overwintering bamboo in container

Discussion in 'Poaceae' started by terri g, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. terri g

    terri g Member

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    I left my two container bamboos outside on a north facing deck that's quite exposed over the winter. Stems and leaves are almost all brown and dried out, but I became hopeful after cutting away some of the dead stems (culms?) to discover green shoots sprouting forth. The other bamboo's stems are showing green near the base but the remainder (80%) is brown.
    1) How best to resurrect them?
    2) How do I promote more shoots? I really wanted them as a privacy screen from the back ally, but it's not spreading like I hoped. I've had them a year; one's about 2 feet tall, the other 5 feet.
    Many thanks,
    Terri g
     
  2. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    1. They'll resurrect themselves, as long as the roots have not been killed. You can speed things up (slightly) by giving them a balanced fertilizer. I would wait until new growth has come in, so you can be sure which parts of the plants are still alive, then prune off all the dead wood.

    2. The best thing is to make sure the plants are happy -- getting enough sun, good soil, enough space for the roots, adequate watering -- and let nature take its course. The other things is to try for a good match between the bamboo variety (which comes in a wide range of types, with very different growing requirements) and your particular spot.

    It sounds as though these particular plants might not be ideal for the situation they're growing in (since they died back heavily this past winter, and aren't spreading as rapidly as you'd like). Do you know the species?

    If your deck is shady, you might have some luck with Sasa palmata or Fargesia robusta, both of which are pretty hardy also.
     
  3. bambooman

    bambooman Member

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    When over wintering bamboo the pot must be protected from freezing solid and by that I mean it must be surrounded by mulch, bubblewrap, rock or anything that will keep it from freezing. I would not reccommend blankets cause they get wet and freeze and this will not help your cause. But if you don't insulate I'm afraid you will have this problem every year. I've been growing bamboo in pots for 4 years and I leave them outside all winter and I'm in zone 6b, so I can prove that this works and some are 15 to 20 ft tall with no winter die back. When you have winter dieback it sets the plant back in other words the next years canes will be substantially smaller. so you will want to mulch inside the pots heavily and fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 13-13-13. Water well and don't let the pot dry out completely. Bamboo in pots needs to be watered more than plants in the ground. Trust me if you follow my instructions you will be successful. But you must check the hardiness rating for the plants you are trying to grow. There are many species that are very hardy in the phyllostachys genus, and some very hardy fargesias. But no matter how hardy the plant is if the pot freezes solid the plants are toast. A plant is not nearly as hardy when grown in a pot, but with a little help it should do fine. Hope you have great success from now on. Thanks for reading and don't give up on your bamboo it will recover if you follow these guidelines.
     
  4. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Fargesias are hardy enough to survive in frozen pots -- I had a couple of pots frozen solid for about two monnths in a back room a few years ago, one of F. nitida and one of robusta. They did not even lose their foliage, just waited for the soil to thaw and then resumed normal growth. The robusta is huge now (transplanted to the ground and given no winter protection), and is my favorite bamboo for the North.

    Phyllostachys bissettii has been the most solidly hardy of that genus for me, and has also tolerated being frozen in a pot, but I didn't try to make it last all the way through winter that way. As I recall I brought it indoors in time for Christmas.

    I'd venture to say that almost any of the smaller, ground-cover-type bamboos -- e.g. Pleioblastus or Sasaella -- would survive being cast in a solid block of ice and shot into space, as long as they return by next April and wake up in decent soil.

    On the other hand, many purportedly hardy species -- notably among the Phyllostachys clan -- turn out to be more fragile than advertised.

    So the moral is, you can never entirely believe anything you hear about plant hardiness. It's probably true as a general approximation, but clever gardeners -- like bambooman -- can make amazing things happen. So if you really want a bamboo to survive in a pot all winter without bunkerizing your deck, grow Fargesia robusta and relax.
     

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