Moso bamboo diary 3

Third part of my "moso from seed" project begins here. The idea to take photos and write down my observations and activities regarding bamboo growing came in 2011. Since then there was a lot of work done; some successful some not but I learned a lot from and about bamboo. Growing bamboo was and still is enriching experience and there is always something new to be learned.

With this third part of the diary I will continue my online work the same way I did it so far. Approximately every 30 days or less I will update post with new information about moso. If there are any questions feel free to ask and I will answer them according to my knowledge and experience or I`ll refer you to some other sources of information. 

Moso bamboo diary 2 (moso seed germination instructions at the end of the post) 

Winter 2013./2014. was very mild and short. All in all we had only 3 weeks of snow and the lowest temperature was not very low; only -10°C ||  14°F. That was good for bamboo because they had a lot more time to develop rhizomes. Many bamboos suffered a leaf damage from the cold northern winds but I think that is normal because all of them are still young and at this stage not very cold tolerant. When they get older they will be more cold tolerant. 

Spring came in early so there is a lot of work to be done. Temperatures during the day go up to 20°C || 68°F and during the night they are around 10°C || 50°F. Plants broke their dormancy a month ago and started to develop leafs and flower much earlier that expected. Bamboo followed their example so there are a lot of new shots. The problem that remains is the danger of frost which might easily kill new bamboo shots. But a member of American bamboo society told me that moso shoots very early but it also has a second shooting period that comes later, after the frosts have passed. I do hope there will be no frost in the first place but in case there is frost it is good thing to know that moso has a back-up plan :).

There is not much green leafs left on the stems. As I mentioned earlier that is the result of cold northern wonds that we had during the winter. Not heaving leafs does not mean much because the main part of the bamboo is underground. If rhizomes are alive, bamboo is alive and from what I`ve seen all of those on the photo are alive. They just need some time to grow new stems...and that is exactly what they`re doing now.
Here is the example of bamboo that looks like it is dead. Have a closer look...on seemingly dead stem there is a bud from which new branch will develop. 

Now some photos of new shoots...(first two are showing the biggest shoot so far)

Under the straw there are slugs that like to eat almost everything that is green. So they they had a feast on some of the shoots. At first I thought it was a wild rabbit who bite the tips off but after closer examination I realized that slugs are the culprits.

Even though it wasn`t the rabbit that bite the tips off I must place some protection against rabbits because he will be coming soon. The easiest way to protect something from them is a plastic bag on a pole. Rabbits are easily scared so rustling of the plastic bag will scare them away.

Temperatures are still high and after few rainy days there are many new shoots coming from underneath the straw. For now I must say that I am pleased with the way things are going although there is still danger of frost and rabbit. 
Today at noon I measured the biggest moso shoot and it has reached 96 cm || 37.5 inches. Tomorrow I will measure it again to see how much it grows in 24 hours.

I also placed some chicken manure in the middle of every bamboo. When rain comes it will take it down into the soil.
24 hours later moso has grown 12 cm || 4.7 inches. 

Since shoot on the photo above is my first big moso shoot I decided to monitor its growth every day for the next 16 days. Every day at noon I will measure it and later during the day enter measurements into the table below.
I started measuring when stem was at 96cm || 37.8 inches.

Day Size Difference Day Size Difference
1 96 cm  || 37.8 in - 9 188 cm || 74 in 8 cm || 3.1 in
2 108 cm || 42.5 in 12 cm || 4.7 in 10 195 cm ||76.8 in 7 cm || 2.8 in
3 122 cm || 48 in 14 cm || 5.5 in 11 199 cm || 78.3 in 4 cm || 1.5 in
4 135 cm || 53.1 in 13 cm || 5.1 in 12 200 cm || 78.7 in 1 cm || 0.4 in
5 146 cm || 57.5 in 11 cm || 4.4 in 13 203 cm || 79.9 in 3 cm || 1.2 in
6 162 cm || 63.8 in 16 cm || 6.3 in 14 0 cm || 0 in 0 cm || 0 in
7 175 cm || 68.9 in 13 cm || 5.1 in 15 0 cm || 0 in 0 cm || 0 in
8 180 cm || 70.9 in 5 cm || 2 in 16 0 cm || 0 in 0 cm || 0 in

I`ve noticed that most of the growth happens during the day. For example on Day 2, between noon and 6 pm stem grew 8 cm || 3.1 inch. That is a lot of growth in a 6 hour period. I guess that happens because days (20°C || 68°F) are much warmer than nights (8°C || 46°F).

