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Lucky bamboo (dracaena sanderiana)

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Lucky Bamboo is not actually bamboo and may or may not actually be lucky! Lucky Bamboo is actually Dracaena sanderiana (also called Dracaena braunii) which normally adopts the common name Lucky Bamboo when sold growing in water rather than soil. There isn’t really a well known reason for how this common name came about, although Dracaena sanderiana roots easily in water, and although the canes of the plant have a similar appearance to real bamboo stalks, it has no true connection with Japanese culture.

running bamboo

 

It’s generally accepted that the name was created as a way of marketing a quite standard and seldom grown houseplant. The truth of the matter is that Dracaena sanderiana when grown “normally” is quite boring, the leaves tend to be quite spaced out and although they can have pretty markings they’re quite small and often unremarkable.

running bamboo plants

 

Of course like all plants there will be fans, it just follows that finding it in its standard form is incredibly difficult. Instead you will normally find these plants grown in very unique and fashionable pots and display stands, as well as the canes being interesting themselves, sometimes curly or having bends to create unusual shapes. All of this together creates an eye catching plant which is the selling point and is what makes a Lucky Bamboo plant attractive.

bamboo plants in water

 

As for the luck element… Well you’ll have to buy one and test that claim for yourself! Even if it doesn’t help you win the lottery this week, all houseplants have multiple benefits for human health so in that respect it’s certainly far from a pointless or useless plant to have in your home if you fell for it’s quirky appearance and decided to buy one.

bamboo house plant

 

Lucky Bamboo Care Instructions

Light Like most plants belonging to the Dracaena family, light shade is best. The leaves suffer if there is too much or not enough light (see “Help! My Lucky Bamboo is dying” for problems you may experience surrounding this).

Watering If growing Lucky Bamboo in water, then you will need to change the water every couple of weeks and ensure you don’t use tap water over a continuous period. This is because most of what comes out of the tap in the developed world is fluoridated (to prevent human tooth decay) and chlorinated (to purify it for use as drinking water). Both fluoride and chlorine are used to help support human health, but for Lucky Bamboo these chemicals are a killer over time. Use either bottled mineral water, a home water filter or freshly collected rain water when possible and feasible to do so.

If you’re growing it in soil you should water as you would other Dracaena related plants. Which is to aim for moist conditions during the growing season and reduce the amount given in Winter.

Humidity Average home humidity is fine for these plants.

Feeding There is no need to feed Lucky Bamboo if it’s growing in water. If you later transfer it to a normal compost mix (or that’s how you are growing it anyway), feed twice a year, once in Spring and again in Summer.

Temperature

Good growth will result from temperatures between 16В°C – 24В°C / 60В°F – 75В°F. No lower than 10В°C / 50В°F.

Repotting You obviously don’t have to repot Lucky Bamboo unless it’s growing in a normal pot containing soil, if this is the case you will probably need to do it every two or three years.

The roots in water containers can get quite long and extensive, so by all means transplant them to a large water container if you want but you don’t have to. Although be sure to replace the water from time to time to keep it fresh.

Propagation

Mature cane cuttings take quite easily in water, once rooted pot up in compost or carry on growing in the water container. Soft tip cuttings (i.e. new leaf growth) are usually less successful. Putting them in water often causes them to rot and rooting can be difficult if you go straight for the soil in a pot route. Generally speaking it’s far simpler and less stressful to just go out and buy a new plant grown by an expert.

  • Speed of Growth
  • Lucky Bamboo normally grows quite slowly.
  • Height / Spread
  • This is difficult to answer because the plants can be grown in different ways and come in different shapes and sizes. As a guide only, the plant you buy / receive could almost double in height after several years of good treatment.

    Flowers Dracaena varieties grown as houseplants, including Lucky Bamboo rarely flower indoors.

    Anything else?

    If you’ve decided to grow your plant in water permanently then it should still last several years in your home providing you change the water every couple of weeks.

  • Help! My Lucky Bamboo is Dying
  • Leaves with brown spots
  • Usually caused by underwatering in pot grown plants. Try to keep the soil moist. If they are more “blotches” than spots it’s caused by overwatering.

    Lucky Bamboo leaves have brown tips

    In exclusively water growing plants it’s usually caused by a build up of fluoride and chlorine. Check the watering tips above to avoid this. This is less likely in pot grown plants because the negative effects or fluoride and chlorine are negated by the soil itself.

  • Lucky Bamboo leaves have brown tips AND yellow edges
  • Caused by dry air or cold draughts.
  • Pale leaves
  • Either too much light which results in bleached dry leaves or sections. If the entire leaf is pale then it’s probably caused by not providing enough light.

    Yellow lower leaves / leaf drop

    If happening slowly this is normal and not a sign your Lucky Bamboo is dying. All Dracaenas are False Palms with a crown of leaves sitting at the top of their stems, new growth forms at the very tips of these stems, and the older leaves at the bottom of the crown will eventually yellow and fall. This is also really common in the well known Dragon Tree.

    Pruning Lucky Bamboo?

    The plant needs to look “balanced” for it to remain somewhat attractive. If you want to prune or reshape Lucky Bamboo then snip off the shoots you no longer want. Think carefully and pick which leaves to remove cautiously as you clearly wont be able to put them back.

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