Bamboo nightmare

Sorry that the tips have been a while coming but has been a very busy season for Kustom Landscapes. But I have just come in from my garden after doing back-breaking battle with rampant invasive bamboo, and felt I had to pass on my anxt right away! In domestic garden terms, in my view it is a herbal pest which rivals Japanese Knotweed.

About three years ago I cleared a dense thicket of bamboo, planted by previous owners. I left a small clump which I could not get at as it was awkwardly sited between a wall and a really beautiful climbing rose. I dug down and severed any speading woody rhizomes but this year I noticed a line of bamboo’spikes’ appearing through the densely planted bed. Curses! It has regrouped and invaded again. I excavated the line of rhizome, which ran about a foot below the surface and had to dig up a few nicely established plants which sat on top of the bamboo run – but I really had no choice. Once I had located the rhizome run I attempted to pull up the whole lot in one go but my back gave warning twinges so I have given up the task until next weekend.

If you have this problem, there is quite a lot of good advice on the RHS website; if digging is impossible, you could cut down the canes and use a heavy-duty stump killer; which is what I shall try on the rhizome cut ends, being careful of the rose roots; you could spray the shoots with herbicide but tricky if the bed is densely planted. I am also considering installing a barrier next to the rose to stop a future invasion into the flower bed.

So if you fancy some bamboo in your garden, make sure you know what you are buying. Mine is one of the Phyllostachys varieties and I think I also have a dwarf runner of the Pleioblastus tribe. Most good nurseries, on and off line, will be able to advise you on whether a bamboo runs or clumps. I would avoid running bamboos at all costs. If you want a screen effect, it is better to spend a bit more money and buy three or four clumping bamboos rather than risk trying to control a runner. In my opinion, the best way of enjoying these elegant plants is in a pot – but use a large glazed clay pot (to avoid undue evaporation) and be prepared to water regularly in the summer – surprisingly, these seemingly tough plants do need plenty of moisture. They will soon tell you if they are thirsty as their leaves curl inwards.