All in all I am very surprised by the growth rate and it is somewhat hard to believe that this is possible. But I do the measuring the same way every days and the numbers don`t lie. Can`t wait to see how tall it will grow.

At day 6 development of branches was evident. 4 days later they are much larger and I guess that is why growth is slowing down.

Grass around bamboos is growing like crazy so first thing after holidays I must mow it and do some cleaning up. Last week we had very rainy and a bit colder weather, some days down to 5°C || 41°F but that didn`t stop bamboo from growing. Two days ago we even had ice falling together with rain 4 times in one day. Luckily it was half melded by he time it touched the plants/ground so there was no damage. 
I am pleased with the growth rate of new shoots. There are more shoots than I expected but that must be the result of the warm and short winter we had. 

Tallest stem that grew so far is the one from the table above and it measures 203 cm || 79.9 in. It belongs to one of the first bamboos originally sowed in 2011. On day 6 development of branches became evident and by the time shoot stopped elongating there were a lot of new branches. They are not fully developed so there is still no leaves. That same bamboo has 5-6 new shoots that are slightly smaller in diameter than first shoot (one from the table). 

When previously mentioned rainy weather came something interesting happened with some of the branches; they bent under almost 90° angle. Branches were exposed to strong wind but it is hard to believe that they bent that way just because of the wind. At first I thought they were broken but after taking a closer look it was clear that they just bent ant they remained that way.

Here are some photos...
10.04.2014. white leaves (they will become green later)




13.04.2014. Notice growth rate marked by bamboo
itself in a form of white powdery substance.

18.04.2014. Shoots of bamboo on the left


For all this time I was convinced that I updated this post in May, and now I see that it was actually April. My apologies to all followers. It was a busy spring in my gardens so I simply didn`t have time or energy to write.

Spring was good when it comes to weather. We would have 1 week of rain followed by 1-2 weeks of sun. Temperatures went from 13°C || 55°F during the night to 25°C || 77°F during the day. Bamboo loved it and grew nicely. At one occasion there was a strong northern wind that split some leaf in half but it didn`t do much more damage than that. 

In the end of the June summer temperatures kicked in. Luckily rain hasn`t leaf us completely so every week there is at least one rainy day. If I`m not mistaking last year drought started in the middle of July and lasted until August 17th. We will see how it will turn up this year. 

Bamboo grew nicely during the shooting period but now a lot of them have pale yellow leaves. Structure of the leaves is good, there is no damage to them they are simply pale. Steve Lau suggested that bamboo might be missing magnesium. So in order to resolve that I started applying foliar feeding and that helped a little. I also gave them fertilizer that has magnesium in it, and I watered them with solution of epsom salt as Steve suggested and they look a little better. Foliar feeding is applied once a week.
There is one more excellent natural solution for fertilizing plants in general. Combination of nettle and comfrey has a lot of macro and micro nutrients necessary for plants. General recipe is 1kg || 2.3 lbs of nettle stems/leaves and 1kg || 2.3 lbs of comfrey stems/leaves is soaked in 10 L || 2 Gal of water and left for 2 weeks to rot. When it is done ie. when all the leafs are liquified it can be used for watering the plants. it is good idea to dilute it because this kind of fertilizer can be very strong. I will be using 1L || 0.25 gal of fertilizer on 9 L || 2.37 gal of  water. This liquid stinks so it wouldn`t be a bad idea to cover it with something.

NOTE on nettle and comfrey. Nettle has a lot of iron (alongside everything else) and comfrey has a root that goes very deep and extracts minerals from the soil and stores them in their leafs. These both plants have a very powerful medicinal properties. Nettle is for iron deficiency (anemia) and comfrey root is one of the natures best remedies for wound healing (it contains famous allantoin).   

Now the photos...

02.05.2014. during the heavy rain that flooded one of my vegetable gardens (behind the bamboo)


11.05.2014. Most of the leaves fell off and new ones grew later on (01.06. photo below)
Grass between bamboo grows fast so after shooting period ended it was safe to use lawn mower to get rid of it. 



