June 17, 2007

Use Roundup on Bamboo Stems to Slow Growth

Q. I know many questions have been asked about how to get rid of bamboo, and I always read them. Has anything new come out that will kill bamboo? It has invaded my back yard and I cannot put a metal barrier down because I could not mow the grass. There are as many as 20 shoots that I mow down. I have poured white vinegar and salt on them - but they keep coming right back.

- Anne Jeffords

A. "Nothing really has changed on bamboo from the homeowner standpoint," says weed scientist Jeff Derr at the Hampton Roads Research Center. He says to spray or wipe a Roundup solution on the bamboo foliage. Then treat any regrowth that occurs. Avoid mowing for at least four days to allow time for the Roundup to be absorbed. If bamboo is spreading from a neighboring yard, you need to have a vertical physical barrier in the soil to block the spread of the bamboo rhizomes.

As to the barrier being a problem with mowing, the barrier should be flush with the soil so you can mow right over it. The way I controlled bamboo to some degree was to cut the shoots off at ground level and then pour Roundup on the cut stem. That doesn't eliminate it completely but it sure slows it down.

Looking for a name

Q. Might you know the name of the flowering bush that grows alongside the section of Interstate 64 below the interchange with 264 and above Indian River Road? It was nearly finished blooming this year by mid-May and has an array of somewhat large white flowers along its branches. Someone suggested it might be a viburnum . It looks similar to a weigela but the flowers seem too small.

- S. Callahan, Virginia Beach

A. I suspect it's a viburnum. If it looks like a small dogwood tree with the blooms on the upper side of the limbs, that's what it is. It used to be sold as Wayfarer Tree and may be listed that way at a nursery. Its proper name is viburnum lantana.

A very similar one is viburnum plicatum tomentosum, which resembles a dogwood. Or perhaps the plant is a weigelia. There are several new ones. Meanwhile, I'll ask one of my scouts to look at it and let us know for sure.

Missing blooms

Q. We planted two Roseum elegans rhododendron a couple of years ago. The plants have done well but have never produced flowers or even buds.

- Effie Michaels, Virginia Beach

A. Chesapeake horticultural agent Mike Andruczyk says your plant may not be old enough to bloom. Too much nitrogen fertilizer causes good growth but can inhibit flowering. Use one of the "bloom booster" fertilizers and that may do the trick for next year. There are several such products in garden centers.

Growing good cukes

Q. You talked last year about what good cucumbers you grew and how many you picked. Can you supply the name of the variety you planted? Do you plant from seed or do you buy plants?

- Jean Hart, Suffolk

A. Unfortunately, I threw away my old seed packets a week before your question arrived. The cucumber seed came from Park Seed. I buy from Park one year and Burpee the next, so this season it's Burpee seeds.

In checking the Park catalog, I believe it was Sweet Success Hybrid. It bore wonderful cukes all summer. I always plant cucumbers, zinnias and lettuce from seed because I believe you get better results than from purchased plants.

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