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Why do Lucky Bamboo Stems Turn Yellow?

Ask the Expert: Lucky Bamboo……….I understand about leaves turning yellow because of water but what about stems beginning to turn yellow? Can I cut a healthy stem just below the “knuckle” or joint and grow a new plant? Thank you Stephen


The yellow stalks are usually caused by over fertilization.  Too much fertilizer can caused the stem cells to burst thus causing irreparable damage. The chlorine and other chemicals in the water can also cause stem damage.  When the stem turn yellow, I suggest that you start new ones.  Cut the stem off above the yellow an inch above a node (knuckle) and dip the top in rooting hormone; let dry overnight; place in fresh distilled water.  You should see new roots in a couple of weeks.


  1. yes i have a quick question i have been selling the bamboo in my shop and a customer said that if you bunch the bamboo in diffrent groups that it means diffrent things. so as 1 is money 2 is for health. i told them i would try to find out. do you have the answer or know where i can go to find out. thanks for your time
    terry mccool somethin or nothin.

  2. Terry

    According to Feng Shui practices groups of lucky bamboo do mean different things.

    2 stalks = Love
    3 or 6 stalks = happiness
    5 or 7 stalks = health
    8 stalks = wealth
    9 stalks = general good fortune
    21 stalks = blessings

    Hopefully your customer will find this information helpful.

  3. i brouught a lucky bamboo ,but 2 out of 21 stems lost , what do i do, can i brought another or can i replace the decay stems

    thank u

  4. Sreejith,

    If you want to keep the amount of stalks at 21 to represent “blessing”, you can purchase two single stalks and add them to the ones you already have. When you do this I would change the water in the container. Make sure you use distilled water or tap water that has been in an open container for twenty four hours.

  5. I have a bamboo plant and it only has two stems.. its in a shape of a heart, but one of the stems is yellow can I save it!! and the other things is that its not even mine.. im taking care of it for my boyfriend.. and he will be angry if it dies.. please help!!!

  6. Adela,

    If the stem is yellow and soft you can’t save it. The best you can do is remove it from the other stem and save the other stem. When did it start turning yellow? Did you do anything such as fertilizing it recently. If so you gave it too much fertilizer. Empty the water out of the container and refill with distilled water. This might help if the stalk isn’t mushy already.

  7. Jeff Bennett says:

    My lucky bamboo is turning yellow on the stalk part. I changed the water and added a some plant food. It has been kept in indirect light and the water level maintained. How can I get the bamboo back to a healthy green again? Any information and help would be appreciated.

  8. What does 4 stalks mean?

  9. In the Chinese culture 4 is an unlucky number. So they would remove one of the stalks to make the container represent happiness.

  10. jennifer says:

    I have a lucky bamboo that has yellow stalks right in the middle but at the bottom , it is still green. Any ideas for this beautiful plant , i have two of them , don’t want to mess them up as they are going great !

  11. At some point the stalks may have been damaged allowing a parasite or a fungus to attack them. I would cut the tops off and start new plants. I would also cut the yellow parts off the bottom and let the bottoms form new leaves.

  12. jennifer says:

    I have only one stem left and was just wondering how much water I needed to add when watering , the bamboo, and when i do how often! any help would be great !

  13. You want to keep the water level basically the same all the time. Usually 2 to 4″ is sufficient.

  14. My Luck Bamboo has 19 stalks. Is this a good number? What does mean?

  15. Normon, the following meanings have been used for lucky bamboo numbers:

    Yin – even
    2 = Double luck, happy relationships; good number.
    6 = Easy money, wealth, good flow of luck.
    8 = Good luck and fertility. Very popular.
    10 = Completeness and fulfillment in life.

    Yang – odd
    1 = Simplicity and a meaningful life.
    3 = Good for prosperity and fertility. If used with a curly (money) stalk in the middle, it means wealth. Very popular.
    5 = Happiness, good and balanced luck in all aspects of life. Very popular.
    7 = Good luck and prosperity in relationships.
    9 = Good health, prosperity and love life.
    11 = Good all-around luck. Very popular

    Although I have not seen anything for 19, there is said to be a powerful, all-purpose blessing for having 21 stalks of lucky bamboo. Maybe you need 2 more?

  16. I have one with 35 stalks. What is the significance of this. How tall will the plant grow? should I trim the plant?

  17. Sudha,

    Lucky bamboo continuously puts off new shoots, so as long as you do not separate the new ones, it will continue to grow new stalks. This isn’t bad as long as you have a pot big enough to accommodate them. It can grow upwards of 5 feet tall.


  18. Is there any meaning for when one of the stalks turn yellow?

  19. Mariel,

    It means the plant is under some kind of stress.

  20. kristine sanchez says:

    i have 23 stalks in my lucky bamboo….what is that mean?

  21. Kristine,

    21 stalks and above typically means great blessings. Enjoy your lucky bamboo plant.

  22. I have bought 17 sticks in bamboo plant 6 in the middle tower nd 11 in the below tower. can u pls suggest will this numbr considered lucky ?

  23. bamboo plant with total 17 stalks , 11 in the below tower and 6 in the upper tower.. pls suggest as soon as possible will this be considered as lucky ?

  24. Ekta,

    17 is an extremely lucky number. It represents strength and achievement.

  25. Ekta,

    17 is an extremely lucky number. It represents strength and achievement.