Bamboo in Alaska

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redfang
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Bamboo in Alaska

Post by redfang »

So, I'm in Anchorage, technically a 4b, but it hasn't gotten to -25º for a while. Last winter the lowest temperature was a balmy -15º. I'm curious if there is any bamboo that would survive outside in a clayey/sandy soil, 19+ hours of daylight at the height of summer, and occasionally bumping up to 80º.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by dependable »

I doubt any bamboos would take the climate. The only one even worth trying might be Phyllostachys bisseti, in a sheltered place. Even if it survived, it would probably be killed to ground regularly, so it would not amount to much.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by redfang »

Yeah, I kind of figured any bamboo would be a challenge outdoors. If I only lived in Sitka (7b) or even Homer or Seward (7a), there might be more possibilities. Thanks for the suggestion, I'm still sort of keen to try anyway. :wink:
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by dependable »

If you do, let us know how it goes. P bisseti does well in zone 6 and even is OK in some zone 5 locations, or so I have read. In 7a it is a very happy and rampantly growing bamboo.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by redfang »

I'm window shopping for next year, hopefully I can find a vendor that ships to Alaska for a reasonable price. That might be more difficult than finding an Alaska hardy bamboo. Since it would a novelty maybe the pests won't want to make a meal of it. Not sure about the four-legged pests (moose), though. :roll:
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by dependable »

Don't know about moose, once in a while the deer chomp a few new shoots, and the squirrels and ground rodents sometimes take to them, but have not seen much eat the plants once they are up and out of ground. The shoots from bissetti are not a favorite of the animals either.
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redfang
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by redfang »

I have some hardware cloth with openings smaller than 1/4 inch I can use to protect the shoots. If I have to amend the soil (very likely with sandy clay) I'll probably make a cage in the ground to keep the underground vermin out. If I thought it would survive above ground, I'd put it in a whiskey barrel. I think any freeze/thaw cycles would do it in, though.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by Alan_L »

I'd think twice about hardware cloth in the ground. I used it to line the bottom of a raised bamboo bed, and the moles/voles still found a way in. When I decided to remove the bamboo and plant something else, it was a PAIN to get the hardware cloth out of there.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by needmore »

I'm wondering if in addition to the cold temps being a major challenge for you, how long will your growing season be? The bamboo will need soil temps near 60F to shoot, then those shoots will need 4 months or more I'd guess to leaf out and harden off. Deeply frozen soils would make wrapping foliage less effective in trying to protect it during winter. I know some parts of AK are milder so maybe you don't have 3 foot deep frosts and short growing seasons?
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redfang
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by redfang »

The hardware cloth I have should have openings too small for any ground vermin to get through. Voles do come above ground, though, I've seen them (the varmints have been disturbing my apple and cherry trees). There'd have to be fencing above ground, too. One thing toxic to them are daffodils, so if they don't compete with bamboo a mass planting of daffodils would be a cheap option.

This year the birch trees were leafing out in early May, usually the safe plant out day is at the end of the month. They say when the birch leave are the size of a squirrel's ear it's safe to plant. It may be late September before we get any frost. Snow hasn't been sticking until Halloween lately. Very often it rains instead. A southern, sheltered, exposure should get warm enough. Particularly near the house. Thanks to some nearby trees, the area doesn't get full sun all day. I don't think Anchorage gets frost down three feet, but I'd have to research it.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by Alan_L »

The varmints will get through the seams in the hardware cloth box you make, not the holes.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it because it will definitely help at least for a while, but it's not bullet proof and some day may cause you more work than expected.
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Re: Bamboo in Alaska

Post by dependable »

Too much work for what is essentially an experiment, in my opinion. Bissetti seems like one of the more bitter Phyllostachys shoots too, not a popular choice for critters to chomp around here.
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