The lucky bamboo plant is an indoor plant that can be grown in both water and soil. These growing tips for dracaena sanderiana will get the most out of your potted plant.
Dracaena sanderiana are a genus of indoor plants that are easy to grow and will add a Zen looking touch to any indoor setting.
If you are looking for a plant to add a nice calming look in your home, lucky bamboo plant is a great choice.
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History of Lucky Bamboo Plant
Lucky bamboo botanical name is dracaena sanderiana. It is a popular houseplant plant in the family Asparagaceae. The plant is native to Western and Central Africa and is named after a German-English gardener named Henry Frederick Conrad Sander.
This houseplant is also most commonly known by the common name Lucky Bamboo but is also called good luck bamboo, lucky bamboo dracaena, dracaena bamboo and other combinations of these words.
Lucky bamboo is a household plant has been thought to increase feng shui for over 5000 years. (Feng shui is system of laws that are considered to rule over spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy in your home.)
Is lucky bamboo really bamboo?
It is easy to see why the common names came to be when you examine the stalks of the plant. It looks similar to the large bamboo plant. But lucky bamboo is not in the same family and it grows very differently.
Lucky bamboo is not even a bamboo plant, but it is a water lily that just looks very much like bamboo.
The original bamboo plant has a scientific name Bambusoideae. This plant can take over a yard quickly since it grows fast from underground runners.
Original bamboo is a large grass of which there are over 1000 species of plants ranging from small dwarf plants to the very large bamboo that we are familiar with.
Lucky bamboo, on the other hand, is a slow growing plant that doesn’t send out runners and is an ideal houseplant.
Other lucky plants
Lucky bamboo is not the only good luck plant. Other plants that are thought to bring good luck to your home are:
- Pachira Braided Money Tree
- Snake Plant
- Jade Plant
- Potted Orchids
- Chinese Money Plant – pilea perperomioides
- Peace Lily
Number of stalks of lucky bamboo and their significance
Chinese traditions say that the meaning of a lucky bamboo plant is connected to the number of stalks that the plant has. Each number has a different meaning.
According to Chinese traditions, the significance of lucky bamboo is tied to how many stalks you have. There are different meanings associated with various lucky bamboo arrangements. For example:
- 1 stalk is thought to represent good fortune.
- 2 stalks mean love and are sometimes thought of as one man + one woman.
- 3 stalks represent three kinds of luck: happiness, wealth and a long life. It is also thought that three stalks mean the past, the present and the future.
- 4 stalks mean power or strength. It is sometimes considered unlucky in China since the number four sounds like death in some Chinese dialects. Because of this, it’s not common to find lucky bamboo plants with four stalks.
- 5 stalks equal fortune or wealth.
- 6 stalks mean general prosperity.
- 7 stalks are thought to indicate good health.
- 8 stalks mean growth of some sort.
- 9 stalks represent great luck.
- 10 stalks equals completeness or perfection.
- 21 stalks means that you have powerful blessings in your life.
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How to Grow Lucky Bamboo Plant
Lucky bamboo is easy to grow as long as you remember that you shouldn’t give it too much light and to keep the roots covered with water if you grow it in water.
Here are some specific growing tips for dracaena sanderiana.
Sunlight needs for Dracaena Sanderiana:
Lucky bamboo is fine as a low light houseplant. The plant does best when grown in indirect light. Too much sunlight can cause the leaves to turn yellow and then drop off the plant.
Even thought the plant can grow in the lower levels of light, it won’t grow very much without some light. Be sure to rotate the plant often so that the light reaches all areas of the plant. (good advice for any houseplant)
When lucky bamboo grows naturally, it receives ample sunlight. However, surrounding trees and shrubs shade the plant from direct exposure. If you keep this in mind and use filtered light, you will be fine.
Lucky bamboo fertilizer:
Give your soil grown lucky bamboo plant a half-strength fertilizer such as that used for African violets. Fish emulsion is also a good choice for lucky bamboo, since it is water based.
Even aquarium water makes a good lucky bamboo plant fertilizer. It has some natural fish fertilizer in it.
Fertilizing lucky bamboo grown in water only needs to be done a few times a year. Too much fertilizer will burn the roots.
Ideal Temperature Range:
The ideal temperature range is one which is between 65 and 90 degrees. It loves a tropical plant setting.
Most normal room temperatures are about 68 degrees, which is fine for the plant.
Be wary of placing your lucky bamboo too close to windows when the weather is colder.
Flowers and Foliage:
The foliage of lucky bamboo is long stalks that are normally lopped off at their top. At this point, new offshoots will grow giving it some leaves.
In their natural habitat grown outdoors the lucky bamboo will flower, but most plants grown indoors they will not.
Soil or Water for lucky bamboo?
Since the plant is a water lily, lucky bamboo is best grown in water or in soil or pebbles at the bottom of a container full of water. In spite of this, it can also grow in soil.
Growing lucky bamboo in water:
Many lucky bamboo plants are sold growing in a decorative pot of water and this is the easiest way to grow it. The water should always cover the roots.
The water in your lucky bamboo container should be added to every few days to a week, and the roots of the plants should be washed at the same time.
Completely change the water that the plant is growing in every 2-3 months or more frequently if you notice a foul odor.
