bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

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Alan_L
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Location: St. Louis area

bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Alan_L »

I thought this would be a good place to document the temperatures that the polar vortex caused here in the St. Louis area in Feb 2021, and what damage my bamboos suffered as a result.
Damage seems minimal so far besides some obviously crispy leaves, but I'll post more in a couple weeks.

The attached images show the recorded temperatures for my area, with the cold snap highlighted. The main thing to know is that we had gotten a lot of rain a week or two before the cold arrived -- I suspect that had a big positive impact on cold hardiness. A few years ago we had a very dry Fall/Winter and the cold snap that year was only 3 days long but almost every leaf on every plant turned brown from it.
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Feb 2021 weather C.jpg
Feb 2021 weather F.jpg
Tarzanus
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Tarzanus »

Wet / dry. There it is.

You've had snow and clouds most of the time, with only one day of sunny weather. Sun and dry NE wind are the real killers during the winter. cold alone can damage bamboo, but if it's combined with sun or wind, the damage is way worse. Like I mentioned earlier, northern side of Borinda fungosa is green, despite the fact that it's way colder there in the shadow of itself. Southern side is bone dry by now. And we've only had dry and sunny weather during the cold wave, we've had rain since the beginning of the winter. Other bamboos fare well so far, it's just the Borinda that is marginal around here.
Alan_L
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Alan_L »

Time for an update a month later: every Phyllostachys is in great condition! Aureosulcata forms virtually no damage (a few culms show crispy leaves, but most culms show nothing but healthy green. Ph. atrovaginata has about 25% crispy leaves, the rest green. Ph. rubromarginata has about 33%-50% brown leaves, with the rest green. Ph. bissetii on the side I can see looks untouched. The back side (north) is the side that typically shows winter damage and is always less leafy, and I haven't had a good look at it yet. Ph. virella is my youngest plant so not too dense, and shows a bit of burning -- still at least 50% green though.

Photos will follow soon, but I'm really amazed. Moisture is so important! (a few years back a shorter, less cold period turned most leaves brown after a very dry fall and winter)
Tyke-A
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Tyke-A »

We got hit hard here in southwest Mo. Everything above ground is dead, even the Aureosulcatas which I thought were pretty tough. Quite a few are completely dead. The ones that aren't dead have reverted back to what they were when I first planted with some only pushing up the grassy type growth. Several years of work are gone and I dont have it in me to bother with it any more so I am killing off most of what is left. The one that surprised me and is doing really well is the Shanghai 3. Last year for the first time we had 2 inch culms. It has down sized some but the grove is trying to push up some decent culms with several in the inch and a half range. Also surprising is the Parvifolia. It is pushing up some large culms as well. If it wasnt for hundreds of brown dead culms it woudnt look half bad.

I am on the edge of the Prairie so its very windy here compared to the eastern side of the state. Zone 6b. Out of several dozen varieties planted these are the ones pushing up decent culms and strong enough to keep going with:
Shanghai 3
Parvifolia
Nigra Bory
Henon
Prominens
Arundinaria
Nigra Megurochiku (surprised the hell out of me)

New plantings that survived. Time will tell on these,
Moso
Makinoi
Rivalis
Lo Fu shan
Japanese Arrow Bamboo (1 clump of 4 survived)
Alan_L
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Alan_L »

So sorry to hear!

Very surprised at some of these, but I suspect that the plantings that fared better -- even if less hardy -- had some wind protection.

