Is my Fargesia Murialae a mutant?

sundazingMay 15, 2007

Hi, I purchased a FM 3 years ago from in a 1 gallon container. The purpose was for a fast-growing privacy screen without invasiveness.

My culture should be perfect for it. (In fact, it is growing great nearby at the Smithsonian Shade Garden.) We have hard clay, but made a large pit and amended it with everything any FM could possibly want. It is in a great partial shade area. It gets watered frequently and top-dressed with manure in spring and mulched for winter. During any abnormal weather, it is given special care and foliage covered and protected from damaging cold winds.

So why is it still only 18" high instead of 18 feet high? Is it possible I got a mutant from a mutant dwarf seed? I read in envy of people growing FM for 4 years in Midwest climates which are 8 feet tall already.

Mine looks really pretty and healthy, but it is still a dwarf! I'm getting so frustrated, I'm thinking about buying some of that experimental gibberellic acid to get it to grow.

What's my problem? Any thoughts welcome and thanks in advance.

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Huh! Well I don't have any fargesia, but I did buy a supposed p nigra 'henon' from as well, in 2002. I don't know if they sent me the right one or not, because when the culms do survive the winter (they did for 2 years), they turn yellow for the next year. I wonder if they sent me the wrong stuff. I know that p nigra henon is not too hardy and in fact since our temps went down to zero this winter it died down where the snow wasn't covering them. But, I think they sent me the wrong one. This year I bought a p. atrovaginata from, their prices were better and they shipped a really nice looking specimen. Soooo, we'll see but I wanted to let you know you probably weren't the only one sent the wrong plant from

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:53AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

You may have a normal plant and abnormal expectations (especially for your Zone). I'm in Zone 8 and have a number of Fargesias. They are generally very hardy, but not particularly fast growers, unlike many of my other bamboo which can get huge in 2-3 years. A 1-gallon F. m. could take longer than 3 years to size up significantly. I also believe that the highest this species ever gets -- in ideal circumstances -- is 15'.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 12:22PM
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rfgpitt(z6a Pit PA)

agree w/ kudzu9 about expectations....

Also, Fargesias don't do well if summer temps are high:
long periods of mid 80*f days
periods where nightime temps don't cool off

(I have nitida, rufa, robusta and lost a 'white dragon')

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 2:44PM
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Hey, thanks folks for the input! If I have unrealistic expectations for its growth rate, I didn't dream it up by myself. Honest. My books say "rapid grower" and so did when I told them where I lived and where it would be planted. While I don't know its age, the one nearby at the Smithsonian Shade Garden is easily 8'.

As for heat being a problem, the plant has shown no signs of heat stress, and stays green and unfurled throughout the year. It is in a cool, shady yard and temps here don't go in the 90s much if at all. (It is currently 57F outside at 9AM in mid-May.) However, if you think I need to set up a misting system for it in 80F days, by God, I'll do it.

Kudzo, how high was yours at 3 years? (Yes, I know it grows to 15'. I used hyperpole to stress my frustration with its growth.) It seems to be spreading just fine, but looks just as high as it was in the 1 gallon container.

Mersie, I bought from due to the owner's credentials. However, I have been less than pleased when I called for support last year. After I hear more on others' experience with FM, I may well call them back and tell them to start using tissue cultures instead of mutant dwarf seeds! :) Thanks for the recommendation of another grower. I will definitely look into it.

My latest research has led me to this Fargesia Rufa 'Green Panda'. Can anyone tell me how that grows, and if you have both, how it compares in growth to Murielae? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 9:26AM
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sundazing- I described my F.m. situation in the clumper thread. will look forward to answers to your above inquiries D

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 9:49PM
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I meant the heat zone query ...

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 9:58PM
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Hey, Dave, thanks for the info over there! So this is your 2nd season with the FM? Mine is getting clumpier, just no top growth too. I haven't chopped down any culms at all. Should I do this to stimulate more growth? We had an abnormal winter with frigid -10+ windchill this winter. Had the little guy prepped for it and like yours, it came out of it evergreen and is still evergreen and looking good.

It is such an elegant looking bamboo when at full height, I wonder if we will be alive to see it though. :)

Have you thought of trying a kissing cousin that might grow this Rufa 'Green Panda' or do you know of anything else that will grow quickly in our zones? (I want my aesthetics and privacy and I want it now!)

Let me know what I should do with the culms. I have no probs cutting it back if it will shoot up higher.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 11:19PM
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No, your Fm is not a mutant.
Clumpers are slow growers period.
The sellers tell you they are fast growers, fast compared to what?
They want to sell you the plant. They are pricey.
The only thing I can suggest to you at this point, which might not make much difference is to fertilize the bamboo with grass fertilizer. Scotts Turff builder once a month and grass clippings once a week. They like that.
If you want a screen, plant a runner.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 1:23AM
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sundazing- I'm just experimenting and seeing what happens - I only have one season experience so far. (Fargsia murielae) Hosting four total now- two new and two that survived the -17 max low winter and are doing great. I was happy they made it thru winter at all. Worst since late '80s here for temps /duration. Was expecting to cut them back til I saw new growth at last year brown winterbeaten tips in approx mid-March. There are a couple culms that are a little tattered so probably will cut those out only. I understand that they kind of settle in first season or so and then take off. I am piecing together info from growers/vendors and excellent advice from veterans at this forum. Thanks to all. Above advice from butterfly4u is precisely what I'm doing here in the little-known tropical part of Colo. :) Will be planting a #5 Phylo. nuda (-15F) this weekend in my problem view location. I understand runners are less agressive in low number zones and I'm going to use kudzu's method of containment, if necessary, 'cause I don't want to dig down 36" / barriers, etc

regards, Dave
Bamboo Grove at 1.2121 miles high

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 7:59PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Actually, when happy they increase rapidly - same as the others. It's just that the energy is spread over a clump of numerous small stems, close together. I've had Fargesia robusta (note the species name) grow like a weed on one site, in clay (= moist and fertile, unlike sand) soil above a pond.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 12:11AM
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I have a F.M. that I would like to plant in my yard. Would it be best to plant against a south fall getting full sun or in part shade? I live in Toronto, so I am assuming it will like full sun more.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 3:25PM
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