Cold hardy bamboo for zone 4-5

Discussion in 'Outdoor Tropicals' started by Canadianplant, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    I have come to terms with my climate here awhile ago, knowing that I could never have a yard like you can in Vancouver, or even toronto. But, i just relized that i can grow bamboo here. It is a great suprise, but the only problem is that there are actually many that i can choose from.

    Now the average low in january here is -21 C. So I can assume that it generaly will never go below -29 ( I have never seen the base temp go below - 28 here). We tend to ger a decent amount of snow, but also tend to be a bit sunnier then normal here, and dont have as much of a problem with wind here as well. The soil seems to be somewhat sandy, but good draining. Possibly a bit of clay in the soil as well.

    Im in a bit over my head here, but I want to make my yard as tropical looking as i can, for the not so great climate here in the winter. I purchased a Fargesia Rufa from home deopt, and am fairly confident i can keep it alive here. Now i have an itch to get more types. So can any one here give me any advice as to care or more specificly, more types of bamboo that i can grow here, or at least try.

    THanks Everyone
     
  2. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    From what I can tell, the most northerly Bamboo in the world is Kurile bamboo (Sasa Kurilensis) which is on Sakhalin Island, Russia (47N) This is approximately the same latitude as Thunder Bay and not all that much of a dissimilar climate owing to the location on the north-east side of the Eurasian landmass and the presence of a large cold body of water adjacent to it (The Sea of Okhotsk). I think this area can get at least -30C in winter, so it probably would work in Thunder Bay as well. I'm not sure where you could get this type of Bamboo but if you can get it, it certainly would be worth a try for you. There are probably a few other species of Bamboo which could survive the winters there but I don't know anything about them...
     
  3. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    That is very interesting. The island has a vast range of climates, most of them are colder. Unfortunatly, the USDA hadiness zone is 7 apperantly.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sakhalin is mostly zone 4, with some 5 at the south end (the bamboos are in the zone 5 part).
     
  5. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Ahhh thats what i thought. I didnt mean "vast" as in tropical and temperate. Im not that descriptive when i type, sorry. You did help me find out what part of the island they are from. Now if they are in the zone 5 naturally, how come it is rated as zone 7??
     
  6. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Maine coast, USA, zone 5
    Here are my experiences in zone 5. (I'll spare you the gory details of my many failures.)

    At the top of the list, I would put a few of the short, ground-cover bamboos. Notably:

    Sasaella masamuniana 'Albostriata' - hardy and vigorous, beautifully variegated, spreads steadily but manageably. Max height around 2 feet.
    Pleioblastus viridistriatus 'Chrysophyllus' - a lovely yellow-green (more golden in sun) variant of the species which, for me, has been much more vigorous than P. viridistriatus itself. Tops out around 18 inches but is usually shorter than that.

    These plants will live right through a tough winter (owing partly to the fact that they are usually protected by snow) but look pretty shabby by spring. You often read the advice that you should cut them right back to the ground. I don't do that. The culms (stems, canes) are usually still viable and will put out fresh new growth in late spring. This new growth usually achieves a greater height than the new season's shoots emerging from ground-level.

    Among the taller bamboos, two members of the genus Phyllostachys have performed well for me:

    P. bissettii, a graceful variety with a tendency to grow sparsely and take on an arching habit. An established clump sends shoots taller than head-high, even if it's killed back to the roots (which does happen, especially in a winter with little snow).
    • P. decora - not as hardy as the above, I think, but a more vigorous grower (and spreader!) which forms thicker culms at a young age and looks lush and eye-catching.

    For the first winter or two, I like to provide some protection in the form of bending the shoots to the ground and covering the lightly with evergreen boughs. This usually (not always) keeps them alive and green. After that, the plant will grow back whatever you do -- at least it does for me in zone 5 -- so you might choose to leave it standing. They look nice in winter even if the culms die and the leaves turn a pale, parchment-tan.

    If you want to try another Fargesia, go for F. robusta. It grows very well for me. I've never tried rufa.

    Another thing to consider is the possibility of using ornamental grasses to achieve some of the same effect.

