Although bamboo makes an attractive and exotic ornamental plant in garden and landscape designs, its non-native status makes it invasive. There are few pests and diseases that attack bamboo plants in the United States, but those that do have the potential of quickly killing the plants. Monitoring the bamboo for disease and infestation is key to keeping it alive.
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Bamboo Spider Mites
Bamboo spider mites are small pests that feed on leaves. Although they eat plants rather than insects, spider mites resemble spiders, creating webs and egg sacs that are often visible on the bamboo plant. Leaves attacked by spider mites turn yellow at the edges, as the spider mites feed. Severe infestations can kill plants, especially young or poorly established bamboo. Control spider mites with insecticidal soap or mite-killing sprays.
Scale insects are small, black insects that attach themselves to leaves with a strong waxy secretion. They remain there for the rest of their lives. Infested bamboo plants the appearance of having shiny black scales. Scale insects feed on leave's sap, which causes them to yellow. In time, the bamboo may develop a fungal disease because of scale insect attacks. Treat scale insects with pesticides in the early spring to prevent them from becoming established.
Bamboo plants are susceptible to fungal diseases causing rust. Rust appears as yellow, orange, red or reddish-brown spots on the undersides of leaves and sometimes the trunk or bark. As rust matures, it prevents the leaves from photosynthesising, causing them to turn yellow and die. Untreated rust infections kill bamboo plants. Treat rust by removing and destroying seriously damaged bamboo plants and spray a fungicide on the remaining plants.
Armillaria Root Rot
Armillaria mellea is a fungus that lives in the soil, especially waterlogged or excessively moist soil crowded with roots. Armillaria root rot causes the leaves of bamboo plants to turn yellow, droop and fall from the plant as the bamboo dies. Bamboo trees are especially susceptible to armillaria root rot. There is no treatment for this disease. Remove and destroy infected plants to protect the remaining healthy plants from infection.
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