Lucky Bamboo Dracaena Sanderiana is known via many names such as the goddess of mercy plant, Belgian evergreen, ribbon plant, friendship bamboo, Chinese water, etc.
It is a sought-after indoor plant because of its luxuriant-looking, sculpted structure, with stalks reaching out every way. These stalks are created in several shapes and curves in some parts of the world, given the plant’s malleable nature.
The lucky bamboo plant isn’t simply an aesthetic ornament with no substance beyond visuals. It is also a natural air purifier and humidifier, freshening up home and office spaces.
The title ‘lucky’ is created through folk beliefs that bamboo brings good fortune and feng shui to the place where it is planted.
Hence it is a common plant found in shrines and wellness clinics worldwide. Even the most ham-handed and forgetful of gardeners can easily keep this low-maintenance plant alive.
If you are new to gardening and are looking to create your own backdoor Eden, this comprehensive guide on how to take care of a lucky bamboo plant will trek that journey with you.
To learn how to care for a lucky bamboo plant, you first need to know its nativity and background.
The plant is native to Southeast Asia and Central Africa, though it thrives in places with lots of sunshine, no matter where the site be.
Get a Lucky Bamboo Indoors – Bamboo Care 101
1. The H2O Guide
Much like all other living organisms, understanding that water is essential to maintaining the best growing conditions is supremely important.
While lucky bamboo may come in various species and sizes with their own specifications, it’s a plant that needs to be watered frequently.
If you’re growing bamboo indoors or are re-potting an old shoot, the plant will need more water. The roots and rhizomes, in particular, need watering once a week or as per the climatic conditions they are in.
During hot and dry summers, particularly, roots and rhizomes need watering up to 3-4 times weekly, sometimes even every other day without fail to prevent them from dying.
Worried about going overboard and flushing out nutrients from your bamboo while figuring out how much water bamboo needs?
Nothing is irreversible with this plant, so if you overwater the plant, you can re-pot it in fresh soil or drain some water from the vase/pot if you notice the stalk looking turgid.
The cardinal rule for lucky bamboo care is to check water levels on the soil- they should be moist but not wet or muddy.
In learning how to water a lucky bamboo, you should also remember that waterlogging the plant causes it to rot from the roots and the rhizomes and sicken and die. Too little water causes a dry spell where the plant cannot grow shoots, but under-watered lucky bamboos are easily treated with a quick pruning and resuming frequent watering.
2. Environmental Controls
Bamboo plant care in almost any part of the world is a simple job since it’s effortless to maintain.
Lucky bamboo requires indirect but bright sunlight at least 6-8 hours a day.
Scorching sunlight must be avoided at all costs since that dries up the water content and causes the plant to shrivel and die quickly. The temperature range required to maintain a healthy and sprightly plant is quite broad- 18-35°C or 65-95°F.
3. Suitable Soils
The second cardinal rule in learning how to care for a lucky bamboo plant is understanding the optimum soil conditions.
The plant thrives best in a moist, loamy soil. If you have accidentally over-watered the soil, you can always drain it to prevent water-logging.
Getting the right mixture of soil with silt and clay proportions is also fundamental to a well-watered plant and avoiding waterlogging and root rot. Sandy soil for a bamboo plant is a complete no since it can cause water and nutrient loss and prevent oxygenation of the rhizomes below the surface.
The soil acidity is also an essential element to keep in mind when learning how to care for a lucky bamboo plant. Mildly acidic, 6.5 to neutral soil is the best nourishment for a lucky bamboo plant, but alkaline soil can also be as good.
Since different bamboo species are best suited to other soil conditions, many can grow wonderfully just as well in alkaline soil.
4. Let There Be Light – And Lots of It
Optimum sunlight conditions are a must for your lucky bamboo to thrive in all its glory.
Dingy, dull weather and cold climates aren’t well-suited to cater to lucky bamboo plants in particular.
This is because they require at least 5-8 hours of bright, though indirect sunlight every day, and in greenhouses, they need 8-10 hours of bright light to grow properly.
However, you certainly don’t need outdoor space to grow the plant since indirect, cushioned, or angled sunlight is good enough for the plant to thrive. Low light conditions are a big no in the rulebook of how to take care of lucky bamboo since it slows leaf and stalk growth, causes yellowing, and makes the plant more susceptible to pests. Full sun is ideal, but it shouldn’t be in a vicinity where the plant gets scorched and loses moisture.
5. The Correct Fertilizer
Growing bamboo from seed is child’s play if you have the correct fertilizer.
Many plant specialists and agriculturalists are of the opinion that water is sufficient fertilizer for lucky bamboo.
See why this plant is so easy to keep happy and healthy?
Give it water, and continues to grow green and vibrant.
If the soil and water components aren’t sufficient for your bamboo plant, you can include the simple addition of liquid fertilizer to your plant care manual. Three equal NPK values in a 2:2:2 mixture, optimally those created for the bamboo family, give your plant its extra nutrients well enough.