    Sasa palmata is said to be extremely hardy. That has not been my experience. Other varieties of Phyllostachys (for example nuda and aureosulcata 'Spectabilis') are also reported to survive temps down below minus-20. In my experience, some of these will survive, but they are usually killed back to the ground, and they just don't seem as hardy as bissettii. Still they all have their virtues.

    Please let us know of your own experiences as you go along. This is sort of a frontier of horticulture, and by sharing information, we're slowly building up the general store of knowledge. Good luck!

    Edit: I should add that I've also got an unidentified, low-to-medium, plain green variety that is probably the hardiest thing I grow. It was sold to me (erroneously) as Phyllostachys aureosulcata by a nursery in New England which, I believe, is no longer in business. I have no idea what it is -- it kind of looks like a more compact Sasa. (Could it be the elusive kurilensis?) It is rather slow to get established and show its stuff, but over time it forms dense thickets and grows to 3 feet or a little more -- perfect for erosion control, if that's an issue. I'd be willing to share some of this, if anyone is interested, but this isn't the best time of year for transplanting it, I shouldn't think.
     
  7. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Well it ws planted about a month ago, im a fairly shady area. ITts been cold and wet here for the last few weeks, and the leaves were turning yellow and it looked like it was declining. But now, since i gave it more sun, and now that the temps are up to 25- 30 before humidity, it seems to have taken off. The leaved look nice green, but it seems to be fairly slow growing. Il keep everyone posted throughout the summer and of course next spring to see how it does.
     
  8. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    How has your Fargesia rufa done this year? I got one too at Home Depot, so probably exactly the same kind - does your say Green Panda on the tag? It also says hardy to -26C. With the temps you have given, it should do well for you. I'm a little surprised that Thunder Bay is so 'warm'. The zones maps I've seen show Thunder Bay in pretty much the same zone as Winnipeg. Maybe you live in a sheltered area, or the zone maps are wrong. We often get temps in the -30's. Have you covered yours at all? I plan to bury it good, and hope it comes through. Mine's still in the pot, so that way I can move it, and bury it.
     
  9. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    We do get below -30 once in a while for a base temp, other wise its with the windchill. Were slightly warmer becasue of lake supirior. 14 km inland is generaly 5 degrees warmer in the winter then places further then 14 km inland.

    Our fall here has been in a word : crappy. Wet, below norm temps, but my bamboo has remained green beyond anything else in my yard with no indiferent care at all. I havent even had the time to multch it. IT is in a sheltered location, blocked from the dry northwinds, which I know you get severe winds from the north in the peg, so in you leave them outside, at the minimum try to block the northwinds, theyll dry it out.

    The lowest temp ive seen so far is about -6, and its growing still, well slowly, but its still growing. I was told to cover it when its goes below -10. What im going to do is bury half of it in leaves, then put a solid wood crate on top of it that has insulation inside of it. Then bury that in snow. Probably over kill but, id rather be safe then sorry.

    And yes, it is green panda, "the giant pandas favorite food" according to the label
     
  10. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Thanks. I don't think it's over kill what you are doing to cover it. You are pushing the zones quite a bit. The problem comes when it does survive and gets up to 8' tall, like it is said to. What then? If I keep mine in a pot, then I can just lay it down and cover it. For one in the ground, if the canes can be bent all the way down, then covered, the should help. Let us know how yours does.
     
  11. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    The good thing about keeping it in a pot is you can bring it inside during the winter. IT likes to be somewhat shaded outside. I was told that you could bend the culms downward, then bury it in leaves. Im assuming a layer of leaves wrapped in a garbage bag and alot of snow. Top kill is ok as long as the roots are safe. I have read about cutting down bamboo and burying it not unlike a banana. Apperantly it will grow back the following year if the roots ok, being a type of grass.
     
  12. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Yes, but if there is top kill, it will never get higher than, even if it grows new from the roots. As far as I understand, Bamboos keep growing from the top, so it is important to protect the whole culm. Cutting them back doesn't really make much sense either. Someone corredt me if I'm wrong, though.
     

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