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Fighting To Save Lucky Bamboo

Ask the Expert: Ongoing Fight to Save Lucky Bamboo Stalk

“When I was jogging about 4 years ago, I found this Lucky Bamboo stalk on the top of someone’s trash and took him home. He’s always been in a glass vase with water and sat outside in the enclosed patio in south Florida. I’ve never had a problem until a week ago when the top of the stalk became yellow.

I removed him from the water, trimmed back all of the roots, and cut the stalk about a half-inch below where the yellow stopped. I had to repeat the process a week later and then again, today, but this time, I cut it significantly beneath the yellow and quickly applied cinnamon onto the cut. I also submerged the roots in clean water with some hydrogen peroxide. The thing is that there is a smell about him, but It seems to be coming from the middle of the stalk. It he doomed? Will the yellow continue to grow from the top, seemingly out of nowhere? He did grow brand spanking new, white roots in the last few days so that seems healthy.

Here are some photos: The yellow top I cut off today, the new roots, the freshly cut stalk. (Any brown powder is the cinnamon) Thank you SO MUCH for any advice. I really want to save this guy!” Erika


Plant Expert Reply:

Stalk looks fairly healthy. A couple of questions: Is the brown towards the bottom of the stalk cinnamon? Why did you place cinnamon on the cut and do you always cut straight across?

When cutting lucky bamboo or any other plant, you should make the cut at a 45 degree angle. This allows for the plant to heal properly without creating a dieback situation. The straight cut could be part of your problem.

Are you seeing any lesions on the stalk — see the image in this post Lucky Bamboo With Fungus .

I am also concerned about submerging the roots in hydrogen peroxide. How strong was the solution? Lucky bamboo is finicky about fertilizer and can be with other chemicals as well.

Hopefully with a little more information I can help you resolve your issues.

*Normally Ask The Expert conversation go directly to the comment section, but this conversation was such a lively back and forth that the conversation was captured in my email before I could get it to the blog.


Erika’s Reply:


THANK YOU so much for your quick response! Wow, you and your site are great. I’ve been on other forums and they are not as nice or as concerned. 

  • 1. The cinnamon: I took the stalk to a “Master Gardener” group in town and they suggested applying cinnamon after cutting the stalk to help prevent infection and further yellowing. Does that not work? Maybe it doesn’t. It definitely hides his smell. Ha. Is there something else that might?
  • 2. And yes, all the brown is cinnamon on the stalk. I applied it to the top and a small hole on the stalk near the roots.
  • 3. I examined the photo you sent of the fungus. I don’t see anything brown or strange-looking like that. 
  • 4. The first two cuts I performed were straight across. This last one was inadvertently on a 45-degree angle, so that’s good!
  • 5. I had read online on a few sites about how a hydrogen peroxide solution can reversed root rot. Maybe it doesn’t work for lucky bamboo.  The solution was comprised of 1 1/2 tablespoon HP in 1 1/2 cups of water, so it was fairly diluted. I’m worried now, so I will remove him from that substance. 
Should I put him in cactus soil? Or perhaps keep him in water?
Again, thank you so much. Going to subscribe to your newsletter and recommend it to my friends. This is a great site and you guys are so kind.
Ps. Anybody good with cacti? My 17 year old cactus and the bamboo got sick on the same day.

Plant Expert (Jamie) Reply:


I am glad you like our blog. We try to answer questions as quick as we can. Hopefully we can figure out what is wrong with your plant.
I have never used cinnamon in the manner the Master Gardeners suggest. Most of the time, I leave the cut as is — simply because I have found it is best the let the plant form its own callus. As long as you prune a plant properly, it should create a callus which will seal the tissue keeping pests and disease at bay.
Although the cinnamon makes the plant smell better, we really need to find out what is causing the smell. Is the smell coming from the roots or the stalk? The hole in the side of the stalk was it solid or mushy? What problem is the cactus having?
The fact that both the cactus and the lucky bamboo developed problems on the same days points to an environmental problem.  For example, a high concentration of chlorine in your tap water could cause a problem in both plants. A temporary, but significant temperature change could be a factor. Have you fertilized them lately and if so was it a different kind or dilution?
I think you are ok with the hydrogen peroxide since it was diluted, but I would change the water. I recommend using a distilled water — this way we can be sure that the plant isn’t getting any unwanted chemicals.
If the roots are the source of the smell, you will need to cut them completely off. Make sure your cut removes any mushy part of the stalk. You can dip the cut in rooting hormone and place in a clean container with fresh distilled water. In a couple of weeks the plant will form new roots.
 I hope some of this information is helpful. After you let answer my questions, I should have a better recommendation.
Erika’s Reply:

As for the smell, it seemed to mostly come from the middle of the stalk and just a little from the roots. I keep checking the roots, but don’t see any black or dead material – just healthy looking orange and new white ones.  He doesn’t smell as bad as he has in the previous days, though. More of a kind of grassy smell.

Lucky bamboo healingThe hole on the side that I filled with cinnamon was hard and wasn’t mushy at all.
Updates on the cut: it seems to have dried out okay, however, it looks like, because of that, there seems to be an itty bitty rim around the outside perimeter that is shriveled and dried all the way around with a small, protruding thin indent growing downward from it.  I included a picture.

Answers to your environmental questions: the cactus is in a pot with two others and they sit near a bunch of potted ultra violets in the front of the house near windows facing north (in south Florida). The bamboo was in a covered patio (mostly outside) facing south.

The water we use is either reverse osmosis or from a pump going to a aquifer whose water comes back clean when we test it. 

I haven’t fertilized either of them in a long while.  Should I do this? Should I move the bamboo out of water into cactus soil and a well-draining pot?

As for the cactus, like I had indicated, its in a pot with two others that seem perfectly green and healthy.  I recently transplanted them into a bigger pot and I can’t help but wonder if I damaged him doing that or buried his roots too deep. 

Cactus showing signs of root rot Cactus with roots cut off

I went to check on him today and discovered that he does, in fact, have root rot. I thought it was on the stem only.  I have to somehow remove his root structure from the other two (they have grown together apparently through the years), but before I did that, I tried to cut off two parts of the upper portion of the cactus, hoping that they will callous over and I can reroot them. While he looks pretty bad from the side, the inside didn’t seem to be terrible.  I enclosed a picture for your professional opinion.

Jamie, you’re awesome and thank you so much for you time and your questions. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

Jamie’s reply:


Cactus are not my strong point, but the Arizona Cooperative Extension has a great article on the cactus and how to root them.
On the lucky bamboo — You never want to change the growing environment of lucky bamboo. So if yours came in water, you need to leave it in water — if it came in soil, leave it in soil. I think your top cut will be ok as long as dried part doesn’t expand. I am still a little concerned about the smell. I think you should try to start a new stalk by topping the plant.  Here is an articles with pictures that will help: We Are Not Always Lucky With Lucky Bamboo
You can leave the part with the roots in the container it is in, but start the new stalk in a new container. Hope this information helps.
I will place our conversation on the blog in case others have suggestions. So readers please weight in on this discuss through the comments below.


  1. my lucky bamboo has been in a ceramic small pot since I got it years ago. Will changing the pot to a glass vase interfere with its growth?

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