When lucky bamboo is too tall, it’s necessary to cut back the sprouts grow too tall and dying leaves. Knowing how to trim lucky bamboo or cutting a lucky bamboo stalk in half to propagate it from the trimmings is a valuable skill if you have these plants in your home or office.
- How to Trim Lucky Bamboo Plants
- Trimming Just Leaves on Lucky Bamboo Plants
- Change the Shape of Your Lucky Bamboo Plant
- How to Propagate Lucky Bamboo From Cuttings
- Regular Trimming Keeps Bamboo Healthy
- How Do I Prune and Shape Lucky Bamboo?
- Understanding Lucky Bamboo
- Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo
- Pruning Lucky Bamboo plants
- Shaping Lucky Bamboo plants
- How to shape Lucky Bamboo into spirals or curls
- How to shape Lucky Bamboo into a heart
- How to shape Lucky Bamboo into a woven form
- Good Things to Know About Lucky Bamboo
- Trimming (Pruning or Cutting Back) Lucky Bamboo
- How to Cut the Bottom Off of a Bamboo Plant
- Pruning Bamboo
- Topping Bamboo
- Limbing Bamboo
- Training and Tethering Bamboo
- Lucky Bamboo Overview
- Lucky Bamboo Care
How to Trim Lucky Bamboo Plants
Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is a versatile plant that can grow either in water or soil. Can you prune lucky bamboo? Not only can you cut a lucky bamboo plant, but if the plant grows too tall, it is necessary. Trim it without worry over stunting its growth since it’s a hardy plant, and pruning makes it grow faster.
Tools to Prune Lucky Bamboo
You don’t need many tools – just a pair of very sharp pruning shears or scissors.
- Be sure your scissors or pruning shears are sharp.
- You want the cuts to your plant to be clean, not jagged.
- Ragged cuts and tears present opportunities for unwanted bacteria and disease to enter into the healthy plant shaft.
Trimming Stalks Versus Sprouts
The size of the bamboo shafts in your arrangement won’t change, but the height of your arrangement grows as new sprouts emerge from the stalks.
- Don’t trim the bamboo stalks unless you wish to change the height of your arrangement.
- Once you’ve pruned a stalk, it remains the trimmed height since the bamboo stopped growing as soon as it was harvested for your arrangement.
- The sprouts (leaves) are the only part of your arrangement that continues to grow after harvesting and eventually need trimming.
- If you wish to shorten the length of the stalks, cut them and then propagate the cut halves in water or soil to create another arrangement.
- New sprouts will grow from the cut stalks and soon you’ll have another arrangement.
- Be sure to keep the leaves out of water since the leaves will rot if left soaking in water.
Trimming Lucky Bamboo Plants
It’s always best to trim less than what you’ve planned to ensure you don’t over prune your arrangement. You can always trim more if necessary. Start trimming around the bottom of the plant and work your way up toward the top.
Importance of Pruning Your Bamboo Plant
Trimming encourages new growth and is necessary as your plant ages. The sprouts continue to grow while the stalk remains the same height and thickness. This can cause arrangements to eventually become top heavy and necessitates a trim.
- If it’s your intention to root the cuttings, snip the sprouts about one or two inches away from the main stem just below the node.
- The node is where the sprout first emerged from the shaft.
- This is the area where new roots will form and soon give you a new plant. That’s why it’s important that you cut the sprout so the entire node stays intact with the cutting.
- Some people insist you must cut a sprout at an angle in order for it to root. This isn’t true. You can cut the sprout either straight or at an angle and still have a good root system grow from the cut.
- Leave a one to two inch nub on the shaft; this will encourage new leaves to grow from the cut area.
- Trimming also helps your bamboo grow back fuller than it was before you trimmed it.
- If you don’t want more growth on your plant, then use paraffin to seal the wound left by cutting the sprout off of the shaft.
Trimming Just Leaves on Lucky Bamboo Plants
Leaves can die for any number of reasons, so you want to trim these from the sprout. Pruning leaves from the sprout or stem encourages more leaf growth. If you wish your plant to branch out and produce more leaves, then you can selectively trim just the leaves.
- Cut the leaf away from the sprout or stem. The stem from the sprout may be very long with multiple leaves along the shoot.
