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Caring for Lucky Bamboo Plants

The so-called Lucky Bamboo has become quite a popular houseplant in recent years. With a resurgent interest among the public in Eastern spirituality, lucky bamboo plants have found a welcome spot in many homes, where they are valued for their interesting, sculptural shapes as well as for their symbolism.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo

Brief History of Lucky Bamboo

With it’s fresh, green hues and it’s vigorous tenacity, bamboo has been considered a symbol of good fortune in Asian cultures for at least 4000 years. It has the ability to thrive in a variety of conditions and to adapt to its surroundings. The ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui seeks to create a balanced arrangement of the elements of earth, water, wood, metal and fire in order to bring harmony to our living environments. Bamboo is valued as a perfect representative of wood, with its tall, vertical shape and verdant color. This element is said to have an influence on life energy, growth, vitality and physical activity. Because Lucky Bamboo is able to thrive in many areas of the home or workplace where other plants would not, it is frequently cultivated as a means to enhance the positive flow of energy or “chi” in these areas.

Ironically, the plant which is commonly sold as Lucky Bamboo is not really bamboo, but in fact a member of the Dracaena family (Dracaena sanderiana), plants which are well known for their durability under adverse indoor conditions. Because of its ease of care and it apparent resemblance to the true bamboos, this Dracaena is now widely grown.

Lucky Bamboo Care

Caring for lucky bamboo plants is very easy. Typically, they are grown in a few inches of clear water, perhaps supported by small pebbles, stones, or marbles. It is important that the water be kept clean and fresh and not allowed to stagnate. In areas where the local water is heavily treated with chlorine or fluoride, the leaf tips or edges of the lucky bamboo may become yellow or brown. This condition can also be caused by too much salt in the water, known as in “softened” water. Thus, it may be advisable to allow tap water to stand in an open container for 24 hours, allowing the chlorine and flouride to dissipate, before using it with your plants. In the presence of salts, it’s best to used filtered or distilled water.

Lighting

Appropriate light levels are also an important factor in caring for lucky bamboo. The plants grow naturally under the shady canopies of taller rainforest trees. Thus, they prefer an indoor location with bright, indirect light. They will perform well under artificial lighting. Too much direct sun can cause burning of the leaves. Too little light will lead to weak growth, stretching and poor coloration. Normal household temperatures are ideal.

Fertilizer

Since water contains no nutrients, per se, the best care for lucky bamboo plants includes the occasional use of a dilute solution of plant food. Without soil to buffer the fertilizer salts, the roots are susceptible to burning if the solution is too strong. Use any standard house plant food at about one-tenth the recommended dilution rate each time you change the water.

Getting Lucky Bamboo to Twist

Lucky bamboo is frequently seen growing in unusual twisted, curved, or spiraling forms, which seem to enhance its appeal and sense of mystery. The plant does not grow this way naturally. In fact, the curving shapes are produced by laying the plants on their sides, with light directed from the top and shielded from each side, causing them to grow in one direction only toward the light and opposite gravity. The plants are rotated regularly to encourage the spiraling form. Naturally, this is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process which justifies the somewhat higher prices commanded by lucky bamboos.

Your local florist can provide you with your very own lucky bamboo plant, and with just a little simple care, you too can bring a bit of harmony as well as elegant style to your living environment which will last for years. May good fortune smile upon you!

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Comments

  1. Linda,

    Upload or send me a picture, so I can see plant and determine what can be don.

  2. Sorry, but I don’t have means to upload a picture. I would like to have leaves growing on more levels rather than just out the top of the plant. Hopefully this helps and you can give me some suggestions.
    Thanks

  3. Linda,

    There really isn’t a way I know of it get it to produce more foliage along the stalk. Sometime when you top a stalk, it will produce one or more new shoots to appear. Wish I could be more helpful.

  4. Hi my boyfriend bought me a lucky bamboo, it had sand and stones and the stalk is turning yellow, I changed the water and left in a glass vase and now it’s higher up the stalk and going bad what I’m I doing wronge

  5. Kimberly,

    More than likely the problem started before you received the plant. You might have intensified the issue , if you filled the vase with tap water since it contains chlorine. You have two courses of action. 1) cut the top off and start a new plant or pour out the water and fill the vase with distilled water and hope the stalk survives.

  6. i have two (2) stalks in one (1) vase. i’ve only changed the water once in over two years but it is clear. one stalk has turned yellow from the bottom up to within three inches of the top but doesn’t seem to be going any further. the other stalk has started to yellow at the top, about an inch & a half.
    i guess i was unaware that the water needed to be changed or that fertilizer was to be used. i’m wondering if it’s too late & should i just cut away the yellowed portions & try to regrow what i have?
    i did not use distilled water but always water that stood in another container open to the air for at least 48 hours in an attempt to evaporate the flouride, etc.
    please advise
    thanks

  7. Tim,

    Wow – very interesting. Usually a yellowing issue is consistent – from bottom up or top down. on the stalk with the yellowing at top, I would cut the yellow top off and let the stalk produce new leaves. Then on the other stalk I would cut the green top off and let it form new roots. Before you place the stalk back in the vase, wash the vase with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Then fill the vase with distilled water if possible or with water that has been exposed to air for 48 hours. Good luck and keep me post on the progress.

  8. Sonya McHaney says:

    My mother bought me this plant many years ago, it’s the only plant I have ever been able to grow. Lately it has been turning yellow, starting at the shoots. The plant itself looks fine, but am concerned as to what to do. Please h-e-l-p. Mother said it may need to be transplanted; if so, do I just put into a larger container, and do I cut tops of shoots off? Also can I re-root the tops?

  9. Sonya,

    Can you send a picture. Is your lucky bamboo in water or soil? If it is in water and you have used tap water to fill the container the chlorine might be causing the problem. If that is the case, simply rinse the container and refill with distilled water. If the yellowing persists, cut the tops off and root them.

  10. I’ve had my bamboo for two years and it has almost tripled in size (picture attached) should I replant in a bigger pot?
    Thanks

    Attached Image: 20140704_151940.jpg

  11. Wendy,

    Bamboo should be repotted every 3 to 5 years to prevent it from becoming root bound. If the roots get too large, they can actually shatter the pot! It looks like moving to a larger pot wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    Ed

  12. Hi there, I was given a lucky bamboo approx 1 and half yrs ago with barely any foliage on it in a very small pot(see attached) just in water. It outgrew the small pot so about 3 or 4 months ago I repotted into soil into a 5 inch pot,lined with pepples.My problem now is its seems to have doubled in size since i repotted in soil and its growing new stems from the soil both on the inner side of the ‘circular bunch’ and on the outside(see attached).I dont think I anticipated its growth rate and new stems when repotting and now seems limited due to the new stem growth.I’ve ‘splayed’ the main bunch out a little to create a bit more room on the inside,but I’m just wondering if this is going to be enough or if a new repotting is in order to allow more light to the lower new stem growth.I’ve looked at some others online and they seem to grow to several feet so I would like to end up with these in one big pot say a 15 inch or so only spread out further from each other to allow for new stems.Would you advise leaving as is for the time being or repotting now and then giving several years in a new big pot spread out further from each other.Thanks for any help.

    Attached Image: DSC_0003.jpg

  13. Lee,

    It’s ultimately up to you as I don’t think either choice would have an adverse effect in the short term. But it seems obvious that you’ll need to repot sooner rather than later unless you want to remove the new shoots entirely and grow them in a separate container. As you’ve already said you’d prefer to grow them together, repotting is probably your best bet.

    Thanks,

    Ed

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