Lucky Bamboo Guide: How to Take Care of a Lucky Bamboo Plant

Lucky Bamboo Guide: How to Care for a Dracaena Sanderiana

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Lucky bamboo isn’t really bamboo, but you’re really lucky because we’ve rounded up all the best care tips and answered all your questons about how to raise a thriving Dracaena sanderiana. These striking additions to interior spaces, with long, blade-like leaves and towering stalks can be any size or shape—even braided into multistrand good-luck charms with different meanings. Get all the deets here, including in-depth and easy to understand instructions for light, water, pest control, pruning and more.

Lucky Bamboo Details

Dracaena sanderiana

AKA Lucky bamboo, curly bamboo, Chinese water bamboo
Ease of Care: easy
Light: bright indirect sunlight
Water: damp soil
Temperature: 65 – 95° F
Height: up to 8 feet tall
Growth Rate: 18-36 inches per year
Pests: mealybugs, mites
Diseases: root rot
Toxicity: toxic to animals, non-toxic to humans

Benefits of Lucky Bamboo

lucky bamboo display with many stems has significant meaningThe lucky bamboo is a plant with a lot of symbolism behind it, according to Chinese traditions. It is believed that the luck of this type of bamboo is represented by the number of stalks it has:

  • Lucky bamboo plants with two stalks represent love.
  • Three stalks stand for long life, wealth, and happiness.
  • Five stalks are life areas with a direct impact on wealth.
  • Six stalks are all about wealth and good luck.
  • Seven stalks are the symbol behind health.
  • Eight stalks symbolize growth.
  • Nine stalks are a symbol of luck
  • 10 stalks are a reflection of perfection.
  • 21 stalks symbolize a powerful blessing.

You may have noticed that we skipped the number four. That’s because the Chinese associate the words “four” and “death,” so they will never gift a lucky bamboo with four stalks.

Aside from the significance, the plant is also very easy to grow because it doesn’t require direct sunlight (in fact, it can tolerate semi-shade pretty well) and can be grown in both a soil container or a water vase.

dracaena sanderiana seedlings growing in soil growing in potLucky Bamboo Plant Care

Light

This is a plant that loves light very much, and that means that it will thrive in homes where it can get plenty of bright light. If you place the plant under direct sunlight, it will scorch the leaves. If you notice that the leaves of the plant, that most likely means that the plant is too exposed to the sun and you need to move it to another location.

Water

Watering the lucky bamboo plant is pretty much an exact science. You are never supposed to leave the soil to dry out too much, but you have to be careful with over watering as well. The soil has to be slightly damp at all times.

In general, the lucky bamboo plant is pretty sensitive to tap water because of the high chlorine levels. Experts suggest watering this plant with bottled or distilled water. If you don’t have any of these and you need to use tap water, just leave it out overnight before you feed it to the plant so that the chlorine inside it can evaporate. Note that tap water may also contain high levels of fluoride, which is also to be avoided. Filtered water is always the safest solution, as fluorine will not evaporate.

Growing in Water

lucky curly bamboo dracaena sanderiana in jar of water

However, lucky bamboo is a plant that can also grow in water. In fact, plenty of people choose to place the lucky bamboo plant in a vase with pebbles on the bottom and about one inch of water on top. If you choose to grow the lucky bamboo in water, you want to make sure that the roots are always covered with water. The watering frequency will, of course, depend on environmental factors as well. In really warm rooms, much of the water may evaporate, so you will have to check the water levels constantly if that’s the case. For the most part, the lucky bamboo plant should be watered once every seven to 10 days.

Temperature

curly bamboo makes a great office plant in a glass jar and water growthOne of the reasons the lucky bamboo plant is relatively easy to grow in an office or home is because it can handle temperatures that vary between 65 and 95° F. You need to make sure that the plant isn’t exposed to any cold drafts during the winter.

