Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bamboo surprise

In the spring of 2010, another bamboo aficionado sent me a length of rhizome (no culms) from Phyllostachys viridis, the all-green version of the popular Robert Young bamboo. The rhizome was a good foot long and looked fresh and viable, but I wasn’t sure whether it would survive. I buried it in a 22-inch galvanized steel tub and half forgot about it. Much to my surprise, new shoots came up within a month and turned into regular culms with an abundance of leaves, including a 7 ft. whip shoot that more or less grows horizontally (on the left in the first photo below).

Since Phyllostachys viridis is hardy to -5°F, it comes as no surprise that it wasn’t fazed by our mild winter. What did surprise me is how drought-tolerant this running bamboo is. While I did water it when I thought of it, that certainly didn’t happen with any kind of regularity. Considering that the soil depth in the tub is around 9 inches, I’m amazed that the plant remained lush and green throughout the summer, fall and winter. You can’t ask much more of a bamboo.

Hold on—yes, you can. You also want big culms. And it looks like this champ that came from such humble beginnings is going to deliver in that respect as well.

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Phyllostachys viridis in 22-inch galvanized steel tub

Take a look at what’s coming out of the ground!

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Massive shoots

It’s hard to get a sense of scale from these photos, but the biggest two shoots are very close to an inch in diameter.

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This shoot is 1” in diameter at the base
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Another 1” shoot

For comparison, that is double the diameter of the culms produced this spring by our black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).

I have no idea how tall these culms will get considering that the plant’s rhizome and root system is severely constrained by the tub, but I could be in for yet another surprise.

Since this bamboo has the potential to turn into a true giant (50 ft. with 3” culms), I’m thinking it will soon have to go to my in-laws where it will have room to run.

3 comments:

  1. How exciting! I'm still waiting for my potted viridis to shoot, and am now more eager than ever to see what it does. It's in a pot about the same size as your tub, but already has a 10' culm that it produced last year.

    I think you might find it a bit less drought-resistant this year, as it will have a lot more leaves to be supported by a limited root system.

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  2. Wow, I think that's the biggest upsize I've ever seen from any bamboo. Once you get it in the year, I wouldn't be surprised if it jumped to 3 inch diameter culms!!

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  3. Alan, I agree with you about drought-resistance. I'm sure the plant will need a lot more water this year to support the new growth. Either it will go in the ground at my in-laws this summer, or I'll buy a 2x4 ft. stock tank and keep it here.

    Steve, I want to say it's because I ignored it instead of fussing over it, like I do with most other bamboos :-).

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