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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. hello. my bambo is turning yellow from up parts to down. im worried a lot about it. please help me about my bambo . its my tallest bambo and i realy like it.

  2. Yellowing is usually a lighting or fertilizing issue. Have you fertilized it lately? Have you moved it closer or farther away from a light source?

  3. Mine is doing the same, it looks like it’s drying up and dying. I’m afraid I waited too long to do something and may done irreversible damage. Do I just cut it to save what isn’t yellow? It has a new shoot with green healthy leaves growing from the base of it too?

  4. Sophia, When lucky bamboo is in this advanced state of yellowing it will not come back, so it is best to cut the yellow parts off. If there is any green part to the stem then there is the possibility of starting a new plant. It’s hard to tell without a picture, but most likely you can just cut off the green healthy part to start a new plant. After you cut the stem, dip it in the rooting hormone and let it dry overnight then place it in a container with water (use distilled water, or let the water sit overnight to release the chlorine). In a few weeks you will see new roots form. Check out this article for more details: We Are Not Always Lucky With Lucky Bamboo. If you need more help, send a picture and description to our expert via Ask The Expert!

  5. Can we put a little soil in the pot or water is enough because my bamboo is having roots.

  6. Yes, it’s perfectly normal for lucky bamboo to only be in water. The roots are normal, and they will absorb all the nutrients they need from the water. Check out this great article all about How To Care For Lucky Bamboo. It goes into a lot of detail. Hope this helps!

  7. Teresa Norman says:

    I have a bamboo plant and lately i’ve noticed the water has a moldy or mildew smell to it. Do you have any suggestions on what this may be and how to correct it I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks

  8. You should replace your bamboo’s water with fresh water, preferably distilled. Thoroughly clean your container to remove any bacteria or mildew that might be there. Make sure your container is well-rinsed of any cleaner before adding the bamboo and water back to the container. Good luck!

  9. I have a lucky bamboo that is shaped as a heart and the very top of it is turning yellow , I use filtered water and change it completely every week i went away on vacation and came home to the yellowing what can i do to save it?

  10. Lynn, it’s likely that light is your problem. Depending on the location of your lucky bamboo, it may be getting too much or too little light, my guess is too much. The solution for too much sun is changing out the water and not fertilizing for a couple of months. Move the plant into a bright area without direct sunlight. Now, if you’re bamboo is going through the opposite, you can move it into a brighter area to try to solve the problem, but not into direct sun. The other possible problem with your lucky bamboo could be the water. Every two weeks change the water with fresh distilled or tap water. Let your water sit out overnight in an open container before mixing it to your current water. Mark the level of the water on your container and try to keep the level consistent. Hope this helps! Good luck!
    You may also want to read: Top Questions About Lucky Bamboo – Answered!

  11. tayler alyssa says:

    ok so I just got my bamboo a day ago so im really new at this. Ive been looking at different websites trying to learn as much as I can. Some of them say I should put them into soil and some say pebbles. I really want it to be put in pebbles but I just want to make sure nothing will happen to my bamboo if I do. I really would be thankful if someone could give me some help. Thank you so much.

  12. Tayler, Lucky Bamboo can be kept in both water and soil. However, it’s a good idea to keep it consistent, so if your bamboo is in water and pebbles now, keep it that way. You can find more care instructions in this post: Your Top Questions About Lucky Bamboo Answered! Hope this helps!

  13. LORRAINE REDENZ says:

    WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL LUCKY BAMBOO. BACK IN OCOBER IT WAS IN A VERY COLD HOUSE FOR A WEEK. THE GREEN LEAVES GOT SPOTS ALL OVER THEM, BROWN AND WHITE. THE NEW LEAVES COMING IN BRIGHT GREEN HAVE SPOTS ALSO. I DO MANAGE TO CHANGE THE WATER , IT’S IN PEBBLES AND I LET THE WATRER RUN FOR QUITE A WHIILE SO IT GETS NEW FRESHWATER. I ALSO FERTILIZE ONCE IN A WHILE. SOULD I CUT OFF ALL THE SPOTTED LEAVES???

  14. Lorraine, there are several things it could be, including a fungal problem. If possible, please send a photo so we can examine it further.

  15. LORRAINE REDENZ says:

    DO YOU HAVE ANY ANSWERS FOR ME ABOUT THE LUCKY BAMBVOO PLANT WITH SPOTS. I DID SEND THE PHOTOS YOU REQUESTED

  16. Natalie Bill says:

    I was given a bamboo plant from a college student a week ago. I believe it was neglected because it was kept in the laundry room. When i got it there was dried loose yellow skin. I pealed it off and it also has a couple dried up looking stalks. Could they be saved? Also the leaves it does have are kinda droopy. The tops of the green stalks look yellow and dry. The plant itself is trying to soak up the water because it feels squishy. I want to know if this plant can survive. What do you think?

