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We Are Not Always Lucky With Lucky Bamboo

Every week I get at least one lucky bamboo question. Yesterday I received a call from Stephanie who was having trouble with her lucky bamboo. During our conversation I ask if she could send me some photos of her lucky bamboo. She was gracious enough to do so and below are the photos she sent.

So often I have to explain the how to correct problems with lucky bamboo with out the benefit of photos. With Stepahanie’s photos I am going to walk through the procedures and reference the photos.

First Stephaine was having a common problem – Yellow stems. Lucky bamboo stems will turn yellow for a couple reasons — too much fertilizer or too much light.

Yellow lucky bamboo stalk

Lucky Bamboo Stem That Is Yellow

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. For example in the next two pictures, we can find a place where we can cut the lucky bamboo and start new plants.

Lucky bamboo stem

In the photo above, we could cut the lucky bamboo about an inch from the node (see the raise brown ring to the right of her thumb that is called a node – see the red line cut it there). I am guessing that the section with this node is attached to the roots. If we leave the section with the roots in water and start misting the cut end three days after it has been cut, new growth will form. In the lucky bamboo picture below, the end attached to the roots is unhealthy so we will have to cut the plant and encourage root growth. For example, I would make a cut an inch above the first node on the green stem (this will be to the left of the index finger in the picture – see the blue line cut it there). You will need some rooting hormone (the one we carry at our nursery & garden center is called Greenlight root tone but other brand have the same product just make sure it is in powder form). 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.

Lucky bamboo with yellow and green stem

In the lucky bamboo photo below, you can start a new plant in several placed. The key is finding a node and making your cut an inch above it following the procedures above. Stephanie was a little concerned with the paleness of the stem which could be caused by too much light or a little too much fertilizer. In a case like this I would put it in fresh water and move a little farther from the light source. Watch the stem if it starts to turn yellow you are losing the stem and will need to start new plants before it is too late.

Lucky bamboo stem with new shoot

In the next two lucky bamboo pictures we are concerned with the blackness of the cut end and the paleness of the stems. The black is not really a concern except that is accompanying a yellowing which indicates a problem. I would create two new plants from this one which will already have roots and another which will need to form roots. Cuts should be made an inch above the node at the bottom of the picture and will follow the same procedure as the first cut instructions above (this one will have roots already and will new to form new growth). The second cut will be made at the first node of the part that is growing form the curve piece at the top of the photo. This plant will need to form new roots and will need the rooting hormone treatment.

stem of lucky bamboo

cut end of a lucky bamboo

I hope these will clarify some of the issues with lucky bamboo. If anyone else has lucky bamboo pictures that you want discussed just go to the ask the expert page and upload your photos.


  1. Miranda,
    You might want to cut the bottoms off and let the plant produce needed roots.

  2. Gage,
    I need a picture to determine. The plant may have a fungus issue.

  3. Here’s what we’ve got…

  4. Another

  5. Last one

  6. The pinkness of the roots came from a fertilized water bead that it was in for about a year. Just ran out of those and the stalk started yellowing after that.

  7. Jason Chan says:

    Hey, I am having the same problem. I suspect that it is a fungal infection. Would cut off yellow part (since it won’t grow back anyways) and soak bamboo in diluted antiseptics for a few hours to kill off remaining infection. (based on what I can see)… tell me if it works

  8. Jason,
    If your stalk is turning yellow, it usually means the roots are infected. The best way to fix this is to clean the container and change the water. If you have the bamboo in stones, then don’t but them in and see if they may be causing the problem.

  9. Hi. I have a very tall vase with 11 new stalks of lucky bamboo.
    They are sitting in water and lots of small pebbles, about 2/3rd of the vase.
    It’s too heavy to pour out the water and the pebbles.
    How do I take care of it? Will the green green food drops do the job? How many drops and how often?

  10. Miri,

    If the food drops you have are a water soluble fertilizer, see what the mixing instruction are for a gallon of water and divide that amount by 10 and do this about every 6 months.

  11. Since I recently repotted my already large lucky in soil it has been growing like a weed and the leaves are too dense for the plant, I can barely pull the stalks apart from each other because the leaves tangle. Should I be thinning the “canopy” of my plant and how do I know which leaves to cut off? Thank you!