- Make the cut right along the stem at the point where the leaf grows out from it. Be careful not to cut too close to the stem. While you want to remove the yellow/dead leaf, you shouldn’t strip it from the stem. Make your cut just below the yellow or dead part of the leaf, leaving the remaining green part growing out from the stem or sprout intact. This area will recover quickly and soon you’ll have new leaves growing in place of the cut leaf.
- If the leaf is close to the sprout, then cut at least one inch above the sprout.
Change the Shape of Your Lucky Bamboo Plant
If you decide you no longer like the way your lucky bamboo arrangement looks, you can make a drastic change by cutting all the sprouts back to the stalk. In this case, you’ll want to trim the sprouts flush with the stalk. Because you’ve trimmed the sprout so close to the stalk, new sprouts might not grow from the trimmed area.
Risk of Infection
If you cut the stalk of your bamboo, there’s a risk of bacteria seeping into the cut area. If your bamboo becomes infected, the water will turn murky or brown and have an unpleasant odor. At this point there’s very little you can do to save your bamboo and it should be thrown away.
How to Propagate Lucky Bamboo From Cuttings
Select only choice cuttings to root.
- Make sure the sprouts you use have at least two leaf points to ensure you have enough of a sprout to root.
- Trim to the growth node.
- Place the sprout in either soil or water to allow roots to grow.
- When the roots start to grow, if propagating in water, add marbles or small stones to stabilize the plant.
- Care properly for the new lucky bamboo plant.
- Some people use rooting hormones to encourage fast root systems. If your plant is healthy, you won’t need to use this.
Regular Trimming Keeps Bamboo Healthy
Cutting lucky bamboo is easy when you follow these instructions and will keep your plants healthy if done on a regular basis.
How Do I Prune and Shape Lucky Bamboo?
A lot of people own a bamboo-like plant called Lucky Bamboo or Dracaena sanderiana. If yours is getting out of control, you might be wondering if you can prune your Lucky Bamboo. Maybe you want to give it an interesting shape like the Lucky Bamboo plants sold everywhere.
So, how do you prune and shape Lucky Bamboo? Luckily, if you have a plant that tends to be growing out of hand, it is very possible to prune the plant as needed. In fact, this is a very easy process if you have the right equipment and a little bit of knowledge.
The Lucky Bamboo plant itself is not actually a true bamboo but a member of the lily family. This plant can grow up to 3 feet (91 cm) tall indoors but often is sold at a much smaller size. When your small plant begins to overwhelm its surroundings, you very much so should trim it or prune it to a more manageable size.
Do you want to jump ahead?
Understanding Lucky Bamboo
Before you can trim your plant appropriately, you may want to learn more about Lucky Bamboo itself. Whether you have already purchased the plant or have simply loved the look of them for some time, it is crucial that you know exactly what you are getting. Lucky Bamboo is often sold in small containers with soil, water, or pebbles at the bottom.
These plants are a great addition to your home, with many even keeping them on a desk or in an office. They grow in low light levels, even as far as 8 feet (2.5 m) away from a window. You should try to maintain at least 4 hours a day of bright, indirect light on the plant and change the water weekly. Distilled water and a brighter atmosphere can lead to even better growth.
Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo
As mentioned, there are certain growing conditions that your Lucky Bamboo plant needs to remain as healthy and thriving as possible. You want to avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves, which is why this is often a great indoor plant. In fact, the plant is more tolerant of too little light than too much light.
The water you use for your plant is also extremely important. You should keep your plant in at least an inch of water, but you should not use unfiltered tap water. The plant is extremely sensitive to chlorine and the other chemicals that are often found in tap water. It is best to water your plant with filtered or bottled, distilled water. Tap water that has been left out for the chlorine to evaporate is fine too.
If you opt to plant your Lucky Bamboo in potting soil versus the pebbles and water approach that many people use, you should keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. You can use a very weak fertilizer every month or so as needed. For most bamboo plants, a single drop of liquid fertilizer will provide enough food for the month and can provide optimum growth.
Lucky Bamboo does prefer warmer temperatures like real bamboo plants, with the best temperature being between 65 and 90°F (18-32°C). A properly growing plant will have red roots. Also, it is important to note that the leaves of the plant are mildly toxic so you should keep them out of reach of pets and young children.
