Time for an update! It's been 3 years since the last one. Luckily we have had mild winters every year since then with temps dipping below 30F probably less than 6-7 times total and I think the coldest it ever got was 28F.
I will start with the bamboo that aren't doing well or have died.
This one lived in a pot for a few years but eventually died altogether. Probably my fault somewhat due to neglect, but in a pot is no way for this species to live.
Dendrocalamus Parker Giant:
Flowered and died like everyone else's.
After showing some promise and gaining size in it's pot, it died suddenly. Could have been partly my fault, hard to tell. Sad this one didn't pan out because it was really beautiful.
Since I've had it in the ground over two years it's only sent up one new shoot and another aborted one. Doesn't even grow many leaves each year. Might be the elevation or lack of sun. If it doesn't do anything this season I will probably retire it.
Similar results to tibeticus. Hasn't grown much at all.
Now for the plants that are doing pretty good:
This is the smallest Dendrocalamus I have, and maybe the smallest of the entire genus. The first couple of years it didn't do much growing and some of the canes aborted, but the last season it bounced back pretty good. It has a few good canes 6 to 8 feet tall. The leaves are it's best feature, small and delicate.
No complaints, it's done well enough. Similar results to the farinosus but slightly taller growth. Not as many total canes though. Still looks great with the powdery coat and stripes.
Sort of a mixed bag. Has grown only two canes so far but they are both about 12 feet tall with good leaf growth. Oddly, the branches and leaves seem to get denser the higher up the cane you go. So it makes for a rather striking form.
And finally the ones that have impressed me most.
Bambusa emeiensis 'Viridiflavus':
This one has always shown signs of liking the climate here and it continues to do well. Consistently sends up 2 or 3 canes each year with increasing size and good leaf growth. It hasn't displayed much of it's signature striping pattern though. The tops of the canes get very skinny and sort of nod over which gives it a distinctive look.
Seems to like it here. Hasn't grown a lot of culms, but the ones it does send up are large (10-15 feet) and healthy, with lower internodes developing a soft felt texture. They do tend to lean out though. It has that typical Dendrocalamus large and droopy leaf look, which is the only one of mine that is displaying that with any size. So if you like the look of a tropical clumper in zone 9b, this is the only one that has survived and gotten big enough to really give you that classic look.
This one has been a pleasant surprise and has some amazing characteristics. I've been thoroughly impressed by it and out of all my bamboo this one is has acted the most like a truly exotic tropical. First, like most of them, it has not grown a lot of canes, but the ones it does put up have been very successful. In fact, this thing has only grown one cane per year, but wow, talk about upsizing. The first cane was 1" and 8 feet tall, then next year 1.5" and 12 feet tall and then next year 2.25" and 15 feet tall. finally this year its already launched another 1.5" cane about 8 feet and still growing. And that's it! I suppose it's not very good growth for a tropical bamboo but that was to be expected. Anyway, the really amazing thing about this one is the branch growth. They are super long! The longest branch measures 8' long on a 12' tall cane. The main branches grow in a regular staggered ladder shape that looks like you could climb right up it. And they come out of the can super thick, like over half the diameter of the cane itself. Also, if a branch breaks while growing, it develops a new shoot from the break and continues to grow, haha, I've never seen that before. Anyway this is a fascinating species to watch, one of my favorites.
In summary, I figured growing these tropical clumpers here in my subtropical climate was always going to yield sub par results and that's okay. All of them are completely dwarfed by my bambusas in size and completely outshined in cane production. Still, they are a viable alternative and have added so much more interest to my jungle. If you attempt to plant any of these in zone 9a or 9b, be prepared to have very slow growing and lose some. But also be prepared to be surprised by their antics. Besides if these things could grow to their full size here they would probably take up too much space and become a nuisance, so it's kind of cool to have mini examples of them.