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Variegated Bamboo Seedlings – Summer 2017 Update

Variegated Bamboo Seedlings – Summer 2017 Update

Running, at last!
Running, at last!

Keeping my 3 variegated Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings inside during last winter, caused seedlings to decline. The older seedling that was once larger, hardly managed to survive the winter. At first, they seemed healthy, but they all got some kind of mold infection soon, which didn’t have any visible effect on their vigor, yet they started to decline as they stayed inside for too long. When I planted them outside, their leaves recovered and mold issues stopped, but they refused to start shooting.

A few words about the weather

Somewhat orange culm is fading to yellow
Somewhat orange culm is fading to yellow

This year we’ve had a cold spring with severe late freezes. Cold did not harm the variegated seedlings, but the infected moldy leaves fell down. I suspect the much brighter sun fried them completely. New leaves were healthy until later in the summer. Summer brought very warm weather without much precipitation. Temperatures rose up above 38°C a few times and stayed above 30°C almost the whole summer. I planted the seedlings into raised bed, which made them suffer drought a bit more, despite frequent watering.

Heat stress resilience

Seedling after hot dry summer
Seedling after hot dry summer

During first half of the summer, all the seedlings managed to cope direct sun exposure extremely well. I expected the two highly variegated seedlings to have issues with bright light conditions, because I’ve seen last year how their leaves tend to bleach due to sun exposure. Until mid June, there was no damage on any of their leaves. They looked fascinating, despite the fact that they never started shooting and all the leaves and branches were the result of growth that was initiated inside. As summer progressed and sun reached the highest point in the sky, leaves of both bright variegated bamboo seedlings started getting bleached. The strength of the sun was just too much for them to handle. At the same time, we’ve had temperatures above 35°C, which only added some additional stress to the plants. The leaves of all the seedlings curled during the heat and watering didn’t help much. They were not able to supply enough water to replenish the water lost due to transpiration. Over all, heat and sun related resilience was good. I am impressed.

Drought stress

In mid summer when the heat was hardly bearable, drought kicked in. Constant wind and very high temperatures started to show first signs of damage on the leaves. Daily watering was not enough to keep the soil wet, but even when the soil dried out, bamboo seedlings got enough water from deeper roots. When the seedlings mature, I expect them to fare drought even more. In the end of the summer, leaf tips stopped drying. At the same time I noticed they were not sitting idle during the summer. They were producing, a lot!

The dark green variegated seedling

The dark green seedling lost it's variegation and stopped growing completely
The dark green seedling lost it’s variegation and stopped growing completely

The darker green variegated seedling that was the largest and nicely variegated while I kept it inside, had lost the variegation almost completely. It looks like bright light position makes it greener and shady indoors conditions under grow light caused it to become variegated. I may try moving it into a shaded position or I’ll just divide it and plant it into different locations. It is the only seedling that did not start shooting until late August. There’s one more thing I need to mention about this Phyllostachys arcana seedling – it did not grow any taller. Now it looks like some kind of ground cover bamboo with many tiny culms that only reach 20 cm or so. It all happened when I watered it with an Aspirin solution as I experimented with salicylic acid to combat mold infection. Possible cause could also be the lack of dormancy. I’m quite certain it will start growing next year.

Running!

Both bright variegated seedlings like to grow dolphins
Both bright variegated seedlings like to grow dolphins

As the summer fell into second half in early August, I have noticed that two highly variegated seedlings started running. Runners started crawling in all directions, often getting to the surface and plunging back into soil again. The seedlings are still small and the rhizomes are also tiny, but the fact that they started spreading with such vigor is very promising. It will be interesting to see them start shooting the next spring when they hopefully start upsizing exponentially.

Winter is coming… eventually

When the warm part of the year ends, I plan to keep them outside in my raised beds. I will cover them with PVC tunnel and hopefully they will like it as much as a couple of tiny all-green seedlings last year did. They are now spreading vigorously, producing quite thick runners. I’ll somehow get rid of those in the spring, to make room for the variegated seedlings. I expect them all to recover even further after they get through their first dormancy.

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Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling update (10 months)

Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling update (10 months)

Fully leafed out seedling
Fully leafed out seedling

With the summer nearly over, I decided to write a follow up about the largest Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling. This summer was quite dry and sunny, yet without any scorching hot temperatures. Most of my potted bamboos were not too happy about the drought and strong sun, and the leaves started to look a bit worn out. Shaded bamboos and bamboos planted in the soil were not as affected.

 

The pot
The pot

Despite the fact that the soil in the pot regularly dried out, the seedling remained happy and only wilted leaves when it dried out too much. I placed it into a white bucket to protect it from soil overheating. Since the last update, when the seedling got transplanted into larger pot, things didn’t change much. Whip shots leafed out and another set of whips emerged in early summer, with A LOT of rhizome activity all over the pot. Until recently there was not much to see, except for the dense mesh of rhizomes on the soil surface. Well, it’s not just the surface! It’s clear now, that small bamboo never ceased to push out rhizomes and it managed to get somewhat root bound again. There are rhizomes circling on the bottom of the pot and there’s even the first escapee. The vigor of the seedling is just insane. It got overwatered in the spring and under-watered in the summer, full sun caused it to wilt a lot and to be fair it looks quite pale at the moment. It doesn’t seem to care about its above ground appearance, though, it’s working hard as ever underground. I need to find it a new home. As soon as possible.

Rhizomes started escaping the pot
Rhizomes started escaping the pot
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Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea
Phyllostachys aurea
Basic information:
Height: 4 to 8 m
Culm diameter: 3 cm
Hardiness: -18 °C
Characteristics: cold hardy, vigorous, running bamboo,
they frequently have compressed internodes at the base

Phyllostachys aurea is also called golden bamboo due to it’s golden yellow culm or fishpole bamboo, because of its use as a,… you guessed right, fishing pole. It’s medium tall running bamboo that grows in temperate climate. It can be slightly less hardy than the hardiest Phyllostachys bamboos like Phyllostachys nuda, Phyllostachys aureosulcata (whole family of bamboos :)) or Phyllostachys bissetii, but it can bounce back even when it gets completely scorched during the winter. It can be extremely aggressive in warmer climates and can spread vigorously. Like with all running bamboos, you have to be careful to confine it (and)or regularly check and remove possible escaping runners. It has strong culms that can be used in various DIY projects.

Compressed internodes are typical for Phyllostachys aurea
Compressed internodes are typical for Phyllostachys aurea
Specific characteristic of Phyllostachys aurea are distorted internodes at the base of the culm which start appearing after bamboo reaches maturity with decent cane diameter.

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