unwanted bamboo

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

Hi,

We have two gigantic bamboo plants, and we can't get rid of them.
I've tried cutting them to the ground, and digging them up, but the roots are too strong.
Any non-chemical ideas?
Greatly appreciated,
Christie

Nope, nothing non-chemical I can think of for those save a back hoe and a big chunk of your lawn and even then they'd probably still come back to haunt you. Here's hoping somebody has had experience with removing bamboo.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

My neighbour has them on her side of the fence, and she fertilises hers!!!! C'mon, what chemical then? There's no plants near right now.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

I feel your pain! Running bamboo runs rampant down here in the south. I have not found any effective way to get rid of it besides using a backhoe to dig out the roots. I had the idea to put down large sheets of black plastic in the summer to cook the roots. I don't know if that would work or not though.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

In one part, the digging is almost impossible, it is under a big oaktree, and its roots are toucher even... Chemicals then?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Our local radio gardening guy says to cut off the shoots as they come up and pour chemical straight into it. I am pretty sure you can't cook it away with plastic. The way he talks about bamboo , virtually impossible to make a physical barrier.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

There is a whole block here that has it. It started out in one yard, then it spread to the next, and the next, and the next. Everybody's backyard on that block now has it. Several oak and pecan trees in those yards died during last years drought because the bamboo used the available water before the trees could.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh my! Better get it out soon than!!!

Now is a really good time to cut back the canes and give them a nice drink of happy juice just like sallyg suggested. Regular strength RU should be fine. Cut them down to about 18". When they begin re-growing, and they most assuredly will, begin spraying the new foliage with RU. When I have a plant that I want to nuke with a foliar spray and I don't want to deal with drift killing off other plants in the same area, I take an old cardboard box and create my own spray booth. I slip the box over the top of the foliage and spray down into it. Just leave it in place until the chemical is dry and then you can lift it off. That bamboo will probably have to be cut back to 18" a few time. It's probably not going to go down easy. If these plants do not resprout again by spring of '08, dig them out.

I am convinced the only way to contain some of these bamboos is to drive sheet piling down into your ground around the area where you want to grow it or drain your swimming pool and plant it in that. Even then it would probably crack the concrete in future years. Biltmore Estate in North Carolina has a lot of bamboo. I saw that driving in and driving out and driving in and driving out and my jaw was basically hitting the floor.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Question:

I have some unwanted bamboo we've been cutting to the ground and poisening with roundup (sure it's not strong enough). But my worry is this - I have a single wide mobile home that we will be moving out next year and putting in a double wide - right over the bamboo. Will the light cutoff of a house on top kill the suckers or are we risking home damage???

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I would try to research the possiblity for sure.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

There is a good chance that it will try to grow under it. I have seen it growing underneath older houses that are built off of the ground. If you install vinyl skirting it will reduce the chances. I would also try to put down a plastic sheet barrier around the outer edges of the home.

Hawthorne, FL(Zone 8b)

Strange thing about bamboo: it can be very hard to establish! Once it's established and content with conditions, there's no stopping it. Flooding will kill almost any species (there are only a few exceptions: despite looking a bit like some water-loving plants, almost all bamboos hate wet feet), but that may be difficult to maintain for long enough to cause a kill. I had a little grove of moso bamboo I started from a seedling, which was doing fine until a series of hurricanes went past a few years ago, with rains keeping the water table almost at the surface for several months. It all died. Meanwhile, bamboos on slightly higher ground survived and now are beginning to be a nuisance.

Repeated mowing to the ground might work. Remember that there's a big root system that relies on the culms for nutrition and in most species stores the sugars they create through photosynthesis (in moso, most of the food storage is in the culms rather than the roots -- not usual -- and this may make it easier to kill by mowing). If one repeatedly cuts down every shoot (eating them works fine if you catch them young and tender; some are edible raw, some have cyanogens and such that can be eliminated by cooking, sometimes in several changes of water) and chops every older culm off as low as possible. it might be possible to starve the roots out. It's a lot of work and I've never yet had to try it myself.

The problem with Roundup is that it's absorbed best through green leaves. Applying the concentrate to cut stems of anything, at least in my experience, often isn't effective. Bamboos have a lot of root mass, and there needs to be enough Roundup to screw up the metabolism of all of it. All. I've sprayed suckers of sweetgum and persimmon long distances from the parent trees, saturated the leaves of whole clusters of suckers, and killed only a portion of those long roots: the parent trees were untouched. With most bamboos it's even worse: there's a lot more root volume than you think. I'd first try to starve out the plant by making it send up shoot after shoot and promptly removing those.so that it has no way to synthesize more food, and then perhaps let it grow some culms (they don't grow any higher once you cut off the tops, by the way) with what you hope is the last of its reserves... then spray the herbicide. And hope some more. An established bamboo is as tough as an unestablished one is delicate. Naah, tougher.