01.06.2014. After almost all leaves fell off new ones grew + some new stems.





 It was very busy August so I didn`t have time/energy to update this post. Finally things are a bit less intensive so it is time to update :).

This summer was more like a spring than summer. Every other week or two we had a few days of rain, and we didn`t have hot days like last year. Sure there was some sun but temperatures didn`t go over 30°C || 86°F for more than few days. Rain was relentless and if I`m not mistaking this summer(and year) was statistically the rainiest summer in history.
Bamboo liked the rain. In fact they like this semi-tropical weather so much that it grew a lot of rhizomes in a very short period of time. In one month time some bamboo extended their rhizomes up to 30-50 cm || 11-19 inches away from the plant.Since most of the august I had to work on my graduation thesis so I couldn`t give much attention on how things are growing in the gardens + most of the days were rainy. That is why I was very surprised by the rhizomes spreading in all directions. 

In July I added nice thick layer of straw around bamboo. It was all manual work so it took me two afternoons to finish it but when it was done bamboos got summer/winter protection and something that will feed them. As the straw decomposes it releases nutrients directly around the bamboo.   
19.07.2014. Parcel with straw


It looked nice when everything was done but all that rain caused weed to grow much faster than expected. Although I mowed between bamboo before laying down the straw rain it simply grew to fast. So a month and a half later some parts of the straw are taken over by weed but since it doesn`t bother bamboo I decided to leave it as is. During the winter snow will compress straw so in the spring weed will have more problems growing through it.
When straw was in its place I watered bamboo several times with comfrey-nettle solution prepared by soaking nettle and comfey plants in water for 2-3 weeks. Rain washed down that solution to the bamboos roots and from what I saw leaves were a little greener after that. 

Photos taken on July 25th

If we get any sun on sunday I will take photos of the rhizomes and update it. For now it is still very cloudy so photos would`t be good and I don`t like to use flash.

Finally we got a sunny day after almost 3 weeks of rain and clouds. As I was searching for rhizomes I noticed 1-2 rodent holes in the ground but they were abandoned due to water. Hopefully they will remain abandoned because the last thing I want it to have mice eating away my rhizomes. I`ve been through that once and I don`t want to go through that again.
Here are some photos of rhizomes. Most of them are thick as pencil and some are bigger. It depends on the plant size. Also, all of the visible rhizomes are beneath the straw, non of them grew in the paths that I left between bamboo.

September 8th


In September I started to working on greenhouse expansion. As I said previously, nothing fancy, just using materials that I had freely available. In spring 2015. my plan is to grow some more moso seedlings to be sold in 2016. I also hope to gather enough money to build much bigger greenhouse in autumn 2015. That will provide me with more space and better conditions for growing all plants, not just bamboo. Even though bamboo is still my primary occupation I have so many other ideas, plans and plants that I would like to realize.

In spring 2015. I will start unique project of testing how well nuna beans grow in my climate and under some specific conditions. Everything will be published here on blog in a new post. Well...spring will be a very exciting and busy period of the year; partially because of the new plants I will introduce into my garden and partially because bamboo will start shooting again. I hope to see some nice and big shots next year. Same as this year in 2015. I will make a record of the biggest shot when it starts to grow.   

Greenhouse expanding started on September 20th and it was finalized on October 5th when furnace was installed. Everything was done very simple yet functional. Furnace was operational until November 29th when I moved all plants indoors or in the basement for overwintering. My primary goal when using greenhouse is to prolong plants growing period. Depending on the winter, all plants should go back into the greenhouse in late March (or sooner). 

Now, back to the bamboo....

So my latest report was almost 3 months ago. Even though that is a lot of time in a world of young bamboo not much has happened. Rainy weather continued throughout the entire autumn and we had almost no sun. There might have been one or two weeks that had all 7 days filled with sunlight but other than that, it was mostly rainy/cloudy weather.

This autumn bamboo did not produce new shots like they did last year. That is a good thing because when frost came there was no damage. Last year bamboo had a lot of new shots and frost killed them all before they were able to harden enough to withstand freezing. Also, this year we had our first frost on Sunday, November 23rd. That is almost a month and a half later than last years frost. 

