Lucky bamboo is the small, slender relative of the water lily. This plant is native to Cameroon, West Africa. Despite its blatant name, it is not related to bamboo.
Lucky bamboo, or dracaena sanderiana, has a close resemblance to this tall, hollow grass. It boasts long green stalks with leafy shoots and distinct horizontal rings, or nodes.
Most people grow lucky bamboo plants in small indoor containers. Many people believe that these exotic plants generate good luck. Like cacti and succulents, lucky bamboo is remarkably low-maintenance.
What is Lucky Bamboo?
Lucky bamboo is a tall, spindly plant that many people consider as a good luck charm. Most commercially sold lucky bamboo plants are cultivated in water or rich soil mixtures. It’s easy to obtain these decorative houseplants.
They are readily available in most grocery stores, nurseries, and home improvement stores. They are some of the easiest and most resilient houseplants. In a nod to their simplicity, most retailers place lucky bamboo plants alongside hard-to-kill succulents and cacti.
You may buy a single stalk, a cluster of stalks, or an intricate arrangement. If you pamper your plants, you’ll be able to harvest and transplant the tops of the tallest stalks.
Lucky bamboo is relatively inexpensive. Many homeowners enjoy training their plants so that they curve and spiral in all directions. Some people even dress their arrangements up with companion plants and ornamental accessories.
How to Choose the Right Container
Hydroponic lucky bamboo plants look fabulous in clear glass containers. Transparent glass containers enable you to monitor the health of your plant’s roots. These containers also show off the decorative pebbles or glass pieces that are used to propagate the plant’s roots. The container should be at least 2 inches bigger than the plant it holds. Containers may be any shape.
If you’re propagating your plant in soil, opt for a ceramic or terra cotta container. The container should have a diameter that is a few inches larger than that of your plant arrangement. It should also feature plenty of drainage holes. Place a small tray or saucer under the container to avoid compromising your home or furniture.
How to Twist Lucky Bamboo Stalks
Do you want to spice up your luck bamboo arrangement? Floral shops and nurseries often manipulate their lucky bamboo plants to create delightful spirals, loops, and geometric patterns.
Choose a small, thin shoot. The stalk should be no more than a few millimeters in diameter. Take a piece of thin wire and twist it around the stalk until you reach the bottom of the foliage. Gently bend the wire-braced shoot into your desired configuration.
Then, place the reconfigured plant into a proper container. Leave the wire on the stalk for a few months. Make intermittent adjustments to enhance the bend or introduce new angles.
According to Hunker, you can also place your lucky bamboo plant in an open-ended cardboard box. The cardboard box will limit the amount of light that hits your plant. As a result, you can use the light (which is this plant’s directional guidepost) to train your stalks to grow in a particular direction.
Young lucky bamboo plants are quite supple. However, you should never force them to take on a new shape. Excess pressure will snap the stalks.
How to Plant Lucky Bamboo Indoors
Most cultivators plant their lucky bamboo arrangements in small water-, soil-, or pebble-filled containers. A single lucky bamboo root system may produce several stalks.
As a result, you may need to tie the separate stalks together with a small piece of supportive ribbon or fine fabric. Gold-crested cire is also a popular tie-down option. In fact, red and gold ties said to bring owners good luck.
How to Grow Lucky Bamboo in Water
You will need a small container and some sort of supportive material, such as pebbles, rocks, glass gems, or polymer beads. Before planting, wash the container and fillers in warm water to remove any impurities. Place the bamboo stalks in a container and then sprinkle the supportive material around the root networks.
Use twist ties, pieces of ribbon, or cloth shards to secure multiple stalks together. Pour distilled or purified water into the container to cover the roots. A few inches of water should be sufficient.
When you’re finished, place the container in a warm, low-light location. Monitor your plant daily to ensure that it is healthy and thriving. Top the container off with distilled water to ensure that it maintains a healthy level.
How to Grow Lucky Bamboo in Soil
Since wild lucky bamboo grows in soil, it makes sense that many cultivators go this route. Choose a small terra cotta or porcelain pot with plenty of drainage holes. Prepare your soil by adding drainage-improving amendments, such as peat, sand, and pebbles.
