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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. Thank you soo much for the help. Have a blessed day

  2. Stephaine says:

    Hi this is Stephanie again and I need more help!!!! :( Ok you know the one side of the heart that was the good side and I cut the piece growing off the top and cut the top curve off because it was starting to turn. Ok I cut it for regrowth and I put some water on it using a medicine syringe. I started that the day after it was cut and then after the 3days of putting the water on it I did that once a day it started turning yellow. So now I’ve cut that piece off and I’m gonna try again. Any advice on what I’m doing wrong????? Everything else seems to be going good.

  3. Stephaine,

    For example in the picture above — if you cut at the red line everything below the red line probably still had roots on it – so you wait about two days and then you start misting the cut and new growth will appear. Everything above the red line no longer has roots attached to it — so you dip it in the rooting hormone and let set over night, then you place in water an couple of inches deep and it will form new roots. Does this help?

  4. stephanie says:

    Ok, I have cut the bamboo below the red line so now this bamboo has the roots attached and I am trying to get it to regrow from the part cut. As I said before I am using a medicine syringe to put water on the bamboo. I put 2 drops on the white part (the top of bamboo were it was cut) and I do this 2days after it was cut and it should regrow am I correct on this? My big question is should I be using a syringe to put the water on the bamboo or do I need a spray bottle to spray the bamboo on the TOP WHERE IT WAS CUT or JUST THE BAMBOO IN GENERAL?????? HOW MANY TIMES AM I SUPPOSE TO MIST THE BAMBOO AFTER THE 2DAYS AND HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD I MIST THE BAMBOO?????? STILL CONFUSED…………….

  5. stephanie says:


  6. Stephanie,

    When you cut the bamboo, you don’t start misting it until 2 to 3 days after it has been cut and you will continue to mist it until you see new growth form. This can take several weeks. You will need a spray bottle instead of a medicine syringe. Do this once or twice a day. The end will callus over before it spouts new growth.

  7. stephanie says:

    Ok thanks I will follow these directions and I will let you know of progress. Thank you sooo much!

  8. Hello,
    Im inclosing some photos so maybe it will be eaiser for you to explain to me. At the base of where the leaves come out roots are visible, Is this why the main stem started turning yellow?
    also can i save this stem?

    Attached Image: 101_0224.jpg

  9. Here is a nother photo from a diffrent angle

    Attached Image: 101_0223.jpg

  10. Mishelle,

    I don’t think the root exposure is the problem unless the container has been without water at some period. Do you use tap water? I ask because the tips of the leaves are brown on some of the stems and this is an indication of fluoride exposure. City water systems add fluoride to their water. Although good for the teeth not so good for lucky bamboo. As for the yellowing stalk, I am puzzled it is yellow from the top down and the other stalks look healthy.

    At some point the stalk may have been exposed to too much light. Why it did affect the other stems is a mystery. My suggestion would be to remove the yellow stem or at least cut the yellow part off and place the stems in bright but indirect light. In other words not directly in front of a window or light source.

    To cut the yellow out you’ll cut the stalk about an inch above a node in the green section. In the attached picture I have drawn a red line to show you where to make the cut. let the cut dry for about two days and then start misting the cut lightly once a day.

    Good Luck and keep me posted

    Attached Image: lucky bamboo.jpg

  11. mishellescott2005 says:

    hey Jamie,
    i just have a couple more questions for you.
    yes i use tap water but i will change that.
    the stalks are not connected just together in the vase.
    will it grow to curl around and grow new leaves?

  12. Mishelle,

    The curly piece of lucky bamboo has been manipulated to curl. This is done through a process of exposing part of the plant to light and part to darkness. When you cut the yellow part off the new part will grow in its natural straight growth. The only way to make it curl is to manipulate it. I assume that the original curly piece was curl and then the straight piece was feed up through the curled one. You would have to do the same thing to acheive the same configuration.

