Lucky Bamboo Care

My Garden Life
December 21, 2022
Table of Contents

By Tamara Horne

 
Lucky bamboo plants are not bamboo, but rather a type of dracaena plant (Dracaena sanderiana). That means how to take care of your lucky bamboo is similar to other dracaenas.
 

Lucky Bamboo Care Guide

 

How Often to Water Lucky Bamboo in Soil

small lucky bamboo potted in soil

Lucky bamboo grows in soil or water alone. How often you water lucky bamboo in soil depends on how long it takes for the soil to dry out. Water a lucky bamboo in soil when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Pour a little water at a time until it trickles from the holes in the bottom of the pot. Wait to water again until you test the top inch of soil with your finger and it’s dry.
 

How to Take Care of a Bamboo Plant in Water


lucky bamboo growing in gravel and water

If your bamboo plant is growing in water, keep the roots always covered with water. Dump the water and refill it with fresh water every two weeks. Use distilled water or rainwater, to prevent the fluoride in tap water from turning the leaf tips brown.

 

Sunlight eventually causes algae to grow in water. It’s a natural occurrence and a sign the water is due to be changed. Replace the water, plus scrub and rinse any rocks submerged in the water. To prevent the water from turning green, move the plant to a less sunny spot.

 

How to Take Care of a Bamboo Plant in Rocks

close up of lucky bamboo stems in rocks

Some lucky bamboo plants have rocks on top of their soil. These glued rocks hold the plant in place during shipping. It does create some problems when it comes to judging the water needs of the plant. When lucky bamboo is grown in soil, we recommend removing the rocks. This allows the moisture in the soil surface to be tested for watering. 

 

To remove the rocks, soak them in water and carefully pry them apart. Now that you can touch the soil, test the soil with your fingertip and water whenever the top inch is dry. Fluoride in tap water can make the leaf tips turn brown. To prevent this, water your lucky bamboo with distilled water or rainwater instead. If you prefer to leave the glued rocks intact, research tips for caring for plants with pebble mulch.

 

Lucky Bamboo Fertilizer

Indoor bamboo plants don’t need much fertilizer. Dilute an all-purpose houseplant food to 1/10 the strength directed on the label. Apply this diluted fertilizer every three months for lucky bamboo in water or every month for lucky bamboo grown in soil.
 

Does Lucky Bamboo Need Sunlight

lucky bamboo plant in the windowsill of an urban apartment
Place your lucky bamboo plant in a bright location, but not directly in sunlight. Too much direct light will burn the leaves. If the bamboo leaves turn yellow overnight, move the plant further from its light source. If you’d like to grow a lucky bamboo on a desk or table in a windowless room, then you can with the help of artificial light.
 

Ongoing Lucky Bamboo Plant Care

Lucky Bamboo plants need minimal maintenance. Simply remove dead or yellowed leaves, as needed. If the plant becomes top heavy with too many leaves over time, use sterile scissors to trim side shoots one inch above the base. Cut the offshoots only, not the main stalk.
 

Help for an Unhealthy Lucky Bamboo

 

Lucky Bamboo Leaves Turning Yellow

potted lucky bamboo with leaves turning yellow
If your bamboo leaves are turning yellow over time, it may be caused by minerals and fluoride in tap water. To avoid leaf yellowing, use distilled water or rainwater. If the entire stem and leaves of the lucky bamboo suddenly turned yellow overnight, then your plant may have been sunburned. Move your lucky bamboo away from direct sunlight.
 

Lucky Bamboo Stem Turning Yellow


close up of lucky bamboo stems withering and turning yellow
If the stem of a lucky bamboo turns yellow from the base of the stalk up, then the plant may have been over-fertilized. Change the water immediately and do not fertilize the plant for a couple of months.
 

Lucky Bamboo Stem Turning Brown


Dry lucky bamboo plant aka Withered Dracaena Sanderiana in glass vase on white background.

