This is one of those fascinating and unusual houseplants which is an attention getter. I’ve gotten questions about Lucky Bamboo and answer them here. My only experience is with growing it in water. I want to share with you what I’ve learned about caring for and growing Lucky Bamboo. Feelin’ lucky? Well then read on.
Caring for and Growing Lucky Bamboo in Water
Lucky Bamboo is often billed as a low light houseplant. I’ve found it to do best in low to medium or medium light conditions. Low light is no light. The lower the light, the less growing it’ll do.
Even though it does well in natural light, it’ll burn with too much sun. I accidentally left mine in an east facing window last July for about an hour (I’m in the Arizona desert) & a little bit of the foliage burned. Keep it out of hot, direct sun.
If you’re noticing a slimy funk in your Lucky Bamboo’s water, it could be algae.
Algae needs the sun to grow & can build up in glass vases & containers where the light gets through. Keep it out of the sun (especially when the temps. are warmer) & change the water on a regular basis & clean the vase.
Lucky Bamboo is grown in a shallow dish with smooth pebbles
Speaking of changing the water, I do it every 2-3 months. I also clean the vase. I had an arrangement of Lucky Bamboo in a shallow dish which dried out a few times when I was traveling.
Bacteria formed on the roots. Stagnant water can get “funky” especially when warm. Lucky Bamboo is also subject to fungus & mold on the roots so changing the water & cleaning the vase as needed will help.
Lucky Bamboo also grows with pebbles or glass chips in the vase.
It’s commonly sold in arrangements this way because many people like the look. You also need to thoroughly clean the pebbles or glass chips on a regular basis (how often depends on the growing conditions in your home) to prevent bacteria from building up on them.
Brown tips on the leaves with yellowing portions above are most likely due to fluorides & salts in your tap water. Lucky Bamboos are very sensitive to this & for this reason, I’ve switched to using distilled water & have done so for a while. It’s inexpensive (around $.99 for a gallon) & lasts me 6 months or so.
You can see the brown tips with yellowing just above
Yellow tips are usually due to age or salts in the water. Small brown tips are due to the dry air in our homes. This is true of many houseplants.
I keep the water level 1-2″ above the roots. The higher up the water level, the higher up the roots will form & grow. The look of roots growing up & down the stalks is 1 I don’t like. I’d avoid keeping a taller vase full of water because the stalks might eventually rot out.
Here’s how high I keep the water level in my Lucky Bamboo vase. And yes, the roots are orange!
Just because a Lucky Bamboo is growing in water doesn’t mean it’s not subject to getting potbound.
I need to get a wider vase for my spiral arrangement because the roots are looking crowded. My smaller arrangement which I gave away was getting tight in the container also. Its new owner (my friend!) has put it into a larger dish, replaced some of the dead canes (stems or stalks) & it’s doing great.
As to longevity, I’m not 100% sure how long a Lucky Bamboo grown in water actually lasts. The longest I’ve had 1 for is 5 years because I’ve given them away. I bought the spiral canes you see here just about 4 years ago.
Although they’re most commonly sold in water, Lucky Bamboo grows in soil in its natural environment.
The grower was busy creating this pattern! Lucky Bamboo arrangements are traditionally attached with glossy gold or red ties. They signify additional good fortune.
As to transferring from water to soil or vice versa, please share your experience with us. I’ve never grown it in soil but have heard it’s good not to let it go dry. There are varying debates as to whether Lucky Bamboo grows better in soil or water.
By the way, Lucky Bamboo isn’t really bamboo. Its botanic name is Dracaena sanderiana or braunii. Dracaenas are common houseplants so you might want to check out posts I’ve done on its relatives the Dracaena Lisa & Dracaena marginata.
If you cut a cane (stem or stalk) down, the cane won’t grow any taller.
What grows makes this plant grow taller is the stem with the foliage coming off the cane.
Close up on the spiral top portions of my Lucky Bamboo
Conversely, you can cut the canes down to make them shorter. You can also cut the stems with the foliage off to reduce the height. Either way, new sprouts will eventually form off the canes.
I didn’t train my Lucky Bamboo canes to grow in a spiral form. The grower did that.
This plant is available in all kinds of crazy forms, arrangements & patterns.
It needs a specially formulated fertilizer, not 1 you routinely use for your houseplants in soil. I was gifted a few bottles of Super Green fertilizer & add it into the water once a year in spring. If you feel your Lucky Bamboo needs it again, do it again in summer. Don’t over fertilize – your Lucky Bamboo will eventually burn.
This is how individual stalks (canes, stems) of Lucky Bamboo are sold.
Regarding this plant being safe for pets, I’d say no. Lucky Bamboo isn’t specifically listed on the ASPCA website as being toxic to pets, but dracaenas are. Because it’s a dracaena, take heed.
Lucky Bamboos are prone to spider mites. I did a post & video on this subject which also tells you what I do to prevent it.
Sunburn on a Lucky Bamboo leaf. This plant doesn’t like direct sun.
Yellow stalks don’t turn green again. They turn brown & eventually die.
There are a few causes of yellowing stalks that I know of. My small arrangement in a shallow container dried out a number of times. 5 or 6 of the stalks ended up dying. Other reasons I know of are an accumulation of fluorides & salts in the water & over fertilizing.
Lucky Bamboo Plant Care
I find Lucky Bamboo to be very easy to care for & grow.
Here’s a round down of how I maintain mine here in the Arizona desert: It’s placed in a spot with moderate natural light & gets no direct sun. I change the water & wash out the vase every 2-3 months. Distilled water is used in the vase instead of tap water. The foliage is sprayed (the undersides especially) along with the stalks every 1-2 months. When we get the summer monsoon rains, I put the arrangement outside a couple of times. They love rainwater.
Just for fun – this is my new Lotus Bamboo or Rose Bamboo (it’s another dracaena) which I bought a couple of months ago. I want to grow it for at least 8-10 more months & then I’ll do a care post for you.
This doesn’t have anything to with care but it’s included because this plant is known for this 1 thing.
Lucky Bamboo is known for bringing luck & good feng shui. I keep the spiral arrangement in the guest room. The number of stalks has significance & mine with 3 signifies happiness, luck & wealth. Whether it’s true, I’m not sure but I believe it because I like this plant!
You can find this plant, more houseplants and lots of info in our simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
Lucky Bamboo is a fun plant to have and doesn’t take up much room at all. Plus, soil not required!