  12. Hi Jules,

    Yes I would definitely suggest trimming the sprouts (leaves). This is the only part of your plant that will continue to grow after it has been harvested, which makes a very dense plant. It is always good to trim less than what you planned. Start trimming leaves around the bottom of the plant and work your way to the top. Lucky bamboo is a hardy plant so it doesn’t matter which leaves you cut off. You could also cut off part of the stalk. Take the top of the stalk that you cut off, dip it into rooting hormone and let it dry overnight. Then set the stalk in one or two inches of water and in a week or two you’ll have root. Hope this information helps! You can find more information about caring for lucky bamboo in this article >>

  13. Hi,
    Here’s the problem. My small plant as recently been getting yellow leaves and stems (Not the stalks).
    Here is a good example of how it looks:
    Any ideas/advice? My plant is in a glass vase with water and glass stones.. it also has a rather extensive root system.. it that part of the problem?
    Thanks in advance.

  14. Rebecca,

    Looks like the plant has either been exposed to extreme hot air causing the leaves to dry-out or the plant needs a bigger container with a little more water. If the plant is near a heat vent, move it away from the heat source and trim off all the yellow leaves. Hope this information helps.

  15. Hi,

    My bamboo has been in water with water gel beads for 2 months and is still not rooting. Stalks have start to wrinkle a bit and bottle of the bamboo has signs of blackening slowly. Any ideas why it’s not rooting even after 3months in water gel beads?

  16. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Evelyn,
    Water gel beads can be good for bamboo that already has roots and is established. They are not good for trying to root bamboo. The cuttings can’t get enough air. Combine this with all the moisture, and the end result is rotted cuttings. If you are trying to root bamboo, you should dip the ends in rooting hormone, let it dry overnight, and then place them in a container of distilled water, or water that has sat out for 24 hours. In a few weeks, new roots should begin to form.

  17. Shama afroz says:

    Can we grow the bamboo using the shoots coz the whole stalk along with the root region is turning yellow so any way shoots may help growing the whole plant again

  18. Jamie Woods says:

    You can take the top of your lucky bamboo and create a new plant. You will need rooting hormone and a sharp knife. Take your knife and cut the top of the lucky bamboo off about an inch above a node. The node is the raised ring on the stem of the lucky bamboo. Now take the cut end and dip it into rooting hormone. Let this solution dry for a couple of hours or overnight. Now place the cut end of the lucky bamboo in water. You will need anywhere between 1 to 4″ of water, depending on how long your piece of lucky bamboo is. Be sure to keep the water level constant at all times. In a couple of weeks, you should see new roots.

  19. Lucky bamboo is turning yellow from the top. It’s in water with rocks in my office which is very dim lighting except for the 2 1/2 days a week that I am there. I use bottled spring water and change it weekly as well as rinsing the rocks and pot. What’s up with that?

  20. Jamie Woods says:

    Depending on the spring water you are using, this might be the problem. Some spring water contains salts and other ingredients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Distilled water is recommended for lucky bamboo because it has gone through a process that removes these. Change the water and replace it with distilled water. You may also need to cut off the part of your bamboo stalk that has turned yellow. Most of the time if lucky bamboo starts to turn yellow, that part of the bamboo does not recover.

  21. Julia M says:

    I have a lucky bamboo and I must admit I hardly ever change the water. I noticed that one of the leaves was yellowing. I then realized that they also look wrinkly and the bottoms of the roots are black. Is there any way I can save my plant? I put a few drops of green green every Monday and the water is filtered water. Most of the leaves seem alive and healthy. It also seems like all of the bottoms of the bamboo are black. Not entirely but just the bottom part. I do not have a green thumb and I thought I would be able to keep this plant alive. I appreciate all of your help!!

  22. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Julia,
    It sounds like your roots are rotting. If there are any healthy parts of your roots, you can try just trimming them. If there are no visible healthy roots, you will probably want to cut off the roots and the bottom completely, and try to let it start new roots. If you are worried about losing the plant completely, you can cut off the top section of the plant that is healthy and begin a new stalk this way.
    You also need to change your water, especially if you are using a fertilizer weekly. The fertilizer can build up in the water, and this can cause overfertilization of your lucky bamboo, which will cause the leaves and stalk to turn yellow.

