Bamboo - To Shade Or Not To Shade?

Discussion in 'Poaceae' started by cocobolo, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    The American Bamboo Society website has information about the amount of sun/shade for each type of plant. However, after reading through many threads, I have noticed a great amount of confusion in this area.
    We are in the southern gulf islands here, which gets a fair amount of summer sun, and precious little in winter. To the immediate south of the Japanese garden where my bamboos will all be going, the neighbours have a variety of trees, mostly firs and cedars many of which exceed 100' in height.
    Unless they catch the dreaded Husqvarna disease, I fear I may never see any winter sun on the garden.
    Do I try to put the plants in the sunniest part of the garden, or will it really make that much difference.
    I'm not expecting to grow 40' tall bamboo here!
     
  2. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    Any sun/shade stuff you see should be taken with a grain of salt because what might be considered too much sun in California or Texas or Florida could be just a slight warming over here. I've come to the conclusion that you really can't rely much on a *lot* of the info you see online because there are infinite variables that make them meaningless. All you can do is consider that info very rough guides but be prepared to test plant and then move later if it's not doing as well as it should.

    I move a *lot* of stuff around: We like to experiment with a lot of fringe plants for our zone and climate, we have just about 3 acres that varies quite a bit for plants all over, some forested, some open and full sun, some swampy, some bone dry etc etc and a mini rototiller that is very fast for digging planting holes so every spring my wife and I are usually digging stuff up and wheelbarrowing it around to new places.

    In general I'd say don't worry about it, plant them wherever you want to but know that many will grow faster in the sun.

    Also I *would* expect to grow 40' bamboo, I certainly am hoping for higher than that with my timber bamboos. :)
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Follow the ABS designations for best growth and appearance. Some sun-loving kinds will also be warmth-loving and may require full light exposure here for good development. Those with low light level ratings really will want some shade, fountain bamboo for instance actually rolls its leaves during the day if planted in full sun.

    The more you read on the background and behavior of each kind the better idea you will have of what its parameters are. Most Phyllostachys are native to forests of southern China and therefore like warmth in summer. Fargesias are primarily montane species, often growing in the wild with plants like spruces and rhododendrons where they may form a dominating vegetation type recognized as something like Spruce-Bamboo. Sasas grow in shady woods of Japan and vicinity, where their oversize leaves presumably help them catch enough light in the gloom of the understorey. And so on.

    All hardy bamboos are from climates with rainy growing seasons. Here it is good idea to plant them in moist places such as seepages and beside open water. These will not, however endure much puddling in winter.
     
  4. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thank you both for that information.
    I will try to put the plants in what I hope will be a suitable spot for them. I think I have about 15 bamboos, only 4 in the ground yet. It is turning out to be a lot of effort to get the ground ready for planting, but I'm winning, slowly.
    I would rather not move the plants once they are in, but if it is necessary, then so be it.
     
  5. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    Note that just about all bamboos roll their leaves on a hot windy day in full sun. So do cherry trees and plum trees and some rhododendrons, it's quite common.
     
  6. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    JCardina:
    You're right. Our rhodos - some of them - do that. And our apricot tree. I have noticed that the bamboos do to some extent. At the moment, all the plants which are still in pots have some reasonable protection.
    We have been getting a fair bit of northwest wind, and I think before I get any more plants in, I will have to get a screen done at the north end of the garden.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Rolling of leaves always indicates a stress situation. Fountain bamboo rolls up in full sun because it does not want such exposure. This response spoils the appearance of the plant. In the correct light exposure it does not do it.

    Rhododendrons etc. that roll up during the growing season likewise need some kind of change in their situation. Watering a rhododendron that rolls up during dry summer weather stops it from rolling up.
     
  8. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    In this climate we get full sun and wind and very dry weather and temperatures above 25c about 15 to 30 days a *year* if we're lucky which is why any "part shade" plant is pretty safe either way in these parts.

    As far as watering and rhododendrons and curling leaves I know of at least one exception though it may be unique: we have quite a few rhodos and one in particular, I think it's a "vulcan" varietal is in what we thought would be dappled shade when we planted it in early spring before the alder trees started leafing up and it was doing fine all spring and summer until about a week ago when it just started getting dry enough and hot enough and sunny enough to cause it to curl due to a gap in the leaves that left it open to full sun for about 2 hours around mid-day. It looked really dire, I watered it and watered it to no avail but then I checked it early in the morning and no curling at all when later in the afternoon it was curled once again. It didn't seem to care about water at all, just the sun and dry windy weather. (which has since turned to the first rain since early spring)

    I know what you're saying and I don't dispute what you're saying as it's certainly safe and good advice but it's not always correct and through experimentation often you can discover things about plants that defies "common" wisdom. I highly encourage every gardener to take on the role of scientist from time to time and do a little experimenting, there are just too many variables in gardening to make nearly anything true 100% of the time. Zone bending is a perfect example, so many plants are rated far below the actual extremes they can take, every day people are growing things that would have been though unthinkable a few years ago.

    In this area near the ocean and on the west coast and with the mountains the way they are and the latitude it takes near ideal conditions to get anything near what would be described as a hot sunny day nearly anywhere south of the 49th.

    Some plants are completely unsuited to sun anywhere, big leaved juicy stuff like Cardiocrinums but for anything that is labelled part shade in most cases it's up for grabs here. Even some of my variegated bamboos show little to no practical difference in the trees in shade or in the sun. I've discovered this through trial and error and being willing to move stuff around and experiment with it.

    It's not exactly right to say that a plant is in too much sun if it curls two weeks or a month out of the year and grows like dynamite the rest of the year; but it's really up to each gardener to decide for themselves.
     
  9. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    This is all really quite interesting.
    I just went and looked at all the bamboo plants here, and none of them have curled leaves. Perhaps the fact that it is after 8 p.m. has something to do with it. There are two rhodos with curled leaves. They are in the same bed, about 12' apart. There is a third rhodo between the two, which is fine. Whether or not this has something to do with watering, I don't know. They have had exactly the same treatment as all the others. None of the plants still in pots, over 50 of them, show any sign of curled leaves. I will have to do as JC did and check the rhodos first thing tomorrow morning.
    Is it possible that leaves could curl from a LACK of sun?
     
  10. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    I've never seen that personally. We have some Rhodos in some *deeply* shady areas that do just fine. Dig around a bit and confirm the soil isn't bone dry before you do anything else.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    When my 'Vulcan' begin to droop at this time of the year they need to be watered. Any rhododendron that is rolling up at this time is either in need of a good soaking or has root rot. In either case not enough water is getting to the leaves for them to remain firm.

    During sub-freezing weather these roll up to reduce exposure of the leaf surface area.
     
  12. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    With respect Ron, I think I'll go with what my own eyes see on this one.
     

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