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Stop bamboo spreading

Stop bamboo spreading

How to control bamboo. Stop bamboo spreading. Bamboo runners taking over. Clump formers spreading out, bamboo spreading, bamboo gone mad. Control bamboo, bamboo removal. Bamboo eradication.

From the ground up has had several cases through May and June of bamboo plants that were otherwise well behaved clumps spreading wide by sending out runners. This was when it was relatively hot and notably bereft of rain. The symptom and prevailing conditions are not unrelated. The plant is spreading  out in search of moisture, but you can stop bamboo spreading.

This happens with otherwise well behaved clump forming plants as well as the more notorious running forms, and can have taken over the garden before you realise how bad it is.

In some forms the runners are strong enough to push through paths and tarmac, and to undermine walls or other structures with shallow footings.

Stop bamboo spreading
Bamboo can be managed to look smart and effective.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. There is no water local to the plant, so it looks for more to sustain itself. At the same time it may drop leaves to reduce transpiration.

The result in your carefully planned border is bamboo shoots where you don’t want them and brown paper leaves adorning everything.

You can take preventative and corrective action to stop bamboo spreading.

Prevent bamboo spreading runners

If the reason for sending out runners is to find water, then pre-empt it by making sure there is adequate supply. That does not mean just leaving a hose pipe on next to it, but also reducing its requirements.

This involves thinning out the main clump, removing up to one third of the stems so that it needs less to survive. This exercise also keeps the clump tidy, as any dead or damaged stems can come out at the same time.

You can also concentrate water at the plant by mulching,. This wil both maintains moisture close to the plant and helps to prevent evaporation.

You can also employ various physical and mechanical barriers, all of which are effective. But they may not be conducive to the easy care regime bamboos propose.

If bamboo has already spread

If the bamboo has already sent out runners you have a choice to make. First is to take a long view and starve out runners. Just like any other weed if you reduce its capacity to absorb energy it will eventually weaken and die. So keep cutting off the stems as they show themselves.

Stop bamboo spreading
The detail of pruning bamboo

Or you can take more radical action. They can be cut out, or even just pulled out. They should come out with the assistance of a fork or lever such as a pick axe. If stems are rising in places that can’t be dug or disturbed, within established borders, through a priced rose bush or such, then this is what to do. Bamboo Botanicals has further useful information.

Let the stem grow until it has a width of 6mm or more. Then cut of the stem leaving a portion behind. To this stump apply a glyphosate weed killer. With larger stems the liquid will sit inside the hollow stems and kill the runner.

The treatment may need repeating. There is always the danger that it will knock back more than just the runner you want rid of. So in some cases dig around the runner to expose it and cut as close to the main plant as possible. Don’t spray weedkiller around  the plant. It takes much more chemical to effect a result than letting it soak through the stem.

Once the stem and runner are dead they become quite tough and can usually be pulled out.

The best choice?

In this case prevention is better than cure, and the argument for a maintenance regime is strong. It takes only a couple of hours per year to keep the plant neat and limit its need to go searching.

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