bamboo says: water!

I've noticed that recently I haven't done any posts about projects. No planting, building, even weeding. I thought about this for a moment, and realized that it's because I haven't done any of this. My gardening tasks for the past few weeks have been limited to pretty much a single activity: watering.

As with much of the country, it's been extra hot and dry in St. Louis for the past month or so. With that sort of weather, most of my potted plants need to be watered daily. The bamboo though -- which I have many pots of -- can tolerate watering every other day if needed.


They would appreciate watering every day but can take a day of drought before they complain, and bamboo complains by rolling its leaves:

The leaf rolling is to reduce the amount of water loss through the leaves (transpiration), and it's a signal that I need to get the hose out there. It gives the plant a completely different look, as it exposes the lighter underside of each leaf, and gives the plant a more severe, spiky look:

Even the large-leafed bamboos will do this when stressed enough:

But a good soaking, and 10 minutes later things are back to normal:

Only 10 minutes? It takes me a lot longer than that to recover after spending any amount of time out here in the heat. Bamboo is amazing.

I'm keeping today's post brief because it's hot outside this morning (as usual) but cloudy, and I want to actually do some planting before the clouds clear or it rains. I'm being hopeful about the rain, as we've had not a drop here for the past couple of weeks at least. With a 50% chance today, I've got my fingers crossed.


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Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax!  – (July 30, 2011 at 8:20 AM)  

I hadn't known this about bamboo and will watch out for such leaf curling now. I'm surprised it recovered so quickly as I'd expected you to say Bamboo is such a thirsty plant you wouldn't have been able to give it enough water to make a difference. I'm glad it did!


Steve Lau  – (July 30, 2011 at 10:35 AM)  

Many of my bamboos tend to stay in clumps so the root spread is not that far which renders them to be fairly prone to drought. I've had to do a lot of watering because until the last couple weeks, there has been 9 weeks without rain, and temperatures breaking 90F a few times so I've just run a soaker hose on them which still doesn't seem to work as well as having rain. I don't expect my bamboos to run at all this year.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 30, 2011 at 11:02 AM)  

Alan, your bamboos look like Mexican weeping bamboo now :-) We're used to long periods of dryness (all summer and well into the fall) so watering is a fact of life here as well. I would have thought that the higher humidity you have compensates somewhat for a lack of water?

Alan  – (July 30, 2011 at 12:18 PM)  

Gerhard: When it gets this hot the humidity drops during the day and it gets somewhat breezy. That sucks the moisture right out. Mornings and evenings are super-humid though.

Anne McCormack  – (July 30, 2011 at 3:42 PM)  

I've noticed my pineapple sage and even my coleus do a similar leaf-curling trick. I hadn't thought about reducing transpiration though.

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