  23. I have three bamboo in a container, and the middle one seemed to turn completely yellow overnight (I didn’t notice it happening). Why would only one die and the other two look perfect?

  24. Jamie Woods says:

    For the plant to turn yellow, it is under some type of stress. Since it was just the one stalk, I would make sure to remove it to attempt to prevent damage to the other two stalks. If your bamboo is in water, remove it from your container and thoroughly wash your container with hot, soapy water and rinse well. If there is any kind of pathogen in your container or water, this should take care of it. You can also wipe the remaining two stalks with a soapy rag. Make sure you are using distilled water or tap water that has been sitting out in an open container for 24 hours. If there are chemicals in your water, this can also cause yellowing. Watch your other stalks for signs of yellowing as well.

  25. HI There,

    I”ve had my lucky bamboo for about 5 years now, its done pretty well. But recently I thought I needed to put it in a larger pot. I’ve always had rocks in with it to give support. So I took out the plant with stones and placed it as carefully as possible into new plant and have added some larger stones on top to give support. I’ve always had slightly yellow tipped leaves but it was still growing alright. I have always watered it with tap water once a week with a bit of plant food mixed in the water. But my dad suggested to use filtered water. So also after changing the pot I started using filtered water. Soon after that my plant started with full yellow leaves and then my stems are all yellowing. I’ve also noticed there is a smell to the water in the pot. I’ve gone back to my tap water instead of the filtered water bc I thought that was the problem. But it stilhasn’t helped. Please help.

  26. Jamie Woods says:

    Lucky bamboo is very sensitive and your plant has experienced a lot of changes all at once. The initial repotting most likely threw your plant into shock, and the water change probably contributed to the shock even more. Distilled water is usually best for lucky bamboo because of the chemicals found in tap water, but if your plant seemed to be doing ok with the tap water, you might try sticking with it. If there is a smell to the water, you should change it. I would feel your yellowed stems to see if they are becoming soft. Normally yellow stems do not recover. You may try propagating new stalks if there are any green healthy parts left of your plant.

  27. I have a plant that has grown so much it has completely overtaken my office. I’ve repotted it once because I felt it was root bound. Do they get root bound or is that my imagination? Thanks.

  28. Jamie Woods says:

    They can become root bound. Is your bamboo in soil or water? If it is in soil, you could move it to a larger pot or even propagate new stalks. If it’s in water, try trimming the roots back by about a third.

  29. I have two single stalks of lucky bamboo; one for my daughter and one for myself. My daughter’s bamboo is beautiful but I’ve noticed mine is turning yellow from the top down. Both plants are next to one another and both are getting the same water from the same source. Now I don’t feel so lucky b/c this is my 2nd lucky bamboo plant that’s not surviving.

  30. Jamie Woods says:

    Is your bamboo in more direct sunlight or in the path of an air vent or another source of cool air? One of these is most likely the cause for your yellowing bamboo.

  31. Is there any way I can fix this?

  32. Miroslava Casiano says:

    Hi Megan! We’ve got a lot of good articles on Lucky Bamboo. Be sure to check them out –> https://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/?s=lucky+bamboo

  33. One of my stems is yellow but the leave stem on top is still green. What can I do to save it.

  34. Aynsley Broom says:

    If it is yellow, there is really not much that you can do. But, what you can try is cutting the yellow part off and starting a new plant with the part that is green.

  35. Irena Tsvetkova says:

    Hi! I need help with my lucky bamboo.. I purchased it more than 10 years ago when I was in grad school, and unfortunately, it seems to be fading by now. The bamboo has grown pretty tall and while the step appears to be green, it is surrounded by dry leaves. The root is very big and has started to become green in some parts. I would be happy to send pictures if that would help. Let me know and many thanks! Irena

  36. Aynsley Broom says:

    Hi Irena,
    You might need to remove the dry leaves to encourage growth, and if the roots have become big you can trim it back. Here is a blog about how trimming the roots: https://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/trim-lucky-bamboo-roots/

  37. Raul Gonzalez says:

    Hi, I have been recently looking for help because I don’t want my bamboo to die at all. It’s a gorgeous bamboo made up of many stalks, and one of them has turn Yellow from the bottom. After a few days it has turn black and it seems to make its way up slowly and the leaves are all green and healthy, and another stalk is also turning yellow from the bottom too.

