Is it normal for bamboo leaves to turn brown?

A customer who bought bamboo from us before the recent cold snap wrote to ask: 
Is it normal for the bamboo to brown in the winter?  All but the Golden Hedge now have brown leaves, following some rather bitterly cold nights we had last week and the week before.  The stalks still look basically the same.
Just wanted to see if something’s gone wrong.  I did avoid watering before the coldest nights for fear of freezing the roots, but otherwise they should have received plentiful water.
I replied:
You haven't done anything wrong.  The unusually cold weather has "burned" the leaves on many of the bamboos.  Those leaves will be falling off in the coming weeks and new leaves will form to take their place.  For information on which bamboos are most vulnerable to winter temperatures, please click on this post


Will the cold snap kill my bamboos?

Dwarf Buddha Belly leaves are beginning to die after being nipped by last week's freezing temperatures

Many people are worried about their bamboos.  People have been calling to ask what they should do to protect their bamboos during tonight's expected freeze.  Fortunately, most of the bamboos are going to be fine even if they are not protected at all.  All the running bamboos and most of the clumping bamboos can handle chilly weather - even when it dips into the mid to high 20s.  Certain ones are vulnerable but even those will rebound when the weather warms back up.  It is important to remember that even if the cold weather kills the above ground portions of the plant, it won't kill the roots.  The roots will remain viable and will send up new shoots again in the summer.

Here's a list of which plants are vulnerable:  all the Textilis bamboos like Emerald and Graceful are extremely hardy and won't be damaged unless temperatures dip into the mid to low teens.  That's also true for all the Multiplex bamboos like Golden Hedge, Green Hedge and Golden Goddess and also for Buddha Belly (Bambusa ventricosa).  Almost as hardy are Blue Timber, Baby Blue, Seabreeze and Yin Yang - those bamboos might suffer some leaf damage when temperatures dip into the low 20s. 

The ones to be concerned about in the current freeze are Dwarf Buddha, Hawaiian Gold, Angel Mist and Black bamboo.  To a slightly lesser degree, Ladyfinger, Asian Lemon, Giant Timber and Sunburst are also vulnerable.