    I wrote a post a while back that detailed how to curl lucky bamboo. You might want to read it. Good Luck and keep me posted

  13. Geoffrey says:

    Hi there I think I have done a few things wrong with my lucky bamboo, first I think the leaves were starting to go yellow b/c of the high floride content in my Toronto water, but before I had looked up info on lucky bamboo I assumed that it needed light (opps) so I put it in a spot where it could get sun all day…:/ so now the leaves are really yellow and the stalk was turning yellow, I followed what you said about cutting it and the rest of the stalk looks good, I am now waiting so that I can start misting it..I have a question however about fertilization..what kinda fertilizer should I use to keep it healthy I was thinking of using some liquid Miracle-Gro that I have…just a few drops in to my container, is that a good idea?

    also would my bamboo thrive more if I put really moist soil in the bottom, instead of just rocks? thanks

  14. 24 hours is all you need to wait before you start misting your plant. Once or twice a day is all you will need to mist it. Then be patient. It will take a couple of weeks for the plant to produce new growth. As for fertilizer, it is ok to use a very diluted solution of miracle grow about every three months. Good luck and keep me posted.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    ok so when I use the diluted solution I should put it in with new water? and then change the water the week after?

  16. Some recommendations say to change the water. Usually I just add a little of the diluted fertilizer to the water and let it be.

  17. Hi, my lucky bamboo leaves turned yellow after 4 days of having them. The stalks are still green. I am wondering if the yellow leaves could go back green? If I remove all the yellow leaves and live the green leaves, could new leaves grow back where they were removed?

    Thank you for taking the time…

  18. The yellow leaves will not turn back to green. You can remove them and the plant should produce new ones. Not a major problem. This sometimes occurs when the plant is in stress from being moved from one place to another.
    However, I would watch the stalk and make sure it doesn’t start to turn yellow. If it does you have a bigger problem.

  19. My lucky bamboo is getting to tall to keep on my desk at work. I would like to cut it down without killing it. Where do I cut it?

    Attached Image: Plant.jpg

  20. You can top your lucky bamboo any where along the stalk. Our Topping Lucky Bamboo post has a picture and instruction that details how and where to make your cut.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  21. Hi Jamie, I need some help please. A few days ago my father and I bought small lucky bamboo plants together, two stems each. They were looking really unhappy because the shopkeeper was giving them ordinary tap water, and when we bought the poor plants they were bone dry! So when we got home we transplanted them into bigger pots and gave them fresh rainwater.

    Recently my father’s bamboo has started to turn yellow, only one stem and also from roots up. Now its basically a yellow bamboo with two green leaves in the new growth part. Dad gave it a drop of ‘SEAGRO’ and that just seemed to make matters worse. I smelled the water while checking the plant, and it was foul smelling, so I have washed off the roots and stones and put new rainwater in without any ‘SEAGRO’. So far the condition of the plant has not changed, hasn’t gone greener or more yellow…

    I was wondering if you had any advice on how we could fix this? I am just confused as to why only the one stem is affected because they are both subjected to the same conditions in one pot??

    Also, my bamboo’s leaves are going a little pale, what can I do to make them go nice and healthy green again? I will try to upload photos asap so you can see what the problem is.
    Thank you!

  22. Hey, here is the photo of dad’s bamboo I promised

    Attached Image: IMG00641-20120313-1517.jpg

  23. The damage occurred way before you got the lucky bamboo. Once yellow it will not turn back to green. I would try to save the little sprout on the yellow stalk and then get rid of the stalk. As for the others, make sure the water and the pebbles are clean. Then place it in a room with bright indirect light and leave it alone. Only add water, when the level has gone down about an inch. Do not fertilize or give it any kind of supplement. Lucky bamboo actually does better when it is low on nutrients. You can use tap water (after it has spend 24hrs in an open container first) or distilled water. Rain water is ok as long as you don’t live in an urban city that has acid rain issues.

    The thing with lucky bamboo is patience in these cases. They basically have to pull themselves through the issue. You will know in two weeks time whether the other stalks are going to survive. Good Luck and let me know how it goes.

