Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) Indoor Care and Propagation Guide


Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) also called Curly Bamboo, Ribbon Plant, Ribbon Dracaena or Chinese Water Bamboo is a popular plant due to its tolerance to shade conditions and its ability to grow in water.

Ribbon Dracaena is also popular with feng shui enthusiasts as it is believed to bring good luck and hence the common name, 'Lucky Bamboo'. Though called a Bamboo, it is a Dracaena.

Curly Bamboo has highly twisted arching leaves of grey-green color about 9 in. long. The stems are slender, soft and upright. The roots are red.

Lucky Bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana

Botanical name: Dracaena sanderiana
Synonym: Phleomele sanderiana
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Common names: Lucky Bamboo, Curly Bamboo, Ribbon Plant, Ribbon Dracaena, Chinese Water Bamboo

Origin

Dracaena sanderiana is native to Central Africa, although it is thought to be from China or Belgium. It is named after a German-English gardener Henry Frederick Conrad Sander (1847-1920).

Size

Ribbon Plant grows to a maximum height of 2-3 ft and the leaves are about 9 in. long.

Where to Buy

Chinese Water Bamboo are great plants for any collection. Check them out on Etsy.

Dracaena sanderiana Care Indoors

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) can be grown in water or in soil. The light, temperature and humidity requirements are similar in both cases.

Dracaena sanderiana thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and consistently moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Curly Bamboo does not need frequent repotting as it grows best when slightly root-bound. Frequent pruning is necessary to keep the plant neat, discourage pests and disease and encourage a bushy growth. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Lucky Bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana

Light Requirements

Lucky Bamboo grows best in bright, indirect light; a west-facing window is ideal. Too low light will cause the leaves to turn pale-green from grey-green.

Keep Curly Bamboo away from direct sunlight as it can lead to scorching of the leaves.

Chinese Water Bamboo can also thrive under grow lights where the natural lighting is not sufficient. Take a look at these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Temperature and Humidity

The best temperature for your Lucky Bamboo is an average warmth within the range of 16-270C. Keep the plant away from cold drafts as they can cause leaf drop and brown leaf tips and edges.

Average room humidity is adequate for Lucky Bamboo. It has no need for high humidity. However, if the temperatures are very high, the humidity reduces significantly which can result in brown leaf tips.

To elevate humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping to get rid of dust and also discourage pests and diseases infestation.

How to Grow Lucky Bamboo in Water

Use an opaque container to prevent the growth of algae in the water as sunlight through a transparent container will promote the growth of algae.

Fill the container with pebbles to about a third. Set the Lucky Bamboo cane in the center of the container and continue to fill the container and leave about 1-1.5 in. from the top rim unfilled.

Before the roots develop ensure at least 3 in. of the Lucky Bamboo cane are submerged in water.

Once the roots develop ensure that the roots are always covered by water to prevent rotting.

Change the water every 5-7 days. Use only chlorine-free water like distilled or filtered water as the plant is sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water and they may cause the plant to die.

As the Curly Bamboo grows, increase the water level as the higher the water level goes up the stem, the more the roots that will grow. The more the roots, the more lush the foliage will be.

To enhance growth of the foliage, add a drop of balanced, water-soluble fertilizer everytime you change the water.

Always ensure that the leaves are out of the water to prevent rotting. Snip off slimy or dark roots; the roots should be red in color.

If the roots become mushy, cut the stem just above the roots and start a new plant.

Clean the container and pebbles with soapy water if they become murky, rinse them very well and refill the container with fresh water.

How to prune and train a Lucky Bambo that is growing in water

To encourage a bushy and compact Lucky Bamboo that is growing in water, prune it by cutting the offshoots about 1-2 in. from the main stem.

This will encourage the plant to produce new shoots at a point below the cut. The cut shoots can be used to start new plants.

To make the twists and the curves, curl the stems with wire to hold them in place or block the light on three sides of the plant to force it to grow towards the light source.

Keep turning the stem of the Chinese Water Bamboo as it grows to make the curves and the twists. This requires constantly checking on the plant and may take a long time to twist the stems.

How to propagate a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in water

A Lucky Bamboo that is growing in water can be propagated from stem-tip cuttings (shoots).