General appearance of bamboo is good. Leaves are nice and green and there are no signs of any damage. I am concerned with the rodents that might attack the rhizomes during the winter. Cats did a good job in eliminating most of them but the problem is in the surrounding fields. When people start autumn plowing a lot of mice start looking for a new home and bamboo might look like a paradise to them, especially because of the straw. So I will have to do some mice control before we get the first snow.

27.10. 2014. - This one grows on a place where I had my
first greenhouse built. Next to him I planted Ph. Nigra from South Carolina.

Recently I was asked by a friend why is it the first bamboo planted in the field bigger than the rest of them. Well, I guess that is because it is growing in the corner between orchard and the pond. Since my pond leaked for 2 years since I planted bamboo it might have extended its roots and tapped into that underground water. But other than that, it is partially protected by the apple trees in the south and arundo donax and pines on the west. So in the summer it receives less hot air and direct sunlight than bamboo planted further north from that one.  
My expectations are that the other bamboo will be that size next year. Soil is also very important; richer the soil, stronger (bigger) the plants. This bigger bamboo probably had some access to nutrients that rotten apples released in the orchard for years.

01.01.2015. Happy New Year to all readers!

This winter snow came literally overnight. On Dec. 27th it was cold sunny day and the next morning we were covered with 30 cm || 11 inches of snow. Snow brought much lower temperatures so during the night on Dec. 28th it was around -10°C || 14°F and on 31st it was -15°C || 5°F.  

During the night on Jan. 1st temperature went down to -17°C || 1.4°F and in the morning it revealed the true damage to the Moso leafs. Before I go any further I must mention that these temperatures are normal in my area and sometimes the can be even lower.

During the days temperatures varies from -10 to -5°C || 14 to 23°F. For now weather people say that temperatures will rise, some days even above freezing point. 

Some plant have 40% and some 80% leaf damage. Most of these leaf curled into needles and when the warm weather comes they will gradually dry and fall of. Leafs that are under the snow remained protected from the cold and they look normal. More snow would mean more protection. Hopefully we will get some more in  days to come. 

When comparing the leaf damage from last year to this year`s it is the same, so my conclusion is that the cold is the only reason for that. Also last year`s winter was much warmer and bamboo was smaller so snow covered almost entire plants providing better insulation from the cold. They will recover in the spring.

Leaf damage - January 2nd, 2015.

Before adding photos I must mention that Ph. nigra, Ph. nigra "henon", Ph. atrovaginata and Ph. viridis had much less leaf damage than Moso. For now they look normal but maybe the damage is simply not showing yet. I will have to wait and see.

December 28th, -10°C || 14°F at night

December 28th

December 31st, -11°C || 12.2°F during the day
Ph. nigra (left), Moso (right)

December 31st, 2014.

December 31st, 2014.

December 31st, 2014.

December 31st, 2014.

December 31st, 2014.


Here is another winter update.:)
Last few days temperature went up and most of the snow melted. Yesterday we had +6°C || 42°F and today we have +5°C || 41°F. At night temperatures maybe go down to -4°C || 24°F. 

After the snow started melting I was able to see the extent and nature of the leaf damage much better. My conclusion it that the most of the leaf damage is due to cold wind that came from north and north-west on the days when it was snowing. Traces of the wind were visible in form of small snow drifts around bamboo. Those days we had -15 and -17°C || 5 and 1.4°F at night there was no wind and leafs that were exposed to those temperatures did not suffer any damage. Damage came few days earlier but low temperatures kept damaged leafs frozen. When sun came leaf were free of ice and they were able to curl into needles.

Most leafs that got "burned" are on top and on the outside of the plant. That is nicely visible on biggest bamboo. Leafs that are on the outside of the plant (edges) are burned but the leafs that are inside, and at the same height, are left undamaged. Leafs that were covered with snow had no damage at all.

I think leafs will regrow in spring. Branches are much hardier than leafs and something similar happened in spring 2014.; damaged leafs fell off and soon after there were new buds with new leafs.

Also I think moso is more sensitive at this point because it is grown from seed, so until it is fully established it might suffer from this kind of leaf damage. When I compare moso to nigra, henon or robert young which are grown from rhizomes (meaning they are older from the start) there is almost no damage on them.

