings further away from the light source and shaded them behind other plants.

The strange thing is, the seeds from both packs had different numbers of yellow seedlings. Moso pack hardly had any, while most of the Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ wannabe seeds were sickly and yellow. Perhaps the seeds are not the same after all!

Small and pale seedlings. Larger darker green seedlings look crappy due to low light levels

Too early to ID

Seedlings are much larger now and they do well, especially considering they were neglected so far. Shoots of seedlings from both seed packs look like the Moso seedlings I’ve grown in the past. So far, they were not properly fed to show the nicely colored purple oral setae, I’ll see if they do color-up when I plant them separately. With a lot of imagination, tiny culms do seed to be a bit fuzzy, but it’s way too early to tell.

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Moso Shooting 2017

Moso Shooting 2017

Winter

Winter damage from the northern side
Winter damage from the northern side

After unusually dry winter with almost no snow cover and two months of uninterrupted below freezing temperatures, spring came early. Due to lack of snow cover, soil got frozen down to 50 cm deep. That made me think that Bamboo shooting season will be postponed for quite some time. Fargesia Rufa started late and I believed my Phyllostachys bamboos will also need a bit longer to finally wake up. Moso proved me wrong.

Top layer of leaves got burnt, leaves below remained protected
Top layer of leaves got burnt, leaves below remained protected

Winter did some damage to the Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling this year. Not as much as I would have expected, though. Despite being frozen solid, most of the canes survived with moderate leaf loss. North facing side survived almost completely undamaged while southern, more exposed side took quite some damage. Older, smaller culms got defoliated completely this year, which was a surprise to me, because I expected the older and completely hardened culms will have much better chances, compared to young and tall culms. Youngest culms from previous spring were not damaged until the worst cold hit us. Low temperatures around -15°C, sunny and windy weather with soil being completely frozen, managed to burn some of the leaves. I can only guess how they would look like if the soil would remain thawed.

First shoots came early

First Moso shoot of the year
First Moso shoot of the year

To my surprise, I have found first Moso shoots on March 25th. That is the earliest Moso shooting date (well actually it’s a tie with season 2014) so far. Until this season, the first to poke out of the soil were always very small shoots that grew on the edges of the grove where I severed the rhizomes. Not this year. The first shoot I saw is already larger than shoots from last year. I accidentally exposed it when I decided to water the bamboo. When I looked a bit closer, I noticed more a bit smaller shoots on the western side of bamboo clump.

Three weeks of warm and sunny weather warmed up the soil and grass started actively growing. It didn’t take long for the first fruit trees to wake up as well. On the very same day when I noticed Moso shoots, apricots opened their flowers. Everything  re-started in fast forward mode this year.

I have not noticed the second shoot until I checked the snapped photo.
I have not noticed the second shoot until I checked the snapped photo.

One of largest shoots so far trying to reach for some light
One of largest shoots so far trying to reach for some light

Upsize

At first it didn’t look like there will be any upsize. Shoots were not as large and seemed more juvenile compared to the larger shoots last season. Eventually, they started getting thicker and started showing Moso specific features. It seems that last year, shoots started from deeper down in the soil, because I have added some soil and mulch around the bamboo during the previous year.
As the shoots started growing, it became evident, that there was some upsize, compared to last season. Like last year, there were many small(er) shoots that arrived earlier. I have left all the shoots intact, like in previous years. Smaller shoots can always be pruned off later on during the season, if the grove becomes congested.

Shoots have increased quite a bit this year
Shoots have increased quite a bit this year

To compare the size of the shoots, I use 1 Euro coin
To compare the size of the shoots, I use 1 Euro coin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Spring freeze

The upsize in  some parts of the clump was impressive
The upsize in some parts of the clump was impressive

In late April, temperature plunged down to -5°C a couple of nights. Late freeze did a lot of damage to most of the fruit trees and completely defoliated walnut trees. We’ve had late freeze like this for two year in a row now – this year it got even worse than last year. The freeze, however, did no damage to the bamboo shoots. They were quite tall already at the time and for a while, I got really worried.
After the cold weather, we’ve had some warm rainy days again. Abundance of rain and mild weather (temperatures around 10°C) made the shoots grow much faster again. At that point it became evident that the number of shoots increased this year. Large shoots emerged throughout the whole grove, not just on the eastern side like in previous season. Majority of the large shoots, though, is still facing East.