Did you have a fairly wet fall and winter before that?
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needmore
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by needmore »

I don't know about either of your site conditions but I always kept my groves cleaned up and thinner as I liked that look and I am certain that it adversely impact hardiness as the grove density was too thin to protect from winds. So if Alan's groves are older and thicker I would expect them to hold up better.
Brad Salmon, zone 12B Kea'au, HI
http://www.needmorebamboo.com
Tyke-A
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Tyke-A »

My groves are around 5 years old. Shanghai 3 has by far been the best performing Bamboo here. The grove is 75ft by 100ft or so. Its doing so well I am letting it have all the room it wants. Parvifolia is doing well but doesnt put up anywhere near the amount of shoots that S3 does so those groves arent quite as big.
We had a normal fall and very mild winter until the vortex hit. My location is windy all the time. Those late summer days are pretty brutal with over 100 degree days and high winds. Like sticking your face in a furnace. I've pushed it by planting 7a/7b plants too so its been interesting to see which ones can make it. We're selling the farm so I hope whoever buys it will appreciate the Bamboo. Its been a bird watcher paradise. We're headed to a little island way down south where I will most likely grow more Bananas than Bamboo. I'll have to have at least one Timor Black just because.
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needmore
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by needmore »

Well welcome to the sub-tropics, I'm finding some interesting bamboo, bananas and more!
Brad Salmon, zone 12B Kea'au, HI
http://www.needmorebamboo.com
Tyke-A
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Tyke-A »

I grew Bananas here in Missouri. There was a pretty active forum a few years back on Bananas.com. Looks like its still around. I really enjoyed them. Many interesting varieties to mess around with. Really looking forward to Tropical gardening with all the exotic plants like Orchids etc
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needmore
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by needmore »

I'm currently growing 4 varieties of bananas but I think one of them is on the way out, I grew fruiting edible bananas in northern CA which was a bit tricky, and inedible fruiting bananas in IN which was much harder. Also planted a small citrus orchard here (7 varieties) with some exotics like lychee, rambutan, abiu, loquat, jaboticaba, bolivian mangosteen, macadamea, peanut butter fruit, jakfruit, mountain apple, mango, avocado, papaya, surinam cherry rolinia, star fruit, coconuts thrown in.
Brad Salmon, zone 12B Kea'au, HI
http://www.needmorebamboo.com
Tyke-A
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Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by Tyke-A »

Sounds nice. I'll have to look some of those up to see what they are. I got some edible Bananas to flower by keeping them under T5 HO lamps during the winter. Most of them I kept dormant thru the winter
westfork
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Location: Eastern Siouxland USDA z. 4b, AHS heat zone 6

Re: bamboo damage from Feb 2021 polar vortex

Post by westfork »

We can finally get a pretty good idea of what made it though a zone 3 winter in our zone 4b location. Last spring we had the poor timing of planting a couple dozen more bamboo species to test right before an incredibly hot summer that locally was the driest in forty years, followed by an early cold snap of two nights of 8 degrees (-13 C) in October which was the first time that these mild of temperatures defoliated bamboo here. I guess it showed that bamboo needs time to harden off for winter as do other plants. Then for over half of February we had temperatures below zero, two at 32 - 34 below zero (-37 C) and several daily highs of well below zero. For once we gave all the bamboos winter protection consisting of 6" of straw. There was not more than a couple inches of snow cover for insulation.

First, we were amazed at how well all the new alpine bamboos handled the weeks of 90 - 100 degrees (32 - 38 C). It must be because we cool off at night unlike growers who have trouble with them down south in Missouri. We did find that the alpine clumper that seemed to thrive and spread the most in the heat (Jiuzhaigou X), is the one that has not yet shown any life this spring - and that was for both specimens in two locations. Perhaps it is just a later starter than the others. The most vigorous clumper early this spring is the Fargesia taibashan II which is growing amazingly rapidly.

All the running bamboo seem to have survived. The culms of our 23 year old P. dulcis are already 8 feet tall and still pushing upwards strongly. The newly planted P. rubromarginata 'AT' are also off to a very early start, but they benefitted by having a bit of snow cover back in the shelterbelt. After killing many varieties for years, we once again are trying a P. aureosulcata (Lama Temple) and it survived the winter with flying colors. The test will be if it is still around seven years from now as aureosulcata seem to burn out when they never have above ground growth survive during any winter. They hold their foliage long into winter but don't seem to recover from repeated total defoliation and culm loss. Oddballs like the Berg Bamboo and Bashania fargesii are also coming back strong.

Time will tell.
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