Dying outdoor bamboo

Asked May 19, 2020, 9:09 AM EDT

Well established bamboo patch at the bottom of a residential street (and hill) suddenly dying! Insides hallow out, and some (10-12 feet) shoots can be lifted out of ground effortlessly. Other shoots show some fungal growth on outside. Still other shoots have lost leaves and display woody stems and branches, rather than green shoots with leaves. There is some new growth within the patch as well. How do we ensure the livelihood of the plant?

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Hi- running bamboo species are exotic invasives that should not be encouraged. The decline you are observing is probably a combination of natural decline due to age, weather, and overcrowding and infestation by wood-boring beetles (you may notice small holes and lots of sawdust in some of the dead culms). The fungal growth is secondary damage that occurs on declining or compromised culms.
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/bamboo
Jon

Thank you for this. The plant was established when we moved in; we do not encourage its growth (and in fact, kick over new shoots each season and have occasionally cut some roots to discourage growth), though we do enjoy the plant as a visual and sound barrier to a proximate major street (likely why it was planted in the first place). Observing this decline is depressing! What should be done with the existing damaged shoots? Are we to cut and discard? Is the fungus dangerous? Thanks!

Hi- yes, cut any dead and dying shoots off as close to the ground as possible and discard them. Small (7 in.) Japanese folding saws (available in most hardware stores) are super sharp and good for cutting bamboo. The fungus is harmless.
Jon