There is one good thing that melting of snow brought. All the rodents holes are full of water so they are gone. There were only few holes but they got me worried. 


Phyllostachys nigra 'Henon'

Phyllostachys viridis 'Robert Young'
Phyllostachys nigra

It is finally the time to finish this post. It has been busy several months with planting, sowing and preparing for the new growing season.

After January 5th we had sunny 1-2 weeks and after that there was some snow again. Temperatures that followed did not go lower than -8°C || 17°F and did not last longer than 3-4 days. So, it was pretty good winter when it comes to temperatures. The only difficulty that I must notice, apart from leaf damage, is water. Drainage channels around bamboo worked good but some days there was rain on top of the water that came from melted snow.

In February temperatures were around 0°C || 32°F most of the mornings. During the day temperatures were somewhere between 5-8°C || 41-46°F. Sometimes they did go below 0°C but only few degrees, nothing that would harm the bamboo. 

When it comes to damage that bamboo suffered, most of it is concentrated on the upper branches which were not protected by snow. Sunny weather caused dead leafs to fall off so some of the bamboo are left naked on top. If there are live buds on the branches which lost leafs, they will regrow new small branches.

Photos give better information about that so here are some of them by date:



With these photos I close Moso bamboo diary 3 post. Number 4 will be opened in a day or two. First date for the new post will be March 1st.

Thank you all for following my work and sorry for the delay on updating post!!!


Steve Lau said...

Looking good especially with all the leaf burn. You may be able to sell every other plant if they are able to spread out a bit this year.

Steve Lau said...

I think your mosos may be shaping up to eventually look similar to mine where there have always been lots of culms and shrubby like this.

Grannos said...

I want them to grow much stronger and then I`ll sell some and move some to bigger plot (in 2-3 years). I`m curious to see if there will be some variegation when they grow bigger ie. develop real stems.
Your moso looks excellent! No leaf damage nor any other damage. One of my moso was a big shrub for 2 years and this year it is finally showing some serious growth. That was a confusing situation because it is planted in very nutritious soil and it had moisture most of the year.

Steve Lau said...

That picture is actually my green moso from back in 2010, not this winter. The bicolor is now in its place. I am currently brewing some alfalfa tea which I intend to add some unsulphurated molasses and epsom salts to for my greenhouse plants to hopefully get them a nice boost of energy.

Grannos said...

Steve have you tried using horse manure pellets? My sister used them in her garden and says they work like crazy so I plan to buy and add some to bamboo. Also, consider hydrogen peroxide for your greenhouse plants. It disinfects the soil and stops root rot (if there is any) and brakes down into water and oxygen giving plants additional oxygen in the soil.
What does epsom salt do?

Steve Lau said...

I already use horse manure on the bicolor, and so far, it's been making decent progress.

The epsom salts helps makes the leaf greener by maximizing the chloroplast production, thus resulting in better photosynthesis.

One issue with hydrogen peroxide is that you really need a ton of it if you want to add oxygen to the soil. It's a lot more cost effective to physically aerate by using a steel broad fork.

Tarzanus said...

You seem to be 2 or 3 weeks ahead with Moso shooting this year. Did the one that was showing white variegation last year start shooting? Is it going to be white-ish again this year?

Mine just began shooting, none of the large shoots emerged just yet. Shoots that emerged so far were not nearly as red colored as they were last spring. Perhaps this year there wion't be any variegation.

Steve Lau said...

I've sold off the rest of my mosos, and the only thing I have shooting would be indoors. We are still 3 weeks or so away from shooting season for moso. I really didn't think the color variagations were that impressive so I never kept them.

The bicolor is clearly elongating it's leaf buds now so that should wake up in 5-6 weeks. I think it would be interesting if you tried one of the other mosos just to see how it compares to green.

tarzan said...

I'm talking about variegation that Grannos, several French growers and me saw last spring, when shoots appeared in albino style. First leaves were all variegated, but it soon faded out.

Doesn't seem likely that I see that thing this year. All current shoots are green from early beginning - I can only count on the largest ones outside it's original pot that are yet to come. Hopefully.

Grannos said...

Steve I was thinking about adding H2O2 to plants in containers. I agree that it would take a lot of it for plants that are growing in the ground.