Pruning Lucky Bamboo plants
Since Lucky Bamboo is actually a plant in the same genus of trees and shrubs, it can grow fast but can also be pruned regularly. These plants tend to get top-heavy which can be put too much weight and stress on the roots themselves. Cutting the plant back can help to invigorate it and can promote new growth.
Of course, pruning is also a way to change the shape of the plant to the one you find more enjoyable. This is a good option if your plant has become too large for its container as well.
Pruning and arranging Lucky Bamboo
When to prune a Lucky Bamboo plant?
There isn’t really a great time to prune your Lucky Bamboo plant and it depends on the height of the plant itself. You do not have to wait until a certain time of year or plant age, you simply do this pruning when it gets too large to handle.
How to prune your Lucky Bamboo?
Regular trimming is an important part of keeping your Lucky Bamboo plant healthy and continuing to grow. As mentioned, these plants can become too top-heavy and will begin to lose their form over time.
You should use sharp, sterile pruning shears to cut back your Lucky Bamboo. If you have any shoots that appear overly long, thin, or growing in a crooked or odd shape, these should be pruned down. This will encourage new growth that is usually more visually appealing. You should avoid cutting the main stalk of the plant but should cut the offshoots. You can trim these offshoots back to within an inch or two of the main stem itself.
When you trim the plant, new shoots will emerge, and it can result in a bushier Lucky Bamboo. If you do not want this new growth and would prefer a smaller plant, you can dip the cut ends in paraffin.
If you want to change the look of your plant significantly, you can cut these shoots flush to the stalk itself. Cutting closer to the stalk usually keeps your plant from growing new shoots in these areas. You can also cut the stalk to the desired height, which may be ideal if your plant is growing very large or you keep it in a smaller area.
There are some risks that come with this style of pruning as it can lead to infection for your plant. Trimming shoots away is a lot less risky as it still allows for regrowth. While cutting a plant stops the growth and your plant will never grow larger than that cut.
Cutting Lucky Bamboo plants
Cutting your bamboo plant can lead to infection, which is why you should be careful when making any cuts. This stops your plant from growing taller and the only way to increase the plant’s height after a cut is the new shoot. Of course, knowing where to cut your bamboo and how to cut it properly is essential to avoid unwanted results.
When you look at a Lucky Bamboo plant, you will notice that the stalk itself has clearly defined rings, which are referred to as nodes. You should make any cuts just above these nodes for the best results. All cuts should be clean and smooth, which reduces the chance of infection.
You can cut new growth back to above a node or cut where the new growth joins the main stalk to remove the shoot entirely. When you cut a shoot to the main stalk, a tan scar usually appears on the plant. Often, it is best to do drastic cuts in the cooler, winter months as this is when your bamboo experiences slower growth to begin with.
Lucky Bamboo plant growth after pruning
If you simply trim the new shoots, they will grow back within a few days or weeks. As previously mentioned, these shoots can grow back bushier and healthier compared to their appearance before pruning. As for cutting, this will lead to a halt in growth and new shoots often do not emerge from a close cut.
When you do trim or cut your plant, you should not throw away these trimmings. You can use the bamboo trimmings to propagate new Lucky Bamboo plants.
Shaping Lucky Bamboo plants
Lucky Bamboo can be shaped differently than other plants like bonsai, which uses a plant wire and regular trimming. With Lucky Bamboo, you can simply shape the plant by rotating the stalks in front of a light source. This causes the plant to grow naturally towards the light.
Curly or spiral Lucky Bamboo
How to shape Lucky Bamboo into spirals or curls
If you have seen Lucky Bamboo that has been grown into a beautiful spiral shape, you might be wondering how this is done. Maybe you have a straight Lucky Bamboo plant and want to shape it in a more interesting way. You should note that this process takes some time and effort if done at home.
You can do this with small or tall plants. It would speed up the process if you do it in more humid and warm conditions like a greenhouse.
What you need:
- Your plant
- Cardboard box that is slightly bigger than your Lucky Bamboo
Step-by-step guide on curling your Lucky Bamboo:
- Cut the bottom and one side out of the box.
- Place the box over your Lucky Bamboo with the open side facing the light source (window, grow light).
- Wait until you see the plant growing towards the light.
- Turn it a little bit once it reached the amount of curve you want. If you turn it in shorter intervals, it will get a tighter curl. If you leave it longer, it will grow in wider spirals.