How to propagate a Lucky Bamboo from stem-tip cuttings (shoots)

On removing the shoots during pruning, dip the lower cut-end in a rooting hormone to hasten establishment.

Insert the cutting in moist, free-draining rooting soil or you can water propagate.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until the new plants are well established.

How to Grow a Lucky Bamboo in Soil

When grown in soil, the Lucky Bamboo loses its bamboo-like look and fills with a leaf-like shape like other Dracaenas.

How to water a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil

Water Lucky Bamboo thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce the watering during the cold season and maintain the soil slightly moist.

Avoid soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot; ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil.

Use water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking this tropical plant.

Ascertain that the water is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips.

Fertilizer for a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil

Feed Lucky Bamboo every 4 weeks during the growing period with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer for a lush growth.

Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.

Flush out accumulated salts in the soil regularly by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole.

Lucky Bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana

Repotting a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil

Repot Lucky Bamboo at the beginning of the growing season when the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes as the plant prefers to be slightly root-bound.

Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy; never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot.

Potting Soil

The best soil for Lucky Bamboo should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients like this quality Potting Mix on Amazon.

Pruning a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil

Pruning Lucky Bamboo involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and also discourage pests and diseases.

To encourage a bushy and compact growth, cutback the stems. New stems will sprout below the cut.

The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new plants.

Propagation of a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil

Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil can be propagated at beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings or from the crown of leaves of leggy plants.

How to propagate a Lucky Bamboo from stem cuttings

Take 2-3 in. long stem cuttings from a healthy Lucky Bamboo and dip the lower cut-end of the cutting in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.

Insert the cutting in moist, free-draining rooting soil and lightly firm the soil around the cutting.

Cover the set up with clear polythene sheet to create a greenhouse effect for faster establishment.

Position the set up in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching.

Keep the soil moist until the new Chinese Water Bamboo are well established after which you can begin routine care.

How to propagate Lucky Bamboo from the top crown of leaves

Cut the top crown of Lucky Bamboo leaves bearing about 3 in. of stem. Dip the lower cut-end of the crown of leaves in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.

Insert the stem of the crown of leaves in moist, free-draining rooting soil and slightly firm the soil around the stem.

Place the set up in a warm, brightly-lit place away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching.

Maintain the soil moist until the new Curly Bamboo plants are well established after which you can begin routine care.

Lucky Bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana

Dracaena sanderiana Problems

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) problems include brown leaf tips and edges, yellow leaves, leaf spots, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Pests

Common pests in Lucky Bamboo are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat it with appropriate products like neem oil and insecticidal soap among others.

Yellowing leaves

Yellowing of the lower leaves in Lucky Bamboo is a natural process. As the plant matures it sheds the lower leaves. Each lower leaf turns yellow and dries leaving a crown of leaves on top of the cane-like stem.

The Dracaena Plant may develop yellowing leaves if the growing conditions like lighting, watering, feeding, temperature and humidity are not met. Here are 14 Reasons why a Dracaena Leaves are Yellowing

Brown leaf tips and yellow edges

There are four possible reasons for brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Lucky Bamboo. One possible reason is dry air (low humidity).

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second possible reason for brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Ribbon Dracaena is underwatering.

Keep the soil moist at all times during the growing season. Reduce watering in the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third possible reason for brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Lucky Bamboo is chemical accumulation in the soil.

Use chemical free water for watering the plant and regularly flush out salts from the soil.

The fourth possible reason for brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Curly Bamboo is cold draughts.

Protect the plant from cold draughts or keep it away from cold draughts.

Plant death

Lucky Bamboo is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid soggy soil.

Lessen watering for Ribbon Plant during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time.

Another possible cause of the death in Chinese Water Bamboo is keeping it too cold. Maintain an average room temperature for the plant and protect it from cold draughts.

Lucky Bamboo could also be dying from accumulation of salts in the soil.

Once in a while flush out accumulated salts in the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole.

Bleached dry leaf patches

Direct sunlight will cause bleached dry patches on the leaves of Lucky Bamboo. Move the plant to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunlight.

Brown leaf spots

Lucky Bamboo will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered. Maintain the soil consistently moist during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold season but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Soft, curled, brown edges

If the temperature is too low for Lucky Bamboo, the leaves become soft and curled and the edges turn brown. Maintain an average room temperature and protect the plant from cold draughts.

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