Tarzanus we had extremely short winter so everything started shooting much earlier. There is still danger of frost. In my opinion white stripes on leafs or even completely white leafs appear after plant has been for some time in water. For example that moso you were asking about was for several weeks in water and when he started shooting there were white stripes on the leafs which disappeared later on. I see the same thing on some other moso and I do remember them being in the water for some time (when snow melted). Now they have all leafs white.

tarzan said...

Mine did the same and was not exposed to waterlogged conditions. There was a lot of snow, though, and when it melted, perhaps it was a bit flooded even though it's raised 30cm above surrounding ground. I did notice two shoots that show similar colors as last year, so it might repeat.

Grannos said...

I can`t say for sure but that is my guess. Real reason might be something totally different. I will upload photos of these white leafs tomorrow.

Steve Lau said...

Sounds like your shoot made a quick spurt of growth before shutting down for good eh.

tarzan said...

You must be closer to the sea than I am, because your moso shoots are much taller. We now have mild frosts again and cold weather which instantly paused growth. Luckily, shoots are still relatively small and probably won't even notice the cooldown.

Steve Lau said...

You may have a magnesium deficiency based on the lack in green pigmentation of new shoots. This is what you probably should expect to see for seedlings you have. I'm not completely sure, but I believe some applications of epsom salts may solve it.

Here's the picture.

Legendary said...

I have a Moso Grove 8 years old and this year have a 3"culmn.
am retired so making a Bambo Nursery.

Anonymous said...

Granos update!

Anonymous said...

Hi, great blog, here is theoretically possible, if you put Moso bamboo shoots under young deciduous trees, the bamboo in the first years of his life will be easier to carry the direct rays of the sun in the summer, there is little evaporation of water from the soil in partial shade and shelter from the winter winds will be.
Eventually, when the bamboo root, gaining strength, he could "strangle" the shelter and subsequently protect itself from attack nature.
What do you think, whether such a symbiosis (more parasitism) in the early stages of growing Moso bamboo in uncharacteristic, cold climates?

Mattia said...

Hi Grannos,
Your blog is really really interesting and well done! Thank you for sharing your experience! How do you regulate with the H2O2?

Legendary said...

I grow Moso as well as others.
Where are you and what are your intentions?
David 'Timber Bamboo Nursery

tarzan said...

Whole culms with wilted leaves can be completely fried. You did have some luck with snow cover, so they were protected to some extent. My Moso seedling (a bit more to the west :)) might be completely toasted. We'll see in the spring.

Grannos said...

This year I will intensify use of nettle and comfrey "soup" and that should help adding most of the minerals. I`m also considering planting comfrey between bamboo.

I use H2O2 only on seedlings in pots (bamboo and other plants) from time to time to kill insects in the soil, loosen up soil a bit and give the plants some oxygen.

We talked about it in private emails after you left the comment here.

I`m from Croatia, Europe. My plan is to test moso growing habits and behavior in my climate and then I will decide what to do next.

I think the leafs will regrow in the spring. Branches are hardier than leafs. Similar situation happened last winter and they recovered. Sorry to hear about your seedlings but they will probably also recover.

Steve Lau said...

I'm pretty sure that your seedlings are not nearly as hardy as a mature stock of moso.

I've found that my moso bicolor is way hardier than the moso seedlings around it to the point where you see almost no damage on bicolor which is a mature stock while the seedlings get completely defoliated.

One issue for you is that you may not have a warm enough climate for those seedlings to mature. In that case, it may be wise to try investing in a few moso cultivars just to test out. Some of the rare ones such as nabeshimana, or tubaeformis shouldn't be that pricy anymore in the EU.

Dario said...

Stari svaka čast, mene osobno očarava bambus drvo pa sam i sam neki dan naručio sjemenke moso bambusa pa bih volio da se čujemo ako imaš još kakvih korisnih savjeta za početak, tipa kada šta i kako. Ja sam ti iz SI hrvatske - Međimurje i volio bih jednog dana da mogu prošetati šumom bambusa kod nas da ne moram do Japana :D. Misliš da je moguće uzgojit šumu tipa japanskih Moso šuma od 20m+? Pozdrav od Daria. Možeš me kontaktirat na mail morpheus25244[et]


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