How To Care For Lucky Bamboo

In Asian cultures, lucky bamboo has been a symbol of good fortune for over 4,000 years. And, in recent years it’s became a very popular house plant that is widely available. Aside from being a very pretty plant, one of the main reasons for it’s growing popularity is that it’s very easy to grow.

Lucky bamboo isn’t actually a bamboo! It actually belongs to the plant family of Dracaenas. Another reason for it’s popularity is that it can be grown in decorative planters or bowls filled with rocks and water, or it can be potted into soil.

The best way to grow them is a debatable subject, some people say keep them in water and others say plant them in soil for the best results. The choice is pretty much a personal preference as the plant seems to thrive in either medium. Bamboo is generally sold in clear or decorative containers with rocks for support and water.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo

Bamboo will thrive in almost any area of the home where many other plants could not survive. In nature, bamboo grows in the shade of rainforest trees, so they prefer indirect, but bright sunlight. If the plant receives too much direct sunlight, the leaves will burn and turn brown. But, if it gets too little sun, it will cause hamper the plants growth.

Since the plant lives in water, there’s no guess work when it comes to watering lucky bamboo! All you need to do is to make sure that there’s always water in the container. Some people suggest that you change the water on a regular basis, but as long as clean water is used, it’s not necessary to keep changing it.

However, if the water begins to look as if it’s stagnating, it should be changed and the container washed thoroughly. The salt and chlorine found in tap water can cause damage to the plants leaves. You should either purchase spring water or place the tap water in an open container overnight to allow the salt and chlorine to evaporate.

If you removed your bamboo from the container you purchased it in, you’d most likely find that it’s been bound with a string or wrapped wire. While this will definitely hold the bamboo together, it will eventually damage the plant. As the bamboo grows, the string will cut into the stalks and can result in disease. It’s best to remove the string, or wire so the plant can grow safely.

Lucky bamboo is a tropical plant, so it prefers warm temperatures. The  temperature should always be at least 60*, but the plant will thrive better in warmer temperatures. Bamboo only needs to be fertilized about every two months with a very weak solution of fertilizer. You can use a good quality plant food and mix it to one tenth of the recommended amount, or use a few drops of food that is made for aquarium plants.

When grown in potting soil, it should be kept just slightly moist and never soaking wet. And, you shouldn’t let the soil dry completely between waterings. Even thought the top of the soil may be dry, it can still be moist down in the soil. Always stick your finger into the soil to check it. When the soil is dry a full inch below the surface, it’s time to water it.

You may be interested in knowing that the number of stalks in your container has a meaning! Although, lucky bamboo is most associated with luck in love, it’s also lucky for other purposes as well. Two stalks are for love, three stalks are said to bring luck in happiness. If your container has five stalks it’s suppose to bring you wealth and six stalks are meant to keep you healthy!

Bamboo is closely associated with the ancient practice of Feng Shui, which means bringing all the natural elements into balance. Bamboo is an ideal  representation of water and wood elements. The red string or wire that is wrapped around the plants is thought to fire the flow of energy in your room, red represents fire!

Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved

11 Comments

  1. Rich
    Feb 6, 2009

    Well, I never realized this wasn’t actually bamboo. In fact I recall a friend of mine being here and making a comment about my “fake bamboo”. I never thought much about it at the time. No big deal, its just funny that my entire family have always took for granted that this was bamboo.

  2. Haney
    Feb 13, 2009

    My “fake Bamboo” just kept growing taller and taller then died.

  3. tommy
    May 19, 2009

    Thank you, i keep water fresh by changing it every week, and always keep water levels at approximately an inch from the base of the canes.

  4. Lea
    Sep 16, 2009

    A friend once told me that you could pull off one of the shoots from the stalk and root it in water to start a new plant…is this true? I haven’t tried it…Lea

  5. CoCo
    Apr 24, 2010

    These are great plants for anyone that doesn’t have a green thumb. Keep water in them and give them some light and they’re good to go. Not sure how lucky they are though lol

  6. Sandy
    Sep 23, 2010

    A person I used to work with had 3 containers with 1 stalk in each one. The water was full of algae that was thick as leather. He was going throw them in the trash – I have them now. I took out the stalks – cut off the dead leaves (all the leaves) – The stalks had new shoots so I kept them attached (1 fell off – I put that in the new water, maybe it will root). I cleaned all the marbles (yuck) and put the rooted ends of the stalks into one container and the tops that were cut off into another container to see if they would root. Any other suggestions?

  7. Vanessa
    Oct 9, 2010

    ok I know this might sound funny or strange……but you need to talk to your plant once in a while……i know i know…lol…a little crazy huh?….but it works….plants are alive and thrive and live a long healthy life if their around good positive energy…..its kind of like having a pet (low maintance of course)…..if you neglect it…it will die…..if you care for it and give it what it needs…it will live a long healthy life……you don’t have to believe me if you dont want to…..but ive had good experiences with this kind of thing….it doesnt hurt to try it….just make sure no one is around when you do…or you’ll seem like a crazy person talking to a plant…ha ha ….hope this helps :)

  8. Monique
    Dec 19, 2010

    Vanessa,

    Your not crazy, I also talk to my plants. I dont have a green thumb, and they grow big, and beautiful.

  9. Realitywoman
    Sep 18, 2012

    Just got 18 beautiful stalks from FTD and they are beautiful, wait, did I say they are beautiful. Do the stalks sit in water or not?

  10. roxie dickson
    May 26, 2013

    how much water do put in a 12 inch and how often do you water and how much rocks do you put in

  11. John Adam
    Aug 30, 2013

    “…allow the salt and chlorine to evaporate…” ??
    I understand the chlorine, but salt?

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