- You have to turn it regularly and slowly. Otherwise, you won’t get a smooth curl. Maybe make a note how many days you kept it in one position.
- Prune as you go so that it doesn’t become too top-heavy.
Heart-shaped Lucky Bamboo
How to shape Lucky Bamboo into a heart
Spirals aren’t the way to go for you? Maybe you want to bring love to your house or have a wonderful gift for someone special. Shaping Lucky Bamboo into a heart isn’t all that difficult. We actually wrote a whole blog post about it. Read it here.
How to shape Lucky Bamboo into a woven form
This is by far the most challenging but most incredible shape for Lucky bamboo. This demands a lot of patience, time, and attention. Personally, I would rather buy it already woven, but if you want to experience with weaving Lucky Bamboo at home, here is how.
- Young and healthy Lucky Bamboo: This shape doesn’t work with older plants. The roots should be untangled, healthy and fine. Make sure they grow outwards. Pick at least 3-4 stalks with less than 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
- Shallow pot
- Pebbles, ceramic chips, or beads
- Florist’s tape or string
Step-by-step guide on weaving or braiding your Lucky Bamboo:
- Take the container and fill it with the pebbles, ceramic chips, or beads (only 1 inch / 2.5 cm).
- Place the bamboo stalks into the container with 2 inches (5 cm) of space in between. If you want double stalks in a braided pattern, set two side-by-side and then leave 2 inches (5 cm) to the next pair. You can also arrange them in a circular shape. This way you can work on a vase-like or pineapple shape.
- Whatever you do, the roots need to be buried in the medium. The plant will need support in order to grow sideways.
- Fill the container with filtered or distilled water (at least an inch (2.5 cm) above the medium).
- Tie stalks together in the way you want it to be woven. This will force the Lucky Bamboo into a certain direction.
- Utilize light sources where possible or needed. Cover sides in order to force the stalks to grow in your wanted direction. Read the guide above how to use a cardboard box.
- Prune as you go to keep the perfect shape.
I’ve had my spiral (sometimes called curly) Lucky Bamboo stalks for almost 8 years now. The foliage growth was getting tall and spindly so I decided to cut it all back. This is all about trimming Lucky Bamboo including how I did it and how long it took for those stems to grow back.
Now, I’ve never pruned any of mine back before so this was an experiment. Lucky Bamboos are actually dracaenas, not bamboos. I’ve successfully cut my Dracaena marginatas and Dracaena reflexa Song Of India back before so I figured this would go well. I just didn’t know how long they’d take to grow back and how many new stems would appear on each stalk (or cane).
Lucky Bamboo care is easy to care for. That’s one of the reasons these plants are so popular! They are novelty plants sold in many sizes and forms which also adds to their appeal.
Although this dracaena grows in soil in their native environments (in wet rainforests under the canopies of other plants) they’ve adapted well to growing in water.
Good Things to Know About Lucky Bamboo
Lucky Bamboo gets taller as the stems (or shoots) grow, not by the stalk (or cane) growing. If you prune the cane by half then the height of your plant will be reduced by at least half.
Lucky Bamboo, or Dracaena sanderiana, naturally grows straight. It’s trained by the growers (mostly in China) into all the interesting shapes and forms. You can see and buy some here.
They’re sensitive to salts and chemicals in some tap water. The leaf tips will brown & the leaves will eventually turn yellow. I use distilled water to prevent this.
I keep the water level about an inch or 2 above the top of the roots. You don’t want them to dry out.
Keep your Lucky Bamboo vase or dish out of direct sunlight. Not only can that cause the leaves to burn but algae can build up in the water. Small amounts are not a worry but increased growth can prevent problems.
I change the water every month or so to keep it fresh.
Trimming (Pruning or Cutting Back) Lucky Bamboo
I’m going to explain this process with photos so you can better get an idea what I did, I long it took to start showing growth and how it looks today. When I say trimming, I mean the stem or shoot growth, not the canes.
My spiral Lucky Bamboo at the beginning of October 2018
What prompted this whole thing was the fact it got leggy. Also, some of the leaves had tipped and were turning yellowish. It wasn’t getting too much sun or fertilizer (I only fertilized once all year with Super Green) and I was using distilled water.
