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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!

Find a florist near you to order lucky bamboo or see what other House Plants they sell that are easy to grow!


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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

  14. Sabastian says:

    Hi I have a one year old lucky bamboo that I want to move into artificial
    light. Unfortunately the only artificial light capable of growing my lucky
    bamboo is in the cage of my pet green iguana. I do not think he will try
    To eat it but I do not want to risk it. Plus he is only 2 and can climb very well.
    HELP IS NEEDED!

  15. Sabastian,

    Just get the plant close to the light source and you should be fine. I have had lucky bamboo in a lower light setting and it was ok.

  16. Please help me, I started selling cars 2 and half years ago and my mother bought this on my first day. It has grown… alot and I have moved it to bigger pots and everything but now it is turning yellow. I use water from the crystal rocks water machine here. What do i do?

    Attached Image: 11004877_10206275985608356_1796754506_n.jpg

  17. Trish Hall says:

    Hi!
    I have a lucky bamboo (I think) that was in a basket with other plants. I just transplanted it to a pot and want to know the best way to care for it. I plan to have this on a desk in front of a window that gets morning sunlight. Does it need to be shielded from the direct sunlight coming in the window? How often should it be watered? I’ve attached a picture. It is about 12″ high and in a pot about 5″x5″ with a space underneath the plant that will catch any water that isn’t absorbed by the soil. (Basically a pot inside the pot)
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Attached Image: 2015-02-26 10.45.50.jpg

  18. Crystal,
    Stop using the bottled water. Buy either distilled water or simply get it from the tap. If you use tap water, first put it in an open container and let it the chemicals evaporate from it for 24 hours before using on your lucky bamboo. Once you do this the plant should be ok.

  19. Trish,

    This article has care instruction for lucky bamboo planted in soil http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/flower-plant-care/plant-care/caring-for-lucky-bamboo-dracaena-sanderiana/. The light requirements will be the same whether the plant is in soil or water.

  20. We have a lucky bamboo plant and use distilled water and kelp water weekly to fertilize. The stalks have turned bright yellow all the way up the stalks. Shoots are the ONLY thing that remains green. Were we wrong to use Kelp Water Fertilzer drops on the bamboo. We do 3 drops per week.

  21. Gigi,
    You are using too much fertilizer. You might need to start new plants.

  22. Hi, just wondering if I can put my LB in black sand? Is sand too dense for the water to get through to the roots?

  23. Eve,
    No. sand and loamy soil is not good because it can be difficult to access oxygen. Lucky bamboo, just like most other plants, need well drained soil or even pebbles can work.

  24. Hi,
    I have a lucky bamboo plant that is about a year old. Today one stalk twisted on its own. Is this normal?

  25. Angie,
    Yes, lucky bamboo are known to twist. Sometimes they are set up to braid with each other.

  26. I have a bamboo plant that my husband got me for Valentine’s Day. It has been growing well and was very green until he “helped” by watering it. Not knowing that the water needed to sit for at least 24 hours he gave it straight from the faucet water. Now one of the stalks has turned yellow. We changed out the water and washed the rocks. Everything was done with distilled water. Now the stalk is still yellow but looks like it may be “greening up” a bit. The shoot on the stalk is green and the stalk has bumps on it that look like roots perhaps? Can you please help me with this? Thank you!

  27. Kristi,
    You can wait it out and see if the stalk gets to a normal green color. The bumps may be new leaves coming in. Time will tell.

  28. I have 1 stalk that has turned yellow and the leaves are starting to turn yellow also. How do I root a lucky bamboo plant. I wanted to cut the top part of the stalk off that was still green and try to salvage it but I don’t know how to “root” it. Mine was bought planted in soil with pebbles in a plastic container and that was in a ceramic container. I only water it once a week but I see where other people have it just sitting in water. Is there a difference in how to grow them?

