University of Maryland Extension


Bamboo - Running bamboo

overgrown bamboo stand

Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea)
Photo credit: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Lifecycle: Perennial grass that forms woody stems.

Growth habit: There are two main types running or clumping bamboo. They grow upright and tree-like or shrubby.  The upright shoots are called 'culms'

Reproduction: Running types spread by rhizomes. Horizontal rhizomes beneath the surface of the soil spread, and new shoots grow from lateral buds along the length of the runners.

Control: Running-type of bamboo, if neglected, will travel and become very invasive. It is this type of bamboo, in uncontrolled situations, that has given bamboo a bad reputation. However, restricting unwanted bamboo spread can be accomplished through sturdy barriers and by cutting back new shoots. In Maryland, bamboo has a distinct period of shooting, March through May. If cut back at this time, new shoots will not grow.

Sometimes people need to completely eliminate an existing stand of bamboo. Selective lawn weed killers will not control bamboo since they are designed to kill only broadleaf plants, not grass. Therefore, a non-selective herbicide must be used. To do this, cut all the stalks to the ground and allow the new growth to emerge and develop leaves during the summer. In October spray the mature foliage with a non-selective herbicide containing glyphosate (ie: Round-up or Kleen-up) at the 2% rate. Repeat the application in 14 days. Be careful to protect non-target plants from any over spray.

Resources: Invasive Grass Control
Publications: (PDF) HG 28 Bamboo 
                   (PDF) Spring 2012 HGIC newsletter article: Bamboo a Love Story (more on bamboo containment)


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