  38. Jeffrey Balch says:

    There are a few things that could be causing the bottom of your bamboo stalks to turn yellow. It could not be receiving enough fresh water, or there could be chemicals in the water you’re using. It may also not be receiving enough sunlight. My recommendation would be to remove the yellowed part of the stems, as this part is dead and there is no reviving it. The rest of the stem can be saved. Wash it in dish soap for 5-10 minutes, but keep it quarantined until the stem recovers.

  39. Hello I am having this problem and don’t know what to do. I want to save this plant. The top of the plant’s stalk is turning yellow. With healthy green leaves on top.

  40. Jeffrey Balch says:

    You’ll want to remove the yellow part of the plant in order to save it. Cut it cleanly at a node where the stem swells.

  41. Kritika Kapoor says:

    I have a lucky bamboo spiral plant which has gone yellow completely. I guess its due to plucking one of the yellow leaf. Can you help me how to rectify my plant. Attach pic is for reference.
    The other one has gone brown from top but it’s fully green.
    I have changed the water n cleaned the vase as well.

  42. Jeffrey Balch says:

    Hi Kritika,
    Unfortunately, once lucky bamboo has turned yellow, there is no way to revive it. If there is any green left, you can cut the plant about an inch from the nearest node and it will start to grow new shoots.

  43. My lucky bamboo plant was delivered by ups. It was a gift from a friend for my birthday. Three bamboo stalks, the tops of each were formed as a heart. I opened and found the three bamboo stalks (with each set of roots in a small water filled sac, a bag of rocks , a beautiful glass box and a set of directions. My husband helped me, thank goodness. All was good and left it with another friend while we went on vacation. All was great till I got her back home. After a couple weeks one of the stalks turned yellow. I took it out and cut the yellow off and she has grown beautifully. On th ottomh of the yellow piece was a couple of leaves that seemed to be growing roots. I placed them in a shot glass one has a lot of root, while the other is finally beginning to sprout a short root. I bought another clear glass plant vase for my new babies. The original rocks were grey and the instructions said to wash in clear water. The new rocks are a peach color and I washed them. But I vaguely remember the instructions said something special about the rocks. Is there something about the peach rocks that would kill my babies? Thanks for any help you can give me. Instructions said to use only purified water to grow. They have no soil.

  44. Dani James says:

    Hi Sylvia! The peach rocks shouldn’t hurt the bamboo plants—just make sure to clean them once a week or so.

  45. I received a lucky bamboo plant for our 25th wedding anniversary 6 years ago. I would really like to keep it alive but it appears it is no longer healthy. I recently washed the rocks and roots and have replaced it with bottled water. The stems are looking black to the top and then there are nice green leaves at the very top. On some of the leaves it appears to have lines going length ways.
    I would really like to keep this plant from completely dying. Any suggestions

  46. Lana Jimenez says:

    I purchased a bamboo plant last sunday and today i noticed that the stalks started to wrinkled and leaves become curly. It is not yet fully grown.. i use distilled water at first then turn to bottled water because i thought it was not responding to distilled water coz leaves are getting dry. What am i going to do? Is the wrinkling natural?

  47. Connie Kershaw says:

    My Lucky Bamboo plant stem is half yellow, However it’s on a vertical mode not horizontally. I’m not sure what to do.

  48. Hi Connie! There are a few reasons that lucky bamboo turns yellow. It can be from too much light or too much fertilizer. When lucky bamboo turns yellow from the bottom up, it is a strong indication of exposure to too much fertilizer. In a case like this, your best course of action is to change the water and rinse the container. Refill with distilled water and do not add fertilizer. You can find more info here. Hope this helps!

  49. Hi Lana! Generally, when a bamboo plant starts to wrinkle, it’s a sign that it’s not getting enough water through the roots. You can easily fix this by adding an extra amount of water each day. Try taking the plant out of the pot and put it into a pitcher of water with the roots fully submerged but the leaves left out. Keep it in there for 3 to 4 days and that should help the plant start thriving again.

  50. Hi Donna! You need to remove the lucky bamboo stalk that is black. Try cutting down the stems as close to the base of the plant as possible. As for the leaves, lines could mean that the plant isn’t getting enough hydration. Check the roots and remove any that are dead. You can learn more bamboo care tips here. Hope this helps!