Will Salt or Vinegar Kill Bamboo?

Updated February 21, 2017

Running bamboo can overtake a yard if you're not vigilant, sending new shoots up everywhere. Vinegar and salt may seem like natural control methods to kill unwanted bamboo, but only one of these substances works as a herbicide.


Vinegar works well as a natural herbicide since it's acidic. Distilled white vinegar, and other vinegars you can purchase in the supermarket, have a 5 per cent acidity; this is only strong enough to kill new growth and won't work on established bamboo. Herbicides containing acetic acid, or vinegar in a stronger concentration, will kill bamboo. Salt is not effective in killing bamboo.


Mechanical control works well to kill or weaken bamboo. The American Bamboo Society recommends cutting down bamboo at the base, then waiting for new shoots to emerge. Spray the new shoots thoroughly with vinegar or an acetic acid herbicide, wait two weeks for the vinegar to act on the plant, then cut down the stalks. Repeat as often as needed until you've fully eradicated the bamboo.


Vinegar douses the bamboo with acid to kill the plant. Bamboo plants vary in their resistance to salt, with some able to withstand a moderate amount of salt. There are far more effective ways to control bamboo than with salt, but vinegar is worth a try to eradicate bamboo naturally.

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