Place a shallow layer of this soil mixture in the base of your container. Place the roots of your lucky bamboo plant on top of this soil bed. Gently, fill in the area around the roots. A few inches of soil coverage should be enough to support the stalks. You can always trim off and propagate the upper portions of the stems when your plants become too top-heavy.
Young lucky bamboos stalk fair well in hydroponic setups. However, mature plants thrive more in soil. As such, you may wish to switch up your plant’s surroundings as it ages.
How to Take Care of Lucky Bamboo Plants
We weren’t lying when we said that lucky bamboo is one of the most low-maintenance houseplants. Still, we’ve got a few helpful tips so that you can keep that oxygen-rich luck alive!
Lucky bamboo fairs well in low to moderate lighting. In its native environment, lucky bamboo is exposed to plenty of direct sunlight and high heat. However, excess exposure to sunlight could cause the plant’s delicate foliage to burn. The temperature of your plant should range between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.
If you want your lucky bamboo to grow, then make sure to place it in an indirectly sunny spot. These plants grow in the direction of the sun. Therefore, many cultivators carefully rotate their plants in the direction of the sun to create dynamic twists.
According to the experts, lucky bamboo stalks can grow as much as 20 inches in six months. Without trimming, plants can grow as high as 3 feet. The stalks are topped off with a cluster of green leaves. These growths can be as long as 9 inches. Most cultivators trim their plants once they reached a desirable size. Untrimmed plants can quickly overpower small containers.
If you’re growing your lucky bamboo directly in liquid, you must change out the water once a month. Failure to do so may result in the development of algae, mold, or fungus. When switching out the water, take care to carefully scrub the walls of the container to ensure that no algae remain. If your container contains pebbles or other fillers, be sure to wash these too.
If you notice that the water is starting to take on an unfamiliar texture or smell, don’t hesitate to change the water ahead of schedule. Bacteria, mold, and fungus can damage or even kill your plants. A sudden increase in water temperature could lead to unforeseen growth.
For the best possible results, allow your plant’s soil to dry out completely between watering sessions. When you do water your plant, ensure that the soil is moist but not oversaturated.
For the most part, you will not need to fertilize your lucky bamboo. However, many cultivators give their plants a small amount of houseplant fertilizer every two to three months. Do not over apply to fertilize, as this may cause the leaves to develop yellow and/or brown splotches.
Opt for a simple organic house plant fertilizer, such as Maxsea Plant Food 16-16-16 or Espoma Company Organic Indoor Plant Food 2-2-2. The Strategist has an excellent list of fertilizers for indoor houseplants.
We recommend that you dilute the fertilizer and/or add it to liquid to ensure the nutrients are dispersed evenly. We recommend that you add water to your fertilizer before feeding your plants. After all, lucky bamboo doesn’t respond well to over-feeding.
Some cultivators suggest using aquarium plant fertilizer instead of houseplant fertilizer. Yellow leaves, thin stalks and shoots, and excess algae may be signs that you are over-feeding your luck bamboo plants.
Commercial growers often fertilize their plants heavily before shipping them to stores. This makes them especially vulnerable to overfeeding. If you are dealing with a newly purchased plant, wait several months before feeding it.
You may have noticed that store-bought lucky bamboo plants usually boast sharply severed and scabbed-over stalks. Once a stalk is cut, it no longer grows. With that said, a cut stem can still produce foliage and new offshoots.
If your plant is getting too tall, consider cutting off the steps a few inches from the top and replanting them. Use rubbing alcohol to sterilize your cutting tool. The portion you remove should feature at least two raised horizontal lines. Plant your cuttings just as you would plant a new lucky bamboo. The plant will start to develop roots after just a few weeks.
Some cultivators cut their lucky bamboo stalks to produce new shoots. When the top of a stalk is removed, the stalk will develop side-by-side offshoots. With rich reddish-green foliage, these shoots help to give lucky bamboo plants a more lively look.
