Sculptural lucky bamboo plants have stems with designs, swirls, or braids that catch the eye. These plants are often seen in businesses and homes because they are good for feng shui.
They can also be taught to grow straight and have small, basic, floppy green leaves. Even though the plant looks like bamboo and grows quickly (it can reach a height of over a foot in six months), it is not related to bamboo and is more of a succulent.
This plant is bad for cats and dogs, so you shouldn’t give it to them.
Lucky Bamboo and Chinese Traditions
According to a Chinese legend, the value of lucky bamboo depends on how many stalks you have. Different ways that lucky bamboo is arranged have different meanings. In this way:
- The two stalks stand for love.
- Fu means happiness, Lu means wealth, and Soh means you have enough (a long life).
- Five stalks mean balance, calm, harmony, and power in all parts of your life.
- Six stalks are a sign of wealth and luck.
- Seven stalks symbolize excellent health.
- The eight stalks show growth.
- Nine stalks signify good fortune.
- The number ten means that something is perfect.
- Twenty-one stalks are a symbol of a great blessing.
It is rare to see a traditional lucky bamboo arrangement with four stalks. In Chinese culture, the word for “four” sounds a lot like the word for “death.” Giving someone four bamboo stalks as a gift would be seen as very rude, as if you were wishing them to die.
|Common Name||Lucky bamboo, friendship bamboo, ribbon plant|
|Botanical Name||Dracaena sanderiana|
|Plant Type||Perennial shrub|
|Mature Size||1–5 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide (indoors)|
|Sun Exposure||Partial shade|
|Soil Type||Water or moist but well-drained soil|
|Bloom Time||Fall, winter (does not bloom indoors)|
|Hardiness Zones||10–11 (USDA), but typically used indoors|
|Toxicity||Toxic to animals|
Lucky Bamboo Care
You might need to change how much light and water your lucky bamboo gets so that it grows well. As long as it grows in clean water, lucky bamboo is easy to take care of.
Lucky bamboo likes strong, filtered sunlight, like what you’d find under a rainforest canopy. The leaves could get burned if they are in direct sunlight.
They are more tolerant of insufficient light than excessive light. But if the plant starts to grow or the green leaves start to fade, give it more light. Rotate your plant often so that it all gets the same amount of light.
Lucky bamboo does best in potting soil that drains well and is full of nutrients. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not so wet that it can’t drain.
Also, as long as there is always at least an inch of standing water, it can grow well whether it is in stones or in a vase of water.
You can use tap water unless you have hard water (containing a lot of minerals). Because of this, you should only water your lucky bamboo with bottled or distilled water, or tap water that has been left out for 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate.
If you grow plants in a vase with pebbles and water, you should change the water often to prevent diseases and bad odors.
Make sure that the roots are always completely covered by water. Every two to seven days, add a little water as needed. Every two to three months, or more often if the water smells bad, you should change the water.
Temperature and Humidity
As you might guess, lucky bamboo plants like it warmer, between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t put your plant in front of an air conditioner or heater vent or near a window with a draft. Normal humidity is acceptable for your lucky bamboo plant, so don’t worry about raising the humidity levels in your house.
Plants that grow in water only need a very light liquid fertilizer about once every two months. Don’t be surprised if you find red roots floating in a glass vase of healthy bamboo roots.
Even though it looks complicated, lucky bamboo is not cared for and shaped like bonsai trees are, with plant wire and careful pruning.
All of your houseplants need to be pruned to stay healthy. Also, this is true for your lucky bamboo. Over time, most plants get top-heavy or lose their delicate shapes. Pruning helps keep this from getting out of hand.
In general, it’s not a good idea to cut the main stem of lucky bamboo. Instead, use sterile snippers to sever the offshoots.
You may cut them down to an inch or two from the main stem. Soon, new branches will start to grow, which will make the plant bushier. Dip the cut end in paraffin to prevent new growth.
By turning the plant stalks in front of a light source, the plant will naturally grow toward the light. Professionals often grow stalks on their sides to help them get their whirling shapes.
