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Phyllostachys arcana seedlings – shooting season 2019

Phyllostachys arcana seedlings – shooting season 2019

Early starters

First shoot on variegated seedling
First shoots started to emerge

Like each year since I’m growing the seedlings in their outdoor location, they started shooting before other bamboos. Fargesia Rufa started a week later and Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling woke up 2 weeks after the seedlings.
Winter was mild and bamboos managed to get through it without much damage. Sun during the summer is much bigger threat to the variegated seedlings than winter weather. This year, we’ve experienced dry winter with little precipitation which made most of the bamboos I grow thirsty. Arcana seedlings were hit the most, since they are still growing in their raised beds with good drainage. Despite slight desiccation, seedlings kept the leaves without much visible damage. In early March first shoots started appearing on all but one seedling. By mid March the shoots started showing around all the seedlings. March 13th was their earliest shooting date so far.

Non-variegated seedling started shooting as well.

Nice upsize

Variegated seedlings showed stem variegation last year and I really hoped for a decent upsize, to make the variegation easier to notice. It seemed at first, that culm diameter won’t increase much, except on one seedling that started the first. They are growing many shoots that are around last year’s size and larger. Some should be almost twice the size. I’m sure they will look much better now. Variegated foliage is getting dense and it will finally shade out itself a bit. It needs protection from hot early summer sun, so I’ll try to help it with some additional shading as well.

First variegated seedling upsized quite a bit
First variegated seedling upsized quite a bit

Colorful shoots

Second seedlings shoot
Fast growing bamboo shoot

The shoots are still juvenile and need quite some time to start showing more mature characteristics. They all look arcana-ish, though. They also vary in colour a bit. The yellow culmed seedling has more reddish shoots, compared to all the darker ones. The two other variegated seedlings have darker shoots, but not nearly as dark as the shoots of green non-variegated plant which gets almost black. As the plants grow, the shoots started to turn a bit darker. Last year, the yellow culmed seedling pushed out only yellow shoots with a hint of red, now there’s some green on them as well.

Second seedling's shoots along the runner rhizome
Second seedling’s shoots. Nice upsize in both size and number of shoots.

The waiting game

Third seedling’s shoots

Variegated seedlings are slower to develop and it takes longer for them to mature. Last season, I could only check one of the seedlings for culm variegation, other two were too small to make a valid observation of green striping. This year, shoots on all the seedlings are thick enough and it will be interesting to finally see how they look like. It might be interesting to see if I can save the early set of yellow leaves. Last year sun scorched them before I could make a decent photo, but the bamboos looked fabulous. Sadly not for long.

First seedling upsized. Hopefully culm variegation will get more visible this year
Non-variegated seedling has dark shoots
nice upsize of variegated seedling
Nice upsize of second variegated seedling
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Early shooting of Phyllostachys arcana seedlings

Early shooting of Phyllostachys arcana seedlings

Cold winter is ending

Does the culm finally seem orange? There are also other tiny culms of various ages. The orange one is now 2 years old
Does the culm finally seem orange? There are also other tiny culms of various ages. The orange one is now 2 years old

Winter is not quite over, with morning low temperatures down at -5°C and I saw the first shoots on all of my Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings. I planted them into a raised bed and covered with a transparent PVC cover so I could protect it from freezing temperatures during the winter. When the temperature dropped too much, I piled up snow on top to insulate the bed as much as possible. It now seems it worked perfectly. During the winter, the soil got frozen on several occasions, but it didn’t seem to bother the seedlings much. They were showing first signs of dehydration, yet none of them shows any signs of frost related damage. In fact, they look way better than they did when I was overwintering them inside. They struggled each and every winter, except their first year as tiny seedlings.

First shoots in mid March

A couple of small shoots around the clump of older growth
A couple of small shoots around the clump of older growth

None of the bamboos started shooting this year yet, not even the fastest shooter I have, Fargesia Rufa. I was pleasantly surprised to see the first shoots on arcana seedlings, even though they were protected. The shoots are small and there’s no way to tell what kind of upsize is to be expected, but they are here! It could be, that they started during the fall and had now decided to continue with their growth. I doubt it, because all the autumn shoots were whip shoots and these are regular spring shoots (still juvenile). I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Pink shoot right after it emerged. Quite large compared to other shoots and last year's growth.
Pink shoot right after it emerged. Quite large compared to other shoots and last year’s growth.

Hoping to see an upsize

Small shoot a bit away from the seedling. It had sent quite a few runners last year.
Small shoot a bit away from the seedling. It had sent quite a few runners last year.

So far, none of the Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings had shown their parent’s striped culms. I have two vigorous unvariegated seedlings that are going to become at least pencil size thick this year. I’m sure if there is any culm variegation, they should start showing it by now. There are also 3 variegated seedlings that will be interesting to see developing. They are showing quite a lot of differences, even at their current juvenile phase. I’m very interested to see their culms color. It now seems that one of them is going to have yellow-ish culms with an orange tan. I have yet to see if the orange colour persists with age, or is it just a sunburn pigmentation that will eventually fade out.

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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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