Ways to Kill Bamboo Plants

Bamboo grows faster than most plants on the planet, with some varieties shooting up over 3 feet per day, according to the University of Oregon. Though landscapers prize the plant for its lush foliage, bamboo should only be planted where it can be contained by an underground plastic, concrete or metal barrier buried 3 feet deep, states the Alabama Cooperative Extension. If bamboo has invaded your landscape, kill the plant by manual or chemical means.


Dig out clumps of bamboo using a spade or similar garden instruments. This is ideal for small stands of juvenile bamboo. Carefully sort through the soil and remove all of the plant's underground rhizomes, as these will grow into new bamboo plants if they're not completely dug out. Carefully monitor the area after digging out the plant to watch for new sprouts and dig those out as well.


Repeatedly cutting or mowing the bamboo will starve the plant's root network and kill it over time, according to Texas A&M University. Depending on the size of the bamboo stand, this may take several months. The university recommends cutting the plant down to the ground every time it reaches a height of 2 feet. Though this process may take a long time, it's usually less labor intensive than trying to dig out the rhizomes and it doesn't depend on potentially toxic chemical sprays.

Imazapyr Herbicide

Herbicide sprays formulated with imazapyr are one of the most effective lethal controls of bamboo, according to the University of Florida. Its prized characteristics--the chemical kills both above-ground foliage and underground roots, helping to eradicate bamboo's rhizomes--also makes it unacceptable for use in areas where the bamboo shares soil with desirable vegetation. The university suggests cutting the bamboo to the ground and allowing it to regrow to a height of 3 feet before applying imazapyr. Spray the herbicide according to its labeled guidelines, as toxicity varies by product.

Glyphosate Herbicide

Glyphosate doesn't possess the persistent underground soil activity that imazapyr has, according to the University of Florida, making it more acceptable for use in landscapes where bamboo shares soil with desirable vegetation. Since glyphosate only kills foliage, bamboo needs repeated applications of this chemical before its underground root network dies. The university suggests applying an herbicide with a glyphosate strength of 5 percent and spraying it whenever new growth appears.

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About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.