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Growing and Caring for Lucky Bamboo – An Essential Guide

lucky bamboo in a white pot

Lucky bamboo, also known as ribbon plant, is an extremely popular houseplant known for its resilience and distinctively upright stalks. With proper care and maintenance, lucky bamboo can live for many years and bring good fortune according to the ancient Chinese tradition of feng shui.

This guide covers everything you need to know about successfully growing lucky bamboo in your home.

An Introduction to the Lucky Bamboo Plant

Lucky Bamboo, known scientifically as Dracaena sanderiana, has become popular in homes and offices worldwide. Contrary to its common name, it is not actually bamboo but a member of the asparagus family.

It’s cherished for both its aesthetic appeal and the belief in its ability to bring good fortune and positive energy according to Feng Shui principles.

Lucky Bamboo has been a symbol of good fortune in Asian cultures for centuries. Its significance is deeply rooted in Feng Shui, where the arrangement of the stalks holds different meanings, such as love, wealth, happiness, and prosperity.

lucky bamboo in a chinese blue and white pot

Lucky Bamboo Plant Benefits

Growing this plant in your home or office offers a range of benefits, both aesthetic and psychological, making it more than just a decorative plant.

According to Feng Shui, Lucky Bamboo is believed to bring positive energy into a space. The arrangement of the stalks can influence the kind of energy it attracts, such as love, health, prosperity, and happiness, contributing to a harmonious and balanced environment.

Like many indoor plants, it can contribute to improving air quality. It helps filter indoor air pollutants, albeit to a lesser extent than some other indoor plants.

Lucky Bamboo is known for its resilience and low maintenance, making it an ideal plant for both experienced gardeners and beginners. It can thrive in indirect sunlight and can be grown in water, reducing the need for regular potting soil changes.

Selecting Lucky Bamboo

The plant comes in a variety of styles and stalk counts. The number of stalks often correlates to the meaning behind the plant – for example, 2 stalks represent love and 3 stalks represent happiness.

When selecting your lucky bamboo, look for plants with firm, upright stalks and avoid any with yellowing leaves. The stalks should be vivid green in color. Basic supplies like a vase or pot, rocks, and water are all that’s needed beyond the plant itself.

How to Grow a Lucky Bamboo Plant

a twisted lucky bamboo with lots of leaves

Lucky Bamboo can be grown in both soil and water. For beginners, water culture is simpler and more common.

Water Culture

  • Use a clean container and fill it with enough water to cover the roots.
  • Distilled or purified water is preferred to avoid chlorine and fluoride found in tap water.
  • Change the water every 7-10 days to prevent algae and bacteria growth.

Soil Culture

  • Use a well-draining potting mix, typically a combination of peat, perlite, and vermiculite.
  • Ensure the pot has drainage holes to avoid waterlogging.
  • Specialized soil isn’t required, but you can use an all-purpose potting mix.

Container Selection

Choose a container that complements the plant’s size and shape. For water culture, a transparent vase allows you to monitor water levels and root health.

Light

Bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for lucky bamboo. Place it near an east or west facing window where it will get ample light during the daytime but won’t be exposed to intense direct light. Rotate the plant occasionally so all sides get equal lighting.

If the stalks start to look pale, it needs more light. Lucky bamboo turning yellow indicates too much light. It can adapt to lower light conditions, but growth may slow. Using a grow light can supplement natural light in darker spaces.

Temperature

Lucky bamboo thrives best in average room temperatures between 65-80°F. Avoid placing the plant near heating and cooling vents, fireplaces, or other sources of extreme temperatures.

Cooler temperatures in the 60°F range may cause growth to slow or stop, while prolonged heat over 90°F can lead to leaf yellowing. Monitor the plant and move to a better spot if temperature becomes problematic.

Fertilizer

When grown in water alone, add liquid plant fertilizer to the water once a month during spring and summer according to package directions.

For potted bamboo, use controlled-release fertilizer pellets a couple of times per year. Lucky bamboo is sensitive to the chemicals in tap water, so filtered or distilled water is best.