  24. Danielle says:

    My bamboo plant just turned bad last week. It has turned yellow at the top and has black dots all over the top of the “dead” stem. I’m not sure what to do about this.
    I just cleaned the water and rocks and I hope that helps. Should I cut off the ruined part?

    Attached Image: photo(1).jpg

  25. Yes, you will need to remove the yellow upper part just as it is shown in the photos above. This post, Top Questions About Lucky Bamboo Answered, will have even more lucky bamboo care instructions for you. Hope this helps!

  26. elizabeth says:

    I had maybe over a foot and half tall bamboo, that started dying, a friend helped me with it. Only thing we did was, broke, not cut, the good piece off and i placed it in a clear jar, with bottled water. This is my result after only a couple of weeks!!! :)

    Attached Image: CAM00167.jpg

  27. Elizabeth,

    That’s fantastic.

  28. Hi, Jamie! I love my lucky bamboo very much. And I’ve been getting concerned… I have one that is over a year old and it started with 3 stalks. Around 6 months after I bought it, the smallest stalk yellowed and died. I thought it was because I placed it too close to the window (very little sunlight came through that window. It was very indirect) when it got cold so I made sure I moved it. Now the second smaller stalk is dying. I cut it about 3 days ago, but it’s too late to start misting. The stalk is completely yellow. Now I have one stalk left and I’m going to be so very sad if it dies… I have a sepparate lucky bamboo as well. I rescued it from bad conditions and brought its health back up and it looks so beautiful! But a few months ago, the smaller stalk of that plant died too! I don’t understand. I’ve never fertalized them, I keep them out of direct sunlight, I use well water, I change the water when it looks like it is time to, I clean the jar and rocks when I change their water. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong… The only pattern I see is that the smaller stalks are always the ones to die. Now, the 2 stalks I have left (sepparate plants in different pots) look very healthy. A mean a couple leaves on the one that was sharing the jar with the one that is dying are yellow tipped, but other than that it looks great. Do I trim the yellow tips on the leaves? Would that be healthier? Thank you for helping because this is a mystery to me!

  29. Sephy,

    Can you send me a couple photos of the stalks. Lucky bamboo can become infected with a fungal pathogen called Colletotrichum dracaenophilum. I need to see if the plant has any lesion on the stalks that resemble the Colletotrium dracaenophilum. If we can rule this pathogen out, then it is environmental. Your well water could have a high concentration of salts or other minerals that might be affecting the plants.

    While we try to figure this out, be sure to trim all yellowing leaves off of the plant.

    Hopefully once I take a look at the photos, I will be able to tell what the problem is.

  30. Here’s my oldest from the same pot:

    Attached Image: healthyoldeststalk3.jpg

  31. I’m not sure if all the photos are sending with each message, but here’s my youngest stalk that was grown in a different pot:

    Attached Image: healthyyoungeststalk2.jpg

  32. Sephy,

    I am concerned about the spot on the lower stalk of the second picture. This does look like Colletotrichum dracaenophilum. If the spots are slightly raised brown patches on the stem, surrounded by a maroon-colored border then your plants are infected. As far as I know, there is not a good treatment for this issue. Since it is a fungal problem it can easily be spread by water. You might try starting a new plant from a section that does not have any appearance of the fungal infection. Be sure to drip cutters in a 3 to 1 bleach-water solution before and after each cut. Good Luck and keep me posted.

  33. I have had my plant a very long time and it has become quite tall. Should I cut the tall stalks and re-root them? Thanks :)

    Attached Image: plant.jpg

  34. Jenna, it is time to top these stalks and root them.

  35. I have move into a new desk and inherited a new Lucky Bamboo that seems down on its luck! Is there any saving this guy?

    Attached Image: bamboo3.jpg

  36. Shonda,

    You might be able to save it. Does the plant have any stems that are still green? If it does, you can remove everything yellow but that stalk. This will allow the plant to send all of its energy to that stalk. Also, it looks like the plant is potted in soil. Does the pot allow for good drainage. If not you need to check the roots for root rot. If over-watering isn’t an issue, make sure you are keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Good Lucky and let me know how it goes.

