One culm of my Spectibilis is flowering. :(

Noticed something odd on a bamboo I bought just a few weeks ago. “Oh no!” I thought, please don’t let it be what I think it is. Upon closer inspection it turns out that my new plant, one that has not yet made it into it’s bed — still in its burlap diaper, has one culms (of only two) is indeed flowering.

I noticed this when I was moving it, P. aureosulcata (“Spectabilis”), to a new location in the yard so that it could get more sun than it was getting. It wasn’t looking as healthy as when I first brought it home so I watered it and put it in a large fake-clay pot, to keep it up off the ground so that no shoots go shooting from underneath.

I have real mixed feelings of this. Why be upset about flowers on my bamboo? Answer: When bamboo flowers, it dies. Bamboo only flowers once every 65 to 120 years, depends on the species. Nobody knows why, or can predict the flowering. When one bamboo species flowers, all bamboos of that same species, everywhere in the world, will also flower within a period of years. So, this being a favorite of mine, very decorative with its green stripes on yellow culms, I will need to learn how to grow new ones as all three that I have now could just die off – part of nature.

Never having had yet a bamboo flower, and never seeing any bamboo flower with my own eyes, if this is the only plant that flowers and it dies, I will see what I can do with the seeds. While sad that this new plant may die off, what if I can grow new plants from the seeds. I searched online for news of others reporting of their Spectabilis flowering and there were posts last year, and back to 2007, so mine is not the first or the first year of the flowering of this species.

From the little reading I have done before writing this post, the seeds that fall from the flowers do not create new plants very easily. But I assume, like anything else, if I want new plants where the seeds fall- nothing will grow; I don’t want new plants- there, free to grow without any barrier, so I would probably get new ones. So I will harvest the seeds and then figure out the best way to see if I can grow new plants in pots. I also read that sometimes flowers will appear with no seeds, someone else wondered if it was stress that caused one to flower, and another claimed that this species has a tendency to bloom outside of the normal bamboo 65-120 year cycle, so time will tell.

A post from Germany about this species:

“We in Germany get the message of Phyllostachys aureosulcatata spectabilis flowering quite often. But it’s only 1 or 2 culm of each plant flowering, so don’t worry. As Markj said, it’s never been a full flowering phase that might affect the plant.”

A post in Yahoo! ‘bamboo plantations’ group:

“John, et al, To the best of my knowledge it never makes viable seed. No pollinaton occurs. This is often the case with bamboos cultivated in garden settings. If you want to talk to someone who likes to grow bamboo from seed, contact Ned Jaquith at Bamboo Garden near Portland OR ; www.bamboogarden.com”

So, mine is only one culm- not the whole plant. Whew! I may be in the clear. I am still going to remove the flowers and hope for the best. I am waiting for Jimmy to get home from work so he can see the flowers on the bamboo before I remove them.

BambooGarden.com: Flowering Bamboo Presents an Opportunity
http://www.bamboogarden.com/when%20bamboo%20flowers.htm

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