  29. Tammy,

    This post might help http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/we-are-not-always-lucky-with-lucky-bamboo/. The basic principle it to cut off a green healthy section of the bamboo dip the cut end in rooting hormone and then place the cut end in the medium of your choice (water or soil). If you want to grow yours in water the new piece will need to be rooted in water. If you want to grow it in soil it needs to be rooted in soil.

  30. Hi…got this plant a month ago, just forgotten to water it for 3 weeks and found out that the other stalk is turning yellow. Had tried to water it for 2 days now on tap water…not sure if I’m doing it right thus I need your help to save my plant if it’s dying. . . 😐

  31. Star,

    When you forget to water a plant there are two things you need to check before watering. One has the soil pulled away and two, does the soil still feel moist? Some plants can go several days without watering. The important thing to make sure is that when you water it the root ball absorbs the water and the excess water drains away. If your soil is moist leave it alone. If your soil is still dry after attempting to water it for two days, you may need to soak it from the bottom up. This can be accomplished by filling a bucket with water and setting your pot in there for ten minutes. The soil should now be moist to the touch. Hope this information helps!

  32. Madison says:

    I have a bamboo that was sitting in a tiny pot for about 2 years and it did just fine. Well the roots were poking out of the top of the pot and I felt bad for it so i repotted it into a bit bigger pot. It sits on my desk at work and the water type hasn’t changed and the lighting hasn’t changed but the bottom leaves are turning yellow and the stalks seem wrinkled up. I used it’s old pot for watering and a bit more because it always used all the water in a day or so. Now it’s not using the water and the water smelled funny. I flushed all the water out and rinsed it out really good and only added the small pot’s worth of water, now it doesn’t smell, and it’s been a couple of days and it’s not used it. there is a bit of white discoloration on the bottom of the plant but it has always been there.

  33. Madison,

    When you moved it to the new pot did you place the stalk deeper in the water? If so this might have caused some rotting issues. Send me a pic – jadams@flowershopnetwork.com.

  34. Madison says:

    No, I left the bottom of the stalk at surface of the new rocks. I used the new rocks to surround the older ones because it was so root bound I didn’t untangle them to much because I didn’t want to damage them. I shook loose the rocks I could, to give it some room, and placed that in the little hole I made in the new ones. I’ll send a picture when I can.

  35. Yeah a picture would help.

  36. My Lucky Bamboo stem has turned yellow. I water only with rainwater. I have never re-potted my plant, nor changed the area where it is located. What should I do? Do you need a picture?

  37. Teresa,

    Yes a picture would be great. Are the leaves still green? Typically the most common cause of yellow stems is because the plant has dried out from too little water. Water should be added on a continual basis so that the roots are always well under water. You do not need to go higher than the root line. The problem could also be the fertilizer. Fertilizers used for plants that grow in dirt are too strong for lucky bamboo. Use only fertilizers made specifically for water-based plants. Hope this information helps!

  38. Good day Jamie & all,
    I was given a small lucky bamboo many years ago and it’s outgrown the pot. I have not reported it yet. It has also gotten so tall I have the top leaning on an object to hold it up. I have read prior comments and you asked someone to send you a pic of plant. How do I go about that ? Also, it has done really well until recently and now the leaves are turning yellow.
    I would Really like to send you a pic and get your input. Thank you much. Nancy.

  39. Nancy,

    Yes it sounds like it’s time to repot your lucky bamboo. You can send a picture to rachel.brantley@flowershopnetwork.com and Jamie and I will be happy to look at your plant for you.

  40. Hey Nancy,
    My bamboo was severely root bound and when i re-potted it it started turning yellow too. I decreased the amount of water i was using because even though the pot was bigger it was still using the same amount of water. I just used a little over half of it’s old pot to measure out the water. ( mine was in a pot with rocks) I believe once it started to spread out it was just using more energy to fill it’s new space and that killed quite a few leaves. I just put it on a water regimen and kept the yellowing leaves trimmed off and it pulled right through in a couple of weeks.

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