Filtered water or distilled water is best for this, rather than normal tap water which sometimes has additives in it. If your water doesn’t have a lot of minerals in it, then normal tap water is fine.
Growing lucky bamboo in soil:
Lucky bamboo is a very popular houseplant and it is easy to find it locally in hardware stores or even your local supermarket. Many of these plants are sold in soil.
Even though lucky bamboo is a water plant, it can easily be grown in soil.
The ideal soil for dracaena sanderiana is a well draining soil, such as a cacti potting mix.
Water the plant when the top 1-2 inches of soil becomes dry. Once again, bottled water is better than normal tap water but if you leave your tap water to sit overnight, it will be fine.
The ideal pH of between 6.0 and 6.5.
One of the disadvantages of growing lucky bamboo in soil instead of water is that it is easy to overlook necessary watering and to allow the roots to dry out too much.
Containers for lucky bamboo:
The right container for your plant will be a low bowl or dish. Be sure to have at least 1 inch of space between the edge of the container and the stalks.
This will give your plant room to spread out.
When the container has been outgrown just move the stalks to a new container that is just slightly bigger than the old one. Refill the water level to cover the roots.
If the plant is growing in pebbles, clean them before moving to the new container. You may need to add a few more pebbles when you move the plant to its new home.
Often plants grown in soil will have a layer of tiny pebbles on the top.
More tips for growing lucky bamboo
Let’s find out more about the size, hardiness and pests and other things to expect for your dracaena sanderiana plant.
You won’t have a monster bamboo plant growing in your pot if you choose lucky bamboo. The stems of the plant are not very strong and usually will only support a height of 2-3 feet tall.
(Compare this to a normal bamboo that can grow to 70 feet tall!)
Diseases and Insects:
If you notice brown tips on the leaves with yellowing portions above, this is most likely due to fluorides & salts in your tap water. Switch to distilled water to correct this.
Lucky bamboo is prone to spider mites. Fortunately this is easy to control with a strong jet of water on the stalks and leaves.
The plant can also develop fungal infections which look like a grey fuzz on the plant. Remove the infected growth, and keep the stalks and leaves dry. Increasing air circulation also helps.
Cold Hardiness for Dracaena Sanderiana :
Lucky bamboo is not tolerant of cold temperatures, at all.
You can grow it outdoors all year long in the warmer zones – 10 and above.
If your temperatures are colder than this, you should grow lucky bamboo as an indoor plant. It can be moved outside to a very shady spot in the summer months and will benefit from this.
Training lucky bamboo stalks:
One of the fun parts of having a lucky bamboo plant is training the stalks into neat shapes that you can create by twisting the different stalks together.
The plant can be trained into spirals, and heart shaped and braided as well. Find out more about shaping lucky bamboo here.
Propagating lucky bamboo:
Get new plants for free by propagating propagating lucky bamboo from offshoots. Cut off the offshoot from where it connects to the parent stalk.
Remove the lower leaves on the offshoot and place in a small container of water so that it will develop roots.
Is lucky bamboo poisonous?
The ASPCA has not listed lucky bamboo specifically as being poisonous to pets. However, it is a dracaena plant and others in this family are poisonous (see dracaena corn plant and dracaena surculosa for more info.)
Since this plant is a dracaena plant, I would err on the side of caution and consider it poisonous pets.
Lucky bamboo is not toxic to humans.
If you cut a stalk down, the same cane won’t grow any taller. However, you will get new growth below the cut from new foliage that starts to grow off the stem. This is what makes the plant appear to be taller.
You can just cut the stems lower down to keep the plant more compact. This technique can also be used to lighten up the heavier stalks.
Where to buy lucky bamboo plants
Dracaena Sanderiana is a popular house plant right now in all areas of the country. It is available at garden centers, home improvement stores and even grocery stores.
Check your local Home Depot or Lowe’s Garden center areas. Both of these had lucky bamboo for sale the last time I visited.
My local Farmer’s Market has a nice range of lucky bamboo in the spring and summer months.
You can also find a selection of it at Walmart. Online, Walmart has both soil grown plants and stems for water growing.
Etsy marketplace has a good selection of both soil and water grown plants.
Find lucky bamboo plants on Amazon.
Pin These Lucky Bamboo Growing Tips for Later
Would you like a reminder of this post for how to grow lucky bamboo? Just pin this image to one of your Pinterest gardening boards so that you can easily find it later.
- Lucky bamboo shoots
- Water container or a pot
- Fish emulsion Fertilizer
- watering can
- Distilled water
- Plant lucky bamboo in cactus soil or grow the shoots in water.
- Soil pH of 6.0 - 6.5.
- Indirect sunlight is best.
- Keep the roots covered with water if growing in water.
- Top up the water once a week and replace every few weeks.
- 1/2 strength fish emulsion fertilizer for soil plants a few times a year. Water grown plants rarely need fertilizing and too much can burn the roots.
- Keep in temps 65-90 degrees F.
- Plant does not flower in doors.
- Plant grows 2-3 feet tall but you can maintain the height by cutting the stalks.
- check for mealy bugs and spider mites.
- Foul smell for water grown plants means that water needs changing.
- Propagate from offshoots. Allow roots to develop in water.
- All Dracaena plants are toxic to cats and dogs.