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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 3:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:58 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA
Back in August 2015 I got a bunch of good advice regarding a tiny 4" pot (Overwintering tiny bamboo plant?) Phyllostachys atrovaginata "incense" bamboo.

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There was near 100% topkill (just a few sickly brown-green desiccated leaves yet) after 2015-2016 winter. It was actually doing well over most of the winter; I think my error was failing to water at all; there was a lot of melt during most of the winter, but towards the end of winter if memory serves there was a long period with cold temps but no snow or snow followed by weeks of sub-freezing temps. But it sprung back and got out thin shoots as long as 2'6", and even sent out a bunch of 1' whip shoots 2' away from the main plant off an above-ground "dolphin" later in the season. That's the growth seen here:

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2016-2017 winter I watered opportunistically when it was forecast to be over 40 degrees F for a few days. It did much better; although all the leaves have brown bits, good portions of them are still healthy. Around 3 weeks ago I added a hill of sieved composted cow manure over the main plant; I've also been giving it Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro 9-3-6 and Real Growers Recharge (compost tea like stuff) for maybe 2-3 months. It is just starting to shoot now, around May 1st. The shoots are 5/16" so based on reading around I'm expecting 4-7 feet. It is quite an impressive upsize from the existing culms which are just tiny (there wasn't a really noticeable difference in girth between years 1 and 2, just in height.)

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Unfortunately some of them are positioned to grow up into a tree, so I'm experimenting with training those away by putting them in plastic tubes. I found only one other person doing this, in a much more spectacular fashion - Shaping Bamboo as it Grows. He uses ropes and rubber car tires on 3+" diameter bamboo. I'm trying zip ties and florescent tube bulb safety covers and wire organizer conduit. Anyone else train their bamboo?

[Note: Image links now seem to not work any more; see (awesome) images that used to be here in below Jan 15, 2018 post -DC]


Last edited by danjcla on Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 7:57 pm 
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Location: St. Louis area Location Details
Challenging environment! One thing you may find is that the culms -- being quite thin still -- will get weighed down by the foliage and droop quite a bit. Don't expect them to be upright. I'm not sure that the tubes will end up doing much, but I'm looking forward to seeing your results!

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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:58 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA
Yeah I'm assuming I'll likely need to permanently stake at least some of the culms to stop them from obstructing traffic. Anyone have suggestions as to the best way to do this? I'm thinking jute twine with some slack to allow a few inches of movement.

I also assume I'll be trimming back some of the branches.

I will certainly post more photos as developments occur! :o


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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 2:38 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, MA
Good replies on staking in another thread: Re: If you stake 'em you might break 'em.

The first shoot has emerged from its long black-tubed journey after around 24 days out of the ground / 19 days after putting up the tubes!
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Incense Bamboo 4 Weeks - First shoot reaches top of a black tube.jpg
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The clear-tube shoots are also starting to leaf out inside the tubes.
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Incense Bamboo 4 Weeks - Leaf out in clear tubes.jpg
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I also added another clear tube to direct another shoot away from bending into the street, after I had to prune back a shoot that started dramatically arching towards the street after growing straight up for 23 days, and another that just flopped over completely at the midpoint. I put up some garden tape to try to prevent SDS (Sudden Destraightening Syndrome) in some culms.

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Incense Bamboo 4 Weeks - Overview.jpg
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Based on research the limp / floppy around half way (2') up the 4' shoots / culms is likely caused by too much watering or just the cramped space. That sound right to people? I can't do anything about the space, but I'm going to stop watering unless I get less than 1.5" of rainfall within a 2 week time window (or if the leaves start curling).

To try to avoid cutting and an overabundance of ugly green plastic tape I pulled out the tops of several shoots - see Limp floppy black bamboo canes (bamboocraft.net).

"Nowadays, where I've learnt from experience where overhanging culms may become problematic, I also employ preventative measures early on in a new shoot's life. When the shoot has risen to about 2/3rds of it's height I snip or pull the top 1/3 off. They seem to grow out more naturally when done early this way. Also if I want to make them even more 'tight and bushy', when the side branches of the new shoot begins to unfurl, I pull off the growing tips like this:"
ImageImage

Someone posted some info on another interesting kind of training in a reply to a post I made similar to this one up at GardenWeb: Re: Training Bamboo (gardenweb.com).
Image
Image

Also the other example of (far less tended) street-side bamboo I randomly found several blocks away and posted about in 7-9-5 & 4-6-6 fertilizers: Not as good as high-N, or poison? seems to be doing well, which gives me hope for my adolescent atro :-)
Image


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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 3:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:58 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA
I took off one of the clear containers completely yesterday, and also the top halves of all 3 of the black tubes.

