The new bamboos

Last weekend I bought some new plants from Needmore Bamboo, which was the point of the whole trip. Today I'll take a brief look at those bamboos.

Usually when I post about these bamboo excursions I post all of the details: the plants in the truck, the unwrapping and unloading, photos of the plants on the driveway, etc. I'm not going to do that this time, because I've done it several times already. So today it's just the plants.


Although I just realized that I probably have never shown the entire process when it involved more than a single plant. It's quite amazing when you see 8, 10, or more plants emerge from a single plastic-wrapped bundle. Now I wish I had taken photos of that. I can probably dig up some of the images from past trips (which I don't think I've ever posted)...

I found some! These are from a few years back and not only do they show how tightly packed the plants get for their trip, but they include a rare shot of me!

There are at least 9 plants here!

So imagine that I just did that -- cut off the stretch wrap, stood the plants up and got them off the truck. One of the six bamboos I got was freshly dug, so that one went straight into the ground:

That's Shibatea chinensis, and I love the short, fat leaves of this and the look-alike species Shibatea kumasaca which I already had. The chinensis performs a little better according to Brad and doesn't need an acidic soil like the kumasaca does. Now that I'm growing both I'll be able to compare for myself. The kumasaca was already one of my favorite smaller bamboos, so if this is better, well, even better!

The other five bamboos were potted, and I immediately repotted three of them. The other two I left alone.

The problem with young bamboos is there's often not much to look at. A couple of culms, or a bunch of really thin, small ones. So I did my best to show what's interesting about each of these plants.

Phyllostachys atrovaginata, producing pretty thick culms even now:

I already have this plant in the ground, but wanted to have another specimen on hand.

This next one isn't very remarkable, except for the fact that it may be as cold-hardy as any other bamboo and has good size potential:

It's Phyllostachys propinqua 'Beijing' (which Brad thinks may be the same as propinqua 'Li Yu Gan'. Looks like just another green-culmed bamboo right now, but I'll see how it's doing after a few years. This one may eventually go into one of my planter boxes if the species I have in them don't do as well as I hope. Maybe it will go into a planter box anyway, if I can figure out where to put another one in my garden.

Many species of temperate bamboo drop some number of leaves in the fall.
This is normal.

Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Harbin Inversa':

Its yellow culms with random green striping looks similar to the 'Spectabilis' that I already have, but it seems different enough to give it a try. Brad thinks it may produce a larger number of smaller culms while 'Spectabilis' produces fewer, thicker culms, making it better for a privacy screen. That could just be growing conditions though, so we'll see.

Another species I already have, Phyllostachys rubromarginata:

I really like the straight look to the culms, as the node (ring) swelling is less than on most other species. Plus there is a longer distance between the nodes, giving this species a nice, slender look. It's pretty tall right now too:

These two species I already have in the ground will start producing new plants for me in a few years -- I'll pot up any rhizomes that spread out of their allotted area to make more plants -- but these new plants will fill the gap until that happens. I always like having backups of species I really like.

Now on to the least-exciting plant right now, at least visually:

It's Phyllostachys virella, which is a newer import (Brad imported it in 2005) and still quite rare. Right now it looks like almost every other young potted bamboo: just a bunch of thin culms and bigger leaves:

This is supposed to be quite cold-hardy and vigorous, so I'm eager to see what sort of culms it produces in the spring. I will protect this over the winter, probably by tarping over it. It may be cold-hardy, but I don't want to take any chances yet and want it to size up fast.

Oh, I almost forgot! A trip home from Needmore with plants usually means another free bamboo cane:

Brad adds it to the wrapped bundle for support. It's pretty exciting to see the size culms my plants will soon be producing!

That's it for the new bamboos from Needmore. Perhaps not that exciting unless you're into bamboo, but I hope it's at least interesting. It's certainly interesting and exciting to me!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 8, 2011 at 9:33 AM)  

Alan, you've got some rarities there. I'd never even heard of Phyllostachys virella and Shibatea chinensis before. I especially like the latter. I have a kumasaca but it's struggling mightily in its pot. I have have to move it to my in-laws where it can go in the ground. I hate giving it up because I love its leaves.

:: Bamboo and More ::

Alan  – (October 8, 2011 at 10:44 AM)  

Gerhard: You've got to keep some kumasaca for yourself! Bigger pot? I'd probably make sure it gets some shade too. The one I have in a pot is starting to tip burn, but the one in the ground next to it is green and happy. You know you'll be taking a division from your in-laws in a couple of years anyway, so might as well get a jump on it. ;-)

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