  17. Ive had my bambooo plant for bout a year now, hasnt grown much but gots a lot of roots have it in marbles. My concern is the roots are turning brown or like a dark red. Hope its not dieing????? I love my bamboo!!! :(

  18. Tana, if your roots are bright red, it’s possible they are growing red slime. It’s easy to tell for sure: simply touch the roots to see if they are slimy. If so, you should clean your container and marbles thoroughly and use distilled water. If your container is clear, you should consider switching to a container that is opaque. The clear container can cause red slime to grow. If the roots are more of an orange and not slimy, you are probably fine unless the bamboo itself starts looking bad.

  19. Sounds like your little bamboo plant is in rough shape. First of all, you’ll need to cut off the top of the stalks where it has dried and turned yellow. Next, is there ANY part of the plant that isn’t squishy? You want to cut away the squishy down to the healthy part. If there is no part of the bamboo that is not squishy, there’s probably nothing you can do to safe the plant.

  20. Francesca Hogan says:

    Hi I have had 4 bamboos at my desk at work for nearly 3 years now and they are growing great. the longest leaf shoot is now over 20″ long. Just one question i have had no new shoots at the top of the bamboo since I have had them, they just keep getting longer, but I did notice today that at the base of them on the mass of roots three of then have new shoot growing. Can I cut the bamboo and put these in a smaller pot ??? ( they have been kept in water the whole time never soil ) Many thanks

  21. Can you send me a picture so that I can see exactly where the new grow is.

  22. I recently was given a bamboo plant planted in styrofoam and pebbles. Should I take it out of the styrofoam and just keep it in the pebbles and water or should I water it the way it is, in the styrofoam?

  23. Alisa, I am unfamiliar with using Styrofoam as a planting material. I have heard of people using Styrofoam in the bottom of a large container before they add dirt to make it lighter and use less dirt. However, with lucky bamboo, I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this. I would say it is probably okay, but not the best situation for the plant. If it is healthy, sometimes the best thing to do is let it be. If you send us a picture of the roots with pebbles and Styrofoam we might be able to give you a better opinion.

  24. My lucky bamboo has been doing wonderfully for over 2 years. I am just now starting to notice one section of it turning a little yellow. It is in a ceramic pot with small stones and I water it once a week to just over the stones. I do not know how much water is in the pot as it is solid gray. Do I need to take everything out of the pot to maybe clean it?

  25. It’s probably a good idea to clean your container and stones; be sure to rinse thoroughly. What is your light situation? Is it possible there has been a recent change?

  26. How shall I protect it while I clean the pot?
    It has been on the window sill in my office at work for about a year and a half. it is not direct sunlight because my office is in an alcove. I have not touched it since I put it here because it was doing so good. I have applied (for the first time ever) some diluted MiracleGro for houseplants. Could that be the problem?

  27. Can you please advise on whether or not the MiracleGro might be the issue?

  28. Lucky Bamboo is a plant that actually does not require much fertilizer, if any. If your bamboo is looking puny, it’s probably in a bit of shock from the recent fertilizing. This is normal and should bounce back very soon. Cleaning the container and changing the water is a good idea. Just wrap the roots of your bamboo in a wet paper towel while you rinse out the container. Use distilled water, or tap water that has sat out over night to let the chlorine evaporate. It might take a few days for it to perk up; it’s best to just leave it alone and let it recover. Hope this helps!

  29. Awesome!! Thanks!

  30. I keep my bamboo plants in my office which has no windows, but lots of bright artificial light. The leaves on the larger plant (to left in photo) are starting to turn brown mainly at the point where they connect to the original shoot. The leaves look yellow in the photo but they are actually more of a tan/brown color. I water it every 2-3 weeks, depending on how much water it has absorbed but I’ve never cleaned the pot and pebbles. Could this be the issue?

    Attached Image: 1101121438.jpg

  31. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but is it the leaves only, or are the stalks turning brown too? If it is just the leaves, it’s not as big a concern. It looks like your bamboo is pretty healthy overall. It could be old leaves shedding to make room for new ones. Because you have quite a number of bamboo together in a container, make sure there is ample room for stalks, roots, pebbles and water.. Lucky bamboo does need enough room for air circulation, if your bamboo is crowded, it may be time to get a bigger container. I would recommend cleaning your container and changing the water. This post, Top Questions about Lucky Bamboo – Answered! should give you all the info you need about watering and other care info concerning your lucky bamboo. Hope this helps!