My understanding is that bamboo needs sunlight exposure to harden. Is that correct? The shoots/leaves that were in the black tubes have a sort of albino appearance at the moment.

I'm planning on leaving the other two clear tubes and the 3 black tube bottoms on for another ~30 days, until the growth is 100% complete. Idea being to limit the spread of branches/leaves where I'd rather have sun / sightlines go to other plants / culms.

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Next year I'm going to try being much more aggressive with the spirals; the idea was that they would anchor themselves around the metal pole like morning glories, but with the number of turns I did this year it is not clear to me they'll stay around the metal pole after being subjected to wind, snow, etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:09 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, MA
Noticed my original post now has some broken image links; so uploading the images here and then fixing links. I hate broken links, plus they are cool pics of the most-trained bamboo I've ever seen...

Oh and an update on my training: Results no where near as dramatic, but I did manage to get some culms to go pretty much where I wanted them, and also I think they are taking up way more area than if I had just let let them grow; also I left some in the tubes partially for the winter, thinking it would be good for them to stay exposed to sunlight, but actually the culms that have done the best so far are the ones that have been most under snow, esp. the one that is apart from all the others and thus could bend all the way down to the ground; the top of the still-in-tubes culms got totally desiccated by the strong cold (Boston was ~ -10F at night for periods of several days) winds. It'll be interesting to see if there are leaves in the tubes, and if so how they did over the winter, come spring.

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Last edited by danjcla on Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:48 pm 
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... and as long as this post is going to be pushed to the top anyway, I might as well post some pics of the current sadness... this is by far the coldest / earliest winter in Boston of this atro's life... I'm really glad it didn't happen when it was a baby.

Based on what I've read elsewhere - "site:itsnotworkitsgardening.com atrovaginata winter" was really useful - it'll almost certainly have new shoots, and likely at least some of the current culms will re-leaf, so I'm not planning on doing any pruning until after any new shoots are full-grown, if even then...

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:44 pm 
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As fried as those leaves are, that doesn't necessarily mean the culms are goners. Be patient and start checking leaf buds in a month or two. If you're like me you start checking them too early, and too often -- at least until you see signs of life. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:24 am 
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Thanks for the encouragement and advice :-)

In the Spring I'm going to try using the 8' variety of the clear plastic tubes that I have pictured in above posts for a different purpose - to see if they can keep maybe half of the new culms' leaves alive over next winter, to increase upsize girth for Spring after next. I'll put foam on the ends of the tubes or something to limit wind velocity inside the tubes - should be like mini-greenhouses which I assume the 'boo will enjoy.

I don't think I have pics, but the atro happily branched and leafed out inside the tubes; the effect was kinda like having a transparent tube full of leaves. Once I took it off, the fully-grown branches spread out, although I'd be fine if the longer-encased ones didn't, it'd be a cool effect.

The only reason I took them off is because I hadn't considered the ongoing utility of testing them for winter protection, as I was silly and thought the "atro good down to -15F" stat meant that a 3-year established incense bamboo would not suffer any damage until it got that cold, but I now believe as others have said at -5F + wind your leaves are often toast on any bamboo - esp. as in this case there is not enough density for the bamboo to protect an "inner sanctum" of itself.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:08 pm 
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Some of the branches might have some life in them, but I would certainly remove them in early spring, just before the first shoots start to emerge. It will look better and it will not try to restart the near dead culms and re-leaf them. I did not have the best results when I kept the damaged culms, usually they take quite some time and effort into re-leafing and even then, they look far worse than new growth. I'd leave them on non-established plants and remove them on anything that still has some greenery. Your bamboo does have some undamaged growth laying lower down near the ground. I would keep that and protect it by tarping it down to the ground when another blast arrives. Hopefully the snow will do it for you.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:22 pm 
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So today the temp got up to a balmy 34F before going down to 31F with very light snow currently (6pm).

Not only do most of the leaves on the incense bamboo - the exact same ones that look totally fried in the above pics, taken around 48 hours ago - now look perfectly fine, but I spotted several maybe quarter-done new growth leaves.

Wow.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:39 pm 
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As has been said before, don't be fooled if the fried leaves "look fine" now when they get some moisture on them -- they're still fried.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:39 pm 
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Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
When your bamboo gets fried, and then gets hit by rain or fog, leaves will suck in the moisture and completely re-hydrate. They will look as if they are still alive. Do not be fooled, they are toasted and will certainly start yellowing (or something turn white) in a very near future. I've had the same dilemma when I first got massive cold damage some years ago. I hoped hard for at least some life - there wasn't any. That is why I take out lopers and cut the damaged growth, before the spring shooting. It didn't seem to do anything to improve bamboo's vigor the following year, perhaps it was even counterproductive - it used quite some resources to re-leaf.

Hope as much leaves as possible survives the cold...

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