How to Care for Lucky Bamboo?
Said to bring good luck, prosperity and even happiness, the Lucky Bamboo is not technically a bamboo, but it’s part of the Dracaena family, as the plant’s botanical name — Dracaena sanderiana — also suggests.
Besides the appeal of the plant for being thought of as a positive presence in your home, it’s other appealing feature is how its stems can be trained into various shapes and patterns.
A small houseplant, the Lucky Bamboo is easy to grow, and below I’ll cover the most important aspects of growing it indoors.
Size & Growth
Indoors, the Lucky Bamboo will sit between 1-3 feet tall. It will achieve a spread of 1-2 feet, making it a highly manageable plant.
Lucky bamboos don’t naturally grow with braided, spiralled or otherwise twisted stems. Instead, stems are trained and grow into patterns over time.
Most commonly, you’ll find Lucky Bamboo with spiral stems, which is achieved by managing the light source around the plant so that the plant twists its stem in search of light.
It’s a slow process that requires patience and understanding how to manage light conditions to determine the plant to grow in this pattern.
Another common pattern is the braided stem. You can use three or more stems and intertwine them to grow in a braided pattern.
The Lucky bamboo needs moderate levels of light. Since in nature it grows under the canopy of rainforest trees, it doesn’t need or enjoy direct sunlight.
Therefore, aim to position this plant with filtered or bright indirect light for best results.
Avoid placing it under direct light, like in a sunny window, where it will get blasted by sunlight. The strong rays of the sun will easily scorch the leaves of the Lucky bamboo.
The Lucky Bamboo can be grown in soil but also in water too. But just because it can be grown in water, it doesn’t mean the plant enjoys ample watering that can easily amount to overwatering.
If grown in a potting mix, make sure to keep the mix slightly damp, but not wet. You should also prevent the soil from completely drying out.
If grown in a vase with water, make sure to replace the water weekly to prevent build-up of debris and algae formation. Keep the vase clean as well. Make sure the roots are always covered with water.
Don’t freak out if you see that the roots of the Lucky bamboo are red. That’s what healthy Lucky bamboo roots should look like.
Since the plant is sensitive to chemicals added to tap water, don’t use tap water for watering or growing your plant.
Use tap water or distilled water, or if you must use tap water, let it sit for 24 hours beforehand so that chlorine can evaporate.
The best soil type for this plant is one that’s rich and well-draining. Alternatively, when grown in water, you can use pebbles to fix the roots into place.
As long as the potting mix drains well, the risks of root rot caused by overwatering can be reduced.
Potting mix that’s heavy and prone to compaction should be avoided for this plant.
Temperature & Humidity
Warm temperatures ranging from 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit work bets for the Lucky Bamboo.
The plant doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures to the point where cold drafts can also damage the plant. Keep away from direct sources of heat or cold such as ACs, heating vents, or cold windows.
Luckily, the plant isn’t fussy about humidity levels, so average humidity will do just fine.
Lucky bamboos can get by with very little fertilizing to the point that you can even skip it altogether.
If you do want to help the plant with a bit of nutritional boost, use a water-soluble liquid fertilizer at a very weak formulation.
You can fertilize only every other month. Fertilizing is more beneficial to Lucky bamboos grown in water than those grown in potting mix, which may already have added fertilizer in their formulation.
To make sure you’re not overdoing the fertilizing or using too much of it or a strong formulation, you can look for fertilizers specially formulated for lucky bamboo plants.
Potting & Repotting
Depending on whether you’re growing your plant in a pot or vase, there are two ways to go about repotting.
If the Lucky bamboo gets too crowded in its pot with roots being visibly crammed, switch to a larger pot that can accommodate the roots.
If grown in a vase, you can switch to a bigger vase, or simply trim the roots of the Lucky bamboo so that it fits back into the old vase.
Clean the old vase thoroughly to remove built-up dirt and debris and replace rocks with new ones.
How to Propagate Lucky Bamboo?
When trimming the lucky bamboo, you can harvest cuttings from offshoots that you can root in water or potting mix.
Make sure there are a couple of leaf joints on each cutting. Place in potting mix or water so that at least one leaf joint is covered. Excess leaves should be trimmed before.
If placed in potting mix, keep the mix moist and in a warm location. If rooting in water, replace the water often.
Use bottled water or distilled water to water or root the cuttings. The newly formed roots, if healthy, will be red.
Cutting rooted in water can be moved to pots, just make sure you’re using a well-drained potting mix.
Whether you want to try your hand to create intricately shaped stems or bring some positive energy into your home, the Lucky bamboo is a good option for a houseplant.
It has straightforward care requirements, and it adapts well to an indoor environment, especially if you’re conscious about its requirements.
Just because the Lucky bamboo can be grown in water is not an invitation to overwater this plant. Keep its potting mix damp, don’t place it in direct light and prevent exposure to cold or cool drafts.
With these in mind, you can experiment with creating stem patterns or let the plant grow as it sees fit.