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Trimming Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo is a popular, novelty houseplant. Mine in the spiral form was getting tall & spindly. Trimming Lucky Bamboo keeps it in check, especially as it's getting old. Here's what I did as well as the results.

3 stalks or canes of lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana in a clear vase sit ion the floor behind a grey cat

I’ve had my spiral (sometimes called curly) Lucky Bamboo stalks for almost 8 years now. The foliage growth was getting tall and spindly so I decided to cut it all back.  This is all about trimming Lucky Bamboo including how I did it and how long it took for those stems to grow back.

Now, I’ve never pruned any of mine back before so this was an experiment. Lucky Bamboos are actually dracaenas, not bamboos. I’ve successfully cut my Dracaena marginatas and Dracaena reflexa Song Of India back before so I figured this would go well. I just didn’t know how long they’d take to grow back and how many new stems would appear on each stalk (or cane). 

Lucky Bamboo care is easy to care for. That’s one of the reasons these plants are so popular! They are novelty plants sold in many sizes and forms which also adds to their appeal.

Although this dracaena grows in soil in their native environments (in wet rainforests under the canopies of other plants) they’ve adapted well to growing in water.

buckets of lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana stalks for sale sits in buckets in LA Chinatown

1152 Lucky Bamboo for sale in Chinatown Los Angeles. Quite a few shops sell both the canes & arrangements so be sure to check them if you visit or live in this area. It’s walking distance from Union Station!

Good Things to Know About Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo gets taller as the stems (or shoots) grow, not by the stalk (or cane) growing. If you prune the cane by half, then the height of your plant will be reduced by at least half. 

Lucky Bamboo, or Dracaena sanderiana, naturally grows straight. It’s trained by the growers (mostly in China) into all the interesting shapes and forms. You can see and buy some here.

They’re sensitive to salts and chemicals in some tap water. The leaf tips will brown & the leaves will eventually turn yellow. I use distilled water to prevent this.

I keep the water level about an inch or 2 above the top of the roots. You don’t want them to dry out.

Keep your Lucky Bamboo vase or dish out of direct sunlight. Not only can that cause the leaves to burn but algae can build up in the water. Small amounts are not a worry but increased growth can prevent problems.

I change the water every month or so to keep it fresh.

Trimming (Pruning or Cutting Back) Lucky Bamboo

I’m going to explain this process with photos so you can better get an idea what I did, I long it took to start showing growth and how it looks today. When I say trimming, I mean the stem or shoot growth, not the canes.

3 stalks of spiral lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana with tall stems in a clear vase sit on the floor

My spiral Lucky Bamboo at the beginning of October 2018

What prompted this whole thing was the fact it got leggy.  Also, some of the leaves had tipped and were turning yellowish. It wasn’t getting too much sun or fertilizer (I only fertilized once all year with Super Green) and I was using distilled water. 

I’m not sure if this is due to the age of the plants & the roots getting crowded or the heat. I live in Tucson and perhaps the hot temperature and dryness of the desert had something to do with it.

Anyway, I’m always up for a new horticultural experience so time for some trimming!

3 stalks of spiral lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana without the foliage

How the stalks, or canes, looked after pruning the stems off in October 2018

Where to trim Lucky Bamboo: I cut the stems off as close to the canes as I could. My trusty Felco pruners were cleaned and sharpened to make precise cuts and also to lessen the chance of infection.

a small lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana stem with the lower foliage stripped off

The shortest stem I cut off

close up of a small lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana stem with a few small roots appearing

I stuck it in water & 2 weeks later roots were showing. So yes, you can root the stems. This 1 was cut fresh with the stalk by the way.

3 spiral lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana stalks or canes with the foliage growing back

Fast forward to March of 2019. The nodes had swelled 1-2 months earlier but at this time the growth was noticeable.

3 spiral stalks or canes of lucky bamboo dracaena sanderiana grow in a blue vase next to a candlestick

How my Lucky Bamboo looks at the end of July 2019. And yes, 1 of the canes is yellowing. More on that in a future post & video.

How to Care for Lucky Bamboo as It’s Sprouting

I kept the vase of Lucky Bamboo canes in my office near a window. It’s a north exposure but the window is large and Tucson gets a lot of sun year-round. I changed out the water (distilled) once a month. That’s it; not much care at all.

I don’t proclaim to be an expert on gardening. It’s way too broad a spectrum to claim that. I’m just someone who grew up around plants and have been working with them my whole life. This is an experience I wanted to share and perhaps yours has been way different but isn’t that what gardening (indoors or out) is all about?

The 2 things that were most interesting to me: the fact that it took longer than expected and only 1 stem appeared per cane whereas originally there were 2 or 3 stems per cane.

I did cut 1 or 2 of the canes back a bit but I honestly can’t remember which ones. Not very much, maybe 1 or 2″. I’ve read varying reports on whether the canes should be pruned or not but I imagine they can because other dracaenas can easily be cut back.

Dracaenas handle pruning very well and often times need it to control their leggy growth. Just know that if I had cut the spiral part off, it wouldn’t have grown back unless you trained it. And that is a long and somewhat arduous task. Unless you’re really into this kind of thing, it’s best to buy the Lucky Bamboo in the form or shape you want it.

I’m considering planting these canes in some soil in early fall or next spring. Another experiment to be had – I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as to how it goes.

Happy gardening,

Signed by Nell Foster

Need More Help with Lucky Bamboo Care? Check Out These Posts!

Lucky Bamboo Care Tips

24 Things To Know About Caring For and Growing Lucky Bamboo

How to Prevent Spider Mites on Lucky Bamboo

How to Replant a Money Tree

You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.

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