Lucky bamboo, also known as Lucky Bamboo or Dracaena sanderiana, is actually not bamboo at all. It belongs to the lily family and is found in shady, tropical rain forests. But it is a beautiful, segmented plant that, unlike true bamboo, does well indoors. With a little knowledge and skill, your lucky bamboo will also be happy at home. Caring for it is relatively easy as it is a hardy plant that does not require much effort. And it might even bring you a bit of luck.
Don’t just take the first bamboo you find. Find a healthy plant. You can find lucky bamboo at your garden center, hardware store, or sometimes even in the supermarket. You can find the plant under Glücksbambus, Lucky Bamboo, or its botanical name Dracaena sanderiana.
Taking care of lucky bamboo is easy. However, choosing a diseased plant will become more difficult to care for, and they may even die. The size of the plant is not that important as most are quite small. It should be a uniform green color bamboo with no spots, scratches, or yellow spots. The stems should be the same color from bottom to top. The tips of the leaves should not have any brown spots.
Lucky bamboo is quite insensitive. However, if planted incorrectly or if it smells sour, it could be diseased and not growing. Bamboo plants do not smell like flowers. But if they aren’t watered well, bacteria can develop, which then makes them smelly. Note how much water there is and whether it’s in soil or substrate. Many bamboo plants are hydroponic, meaning they stand in containers filled with water and are held upright by small rocks or pebbles. Others are in the soil, so make sure it’s moist but not wet. Hydroponics should be at least half full of water.
Both options have advantages. Which one you choose depends on how much effort you want to put into it. Too much soil or fertilizer can harm your plant. If you use tap water that contains fluoride or other chemicals, then you should use soil and fertilizer to avoid yellow tips. If you want the bamboo to grow in standing water, you’ll need pebbles to keep it upright. If using soil, try a mixture of sand, peat, and regular soil to provide excellent drainage. If you’re going to grow it hydroponically, make sure the plant has at least enough water to cover the root base. You should also change the water at least once a week to keep the plant from rotting. It is also appropriate to take this opportunity to rinse the vessel and pebbles. If the plant grows in soil, water it so it is moist.
The diameter of the container should be approx. 5 cm wider than the plant. Most lucky bamboo plants are already sold in pots. However, you can use your flowerpot to make it more personal. A clear container is good for hydroponics because the plant and pebbles are nice to look at. Be careful not to expose the container to direct sunlight. You can use a ceramic hydroponic pot or soil. If using soil, plant the bamboo in a pot with a drainage hole.
Too much fertilizer is worse than none, so use it sparingly. This is especially true for potted plants, as the fertilizer will not be diluted by rain or washed out like plants grown in the ground.
Your lucky bamboo doesn’t need a lot of water. Too much water harms him. Water your plant about once a week, making sure there is always a few inches of water – enough to cover the roots. If you use soil, ensure it’s not too wet or too dry. Your bamboo only thrives in water. Therefore, too much soil or fertilizer can harm it.
Lucky bamboo usually grows wild in the shade where it is protected from direct sunlight by other plants. Your bamboo should be in an open, bright spot that never gets direct sunlight. It is best not to place your lucky bamboo near windows that let in a lot of light. Put it in a room where it’s not as bright. Your lucky bamboo thrives best at temperatures between 18º and 32° C.
If you want to style your bamboo, choose some thick stems for an arrangement. You can let the stems grow around each other or twist. Use younger stems that have not grown too much and are not that hard. You can simply plant the stems in a row or rows if you want straight stems. To make your lucky bamboo squirm, get a cardboard box and cut off the bottom and one side. Place the cardboard over the plant with the open side facing the light. The stems will curl towards the light as they grow. If you see a bend, rotate the plant. You can also wrap wire around younger stems to cross them over. As they grow, you should use more wire to stabilize them as they devour.
Sometimes the ends of the leaves turn yellow. This can be for a variety of reasons: your plant isn’t getting enough water, there’s too much soil or fertilizer, or too much direct sunlight. You can cut off the yellow spots or remove the whole leaf. To remove the yellow tips on the leaves, sterilize pruning shears or regular sharp scissors with alcohol or vinegar. Then cut off the yellow parts, following the natural shape of the leaf. You can remove whole leaves by simply pulling them off the stems at the bottom.
If one or two stems get too big, you can cut them off and replant them. This will help you take care of the plant by making sure it doesn’t get too lush and you can grow new plants. Take the longest stem and remove the small leaves at the base of the shoot. Using a sterile knife or scissors, cut off the shoot about 1/2 inch above where it attached to the stem. Place the shoot in a bowl of clean, distilled water. Leave it in a shady area for a month or two until roots form. When you see roots, you can plant the shoot back into the pot with the lucky bamboo.
Many people tie a gold or red ribbon around the stems of lucky bamboo to hold them together. This is an extra symbol of luck. Add pebbles to complete the overall look and hold the arrangement together. Place your lucky bamboo where it brings you joy and reminds you to take care of it.
If you take spring water from the bottle, the plant will grow faster and get a nice deep green color. (Tap water often contains chemicals or additives not found in the plant’s natural habitat. Tap water often turns the leaves yellow and the plant dies over time.) Don’t put it in direct sunlight. Only fertilize the plant every two months, if at all. Don’t water the plant too much. You only need to water them about once a week. Add diluted aquarium plant fertilizer (1-2 drops) to the water if you want the plant to grow faster.
By the time a foul odor is coming from the plant, it’s probably too late to save it. Some people have reported that the mold that causes this is harmful to their health. Therefore, it’s best to discard the plant and get a new one if this happens. After that, you should change the water more frequently to avoid this in the future. A side note: if your bamboo has sprouts away from the main stems, then these can be saved from rotting. Just cut them off and put them in freshwater. That way you don’t have to throw away the whole plant.