Again, I have never had to try this strategy myself, so I could be completely full of crap. From what I know of bamboos, it seems plausible, though it's a great deal of work. I do know that repeated mowing of perennial weeds, wild blackberries, persimmon and sweetgum suckers, and the like really can drain their reserves, and then spraying any new suckers with Roundup seems to be more effective than merely cutting them down and putting the concentrated stuff on the stumps. Your mileage may vary, and so on.

Good luck. You'll need it.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Here in Zone 5 I had to eradicate bamboo planted by a neighbor. She asked for help from all the neighbors involved as it was running in all directions. It even came up through a crack in the concrete pad foundation of a storage building. I think it was responsible for the crack! Basically we just dug and dug and dug. 2-4D was the only herbicide available at the time. The neighbor soaked the cracks in the concrete with it every time a shoot showed up. We eliminated it with relentless digging, tearing out some marginal shrubs and other plants in the process. It took two years but we did it. A copper barrier will contain it. But who can afford a three foot deep piece of copper long enough to encompass even a small area? It would have to be 2-1/2 ft below ground and 1/2 ft above. I did see a planting done in a six foot section of a partially submerged sewer tile. Not too many people have those lying around.

Hawthorne, FL(Zone 8b)

Hmm, 2,4-D isn't supposed to kill grasses, and bamboo is definitely a grass. It could be an exception, but I don't think so. I think that the constant digging did the work.

Any barrier sturdy enough and deep enough will stop running bamboos. I don't know why copper would be better than any other material; presumably it wouldn't corrode readily in most soils, but that's not unique to copper. The bamboo will find any weak point, seam, or what have you in the barrier. (I don't think that any bamboos will send roots deeper than three feet underground -- but I could be wrong.) The barrier has to be tough and continuous. I know that some bamboo nurseries sell special root-barrier material, some sort of strong and I think UV-stabilized plastic if memory serves.

Mark.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Copper is a well documented root growth regulator and inhibiter.

http://aginfo.psu.edu/news/may99/fiberpot.html

http://jeq.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/31/3/910

We really did dig a lot. An awful lot! Without the 2-4D I have no explanation for stopping the bamboo from coming up in the shed as no digging took place in there. It could be that she used other household chemicals that I don't know about. She was intent on saving the concrete pad. The shed is still standing with no more damage or growth. Regretfully though the neighbor died about 5 years ago. She was a really great gal who had no idea what a problem this stuff would be when she initially planted it. It WAS beautiful, but as you know you can learn to hate it real quick.

Personally I like the sewer tile idea. It is deep enough and sturdy enough to withstand the pressure from the roots. If you leave a tall enough lip exposed you can have a handle on roots/runners trying to go over the top.
I am thinking of trying one of these two new introductions:

http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&id=2746


Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

I just wonder if it could be grown in one of those plastic fish ponds that you see in garden centers. Drill some holes in the bottom, put it in the ground, and fill it with soil. I don't know if the bamboo roots could go deep enough to get through the drain holes or not. A layer of sharp edged rocks on the bottom might prevent that. I have one that I use as a goldfish pond and it is about 2.5ft deep.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Well, there is one way to find out! I don't remember having to dig any deeper than 12 to 14 inches. Please don't take that as a reccommendation. I don't have any idea what variety we were dealing with and this bamboo wasn't forced to find a way around an obstical, except for the concrete pad! Try putting a small copper fitting in the ground at each drain hole.

Indian Harbour Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

As some of you are well aware, bamboo is extremely invasive. Even if you see one at a nursery and they tell you that it's not; before buying I'd do a lot of research on that particular species. And then, if you're planting in the ground I would put a deep barrier around it to prevent unwanted roots from spreading.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

Although this bamboo is in a recreation area and is allowed to grow this way, I have seen it just as bad in yards and in roadsides. That is a utility pole for scale.

Thumbnail by escambiaguy
Dickson, TN

I have some luck with heavy mulch - as deep as you can get it. Cut off any shoots at the ground and cover area with layers of cardboard, heavy paper, even old carpet or blankets - then top with a very heavy layer of mulch - you have to cover a large area around the plant or where the plant was. Check often to see if it has spread beyond the mulched area or broken through.