Propagation

Propagating a lucky bamboo plant is another easy thing to do. You first need to identify a healthy parent stalk, which can be recognized by having at least two bamboo segments. The parent stalk also needs to have an offshoot. Trim the offshoot from the stalk and get rid of the bottom leaves layer to create an independent stalk. Grab a clean container (something like a vase) and put water inside it. Place the plant inside the container and care for it as you would normally care for a large plant.

Pruning

Pruning the lucky bamboo plant isn’t an exact science, as this can depend on the height of the plant. There isn’t a precise time that’s right for pruning and you should do so when the plant is too big to manage. Make sure you use sharp pruning shears and cut back any shoots that are either too long or too thin. These shoots need to be cut down to a length of about one or two inches from the stalk. As a general note, a lucky bamboo plant will grow about 19 inches in six months of proper care.

Purchasing a Lucky Bamboo

A lucky bamboo plant is a wonderful house-warming gift, but it’s something that you can also purchase for yourself if nobody ever gifted you one. Specialized online stores and third-party sellers (such as Amazon) are great spots to start looking for lucky bamboo plants.

    JMBamboo 8-Braided Lucky Bamboo Plant

Buy at Amazon
    Native to Cameroon in West Africa, this shrub wetland species of plant is known for its stability and tranquility. These ornamental plants bring fortune and happiness to anyone who keeps them in their home or work place. The stalks of this lucky bamboo are braided and twist to form a unified thick stem. Care Instructions included.

There is even an online store that specializes in lucky bamboo arrangements called Lucky Bamboo Shop. There, you can purchase potted or bare-root Dracaena sanderiana in multiple heights, including tiered arrangments and fun planters.

    Garden Wall 16-Inch Special Lucky Bamboo

Buy at Lucky Bamboo Shop
    Chinese cities were historically crowded with little privacy. The most valuable land within the city walls were the gardens. These were miniature representations of the farms and fields that most people could only dream of.

Common Questions

Is lucky bamboo toxic?

The lucky bamboo plant is toxic for cats and dogs. When ingested, it can cause a series of problems, like nausea and vomiting, drooling, dilated pupils, weakness, and lack of coordination. Interestingly enough, the plant is not toxic to humans, but it will cause an upset stomach when ingested in larger quantities.

Does the lucky bamboo plant attract any pests?

The lucky bamboo plant attracts pests that are quite common for a wide variety of other houseplants as well. Amongst the most common pests for lucky bamboo plants, you have your average mealybugs, fungal infections, and mites. Fungal infections are typically noticeable when there is grey fuzz on the plant. In this case, you will have to remove the infected growth. If you notice any small white insects on the plant, they are most likely mealybugs and they can be removed with rubbing alcohol.

an arrangement of houseplants on a windowsill with cat curtains and mismatched planters

Why is my lucky bamboo plant turning yellow?

You can tell a lucky bamboo plant is healthy because of its green color. However, if you notice that leaves or part of the stem starts to turn yellow, this could be a sign that the plant is sick. You need to proceed with removing the diseased leaves and stem so they don’t spread to the rest of the plant.

How do I know when to repot my bamboo?

It should be relatively easy to notice when the roots of the plant are too big for the container. It is easier to figure out when this is required if the plant is growing in water, in which case you can simply move it to a larger vase. Make sure that you throw away the rocks and add new ones.

various dracaena sanderiana in planters for sale

How can I shape my lucky bamboo?

There are typically two ways for people to shape a lucky bamboo: by either making a spiral or braiding the plant. If you want to make a bamboo spiral, you can cut one side of a cardboard box and put your plant inside. Put the box with the plant inside somewhere where the empty side can face a light source. Take care of the bamboo plant as per the usual instruction, and you still start to notice that the plant will lean towards the light. When this happens, rotate the plant and continue repeating this process until the stem of the plant turns into a spiral.

The second method is called braiding. To do this, you will have to choose a three-stalk bamboo inside a container and prune the base of the stalks. Braid them as you would braid hair: right stalk over the middle one, the middle to the right, left to current middle, middle to the left, and so on. Make sure that you leave about five inches at the end of the stalk. Using a twist tie, wrap the top side of the braid (without it being too tight). Proceed with normal lucky bamboo plant care.

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