I’m not sure if this is due to the age of the plants & the roots getting crowded or the heat. I live in Tucson and perhaps the hot temperature and dryness of the desert had something to do with it.
Anyway, I’m always up for a new horticultural experience so time for some trimming!
How the stalks, or canes, looked after pruning the stems off in October 2018
Where to trim Lucky Bamboo: I cut the stems off as close to the canes as I could. My trusty Felco pruners were cleaned and sharpened to make precise cuts and also to lessen the chance of infection.
The shortest stem I cut off
I stuck it in water & 2 weeks later roots were showing. So yes, you can root the stems. This 1 was cut fresh with the stalk by the way.
Fast forward to March of 2019. The nodes had swelled 1-2 months earlier but at this time the growth was noticeable.
How my Lucky Bamboo looks at the end of July 2019. And yes, 1 of the canes is yellowing. More on that in a future post & video.
How to Care for Lucky Bamboo as It’s Sprouting
I kept the vase of Lucky Bamboo canes in my office near a window. It’s a north exposure but the window is large and Tucson gets a lot of sun year-round. I changed out the water (distilled) once a month. That’s it; not much care at all.
I don’t proclaim to be an expert on gardening. It’s way too broad a spectrum to claim that. I’m just someone who grew up around plants and have been working with them my whole life. This is an experience I wanted to share and perhaps yours has been way different but isn’t that what gardening (indoors or out) is all about?
The 2 things that were most interesting to me: the fact that it took longer than expected and only 1 stem appeared per cane whereas originally there were 2 or 3 stems per cane.
I did cut 1 or 2 of the canes back a bit but I honestly can’t remember which ones. Not very much, maybe 1 or 2″. I’ve read varying reports on whether the canes should be pruned or not but I imagine they can because other dracaenas can easily be cut back.
Dracaenas handle pruning very well and often times need it to control their leggy growth. Just know that if I had cut the spiral part off, it wouldn’t have grown back unless you trained it. And that is a long and somewhat arduous task. Unless you’re really into this kind of thing, it’s best to buy the Lucky Bamboo in the form or shape you want it.
I’m considering planting these canes in some soil in early fall or next spring. Another experiment to be had – I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as to how it goes.
Need More Help with Lucky Bamboo Care? Check Out These Posts!
Lucky Bamboo Care Tips
24 Things To Know About Caring For and Growing Lucky Bamboo
How to Prevent Spider Mites on Lucky Bamboo
How to Replant a Money Tree
You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
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How to Cut the Bottom Off of a Bamboo Plant
abstract bamboo image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com
Unless you absolutely have to cut the bottom off of your bamboo plant, you should avoid doing so. Generally, it results in the death of the plant. However, if you have a diseased, braided bamboo plant, then you may need to remove the bottom part of the diseased stalk — the point from which the disease will spread — even if you cannot entirely extricate the remainder of the problem shoot. In this case, it will make sense to carefully cut the bottom off of a bamboo plant.
Pour the pure spring water into a bamboo planter. Let it sit for several hours so that it is room temperature.
Sterilize your scissors. You can douse them in rubbing alcohol to kill any potential infection, then let the alcohol evaporate before you move on.
Cut off the bottom of the problem bamboo stalk. Do not interfere with the other stalks at all. If the entire stalk is yellow or brown, then remove the whole thing. If only part appears to be diseased, you can try trimming off the diseased parts and the roots, leaving an inch of root, if possible. In most cases, this will not be an option.
Replace the bamboo in the sterile, room temperature water, which should be 2 inches deep, in most cases. Make sure all the roots are underwater.
Fertilize your bamboo plant. Add several drops of bamboo fertilizer to the water according to the manufacturer’s instructions because every fertilizer product is slightly different in concentration and contents.
Cutting bamboo with a hand saw
Once a bamboo grove starts to mature, pruning will help its overall health. This is done to prevent the overpopulation of canes and removal of canes that have reached the end of their life cycle. Canes typically last for about 10 years. Removal of these canes and other undesired canes will help stimulate and provide space for new growth.
Pruning is not usually required until the bamboo has become established. This is generally after your 3rd to 5th growing season. The time that it takes bamboo to get established can be dependent on many factors such as planting area, species, climate zone, water, sunlight, and soil. If you are unsure, go slow and just remove a few and wait for the response in your next growing season. You can always remove more, but it is difficult to force new growth.