At home, though, this is a hard process that takes time and patience to master. You can do this by putting the plants in a box with three sides, keeping a close eye on how fast they grow, and gently turning the plants every so often.
Propagating Lucky Bamboo
You may cultivate fortunate bamboo at any time by taking cuttings and replanting them for yourself or as an excellent gift.
But the rooted plant won’t look like a plant you would buy at a store. Follow these steps to make more lucky bamboo:
- Using a clean, sharp cutting shear, cut off the main stalk of a stem that has at least one leaf joint. Then, trim the leaves to show where the growth nodes are.
- Put the bare cutting in a jar and fill it with enough distilled water to cover the bottom completely.
- Make sure the water is clean and fresh, and keep an eye out for red roots. In 30 days, roots should start to grow.
- When roots start to grow, put the stalk in a pretty vase with water and stones or a pot with soil.
Potting and Repotting Lucky Bamboo
If you want to grow bamboo in a big glass vase, make sure the vase is tall enough for the bamboo and strong enough to hold the stalks.
The water level should be high enough to cover the roots but not high enough to reach the stalks.
If your lucky bamboo has grown too big for its pot, it’s easy to move it. Follow these easy steps to move the plant:
- Start with a clean container that’s a little bigger than the one you’re using now.
- If a lucky bamboo plant is growing in a pot of rocks, you should carefully dig it out.
- Clean the stones with water before putting them in the new container.
- Add the bamboo, making sure to tuck the roots between the stones. It might take more stones to cover the roots and hold up the plant.
- If your bamboo is growing in a pot with no stones, you can move the stalks to a bigger pot and keep the water level the same.
Lucky bamboo has the same pest problems as other tropical plants that you keep inside.
They may be handled manually (by pulling pests off) or using the same procedures as any other indoor plant.
Keep an eye out for white mealybugs, green aphids, and spider mites. You can even wash the whole plant with a very light liquid dish detergent and water to get rid of pests and mouldy spots (rinse well).
Common Problems With Lucky Bamboo
Although bamboo is fortunate to be a low-maintenance plant, there are a few concerns to watch out for as it develops. If your lucky bamboo plant dies, it doesn’t mean you’ll have bad luck.
It just means you didn’t take care of it well enough, or that its time has come to an end. Most of the problems with this plant are caused by the water used to grow it and keep it alive.
Changing the water often and giving your fish good water will help you avoid any of the following problems:
Browning Leaf Tips
If you water a plant with too much chlorine or too many additives, the leaf tips may turn brown, and the plant may die.
A plant’s black roots could be caused by a number of things. The best thing to do is to cut the black roots off right away with clean snips and put the stalks back in a container of fresh water.
If you see algae growing in the water, it’s usually because the plant is in a clear vase, which lets light in and helps algae grow.
Just clean the vase with water and a little liquid dish soap and start over. If algae keeps growing, you might want to switch to a clear container.
When lucky bamboo has yellow leaves, it usually means that it is getting too much sun or fertilizer.
Take away the fertilizer and move the plant to a place with more shade.
Most of the time, brown lucky bamboo leaves mean that the air is dry or the water is dirty.
If you spray the plant often, you may be able to raise the humidity level. Make sure that the water in the container is the right kind.
If the stalks start to rot or turn dark and mushy, there is no way to save them. It also means that the roots have died or are about to die.
There are many things that can cause stalks to die, such as bad water quality or a fungus or bacteria that was already on the plant when it was bought.
Decaying stalks pose a danger to any other stalks nearby; therefore, remove them as soon as possible.
If you still have stalks, you’ll need to change the water and replace the stones in the container.
Is lucky bamboo a good indoor plant?
Lucky bamboo may grow both inside and outside. However, the best environment for a fortunate bamboo plant is indoors, where it is warm but out of direct sunlight.
How long will lucky bamboo live?
Where should I place lucky bamboo in my home?
Placing a fortunate bamboo somewhere, according to feng shui design, can bring wealth to that location.
Put a lucky bamboo plant on your desk for professional development, in your foyer for fresh beginnings, in your bedroom for harmonious relationships, and in the wealth section of any room (the far left corner from the doorway) for financial plenty.