  32. Can I start new plants by taking cuttings & placing in water?

  33. Yes you can! To make them sprout roots even faster, you can pick up a rooting hormone from your local nursery or garden center.

  34. Help!! I got a lucky bamboo for Christmas but now it seems to be dying already!! It has a yellow-ish, still kinda green stem, however the stem is pretty squishy! The leaves are brown. Please Help me!!!

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  35. Oosh… your bamboo was not quite so lucky. Because the entire stem has gone soft, there is not much hope for your lucky bamboo. Since you have not had it very long, my guess is it was already infected by colletotrichum dracaenophilum, or something similar, before you got it. Lucky bamboo is grown in mass quantities and imported, therefore it’s easy for diseases, like this one, to spread. My suggestion is to find a reputable seller, such as your local florist, and replace this one with a new stem. (Be sure to wash container and rocks thoroughly before adding your new lucky bamboo.) Then be sure to follow all care instructions above.

  36. Melony Young says:

    I have a single bamboo stalk that has grown too tall for my home and is bending against the ceiling. I don’t want to damage this beauty. Is there a good way or place to cut it down without damaging it?

  37. Melony, sounds like it’s time to turn your single stalk into a double. Its actually very easy to do. You will cut the bamboo in half, the section with the roots will sprout new leaves and the section with leaves will sprout new roots. You will need rooting hormone, which is available at your local nursery or garden center. Where you cut your stalk depends on how big you want your two new plants to be. Since you’re is so tall, I’d say somewhere in the middle. With a sharp cutting tool, cut your stalk about an inch above one of the nodes (the little brown rings that run up the stalks) at a 45 degree angle. You will dip the rootless part into the rooting hormone (follow the instructions). Mist the other section to help stimulate leaf growth. Hope this helps. This post (although it is about cutting a sick plant) might help as well: http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/we-are-not-always-lucky-with-lucky-bamboo/

  38. I just got a lucky bamboo heart, and took it on a bit of a road trip adventure. My toddler yanked it out of its pot, then before it could be replanted firmly it was again unpotted and left that way for 4-5 hours, the unpotting and repotting of the plant continued throughout until it was finally put in a safe place, where it was forgotten in an unheated car in the freezing cold for a few hours once we made it home. It has faded in color and shriveled up a bit.
    Someone at a local flower shop told me to cut the stalk above the root ball and replant it. I’ve done so, is there anything else I can do to save this plant?

  39. Carissa,

    As long as you have some part of the stalk still attached to the roots, the plant should produce new leaves. Now you will just have to wait to see if the plant will recover.

  40. I have just moved my lucky bamboo from a small container to larger one … it is very root bound – do you think the roots will spread out in its new environment or do you think I should clip the roots to encourage it to spread out??

  41. I they are in water, you can trim them back slightly. In soil, I like to let them spread out.

  42. jamie donovan says:

    i just bought a lucky bamboo. its in a brown ceramic cup.the cup measures 4” tall,and 3” wide. the cup has a fake sand on top,with just a hole in the center for the plant. should i transplant it to a differant pot? i have know way of seeing how much water is in it,or what its in,please help?! ty :)

  43. Below the sand,is the lucky bamboo in soil or water? In my experience, plants with toppers like that don’t do well because, as you said, you can’t see when they require water. However, if it is in water it may not be too hard to keep as long as it gets new water routinely.

  44. I have 2 beautiful lucky bamboo that are about 5 yrs old they are in tall cylinder containers and the roots are now growing out of the top of the vase. Do I replant in a taller vase. The plants are probably 14 inches high.

  45. Katrina says:

    i have just bought a lucky bamboo plant and am afraid that if i put Epsom salt in w/ water that it’ll dies… any solutions?

  46. Katrina says:

    Epsom salt and water was what i used for fertilizer . I also have recently touched the leaves and they’re dry is it normal?

  47. Katrina, epsom salt is not an efficiient fertiler. It does not contain any of the primary nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus, potash. Because it is a salt it can actually cause issues for the plant if used in excess. Dry leaves are not normal and may be cause by the use of epsom salt. I recommend changing the water and discontinuing the use of epsom salt. Good luck and keep me posted.

  48. Katrina, I do not recommend using epsom salt unless you have a magnesium deficiency.

  49. Donna, you have three options. 1. Simply trim the roots back by about a 1/4 of the total length. 2. Top the stalks – this will gives you new plants as well as control the height of the existing stalks. 3. transplant into large containers. All options are acceptable ways to handle you problem.

  50. I have a straight lucky bamboo with leaves growing only out the top. Is there a way to grow shoots/leaves on more levels?

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