Bamboo is a rapidly growing plant of the grass family. It is considered to be the fastest growing plant on earth with some species of bamboo growing upwards of 4 feet in just 24 hours. Though bamboo is a blooming plant, it blooms just once every 7 to 120 years. It prefers moist, well-drained and sandy soils and responds well to a heavy fertilization schedule. Though the plant is a hardy one, it is susceptible to several plant diseases.
Black Sooty Mold
Black sooty mold is one of the most common bamboo plant diseases. It is a charcoal black fungus that develops around the branch bases and leaf surfaces. The mold’s development begins with honeydew drops that are left behind by aphids. The sooty mold spores that circulate in the air attach to these drops. As these spores germinate, the charcoal mold is produced. Indoor and outdoor bamboo plants are equally susceptible. Though the mold can be washed off, it can reappear if the insect infestation remains uncontrolled. Eliminate the insects with the use of a registered insecticide, following its instructions closely.
Stem Rot/Root Rot
Stem rot and root rot are plant diseases caused by fungal pathogens. Though the exact origins are unclear, the diseases were brought from China when the first bamboos were imported. Both diseases attack the soil in which the bamboo is planted. As it progress, the bamboo will begin to show signs that include foliage yellowing and browning, stunted growth, wilting and leaf drop. Stem rot will also display with calluses and lesions on the stems. When broken, the interior of the stems will show decay. When uprooted, the roots of the bamboo will also show decay and wilt. Infected bamboo should be removed, including the soil, to prevent spreading.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that attacks the leaves of the plant. The disease initially appears as circular, powdery white spots on the leaf’s underside. As the disease expands, the spots increase and the powdery fungal substance begins to cover the entire underside of the leaf. Bamboo grown outdoors is most susceptible to contracting this disease towards the end of the growing season. However, indoor-grown bamboo can contract powdery mildew during any time of the year under the right conditions. The powdery mildew fungus grows rapidly in moist, humid conditions that provide little ventilation. If left untreated, the disease will begin to attack the stems, tissue and base of the bamboo, resulting in leaf distortion, yellowing, and eventual death of the plant. Remove infected leaves immediately from the plant. A fungicide spray can be used to eliminate and prevent the disease.