The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
If you have a bamboo that has got out of hand, you may want to bring it back under control, or just want to eradicate it completely. Complete eradication will take time and patience.
- Non-chemical methods involve digging out clumps of bamboo and restricting the size. This can be difficult with very large plants, or on heavy soil. Use a sharp spade to dig up the entire clump or to remove sections from the edge of the clump that have grown beyond the limits. Sever the rhizomes as you go, lifting and removing them with a fork or trowel. The fringes of larger clumps can be rotovated
- If you wish to keep the plant, consider planting it inside a physical barrier (see the bamboo profile for more information on physical barriers)
- You can use a weedkiller to remove unwanted growth, or the whole plant. The larger the plant, the more difficult it will be to completely kill it, and it may take several applications of weedkiller to succeed
Eradicating unwanted growth
- To ensure you only kill unwanted growth, first sever the underground rhizomes from the parent plant with a garden spade
- Apply a tough formulation of glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Ultra, SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (soluble sachet only) or Doff Weedout Extra Tough Weedkiller) to the foliage of the section you want to kill. Alternatively, cut canes to the ground and treat with a stump and root killer containing glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Tree Stump & Rootkiller, SBM Job done Tough Tree Stump Killer (soluble sachet only), Doff Tree Stump & Tough Weedkiller and Westland Resolva Pro Tree Stump killer) or triclopyr (Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer). Treat foliage of any regrowth
- Consider replanting the original clump, or a division of it, inside a physical barrier to prevent future spread. See the bamboo profile for more information on physical barriers
Eradicating the whole plant
- With very tall bamboos, which can be difficult to spray, cut down canes to soil level in late winter and then apply a glyphosate-based weedkiller (e.g. Roundup Ultra, SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (soluble sachet only) or Doff Weedout Extra Tough Weedkiller) to the young growth in late spring and early summer. Several treatments may be needed
- Alternatively, cut canes to ground and treat with a stump and root killer containing glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Tree Stump & Rootkiller, SBM Job done Tough Tree Stump Killer (soluble sachet only), Doff Tree Stump & Tough Weedkiller and Westland Resolva Pro Tree Stump killer) or triclopyr (Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer). Treat foliage of any regrowth
When using glyphosate take care to avoid leaves and other green parts of all garden plants as it is not selective in action. Used with care, glyphosate is safe to use around the base of non-suckering woody plants, as long as the bark is woody, brown and mature. Glyphosate is not active through the soil and there is therefore no risk garden plants will absorb it through their roots.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see section 1a and 4)
Chemicals: using a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Chemicals: using spot and broadscale weedkillers