Bamboo in the snow—Christmas update

At Thanksgiving I posted photos of the bamboos we planted in my parents-in-law’s yard in Mount Shasta, CA (zone 7) this summer. They’ve been covered by snow since mid-November, some of them completely buried. During that time, the lowest temperature was 13°F, with average lows in the high 20s. These are hardly extreme temperatures compared to what other parts of the country have been experiencing. That’s a good thing considering that these bamboos are still pretty small—some were planted from 1-gallon containers.

I took a walk around the property this morning and checked out all the bamboos. Everything looks good. I saw no leaf burn and no culm damage. That gives me hope for decent growth next year.

Yellow vivax (Phyllostachys vivax ‘Aureoculis’)
Even bent over and frozen in place this is a supremely beautiful plant. The culm color is stunning against the snow.

Giant black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra ‘Punctata’)
This variety is supposed to grow bigger than the regular nigra, and it has been very vigorous here: Originally planted from a 5-gallon container into a half barrel, it had to be moved from the half barrel into the ground after less than 6 months.
A nigra shoot poking out of the snow is a pretty strange sight. It looks alive but I’m not certain that it will actually continue to grow next year.


Fargesia denudata
The leaves are looking a bit yellow but are definitely alive.

David Bisset bamboo (Phyllostachys bissetii)
This is a small tissue-cultured plant that we put in the ground this fall. It’s hard to spot in the first photo above but it’s still very much alive. I’m curious to see how it will do in 2011—it has a reputation as a vigorous grower.

Yellow groove bamboo
(Phyllostachys aureosulcata)
This one is doing really well. The leaves look great, with no sign of distress. That’s what I expected, considering how cold hardy this species is.


Stone bamboo (Phyllostachys angusta)
This was the largest plant we put in the ground (25-gallon container). As you can see, about half the culms are frozen to the ground but the plant appears to be in excellent condition.

Those of you in the Midwest or East who are accustomed to much harsher temperatures are probably laughing at how much of a mother hen I am around these bamboos. But remember that I’m used to gardening in zone 9b where a forecast for a 28°F night has everybody scrambling for frost blankets. This is the first experience I’ve ever had growing bamboos in a climate that gets snow, and I want to learn as much as I can.


  1. Shortest. Christmas break. Ever. ;-)

    Bissetii is super-vigorous. I think I started with a 1-gal TC plant just like you, and it put out over 30 shoots its first spring and ran rhizomes 8' or more.

    Also, you meant vivax 'Aureocaulis', didn't you?

  2. Alan, yes 'Aureocaulis'. Too bad spell checkers don't include bamboo terms :-).

    The bissetii has room to roam where we planted it. We want it to screen the neighbor's granny cottage. I plan on taking divisions down the line to eventually create a hedge along the fence.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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