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Bamboo should be sold with a warning!

Bamboo should be sold with a warning!


We strongly believe garden centres and plant nurseries should place written warnings on bamboo to highlight its invasive nature and educate customers on the risks of planting it in their gardens. We have been delighted to see some interest from the press over the last couple of weeks, covering stories about the dangers of planting bamboo, and we are glad we got to help by sharing valuable information with the public, which we hope will help raise awareness nationwide.

When asking worried bamboo clients who purchased their plant, they often tell us they thought they had bought ‘the right kind’ of bamboo. Unfortunately, labels on bamboo plants bought from garden centres across the UK can often be misleading or lacking prominent information. This leads consumers to believe they are choosing a non-invasive type of bamboo, only to realise years later that they purchased an invasive type. After all, they reason, “If they sell them in shops, why would they be invasive?”

We can understand why bamboo has been so popular – it is easy to grow, hardy, and tolerates pretty much any soil type. It’s particularly favoured in urban areas for its screening qualities, creating privacy in overlooked gardens. However, many people are unaware that it can be invasive if left unchecked. The ‘running’ varieties cause problems, as the name suggests, sending out long lateral runners that can spread 30ft or more beneath the ground to emerge in neighbouring gardens and beneath fences, patios, sheds, and even homes.

Having lived in Asia for many years, our client Kate Saunders was keen to recreate a tropical garden at her home in Wandsworth, Southwest London. She had some concerns about planting bamboo, but her gardener reassured her it could be contained by planting it in a lined trench. However, after some years, the bamboo escaped, with new shoots appearing in distant parts of the garden and on the other side of the fence in her neighbour’s lawn.

Kate said: “We thought the garden designers had taken precautions to contain the bamboo in a trench but unfortunately it didn’t work. I wanted to create an exotic haven in my garden, and it did look lovely, but the bamboo ended up being an expensive mistake. I’d advise anyone considering planting bamboo to think twice and only plant it in pots or containers above ground – and be prepared to do a lot of maintenance to control it.”

We believe it’s time for garden centres and nurseries to take some responsibility for the escalating problem being faced by gardeners up and down the country who have bought bamboo in good faith with no warning of the risks. In the meantime, here are our tips for preventing bamboo from spreading:

  • Choose a clumping variety such as Fargesia or Chusquea.
  • Always plant bamboo in a container or strong pot – never directly into the ground.
  • Use a strong vertical root barrier to line the container, which is designed to contain bamboo.
  • Prune the plant hard and regularly, at least every spring, to keep it in check.

With 28 years’ experience removing invasive plants across the UK, including bamboo, we have dealt with cases of all sizes and are confident we can help.

If you’re dealing with out-of-control bamboo, contact us today on 01932 868 700 or email us at [email protected] for expert help and advice.

Robert Spaceman

“We had a large stand of bamboo removed, thinned, contained and replaced. The customer service has been first class. Joe and Jason were fabulous and kept me well informed at all times”.