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We had a beautiful 9' tall very bushy bamboo for about 8 years - with a spread of around 4' and depth of 2'. Last year, because the roots were starting to push up the paving slabs, we chopped away the creeping roots (and had new slabs!) and fitted a 4' deep root barrier around the plant, to stop the spread going under our new slabs.
At the same time, we had our compost bin hidden next to the bamboo - the plant loved it and wrapped itself around the inside of the bin so many times and to such an extent the bin wouldn't budge and we had to saw the roots out!
12 months on and the bamboo now looks very bare at the top. It's still growing new shoots (within the barrier), but the tops of the canes are virtually completely stripped of leaves and is looking very sparse. Is there anything we can do to stop this leaf loss going any further or is the plant dying? Do we need to feed it and, if so, what with?
Incidentally, the sparrows love the plant and often gather in the top of the bare stalks. We don't know if it's them that's stripped the leaves or if the leaves have simply dropped.
Many varieties of bamboo, such as Phylostachys, naturally shed old leaves, so that the old stems become bare and twiggy. The old 'dead' shoots are progressively replaced by new growth that shoots up from the bottom.What you have could be perfectly normal. If there are vigourous shoots coming up from the bottom, then the plant OK.Some people like to prune the old dead wood out of the plant. That makes the plant look better.A good feed, and plenty of water, always helps.
Thanks very much Gary, that's re-assuring. We'll do some pruning this week and get the old wood out. Do you know if there's any particular type of feed we should use or avoid?
I don't actually bother to feed mine, although bamboos are said to respond well to feeding. Bamboo specialists recommend plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure applied every season. Specifically they need a fertiliser with plenty of nitrogen. I would have thought that any general purpose fertiliser would be fine. Apparently, they also need silicon, which they normally derive from their fallen leaves, so don't clear them away.Bamboos evaporate a lot of water through all that foliage, so you do need to make sure that they don't become dry. They normally get watered by monsoon rains, which is a lot more water than the rainfall we get, so it may be worth giving them a good drink regularly.
The correct way to prune them is to snip out the dead culms (that's the word for each shoot) right at the base.
Here in Greece bamboo grows like a weed and drives everyone mad. I had a man with a digger come in 2 years ago and try to get it out from behind the garden wall, he made an impression but it is back almost as bad as before and at least 9ft high. Any ideas to get rid of it completely?
You could cut down what you can. That should be straightforward. There will be fresh regrowth. But you can treat the regrowth with a weedkiller that contains glyphosphate (sold under names such as Roundup here). That should be manageable. Glyphosphate takes a few weeks to work.Continually cutting bamboo right down, and applying glyphosphate to regrowth will eventually eliminate it.