What Are Chemicals That Kill Bamboo?

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Not everyone likes the look of bamboo, especially as it spreads.
Not everyone likes the look of bamboo, especially as it spreads. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Bamboo grows quickly without a lot of special attention, which makes it suitable for inexperienced gardeners. The main problem with bamboo is that is spreads quickly, taking over a garden or yard. Even a few stalks of bamboo may grow fast enough that it leaves no room for other types of vegetation. Chemicals for killing bamboo work best when combined with other methods of eradication.

Stop the Roots

Attack the bamboo with a shovel or pruning shears, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Work during the spring months and trim the bamboo stalks until each one sits even with the surrounding ground. Bamboo features a thick root in the center of the plant called a rhizome. The roots of the plant branch off from the rhizome. The rhizome is much weaker during the spring. Watch for any signs of the bamboo growing again and cut the top. Continue cutting the tops of the bamboo, which slowly kills the root system until the plant dies completely.

Herbicides

Apply a thin layer of herbicide directly to the leaves of the bamboo. Bamboo Inspiration recommends using an herbicide like Roundup. Wait at least a week, giving the plant enough time for full absorption of the chemicals. Trim the bamboo with a saw or pruning shears, cutting down to the bottom of the plant and exposing the inside. Apply more herbicide to the interior of the plant. Watch the bamboo for two weeks, looking for any signs of growth. If the bamboo continues growing, then cut the top off again and apply more herbicide to the inside of the plant.

Clump Systems

Bamboo may grow in a clump system rather than growing independently. The clump system means that the roots grow in a large formation and share a root system. Working on only one plant at a time does nothing, because the other plants continue growing. You must attack and kill the root system, which kills all the bamboo. Dig up the soil and dirt surrounding the bamboo, exposing the root system. Break the roots with a shovel and apply herbicide to all areas of the exposed roots.

Nonchemical Means

According to Gardens Alive!, vinegar works as well as chemicals at killing bamboo. The site recommends a 20 percent solution of vinegar to water. Use apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. Cut the stalks of the bamboo down to ground level, and pour the vinegar mixture over the top. Repeat the process as you would with the herbicide, if the bamboo does not die after one treatment.

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