Lucky bamboo plants are a popular choice as their lovely appearance adds some personality to your home. Bamboo plants are a popular symbol in feng shui and are admired in Asian cultures for their simplicity, beauty, and powerful presence.
Bamboo plants are native to Africa but are found all over the world in homes and offices. The stalks are often braided and twisted into magnificent shapes.
If you’re looking for a “lucky” addition to your home, you should be growing lucky bamboo. Here’s how:
What Is a Lucky Bamboo Plant?
Dracaena sanderiana isn’t related to the kind of bamboo we grow outdoors, which are grasses in the subfamily Bambusoideae. It’s part of the Dracaena genus, which also includes plants like dragon trees, snake plants, and the common dracaena.
‘White Stripe Victory,’ as you might have guessed from the name, has white stripes. ‘White Stripe Gold,’ on the other hand, has yellow striping.
D. braunii, a closely related species, is often also sold as lucky bamboo. They look similar and can be raised in the same way. Look for ‘Lotus’ and ‘Ceres’ cultivars.
The Right Conditions for Lucky Bamboo
If you live in USDA Growing Zones 10-11 you’ll be able to plant lucky bamboo outdoors. This plant is native to warm areas, you won’t be able to grow it outdoors year-round if you live somewhere cold.
It’s a good thing this plant is perfectly happy in the same conditions we have in our homes! That way we can enjoy them no matter where we live by growing them indoors as houseplants.
When it comes to the temperature, you should give lucky bamboo plants at least 65℉. although they can survive up to 90℉. Don’t leave them in an area that drops below 50°F.
As for the placement of a lucky bamboo plant, don’t place it near any drafty windows or in front of an air conditioner. These locations will be too extreme for your houseplant.
Lucky bamboo plants only need average humidity, so you don’t need to worry too much about the moisture levels in the room where your plant will be. Besides, temperature and soil, you’ll have to provide the right light conditions as well.
Light levels are important for growing lucky bamboo plants – and all plants, really. Provide bright but indirect light for the best growth. As these plants originally grew under canopies in the rainforest they will need moderate light exposure but no direct sun.
For example, you could keep your lucky bamboo plant near a windows with a sheer curtain. Or place your plant near a north-facing window.
If your houseplant is exposed to the heat and intensity of direct sun, the leaves will be damaged.
If you’re in doubt, it’s always better to give this plant a little less light than too much. If you’re concerned that the lack of light is affecting your plant, keep an eye out for any signs of pale or leggy growth.
You can easily fix these issues by giving the plant more light, so it isn’t a serious problem.
The best type of soil for growing a lucky bamboo plant is well-draining, rich soil. This will give your plant lots of nutrients without drowning the roots. Any water-retentive, well-draining potting medium will do.
You can also place the plant in a vase or glass full of water with pebbles at the bottom. This is a common and traditional way of growing lucky bamboo and a plant can live for up to a year in water.
Just remember to leave at least one inch of standing water covering the stems at all times and to change the water regularly.
After you’ve got the light, temperature, humidity, and soil covered you can move on to caring for your new houseplant.
Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo Plant
Did you know that lucky bamboo plants are sensitive to chlorine? That means that tap water is not great for watering your plant if your water is chlorinated. Use distilled water or leave the water out for a day to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
For growing in a vase of water, you should also be sure to change the water regularly. Ideally, every week is good so that your plant doesn’t develop any diseases.
You’ll know if your roots are healthy by their color. Your lucky bamboo should have red roots.
Besides watering your houseplant, you can also feed your lucky bamboo fertilizer once a month during the warm seasons. This is especially important if you’re growing the plant in water as they will need a liquid fertilizer each month.
There are also a few other things that can help you develop the best shape and size for the plant. Here are a few gardening tips for growing lucky bamboo plants:
- You can shape the plant by rotating it toward the light
- Trim offshoots back to within 1-2 inches of the main stem
- Braid or twine the stems together to create a fun look
Overall, the main caring tips to remember when keeping this plant at home are to change the water regularly in the vase, avoid direct sunlight, and fertilize monthly. As you can see, maintenance is quite low for this type of plant so anyone can give it a go.
A Few Notes on Pruning
Similar to bonsai trees, pruning a lucky bamboo plant involves the same things: plant wire and frequent trimming. To keep your houseplant healthy, it’s essential that you prune it as soon as it develops larger stalks.
Normally, this plant can become top-heavy over time which can ruin its overall appearance if you’re not careful. It’s important to trim the stalks, but you should avoid cutting the main stem completely as it is the foundation of the entire plant.
Instead of cutting the main stem, you should focus on trimming the offshoots. All you need for this is a clean pair of scissors. Once your trim them back to 1-2 inches, you’ll start seeing new shoots appearing not too long after.
If you want to achieve the distinctive look of traditional lucky bamboo plants with spirling stalks, then you should focus your attention on rotating the plant every few weeks. This is key to getting a twirling design on your plant.
You should also use wire to train the plant in the right direction.
Now that you have the basics of growing and caring for this plant, you should learn about the potential problems that can happen.
Common Issues With Lucky Bamboo Plants
Even if you follow every step of this guide, you might still have some unexpected issues come up when growing a lucky bamboo plant. Most of the time, these problems can be easily solved with increasing watering or moving location.
Also, keep in mind that these are not the longest-living plant. You’ll probably get five years out of them if they’re in soil and a year if they’re in water.
For instance, browning leaf tips are common with this houseplant. Most of the time, your leaves turning brown is a sign that the water is full of chlorine. As already mentioned, you should use distilled water all the time.
Yellow leaves might indicate that the plant is in too much sun. Move it out of any direct sunlight and trim off any significantly damaged leaves.
Next on the list of lucky bamboo problems is black roots. If the roots of your plant are not red then there could be something wrong. You should cut the black roots away immediately and change the water in the pot or vase.
Add a few drops of bleach to the water to kill any pathogens. Keep checking on it and see if there are any improvements and keep trimming any dead roots that form.
Plants potted in soil can also experience root rot. If this happens, the plant overall will look sad and wilted. Treat the soil with a copper fungicide drench.
In addition to caring mistakes, there are also some pests that can infect the lucky bamboo plant. The main insects are mealybugs, aphids, and mites.