Why are the leaves on my new plants turning brown?

A customer in Jacksonville, FL recently wrote:
I have a question for you about the giant bamboo and the Asian Lemon you installed a couple weeks ago. I have been watering for 2 hours per day as I was advised. I am seeing that many of the leaves are brown now. Especially on the giant bamboo. Is it possible I am watering too much? They are not curling up so it seems they are getting enough water. I am hoping this is normal part of the shock a plant goes through. We have had some cold nights but only a couple hours below freezing and that might have been 25-27 degrees.

We are happy with the plants overall and look forward to seeing them really grow next year.

My response:
Very often newly planted bamboos shed leaves during their transition period. As you suggested, it's part of the shock of being moved into a new location. It is possible the cold weather might have damaged some of the Oldhamii's leaves. Younger plants of that variety are more susceptible to freezes than the Asian Lemon are but even if that's the case, the plants will recover as the weather warms up. To determine the health of your bamboos, see if new leaves are forming. Even when some leaves brown and fall off after being transplanted or during a cold snap, new leaves are also appearing. Regarding your question about irrigation, as long as the plants are not sitting in standing water, you are not over-watering.

You are right that in a few months when warm weather returns all you bamboos will explode with new growth. It's good to keep an eye on them but it's also important to remember, bamboos are very hardy plants. Even when stressed they will continue to grow.


  1. I, too, live in Jacksonville and planted this bamboo last spring. It was doing well until winter. It stopped growing around November. I'm guessing it was preparing to go dormant. Anyway, our severe cold (and length of it) earlier this month (Jan, 2010) turned all the leaves brown. I'm not doing research to see if my bamboo is hurt or not. From what I've read, the bamboo should do fine...we'll see - I want more!!

  2. You'll be surprised (pleasantly so) by the plants ability to rebound this spring. Even after a severe winter like we had,new shoots will emerge and quickly grow tall and thick. It's disappointing to see the leaves turn brown after a freeze but reassuring to know how quickly the bamboo will rebound.