How to Kill Bamboo

How to kill bamboo... some species of running bamboo get out of control in the garden you may be considering eradicating it to stop it from spreading where it is unwanted.

Killing plants such as problem bamboos isn't easy but it is possible with a bit of perseverance. I have provided several methods and suggestions below and on other pages in this site which you will find links to on this page.

Bamboo rhizome and roots to kill

I hope these guides' will help you solve any problems you are having with bamboo plants.

It is important to note that there are two types of bamboo; running bamboo and clumping bamboo.

The rhizomes of running bamboo spread out very quickly and it is therefore ideal for creating a windbreak or privacy wall by using it for hedging your garden or landscaping projects but it needs controlling.

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Clumping bamboo stays in a tight clump and grows with less speed and therefore makes a better choice for a feature in the garden. How large a clump will grow to will depend on the individual species, some large species clumps will be pretty big but will not send out running rhizomes, you'll just have a very big clump of bamboo. Species with smaller diameter culms and a lower height growth tend to grow to a smaller clump size.

Both types are very resistant to being killed because the part that maintains life is the underground rhizomes.

Methods for Killing Bamboo

If you have a small area of bamboo you can successfully kill it using the following method. This technique uses herbicides. My preference is not to use chemicals unless absolutely necessary. Note that Roundup is my preferred choice of product for spot spraying as it only kills what it comes in contact with and does not render the soil useless.

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You need some herbicide, a brush, and something to cut the bamboo such as a pair of strong shears.

1. The first step would be to paint something like Roundup directly onto the leaves. Apply it in damp, not raining, weather and give this a week to soak in. The round up will start the process of killing the plant.

2. Cut the stalk to ground level and immediately paint the cut with the herbicide...... by immediately I mean within seconds! Once the bamboo has been cut, the sap flow will retreat downwards and therefore to make sure the herbicide goes with the sap you need to apply it right away or the bamboo will not die. The sap retreats within 15 seconds so if the treatment does not go down with it you will have wasted your time and have to repeat the process.

Tip: Make sure all the canes are cut and that there are no leaves or shoots left uncut. It is the leaves that will continue feeding the plant if they are left on, and encouraging it to keep growing.

3. If, a couple of weeks after your first attempt following this guide on how to kill bamboo, it starts to sprout again repeat the cut and paint method. Do not give up! Repeat the process a few times if needed. If you don't, it is likely to come back.

I used this to kill some bamboo in my garden and I managed to get rid of the bamboo after applying the herbicide three times over the course of a month. Provided you keep it up the plant will die eventually but don't expect final results from the first application, this is a very strong plant.

4. If you need to use that piece of ground for anything else you will need to dig up the root system. This is extremely hard work! The rhizomes run horizontally and look like underground canes. These must be completely removed from the ground. The other small root systems coming off the rhizomes can not regenerate on their own so it is not so important to dig every one of them up... thank goodness.

If you don't need the ground for anything I would leave the root system there to rot but keep a really close eye on it. If there are no signs of new shoots after a couple of years I would say that you have been successful in killing your bamboos.

What might happen is that you do not see any new shoots the following year but in the second year you'll notice small new shoots. It will be important then to snap off those new little shoots as soon as you see them.

Contributions by Readers

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Roundup and Dish-washing Liquid Mix - by Ben

After several years attempting to eradicate several groves of bamboo, I finally found the solution. All the bamboo was cut at ground level with a chainsaw. When it again sprouted, I mixed four cups of full strength Roundup in two gallons of water then added a half cup of concentrated dishwashing liquid. The liquid soap breaks the surface tension on the leaves and allows the Roundup to penetrate. In five days it appeared as if I had hit it with a "flame thrower." Spray any rhizomes which again sprout. Killed it with minimal labor...btw, Roundup is a contact herbicide and does not kill the soil.

See more readers experiences and tips to Kill Bamboo Plants