Best to cut canes a ground level
It is important to keep in mind your ultimate goal. If you are using bamboo for a screen, don’t sacrifice your privacy just to cut some canes. If a cane has foliage, it is still viable and producing energy for the grove. The more energy the grove has, the greater the potential for new culm production. However, if you are wanting a nice walk through grove, canes can be removed to accommodate. You may also trim limbs to allow easy passage.
Pruning can be performed anytime during the year. However, it is not advisable to prune during the shooting season because of possible damage to new shoots. Bamboo can be removed with most any handsaw. You can see from the picture that even the largest of canes (that is a quarter sitting on the stump for perspective) can be removed with simple tools. Make sure that you have all the safety gear and proceed with caution. Bamboo is typically lightweight but can still be dangerous.
Large cane cut with a quarter for comparison
It is recommendable to step back and take an overview of the grove from a distance. This will allow you to gauge its overall health and properly identify failing culms. After marking problem culms and deciding on how you want your grove or screen to appear, you can begin removing canes. Remember to cut at ground level or go back and trim the stump flush after removing the cane. This will prevent any tripping or falling hazards. You can remove all the failing canes (brown canes with no foliage) without any damage to the grove. However, removing more the 1/3 of good canes will effect the bamboo grove’s health and ability to produce larger canes.
You can also top (remove the upper portion) bamboo to create a lush topiary appearance. Once topped, bamboo will never grow vertically again. Bamboo doesn’t experience secondary woody growth like a tree. Once the bamboo is topped, it will remain the same height for all of the cane’s life cycle.
Make sure that you leave some viable limbs and cut about 1/4 of an inch above the node when you top bamboo. Without limbs, the cane cannot survive. It is usually best to leave 3 or more sets of limbs for the cane’s health and appearance. These limbs will generate more foliage to compensate for the loss of height. This will cause the bamboo to attain a very different look. Bamboo that has been done this way typically appears very lush after a few years of the increased foliage production. The picture to the right is of Phyllostachys Viridis. This is a giant bamboo, but can me manipulated to have a unique appearance.
Phyllostahacys Aurea limbed up
Bamboo can be manipulated to achieve almost any appearance. This is Phyllostachys Aurea ‘Golden Bamboo’ pictured on the left. It is bamboo that generates very low limbs but the limbs can be trimmed up to any desired height. This process is also called ‘legging up’. Once cut these lower limbs will never grow again. This can give you a very uniform look and has many applications. This technique is used on many species that have interesting cane colors and/or stripes. The lower limbs are removed to expose the interesting characteristics of the canes.
Many customers purchase bamboo to be planted in front of an existing privacy fence to attain privacy above the fence height. Using the legging technique, you can trim the limbs until the level even with the top of the privacy fence. This will allow you to enjoy the canes with a backdrop of the fence and have the lush privacy the foliage provides at a higher level.
Training and Tethering Bamboo
Some bamboo has a tendency to weep when kept in low light conditions. Species like black bamboo have a propensity to weep if not in direct sunlight. This can be corrected by staking or tethering the bamboo.
Tethering the bamboo to other canes or encircling the grove with a small rope or cable is the easiest way. Other applications may require a primary or main string line to be installed. Then the individual canes can be fixed along the main string. The hardest method is driving stakes into the ground and affixing the bamboo to the stakes. You can also use this tethering method to make bamboo pathways by tying the bamboo together.
Tethering bamboo together can also be used to construct bamboo pathways. Beautiful gothic archway can be formed by crossing and wrapping the top of the culms together. Once a few have been done, it will assist in directing other new growth along the same path.
Get started with your own bamboo…
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In Asian cultures, lucky bamboo has been a symbol of good fortune for over 4,000 years. Recently it’s also become popular house plant that is widely available outside of Asia.
Aside from being a pretty plant, one of the main reasons for its popularity is how easy it is to grow.
