How to prune bamboos

Avoid planting them, or if you do, contain them in root barriers or plant containers or troughs. Here are some top tips.

Bamboos that take over

Running bamboos grow by sending out underground runners, or rhizomes, and can quickly take over whole areas of the garden, form dense thickets and become invasive. Many are weeds. Avoid planting them, or if you do, contain them in root barriers or plant in containers or troughs.


Clumping bamboos

The clumping bamboos are non-invasive but they can form very large clumps over time. They spread by producing one culm (stem) from each new rhizome. If the clump is becoming too large, simply cut off the culm when you see it forming in summer.

These bamboos range from 1 m to a massive 35 m. They grow quickly and do well in narrow spaces.


A useful hedge

Clumping bamboos can be grown as quick and stylish screening plants in a garden, pot or planter box. For a dense screen to about 6 m tall, you could try the slender weaver's bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’). Varieties with ferny, coloured or striped foliage are also available. Bamboo is an excellent soundproofer and carbon dioxide accumulator.


Getting rid of a pest

Bamboo can be a problem as it is often fast-growing, invasive and very difficult to eradicate. While there is no shortcut to control, some things will make the task easier. Use a glyphosate herbicide on plants while they are actively growing. Either spray it on the foliage when plants are about 1–2 m tall or apply it to the cut stump. While the bamboo is actively growing, the herbicide will be carried to other parts of the clump. Keep reapplying to the leaves as new growth appears.