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Bye-bye bamboo. How to get rid of it by pulling, spraying, dividing.

Bye-bye bamboo In your landscape, bamboo may be a delightful guest or an obstreperous and disruptive boarder. If it's the latter, you may want to get rid of it. All bamboos are either running or clumping. How you remove plants you don't want will depend on which kind you have.

Running bamboo: root it out

Most smaller running bamboos have shallow rhizomes (runners) that are easy to pull up. Wet the soil thoroughly, grab a stalk with gloved hands, and pull steadily. A sharp, violent pull will break the rhizome and force you to grope in the soil for the broken end. If rhizomes tangle, tease them apart with a mattock.

If they are too stout to pull, chopping them out with a mattock works well but is exhausting. Before tackling such a project, cut off tops near ground level to keep the mattock from glancing off their flinty surfaces.

Clumping bamboo: spray and pray

The surest way to eliminate a large clump is to grub it out, but spraying with glyphosate is easier, if slower. Cut out the tallest stalks (culms) to bring the foliage mass within reach of a sprayer. To ensure complete coverage, mix the spray material with a spreader-sticker. Spray on a calm day to avoid drift, and thoroughly wet the foliage; and remember that later applications will be necessary. Killing takes weeks, and regrowth will certainly occur.

If you want divisions...

Both running and clumping types of bamboos can be divided to reduce their size or to get new plants for extending plantings or to give away (you might be surprised how many people want bamboo). Do your dividing fall through spring.

You'll find that large specimens are anchored by a system of spreading, woody rhizomes that make the clump seem as immovable as a tree. But the rhizomes aren't deep; you can sever most with a spade pushed in to its full blade depth.

Simply spade around the clump or a portion of it to loosen the rhizome mass, then lift the division from the ground and--if you want--cut it into smaller chunks. When working on a really large clump, tie stems into two or four clusters and split the rhizome mass in the ground with blows from an ax or mattock.

The larger the division, the quicker it will recover and start new growth. Smaller divisions may be useful for small containers, but be sure that each has rhizomes with buds to ensure new stems.

To balance root loss, cut back tops by a third to a half; then replant as soon as possible. Wilting and loss of leaves may occur, but new foliage will soon emerge.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1989
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