When a lucky bamboo’s stem turns brown, it’s a sign of the roots rotting from over-fertilization or over-watering in plants potted in soil. It’s a drastic situation and the plant may not be savable, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Cut off the unhealthy, brown stem and attempt to start new roots by setting the remaining healthy stem in water.

 

Propagating and Dividing Lucky Bamboo Plants

Lucky bamboo cutting rooting in water glass on a table

If the plant is getting too tall, cut an offshoot from the main stem one inch above the node (the rings along the stem). Set the newly cut stalk in two inches of water and wait for the roots to grow. In a few weeks, the new plant is ready to continue growing in water alone or potted in soil.

 

Multiple stalks can be split into more than one pot if desired.

 

How & When to Repot Lucky Bamboo

lucky bamboo growing in pot of gravel
 
  • When bamboo stems or roots are restricted by the current container, then you should transfer your plant to a larger pot.
  • If your lucky bamboo plant is growing in just water, simply move it to a new container with fresh water.
  • If your lucky bamboo plant is growing in rocks, remove the rocks and scrub them to clean, place your plant in the new container (or trim back the roots to use the same container) and replace the rocks.
  • If you are growing lucky bamboo in soil, dampen the soil and remove the plant from the pot. Repot with rich, well-draining soil that holds the right amount of moisture and nutrients without remaining soggy or wet.
 
Lucky bamboo is a trendy and vibrant addition to your plant collection, but have you ever considered what your houseplants say about who you are? Discover what your houseplants say about your style!
stylish room with a decorative white vase filled with lucky bamboo stalks

6 Comments

  1. Wendy

    My lucky bamboo turning brown even the stick it be becomes brown too what can I do can u help me what can I do… Thank you

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Wendy,
      Unfortunately, you can’t bring the brown stems back to life. If there is still some green stem at the top of the plant you could cut the stem in the area of the healthy tissue (green tissue, no yellow or brown) and attempt to root a new plant in water. Make sure the container is clean and sterile (especially if you plan to use the existing container). Also, there is a reason that your stem turned brown in the first place. Be sure that roots are always covered with water and that your plant is not in a hot location. If you don’t resolve what happened to the original plant, your attempt at growing a new plant may not be successful.

      Reply
  2. Shyreen

    Great article!
    One of the best ones I’ve found and very useful. Thank you!!

    I was wondering, when and how do I repot my off cut lucky bamboo shoots? They have grown roots and are healthy. Do I repot them soil? If so, what type of soil?

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Thanks Shyreen!
      You can pot your cuttings in a commercial potting mix for houseplants. Be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole. If you started your plants in water you’ll want to keep the soil on the moist side for a couple of weeks and then transition to a more “normal” watering frequency; typically once a week for most plants. Feel the top inch or two of soil and water thoroughly when dry. The roots that develop in water are fine and delicate compared to roots that develop on a plant grown in soil, so time is needed for the plant to adapt to its new growing medium. As you probably already know, you also have the option of continuing to grow your plants in water.

      Reply
  3. Anna

    Hi. I have a bamboo grown in soil. Is it at all possible to transition it to no soil and water only?

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Anna,
      You can move your lucky bamboo from soil to just water. Remove the plants from the soil and remove all of the soil from the roots. Rinse the soil off with water if needed to get them clean. Place the stem(s) in a container with a small enough neck that it will support the stems. You can add some clean rocks or glass pebbles to the base of the container if needed to weigh down the container. Fill the container with enough water to cover the roots plus and inch or two.

      It’s best to use distilled or rainwater. All members of the Dracaena genus are sensitive to fluoride that is common in tap water. It can cause browning tips and leaf spotting over time as the fluoride accumulates and concentrates in the plant tissue and the leaf tips resulting in “burning”. Some sources will tell you that if you leave tap water out for 24 hours the fluoride will evaporate away. That’s true for chlorine, but not fluoride, which cannot be removed by evaporation, boiling, or carbon-based water filters.

      Reply

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