Florida Soil Thoughts
Bamboo After Care
How To Control A Bamboo
Bamboo Health Issues
Bamboo Health Issues
A well tended bamboo has few problems from pests or
disease or at least that has been the case here for the last twenty three
years. Here are problems I have observed.
Spider mites. During dry warm periods spider mites multiply rapidly. They
are tiny. They rasp into the underside of leaves sucking out plant juices.
Take a white piece of paper and hold it under a leaf then tap or shake the
leaf. If you look close you may see black or red specks. Those little things
are the mites. A hard rain or a blast of water from a hose knocks them off.
By the time they climb back up on a leaf their life cycle has ended. Bayer
and Ortho make systemic products which make a bamboo leaf unattractive to
them. Doing nothing has worked for me.
Natural predators reduce infestations to manageable levels. Find these
products at Lowes, Home Depot or garden supply stores.
Mealy bugs. Sooty
mold at the node where branches come out is a sign of Mealy bugs. Ortho and
Bayer make systemic insecticides which defeats them. Mix according to the
bottle instructions and apply to the soil near the plant and/or on the
leaves in early Spring and later in Spring when plant growth is noticeable.
Reapply if the problem does not go away. This also gets rid of scale. Ants
tend mealy bugs protecting them from predators so as to harvest more of the
honey dew they secrete. When you notice ants traveling up and down you
bamboo culms you likely have mealy bugs. Spreading ant killer near the base
such as Amdro exposes the mealy bugs to natural predators such as the ladybug
beetle called Mealy bug Destroyer. It has a red head with a black body.
Scale. Scale are small upside down bowl looking creatures that suck juices
out of bamboo and many other plants. When wearing gloves I rub up and down a
culm cleaning the culm of these pests. The systemic insecticide for Mealy
bugs also kills off scale and various other occasional pests. All of these
creatures excel at reproduction. Still a well tended bamboo is not much
bothered by them. At least that has been the case here. Follow the
instructions above and on the bottle.
I have used the Bayer Tree and Shrub insect control on potted bamboo with
success. I squirt the mixed fluid in the pot soil using a back pack sprayer
in the early Spring and again about four to five weeks later. It knocks down
both Mealy bugs and scale considerably. I have not used this for any bamboo
in the ground. My observation is that the multiplex bamboos are most
affected by these pests.
Other problems are occasional fungal spots on the leaves which I ignore and
I have heard about but not experienced here Bamboo Mosaic Potex Virus. I
rarely buy new bamboo from other bamboo gardens which helps me not catch the
latest new pest.
Our property grows a variety of host plants which serve as home base for
beneficial insects. Those are the good guys that feast on the nasty plant
eating pests. I have purchased mealy bug destroyers and other beneficial
insects but only when I believe our environment will allow them to over
winter and become a member of the local creature community. My host plants
include Confederate Rose, Yarrow, various herbs, Shrimp plant, dill,
butterfly weed, marigold, zinnia and golden rod. Also important I use
chemicals only as a last resort and then sparingly. When you spray far and
wide you kill off your beneficial insect friends.
Again a well tended bamboo seldom has health issues.