Pruning & Shaping

To keep your lucky bamboo looking its best, prune off any yellowed, dying or diseased stalks as needed using sterilized gardening shears. Make cuts at an angle near the base of the plant.

Pruning helps direct energy to new stalk production and healthy growth. You can shape lucky bamboo by gently bending the stalks into curved designs while the plant is still growing. Don’t fold them completely or stalks may break.

Lucky Bamboo Propagation

lucky bamboo in a glass jar on a coffee table

Propagate new lucky bamboo plants by dividing the root clump or taking stem cuttings in spring or summer. Plant offsets in their own containers using soil, water or pebbles and keep consistently watered.

For cuttings, remove stalks near the base and place the cut-end down in water until new roots are established before transplanting to a pot or vase.

When transplanting bamboo into a larger container, divide the congested root mass and remove any dead roots. Replant about an inch deeper than the original level and water thoroughly after replanting and provide bright, indirect light.

Lucky Bamboo Plant Care

Dust can accumulate on the leaves, blocking sunlight. Gently wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to keep them clean.

This plant thrives in a humid environment. In dry climates, consider using a pebble tray or a humidifier to increase humidity.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

lots of lucky bamboo in a grey planter
  • Lucky Bamboo turning yellow: Caused by overwatering, poor water quality, or direct sunlight. Adjust your care routine accordingly.
  • Brown Tips: Often a sign of dry air or fluoride in the water. Use distilled water and maintain adequate humidity.
  • Root Rot: Indicated by mushy, dark roots. This is typically due to overwatering. If caught early, you can trim the rotten roots and replant in fresh water or soil.
  • Slimy stalks: Excess moisture can create bacterial growth on stalks. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings.
  • Fungal leaf spots: Trim the affected foliage, improve air circulation, and reduce moisture.
  • Small flies: Fungus gnats attracted to excess moisture. Allow the plant to dry out.
  • Cats chewing on stalks: Place the plant somewhere out of reach from pets and use cat deterrents.

Decorating with Lucky Bamboo

Beyond being an easy-care houseplant, lucky bamboo also serves as a unique living decoration. It looks visually striking grouped together in multiples or incorporated into bathroom or kitchen design. Some creative ways to display lucky bamboo include:

  • Arranging stalks in alternating heights in a narrow vase
  • Placing the plant in a decorative ceramic pot with a feng shui trinket like a Buddha statue or crystals
  • Displaying on tabletops or shelves to jazz up bare spaces
  • Grouping pots or vases with varying numbers of stalks for design interest
  • Using as a living centerpiece or portable plant in office spaces
  • Planting lucky bamboo directly into a decorative shallow bowl of pebbles and water
lucky bamboo in a pot on a windowsill in the bathroom

Placement for Good Feng Shui

According to Feng Shui, the placement of Lucky Bamboo in certain areas of your home or office can enhance specific aspects of your life. For example, placing it in the east part of a space is believed to improve health and family life.

The number of stalks in a Lucky Bamboo arrangement has different meanings:

  • Two stalks for love and marriage.
  • Three stalks for happiness.
  • Five stalks for wealth.
  • Eight stalks for growth.

Lucky Bamboo is more than just a plant; it’s a symbol of luck and prosperity that also adds a green, vibrant touch to any space.

By following the care tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure your Lucky Bamboo not only survives but thrives, bringing positive energy and aesthetics to your environment.

Is Lucky Bamboo really bamboo?

No, Lucky Bamboo is not a true bamboo. It belongs to the Dracaena genus and is more closely related to some indoor plants like Dracaena marginata and Dracaena fragrans.

How often should it be fertilized?

Lucky Bamboo doesn’t require frequent fertilization. A small amount of a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer can be added to the water every few months. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can damage the plant.

How can I make it grow taller?

To encourage growth, ensure your Lucky Bamboo has adequate indirect light, fresh water, and occasional fertilization. However, its growth rate and ultimate height are also influenced by its genetic makeup and environmental conditions.

Is Lucky Bamboo safe for pets?

It is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested, causing symptoms like vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea. If you have pets, it’s wise to keep the plant out of their reach.

the essential guide to lucky bamboo pinterest pin

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