I've been hearing that this winter in the Midwest (remember that I'm in St. Louis) has a high probability of being a mild one. As a zone 6 bamboo grower I hope for a mild winter every year, as it's important for the plants to keep their green leaves in order to have any chance of a "size up" next year -- meaning larger, taller culms emerging in spring.

The last two winters were tough on bamboo here. Two winters ago was the worst, when all of my plants defoliated -- you can see the results in the image above. At -8ºF (-22ºC) I was literally one or two degrees away from "topkill", where even the culms are killed -- probably the worst-case scenario for bamboo lovers. The winter before that (which would have been 2012-2013) was quite mild though -- is this what I should expect for 2015-2016?


If first freeze is any indication of a winter's potential, things are looking good. Last year we had our first below-freezing temperatures exactly a year ago (on October 30), and I scrambled to bring the tender plants inside:

In 2013 we got to 27ºF (-3ºC) early -- on October 24 -- resulting in banana leaf damage:

Sad but also pretty in its own way.

In 2012 (the mild year) it wasn't until November 10 or so that we got below freezing, and that year it was mild enough that the borderline hardy (here) Phyllostachys nigra (aka "Black Bamboo") was able to reach a respectable size:

Oh, it was so pretty that summer!

Is that what's in store again for 2016? I sure hope so!

The low temperature last night was about 35ºF (2ºC), and the forecast indicates that it won't get below 40ºF (4ºC) for the next 10 days at least. A good start to a mild winter I'd say!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 30, 2015 at 9:10 AM)  

For us in California they're predicting a warmer and significantly wetter winter than usual. If the storms end up in the right places (mountains, lakes, reservoirs), it will help with the drought. But I believe it when I see it.

outlawgardener  – (October 30, 2015 at 9:11 AM)  

Not bad temps at all! We're still pretty mild here although today it's windy, rainy, and we're hearing about flood warnings in some areas as there will be heavy rain for a few days. The jet stream is currently aiming it's hose at us but later is supposed to move south and give California some much-needed rain.

DC Tropics  – (October 30, 2015 at 9:33 PM)  

I've managed to dodge a killing frost so far--with luck I'll have a couple more weeks to enjoy my garden. The last two winters were very hard ones for us on the east coast as well. I'm ready for a mild winter!

Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (November 1, 2015 at 11:36 AM)  

I'm being a brat this year, and saying no to the awful 2015-2016 winter predictions. I want a Normal winter's winter with no extremes across all zones.

Alan  – (November 2, 2015 at 7:12 AM)  

Gerhard: Hope that prediction comes true!

Peter: You typically get lots of winter rain anyway, right?

DC: Here's hoping! Unless mild for east coast means harsh for the midwest. I want the mild winter for myself if I have to choose. :)

Maywyn: I think no extremes is a thing of the past.

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