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What Herbicides Will Kill Bamboo?

bamboo image by cyndi Claessens from

An herbicide is a naturally occurring or chemically created compound that kills specific plants. Herbicides are available for killing everything from moss to water plants. Bamboo is quick growing and even faster spreading, using runners to spread out over large distances. Bamboo is also highly resistant to most herbicides, which must be applied in specific ways in order to completely eliminate the bamboo.


Glyphosate is an herbicide found in products such as Roundup. Glyphosate is effective against any plants it comes into direct contact with. This herbicide does not have any soil action, so it is safe to use when the bamboo is positioned close to other trees or plants. For the best effect, paint the glyphosate directly onto the leaves. Once the bamboo stalk is cut, immediate application of a glyphosate herbicide (within 15 seconds) will result in the herbicide being carried directly to the roots. The optimal concentration of glyphosate is 5 percent.


Imazapyr is an herbicide found in products such as Arsenal. Imazapyr is by far the most effective herbicide for killing bamboo. The only disadvantage to this product is its soil action, which will kill any nearby plants whose roots may extend into the application zone. Imazapyr is applied directly to the root system, usually to a radius of 3 feet from the trunk.The optimal concentration of imazapyr is 1 percent.

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid is an herbicide found in products such as Burnout. Acetic acid works by changing the chemistry of the soil and cell sap, rendering it ineffective. According to Geoff Hamilton, author of "Organic Gardening," acetic acid is effective in controlling and killing bamboo 90 percent of the time. Acetic acid is most effective on a hot day, as more of the herbicide is absorbed into the root system. The optimal concentration of acetic acid is 20 percent.

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