The Common Issues of Lucky Bamboo
Much like any other plant, when learning how to take care of lucky bamboo, you should know that things can go south with your plant’s health.
Some of the common issues associated with bamboo care, in particular, are root rot, fungus, tangles, dehydration, and waterlogging.
Many beginner gardeners are terrified of propagation, but learning to re-pot a bamboo plant is easy as pie.
Firstly, select the best, freshest-looking stalk with more than two segments and an offshoot. Using a sharp, clean tool, cut off the offshoot from the parent stalk, and remove all leaves.
Place the new stalk into a similar pot/water container before carrying out your regular bamboo care routine.
Another essential step in how to take care of your lucky bamboo plant is to ensure it gets pruned at frequent intervals.
Not only does pruning add visual appeal to your bamboo plant, but it also prevents haphazard offshoots from weighing down the plant.
You should use steel pruning shears that have been recently sharpened to get rid of all unsightly offshoots- not entirely, just a few inches away from the parent stalk.
Pest Identification and Elimination
Pests are a common nuisance any plant owner has to deal with, and an essential factor in how to take care of your lucky bamboo involves getting rid of the pesky bugs!
Mites, fungi, and mealybugs are the common maladies attacking your lucky bamboo plant and can cause it to sicken and die if left untreated. A grey fuzzy growth on your plant indicates fungi, so you should remove the shoots and keep the plant free from waterlogging.
See a couple of white, tiny crawlies moving along your lucky bamboo plant?
That’s mealybugs, and a diluted disinfectant kills them off for good.
Mushy Stalks Aren’t a Good Sign
Turgid, swollen, or mushy stalks are never a good sign.
They usually indicate that your plant is unsalvageable because it is dead. Water, light, and other growing conditions must have been significantly compromised for the plant to have sicked or died.
Perchance the plant got a fungal infection.
Over-watering causes turgid stalks, and if the plant seems alive and is turgid, you should immediately change the soil water conditions to prevent it from dying. If a singular stalk is swollen, remove it immediately to avoid spreading to the other healthier stalks.
Browning Leaf Tips and Brown Leaves – a Parched Plant
Both the tips of the leaves of the plant browning and entirely brown leaves indicate that you should immediately pull out the how to take care of your lucky bamboo manual.
Both over-watering and under-watering can result in brown leaves.
If the climate is dry and hot, give the plant extra water and observe. If the environment is normal, don’t water for a couple of days and check for improvement.
Black Roots Summon Death
Black roots that smell like rotten eggs and are slimy to the touch are probably among the worst maladies to befall your lucky bamboo plant.
Learning how to take care of your bamboo plant involves identifying healthy roots- they are white, firm to the touch, and smell like a plant, not like biological waste.
Dirty water, unkempt soil, and waterlogging can all cause black roots- it’s essential to dig under your plant and discover the black seeds at the earliest to prevent your plant from dying.
Algae – The Nemesis
If your lucky bamboo plant has a particularly ugly case of algae, there are only some ways you can mitigate the harm done.
Firstly, take the plant out of direct sunlight if you have placed it there- algae thrive off sunlight. Clean, fresh water in the correct quantities may flush out the algae and prevent them from spreading to the whole plant.
If your plant has been in water instead of soil, changing to clay or earthen pot may prevent algae growth since sunlight will be blocked in the root area.
How long does it take for bamboo to grow?
Lucky bamboo, much like other bamboo species, has a growth spurt when compared to other plants. Different species take different time frames to reach their maximum height and width. The growing conditions can cause significant variation in the rate of growth. Since lucky bamboo is an indoor plant, it is generally slower compared to other forms of bamboo-like giant bamboo.
How much water does bamboo need?
Depending on what kind of lucky bamboo species you have, watering requirements will also differ. The rule of thumb is quite regularly- every other day, or 3-4 days a week in hot climates, and 3 days a week at the minimum in cooler temperatures. Younger saplings need more water, especially in spring shooting periods.
How to repot a bamboo plant?
Re-potting is an essential skill for knowing how to take care of your lucky bamboo plant.
First, gently and carefully remove the plant, roots included. You may need to dig around with your fingers to dislodge soil and free the plant from the bottom of the container. Prepare a clean container/pot in which to re-pot the plant. Use sterilized and sharp tools to peel back a third of the root mass, keeping only the closest roots intact to the plant.
For water-based lucky bamboo, make sure the water is clean and has the correct nutrient content.
For pot-based lucky bamboo, make sure the soil is loamy and acidic.
Place the plant, firm the soil and water.
Why is my bamboo stem turning yellow?
If your plant turns yellow and loses leaves during the spring, there’s nothing to worry about- that’s a natural process.
However, if your plant looks pale or dark yellow throughout, it can indicate problems such as nutrient insufficiency, over-watering, or under-watering. Intervening as fast as possible by bettering the soil conditions is the correct course of action.