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 Post subject: Covered bamboo concerns
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:31 pm 
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Location: Southern Missouri Z6B
It was a really nice afternoon here today so I decided to inspect my bamboo plants to see how they were fairing. I am concerned as they all look to be drying out. The Rufa looks near death, but that may be due to it being planted just this fall and not having time to root out. That Atro and Vivax are looking rather pathetic but do still have some viable leaves. I am really wondering If covering them was such a good idea here with the fluctuating temperatures.

We have gotten down to a low of 6 so far this winter with a lot of wind ( of course the bamboo was covered for this event ). But as usual we have also had days like today that approach 60 as well and also as usual no snow cover (we usually get 2 - 3 sticking snow events in the 1"-12" range with all snow gone in a couple weeks here.) It is supposed to get down cold again next week though.

Any perspective from those living here in the Ozarks or nearby would be helpful.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:06 am 
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I would not keep them covered except when wind chills/air temps approach single digits, then I'd uncover them after. I am assuming you used clear plastic?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:02 am 
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@needmore I had originally covered one of them with clear plastic but i switched to a tarp as I was concerned about overheating. Hmm i hope I didnt kill the plants trying to save them.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:55 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
Overwintering bamboos is actually quite complicated in some cases especially with very small bamboos that don't have a solid network of roots and rhizomes yet. if leaves happen to be curling inward due to dehydration, then the bamboo is failing to get moisture from the roots to the leaves mostly due to either a lack of soil moisture, or the top layer of the soil freezing. That can be mitigated by mulching the base with tree leaves first. Too much moisture can also rot the leaves if they are kept damp for too long. They still do need to breath a bit. If there is poor drainage, that can also be an issue when there is an abundance of precipitation. I've broken that issue with physical aeration, drainage trenches, and gypsum to loosen out the clay soil so roots and rhizomes can grow deeper, not water log as easily and get more oxygen.

I've used clear tarps before, and I haven't ever noticed a problem with overheating, but I've also generally placed buckets of water under there to mitigate the possibility. I have however seen times when only the leaves that touch the tarp get burned and I believe that is due to the cold winds blowing on the tarp. That's why I placed leaf bags on the north and west side of some of my smaller bamboos before.

I've also seen on less hardy bamboos that still get fried with a cold snap because of a lack of snow cover and the freeze still penetrating through the tarp into the soil luckily, single digits or below are almost always accompanied by snow in my bamboo garden. This kind of damage looks like checker board pattern, curling leaves and eventually drying out of leaves starting from the extremities. I believe this is most likely what you have.


Even if your bamboos completely leaf burn, but culms stay alive, they should still upsize at that stage. The boos I managed to cover are generally 9-12ft tall with lots of culms, plenty of biomass so it should take temperatures well below 0F to still burn. The unprotected parvifolia is still probably better off since it has massive 1.5 inch culms, and I've found rhizome/root growth over 2ft deep. I guess they tend to grow deeper, the bigger they get. I hope we can finally get a winter without any subzero nights.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 7:39 pm 
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Never use clear plastic as a covering, use white plastic that ius uv treated if you plan to use it another year. Clear simply creates a greenhouse effect with wildly fluctuating temps and I assume that's why your 'Rufa' is fried. Here the unprotected 'Rufas' are fine with a low one night of 1.4F followed by a steady 5F for just over 24 hours. It's been mild ever since.

john
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:41 pm 
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To reiterate, I would never cover them unless subzero wind chill/air temp was possible and then uncover once that passes. Steve's situation might be different given his snowcover but you don't have that for long and your lower latitude you get way more sun and warmth.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:09 am 
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Well I guess ill uncover them as soon at this cold spell for the next few days passes thhough to be honest thats basically what i did last year and the vivax still top killed, but it was its first winter. I'm still very optimistic for spring as the Vivax really sized up last spring despite the top kill.
johnw wrote:
Never use clear plastic as a covering, use white plastic that ius uv treated if you plan to use it another year. Clear simply creates a greenhouse effect with wildly fluctuating temps and I assume that's why your 'Rufa' is fried. Here the unprotected 'Rufas' are fine with a low one night of 1.4F followed by a steady 5F for just over 24 hours. It's been mild ever since.

john
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The rufa was under a plastic baby swimming pool covered with leaves. None of the bamboo was left more than a few hours under clear plastic.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:51 am 
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Vivax seems to damage at single digit temps.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:38 pm 
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Just an update in case anyone was curious as to the outcome. The Vivax did defoliate somewhat but still had plenty of leaves by spring with both main culms releafing 90% prior to shooting 4 new sturdy upright(so far anyway) 10 foot culms(a very respectable upsize from the previous years 5' cap). The Atro? defoliated most of the way(probably due to the terrible method I used to cover them,black trash bags which probably got hot in the sunnier winter days we often get here) but it sent up 9 new shoots comparable to last years shoots and releafed about 10-15% on the existing culms from last year. Funeral services for the Rufa were held last month(probably shoulda planted it earler in the year last year as I dont think it had rooted well enough for winter.

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