How much insulation does 1ft or more of snow usually add ?

stevelau1911December 4, 2010

I live in a climate that is almost guaranteed to have residual snowfall whenever there are periods of extreme cold. The historical record low is -22F, but on an average winter, I can expect the lowest to get around 0F, but whenever it gets even close to that temperature, I usually find my bamboos completely covered up by a good layer of snow since the cold spells generally come right after a snowstorm.

Does anyone know how much this snow can insulate temperate bamboos?

I am assuming that if it does reach something crazy like -15F this winter that the snow cover will still insulate the bamboo to around 5F since the snow acts a a very good insulator and there is also the natural heat from the earth.

The lower sections of the bamboo have generally been untouched as long as they have been under the snow the whole time, and I grow many varieties of phyllostachys and fargesias which often only leaf burn if their leaves are exposed to the air.

Here's a picture of what 4 inches of snow will do to my moso, so 1ft of snow will cover it completely since it only takes a little bit of wet snow to bring the culms to the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: moso in the snow

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There's a few variables, like thickness of snow, density of it, weather or not the ground underneath was frozen or not before the snow fell, if it's windy above the snow, and so on. That said, snow is generally considered to have an R-value of 1. In other words, 12 inches of snow = R-12 insulation. What that will actually mean for YOUR bamboo on YOUR site with YOUR conditions; only time and experience would reliably tell.

It's been my experience that snow cover, even just a few inches, makes a big difference to ground-cover (small) bamboos and juvenile plants on the ground. Obviously, you can't normally get enough snow to cover mature plants unless you go through the hassle of bending them over, weighting them down and covering before snow. I tried this kind of stuff when I first started into bamboo and after a few years found out that just growing what my zone allows gets me a lot better results with next to no work! Zone denial=hard work!

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 8:24AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I can't speak from experience, as regards bamboo, but I do have a Cyclamen anecdote.
Uncovered, my Cyclamen can handle down to about 5ðF. If snow-covered, it can handle
temps down to -22ðF apparently. Of course, this is a hardy variety.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 10:06AM
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It does look like it will be a snowy winter this year so most of my groves which are still juvenile will probably be completely covered by a couple ft of snow which is very normal for January and February.

I do grow bamboos that are mostly hardy to z6, but I still like making sure that they don't get leaf burned that badly over winter, but while the are still small and flexible, they should be protected by the snow at least for this winter.

By next winter when my groves go on their 3rd year and upsize significantly, I might have to stick some stakes in the ground and tie down some culms so that they can stay protected and get even bigger:>

My Yellow groove is the only bamboo big enough to poke out of the snow over winter, but that species is hardy enough to make protection non-relevant. It's more like the moso I'm worried about once culms get beyond 1 inch in diameter and no longer get bent to the ground with a little bit of snow.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 4:41PM
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I'm glad we don't have that problem here in California. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Potting Trays

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 8:28PM
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