Milton, NH(Zone 5a)

I've been beating down the old bamboo this summer and I'm winning!. When the leaves were out on the shoots I did three series of spraying with Ortho brand vine and woody stem killer at its recommended solution so it would pass all the way to the roots. I took this advice from another DG thread and agree. If it is too concentrated it won't get down to the roots. It took three times to make the leaves die. Then I waited a month, mostly because it was too hot to pull roots in the afternoon. Since August I have been chopping and pulling out the most amzingly huge dead root system from about a 15' diameter area. It is very densely intertwined. Since I don't have any heavy machinery to do it with, I'm doing it by hand. I'm almost up to clump that started it all. And yes, the area is dry soil.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Whew! Gal, That's quite a job. It will be worth the effort.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

You can kill bamboo by cutting down ALL of the existing canes and then kicking over any shoots that try to come up. I cut the canes and then I apply roundup to the cut area, I also apply roundup to the shoots after I kick them over. It's way more effective than trying to spray the leaves because their surface is too waxy.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

Has anybody tried boiling water?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I suspect it would probably kill/damage the top growth, but it won't kill the roots so I'd expect it would come back.

Carrollton, OH(Zone 6a)

I would love to have some bamboo roots that are hadry enough for zone 6 if anyone has some unwanted.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

synda - I hope you research bamboo before you plant. There are hardy varieties for Zone 6 and some can be extremely agressive invaders. Check before you plant.

Carrollton, OH(Zone 6a)

OK thank you!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I agree, definitely do some research before you get anything. Unfortunately the hardy bamboos are mostly the running kind, the clumping kind tend to be more tender and there probably aren't many of them that would work in zone 6.

Carrollton, OH(Zone 6a)

Thank you Don't need any runners!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Here's a nice site that lists runner vs clumper and hardiness for a number of different bamboos. http://www.bamboosourcery.com/bamboo.cfm Look for things that have a "C" in the type column and say they're hardy at least to -10F. I took a quick look and didn't see any, but there were a few that were hardy to -5 (which would be zone 6b) or 0 (which would be 7a) so if you've got a protected area you can put it you might be able to consider one of those.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

The roundup I just bought has instructions for killing bamboo, cut off the cane and pour 1-2 T of concentrated non-diluted Roundup into the hollow. I am going a step further, I am using a steel rod to ram down though all the membranes till it hits the bottom where the roots are and I pour the roundup in there. Working like a dream :-) It's such a shame, my bamboo is so beautiful, I hope soon to be saying WAS so beautiful!

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

Thanks Puertorico, I'll give that a try!

casselberry, FL

i will take chunks of bamboo off yur hands if u would like....i know i know im crazy....thankz

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Our local TV gardening show was asked how to get rid of bamboo. They gave a one-word answer: "MOVE!"

I finally convinced my hubby to cut down the bamboo in our yard. I don't think he believed me when I said it will regrow, and that we'll be battling it for the rest of our lives!

Spring, TX(Zone 9a)

I've been fighting bamboo from my neighbors yard for ~18 years! I have learned a few tricks, (after a lot of back-breaking digging, of course) one website suggests that you dig a 36" trench around the bamboo, and install a heavy pool-liner quality material, keeping at least 6" of it above ground. (to me, this is a heck of a lot af work AND expense, to stop something that is not MINE)
I have had SOME success using concentrated Glyphosate (roundup, or equivalent) cutting the bamboo about 3" above ground (or pulling up the bamboo to expose the larger feeder tube) and filling the reed as full as you can get it within a few minutes of cutting. (The plant tries to protect itself by drawing the moisture from the damaged plant area back into the rhizome, and, of course, taking the Glyphosate back with it...)

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

jerrytx - thanks for the tip about Glyphosate. I've been gardening for over 50 years and have never had to resort to using pesticides, but I really think I've met my match with this bamboo!

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Glyphosate will work, however it will likely require repeated applications. Essentially you starve and exhaust the roots by not allowing the top to photosynthesize. The more the reserves in the roots the longer the process takes. But eventually, if the plant cant manufacture food it will die. You have to remember that if the stems are green that mean chloroplasts and chloroplasts make food, not as much as leaves do, but they do make food. So keep killing the stems and you will win the battle. It may mean daily applications to any new shoots popping up. Be vigilant. Science is on your side. Some folks have also had success with poison ivy brush killer that you paint on. Same approach. Don't allow the plant to photosynthesize.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

I have just been cutting it back :-(

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