Large shoot with young anchor roots
Large shoot with young anchor roots

I will update this post regularly until the shoots completely leaf out.

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Late snow in the end of April

Late snow in the end of April

Large Moso shoots when it started to snow.
Large Moso shoots when it started to snow.

After several weeks of extremely nice and warm weather, polar blast brought much lower temperatures and a ‘shipment’ of heavy wet snow. Most of bamboos already started shooting some time ago, trees are all leafed-out and most of the fruits have already flowered. The day started warm with strong southern wind, but the wind direction changed instantly, heavy low altitude black clouds appeared temperature dropped from around 15°C to just a bit above freezing. When it darkened in the middle of the day, thunderstorm brought sleet and first half melted snow which instantly started to pile up on plants, even if the soil remained warm enough to melt it.
It snowed for the rest of the day and by early evening, I could hear distant breaking of tree branches. Luckily it only snowed for a couple more hours and stopped completely by the end of the day. Total amount of snow was around 15cm. Considering the fact that a lot of it melted, because of nicely warmed ground, there might have been more on the completely flattened bamboo.

Only an inch of wet snow flattened Spectabilis to the ground.
Only an inch of wet snow flattened Spectabilis to the ground.

Like I already mentioned, most of my bamboos already started shooting, especially early shooters like Fargesia sp. ‘Rufa’ and Phyllostachys edulis ‘Moso’. These two started shooting early this year and many smaller shoots already started poking over the canopy of last year’s culms. All those shoots were not nearly hardened enough to handle the weight of heavy snow alone, not to mention the weight of whole bamboo flattened to the ground. Large Moso shoots have been growing on the northern side of the older clumps and that’s what saved them from breakage – bamboo grew more leaves towards south and the culms always fall down into south-eastern direction.

Here's how the Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' culms look like in the snow.
Here’s how the Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ culms look like in the snow.
Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ was lucky to have started growing the shoots slowly. The largest shoots were pushed towards the ground by the weight of the culms, but so far, there’s no visible damage, even if they point into different direction. Other bamboos were only slightly damaged, because new branches already started to grow, shoots were either too small or not existent.

When the snow finally melted, most of the shoots that were bent to the ground recovered. Some of them snapped and died off, but most of them recovered with culm deformation which resembles genuflection, often seen on P. aureosulcata.

Some of the shoots have snapped under the weight of snow
Some of the shoots have snapped under the weight of snow
None of the larger shoots got damaged and they took off instantly after the snow was gone.

Fruit trees and walnuts were also lucky enough to survive without a lot of breakage. Could be much worse if there was just a little bit more snow.

 
 
 
 
 

Shoots that did not snap are seriously bent
Shoots that did not snap are seriously bent

Damage was not as severe as it seemed
Damage was not as severe as it seemed

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Moso shooting 2016

Moso shooting 2016

I tried planting bamboo seeds in 2011 and failed miserably with old Phyllostachys pubescens Moso seeds. I’ve tried 100 seeds and couldn’t get one single seedling to sprout. Second batch of seeds was supposed to be fresh and much more viable. I was able to get several seedlings to grow slowly from tiny little plant to not so tiny bamboo seedlings. I’ve learned Moso bamboo is hard to keep happy. I’ve been slowly learning about bamboos on my onwn mistakes and growing them in containers was a nightmare. In the end I’ve ended up with 2 living seedling, one is declining and is now hardly any larger than one year old seedling, but the second one managed to survive all the torture and eventually escaped the pot in its second year. It started growing in tight space where I left it, knowing that some day, it might become too large and I’ll have to remove it. That day seems to be getting close.

Smaller shoots appeared all around last year's culms.
Smaller shoots appeared all around last year’s culms.