Do you want to change up the look of your lucky bamboo? Whether you are just looking for a subtle aesthetic improvement or you’re under the impression your stalks are overcrowding, it’s easy to transfer and even rearrange potted lucky bamboo. You may also remove any dead or dying leaves.
Some cultivators believe that various numerical arrangements of lucky bamboo will promote specific forms of good luck. For example, a two-stalk arrangement is said to bring you love and marriage. Whereas, a five-stalk arrangement may bring you good health.
In the art of feng shui, the placement and details of lucky bamboo arrangements are pivotal. If you want to milk your plant for all its worth, opt for a 21-stalk arrangement. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, these arrangements are said to bring you their caretaker’s impressive wealth and health.
What Are Some Problems You Might Experience When Growing Lucky Bamboo
Brown or Yellow Leaves
If your lucky bamboo leaves are developing brown or yellow patches, it may be because of excess levels of fluoride, chlorine, salt, or other chemicals in your water. If this is the case, consider using distilled water as a bed for your plants. While bottled water is pricier than tap water, it’s a fairly inexpensive solution to this common issue. Rainwater is an economical alternative to distilled water. If you do use tap water, allow it to sit out overnight to ensure that the chemicals dissipate.
Yellowing leaves may also be a sign that you over-fertilized your lucky bamboo plants. If you suspect that this is the issue, replace the water in your container and obtain it for fertilizing your plant for a few months. The plant should regain its bright green luster within a matter of weeks.
Other causes of leaf yellowing may be dry air, excess heat, or excess light. Consider relocating your lucky bamboo plant to a cooler, shadier windowsill. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the south side of your house receives the most sunlight.
The opposite can be said for those that live in the southern hemisphere. Besides that, consider spritzing your plant with a bit of distilled water. This will help the leaves to perk up and may even regain their green color.
Make sure to remove any damaged foliage. If the leaves are infected with bacteria or fungus, it will eventually spread to other parts of the plant.
Soft, Squishy Stalks
While lucky bamboo is typically cultivated in water, soil-based plantings are still susceptible to over-watering. If your plant’s stalks are starting to lose their perkiness or turn brown, you may have cut off the plants and start anew.
That slimy white substance on your lucky bamboo stalks could be algae or scale. If you observe this or any other foreign substance on your plants, take prompt action to clean your container and any filler materials. Use mild dish detergent and warm water to strip the surface of the foreign substance. Use a soft, damp cloth to cleanse each stalk of lucky bamboo.
Thin stalks are often a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight. Don’t be so bold as to let your plant bask in the window. These lucky stalks need indirect sunlight. Furthermore, you may need to switch up the container to ensure that roots aren’t becoming too hot. While transparent glass containers look amazing, terra cotta pots are more insulating.
Leaf spot is a fungal disease that may cause your lucky bamboo plant’s leaves to develop red splotches or even fall off. If your plant has developed lead spot, consider spraying the plant with a fungicide spray, such as liquid copper. You may also use a spray consisting of distilled water and apple cider vinegar.
We know what you are thinking. Yes, even houseplants can succumb to pests. In rare cases, lucky bamboo can become the victim of aphids, scale, or even spider mites. These annoying little bugs will eat away at your plant’s roots until it succumbs to root rot. How can you
A Note About Toxicity
Lucky bamboo is toxic to cats and dogs. Your furry friends may become weak or queasy after ingesting this plant.
Be sure to call a local veterinarian if you believe your pet has ingested some of your lucky bamboo stalks. If your pet has a habit of eating everything in its vicinity, you may want to consider a non-toxic alternative.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to growing lucky bamboo. As the household equivalent to the ever-elusive four-leave clover, we feel that lucky bamboo is an exceptionally low-maintenance and attractive indoor plant.
There are so many fun and attractive arrangements you can create with this dynamic relative of the water lily. We hope we inspired you to add a little lucky greenery to your home, office, or apartment.
Even if you don’t gain perpetual wealth and happiness, you’re sure to revel in the idea that you kept a plant alive. You may even take your cultivation to the next level by creating an intricate arrangement with your plant trimmings. Remember, none of these activities require a green thumb.