  37. Jasmine says:

    I came across your website while searching for instructions on what to do for my bamboo plant. I have had him for three years and he has been healthy until about a week ago. I noticed that the leaves were yellow and that the stalk had a sort of wrinkly look to it so I gently removed the leaves and replaced the water. Yesterday I noticed that a bottom portion of the stalk was yellow. I removed the rocks in the vase, cleaned the vase, and replaced the water. (I only use filtered water). There is also a new “stalk like” projection growing from the bottom near the roots as well. I have attached pictures as I am not sure what the best course of action is. I really want to save him, thank you!!

    Attached Image: IMAG0657.jpg

  38. Jasmine,

    You might want to start a new plant from the new shoot. I also recommend starting a new plant from the green part of the stem and discard the yellow part.

  39. Hello,

    I recently repotted my bamboo (long overdue). The roots look good; I am just wondering if I should pull them apart a little since they are gathered in the shape of its former pot or if it is best to leave them like that. Also, how will that affect watering since some of the larger roots are at the top?

    I added potting soil when I put it in the new pot. I have since taken the soil out as I read on this site that it is unnecessary. Thankfully it was only in there for an hour.

    Thanks for your help.

  40. Brigitte,

    It’s not necessary to pull the roots apart, though it should be fine if you want. You should be able to trim some of the more unruly roots without causing any lasting damage.



  41. Thank you, Ed.

  42. Hi,
    My lucky bamboo (3 stems, same pot, in rocks) is a couple years old. Never had a problem until I moved house. Now one stalk has gone completely yellow. There’s a couple very pale green leaves existing at the top but the rest is pretty darn yellow. I removed them from the pot, washed it, and washed the rocks. Put the plant back in the dry pot, with filtered tap water that sat for 24 hrs (as I have always used). The area it’s in is my bathroom where the only light is a diffused sky light. Also, you can see the other two stalks are healthy green, but have stems that have turned yellow.
    What can I do??
    Thank you,

  43. Thia,

    My advice would be to pull them out and wash them again, this time removing the yellow stalk completely from the bundle. Are the roots slimy? If so, cleaning them thoroughly will help.



  44. Hello,

    I have recently started caring for a coworkers lucky bamboo plant, I had no idea what plant it was because it had no leaves, just a bunch of roots wrapped in rocks and green mos. I honestly have no knowledge to this plant nor any other plants due to not ever having to care for one. Since I’ve been watering the lucky bamboo it has started to grow new leaves. I’m trying to do some research on how I can keep the plant alive and healthy.

    Call me crazy but I’m now attached.


  45. Please help with my rotting bamboo. I read the comments and saw the pictures though none looked as bad as the one I have. ANY HelP will be welcome !!!! Attached are pictures . Roots are slimmy . Is there anything I can do so it doesn’t die. HELLLP!!!!!! Thanks in advance

  46. Mellie,

    I am sorry, I don’t think this can be saved.

  47. I followed the instructions you gave about cutting the yellow off of the main stem to save the plant. My plant was yellowing from the top down (lack of sun light) I cut below the yellow, but about an inch above the node. Now the plant is yellowing again, starting at the cut and spreading about a half an inch down. I corrected the lighting issue and i misted the cut twice today, today is the third day after the cut was made. The scissors i used were sharp and previously unused meaning clean. Any suggestions?

  48. Maranda says:

    I have repossessed the plant I gave to mother in law 4 years ago because it was beginning to look unhealthy at the roots and it sometimes the water would be very low or almost dry. so I brought it home and this is what I’m facing I’m unsure what to do with this. The top of the plant halfway down the stalk is green the bottom half of these dogs are a white colored yellow but they’re not soft what do I do to save this plant please any help would be appreciated

  49. Maranda says:

    No clue why the word dogs is in there. I’ve attached 2 more pic. She also put it in tap water immediately after changing vase 2 years ago

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