A year later I’ve bought Phyllostachys aureosulcata rhizome division, and learned how much faster they grow, compared to tiny little seedlings. Well, all that was true until this year (Well, Spectabilis should also upsize considerably this year – can’t wait)! The tiny little Moso seedling finally took off after completely covering the area with thick rhizomes.
Last year I’ve been a bit disappointed in the spring, when it only managed to put out around 10 shoots which did upsize, but not as nearly as much as I had expected. Largest rhizomes were around the diameter of the largest shoots, but… rhizomes were everywhere and upsized shoots only grew in a tight clump on south-eastern position of the bamboo.

A bit larger shoots are not as packed together as the smaller ones
A bit larger shoots are not as packed together as the smaller ones

The last summer and autumn, seedling further increased rhizome growth! Some of the rhizomes that were ‘dolphining’ around the clump were a bit over 1cm diameter, which is larger than last year’s shoots. I expected upsize. And I expected more shoots than last season.
I haven’t been fertilizing the beast much, except for the bucket of wood ash or two over the winter and a thick layer of mulch in the fall, which I removed when warm weather came with first signs of spring. I noticed first shoots quite early, compared to previous years, so I wasn’t really aware, what to expect regarding the shoot size. After the first real rain, the shoots instantly took off.

Haven't even noticed the largest shoot until now!
Haven’t even noticed the largest shoot until now!

Some of the shoots have white hair.
Some of the shoots have white hair.

The winter this year was quite warm, and the bamboo didn’t suffer almost complete defoliation like it did a year before. Like usually, first shoots that appeared were the smaller shoots of the shooting season. They appeared a week or to before the large shoots started to appear. And when they finally did, I knew why I like this time of the year so much. 🙂

The upsize of new shoots is  extreme
The upsize of new shoots is extreme

New shoots growing out behind last year's culms.
New shoots growing out behind last year’s culms.

Is the coin getting smaller, or are these shoots getting thicker?
Is the coin getting smaller, or are these shoots getting thicker?

It's quite easy to determine the rhizome direction
It’s quite easy to determine the rhizome direction

Some of the shoots show white variegation
Some of the shoots show white variegation
Some shoots seem to be quite compact at the bottom
Some shoots seem to be quite compact at the bottom

Incredible variegation looks even better on larger shoots
Incredible variegation looks even better on larger shoots
The same kind of variegation in low-light overcast conditions
The same kind of variegation in low-light overcast conditions

Like last year, variegation returned
Like last year, variegation returned

Like in previous years, white variegation of the shoots returned and with this seedling’s first more mature shoots, variegation started to show completely different effect. On juvenile shoots, variegation was nothing more than white striped leaves, sometimes even with a hint of purple. Variegation seemed fabulous, but then I’ve seen how mature shoots look like! On mature shoots, there is much more purple and red pigment, which brings out beautiful bright orange coloration. I’ve taken two shots, one in bright sunny condition and one in low light overcast weather – shoots look great in both cases, but the light emphasizes the bright color even more. Like previously, the variegation builds up with each additional node. At the beginning they start without variegation and the shoots look like regular Moso shoots.

Shoots are getting thicker
Shoots are getting thicker

This year, the diameter of the shoots increased considerably. There are still a lot of juvenile shoots, especially after some late snow related damage, but the majority of the shoots only started to show mature form. It will be interesting to see how the shoots look like in a couple of years, when they receive even more features of an adult plant. The pattern of spots and speckles on the culm sheath also became evident this year. Shooting season is not even over yet and I can’t wait to see the next one. 🙂

Shoot variegation on juvenile shoots
Shoot variegation on juvenile shoots

First branches
First branches

First branches also show variegation
First branches also show variegation

Juvenile shoot vairegation
Juvenile shoot variegation

Variegation
Variegation

Variegated juvenile shoot
Variegated juvenile shoot

Top of the shoot
Top of the shoot

Dark brown spots
Dark brown spots

Another shot of highly variegated moso
Another shot of highly variegated moso

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