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Lucky Bamboo Overview
Lucky Bamboo care is extremely easy!
|Common Name(s)||Lucky bamboo, sander’s dracaena, ribbon dracaena,curly bamboo, Chinese water bamboo, friendship bamboo, ribbon plant, Goddess of Mercy plant, Belgian evergreen|
|Scientific Name||Dracaena braunii, also known as dracaena sanderiana|
|Origin||Southeast asia & west africa|
|Height||Up to 5 feet|
|Light||As much indirect sunlight as possible|
|Water||Often, can live in water|
|Soil||Araited soil, or water|
|Fertilizer||2-3 x monthly|
|Pests||Gophers, mites, aphids, mealy bugs.|
Here’s a fun fact: lucky bamboo isn’t actually bamboo!
It actually belongs to the plant family of Dracaenas, just like Dracaena marginata, or the Madagascar Dragon Plant.
It can be grown in decorative planters or bowls filled with just rocks and water, making it one of the most tolerant houseplants you can grow.
Of course, you can also pot it into soil for more robust growth.
Lucky Bamboo Care
The best way to care for them is up for debate: some gardeners prefer to keep them in water and others plant them in soil for best results.
The choice is pretty much a personal preference as lucky bamboo seems to do well in either medium. It’s usually sold in a clear or decorative container with just rocks and water.
If you removed your bamboo from the container you purchased it in, you’ll most likely find that it’s been bound with a string or wrapped wire.
While the wire will hold your bamboo together, it will eventually damage the plant. As the bamboo grows, the string will cut into the stalks and can result in disease. Remove it so your plant can grow safely.
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.
Lucky bamboo is a tropical plant, so it prefers warm temperatures. The temperature should always be at least 60°F, but the plant will thrive better in warmer temperatures.
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 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 chlorine to evaporate.
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.
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.
After the first year of growth, it’s common for your lucky bamboo plant to have a knotted ball of container-shaped roots. While you do not have to re-pot it at this point, you may want to anyways.
All you need to do is pick a larger container than the existing one and place the plant back in a mixture of rocks and water. When adding water, make sure it’s a room temperature spring water to avoid shocking the root system.
If your lucky bamboo is growing out of control, do not fear! You can top it and bring it back down to size.
To top, use a sharp, sterilized cutting tool and choose an area of the stem that is around 1″ above a growth node. Slice it off and your bamboo will respond by growing bushier rather than taller.
Of course, you don’t have to throw away your cuttings — you can create little lucky bamboo plants!
Here’s a a quick guide to propagating lucky bamboo:
- Make sure the cutting you are going to propagate is around 4-6″ long
- Let the cutting dry overnight, then place in a container of distilled water
- Leave for 2-3 days.
- After 2-3 days, start to mist the cuttings to encourage new growth.
Lucky bamboo is one of the easiest plants to take care of as long as you provide it with what it needs to thrive. However, you might run into a few issues growing it.
Here’s what to look out for.
Lucky Bamboo – Yellow Leaves
Yellowing leaves are almost always due to high amounts of chlorine in the water. Either switch to distilled water or leave your tap water out overnight to allow the chlorine to dissipate.
Another reason for yellow leaves is that you’re giving the plant too much sun. Bamboo likes light, but it must not be direct sun or you’ll stress it.
Because most gardeners grow bamboo in water and rocks, algae can develop. Algae likes nutrient-rich water and a lot of light. To prevent it, make sure you aren’t over-fertilizing your bamboo plant and that it isn’t exposed to direct sun.
The classic houseplant pests can also affect lucky bamboo, but it’s pretty rare. Spider mites and scale insects can make their way to your bamboo plant, but getting rid of them is as simple as rubbing them off of the plant with an isopropyl-soaked cotton swab.
Lucky Bamboo – Yellow Stalks
Yellow stalks are usually caused by the beginning of root rot. Root rot is usually caused by over watering, but in this case lucky bamboo is grown in water! So, root rot in lucky bamboo is caused by allowing the water to go stagnant. Replace the water and rinse the root system and rocks to prevent yellowing stalks.
Q. What is the meaning of the number of lucky bamboo stalks in my container?
A. 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.
- Five stalks is supposed to bring you wealth
- Six stalks are meant to keep you healthy!
Q. What does lucky bamboo have to do with feng shui?
A. 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 enhance the flow of energy in your room!
Q. Should I plant in rocks and water, or in soil? Does it matter?
A. If you are going for simplicity, plant in rocks and water. If you’d like your bamboo to grow larger and faster, plant in soil…just keep in mind you’ll need to water it much more often.
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