How to grow and care for Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) Indoors

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Lucky Bamboo Care, Dracaena sanderiana Care

Photo Credit: Country Living Magazine

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

Lucky Bamboo Description

Lucky Bamboo is a popular houseplant due to its tolerance to shade conditions and its ability to grow in water. It is also popular with feng shui enthusiasts as it is believed to bring good luck and hence the common name, 'Lucky Bamboo'.

Lucky Bamboo is known by many names like Curly Bamboo, Ribbon Plant, Ribbon Dracaena, Chinese Water Bamboo and many others. Though called a Bamboo, it is a Dracaena.

The Lucky 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 Size

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

Lucky Bamboo Origin

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

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Lucky Bamboo Care, Dracaena sanderiana Care

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Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) Care Indoors

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

Lucky Bamboo Light Requirements

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

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

Lucky Bamboo can also thrive under flourescent light. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Temperature for Lucky Bamboo

The best temperature for your Lucky Bamboo is an average warmth with a minumum of 150C.

Protect Lucky Bamboo from cold draughts. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Lucky Bamboo

Average room humidity is adequate for Lucky Bamboo. It has no need for high humidity.

If the temperatures are very high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Lucky Bamboo. Brown leaf tips is an indication of low humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves of your Lucky Bambo by damp-wiping to get rid of dust. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

How to Grow Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) 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 7-10 days. Use distilled or filtered water only.

As your Lucky 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 Lucky Bamboo has the more lush the foliage will be.

To enhance growth of the foliage of your Lucky Bamboo, add a drop of liquid fertilizer whenever you change the water.

Always ensure that the leaves of your Lucky Bamboo 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 of your Lucky Bamboo just above the roots and start a new plant.

Clean the container and pebbles if they become murky and refill 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 Lucky Bamboo to produce new shoots at a point below the cut. The cut shoots can be used to start new Lucky Bamboo 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 Lucky 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 of your Lucky Bamboo, dip the lower cut-end in a rooting hormone.

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

Place the set up in a cool, shaded place and maintain the soil moist until the new Lucky Bamboo plants are well established.

How to Grow a Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) in Soil

When grown in soil, the Lucky Bamboo 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 and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Reduce the watering for your Lucky Bamboo during the cold season and maintain the soil slightly moist.

Avoid soggy soil for your Lucky Bamboo as it can lead to root-rot disease. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil.

Use water at room temperature to avoid shocking your Lucky Bamboo.

Ensure that the water is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips in your Lucky Bamboo. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) 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.

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

Regularly flush out accumulated salts in the soil for your Lucky Bamboo by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow it to run for a few minutes and repeat several times. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Lucky Bamboo Care, Dracaena sanderiana Care

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How to Repot 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 for your Lucky Bamboo. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

The best soil for your Lucky Bamboo should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot.

How to Prune a Lucky Bamboo that is growing in soil

Pruning your Lucky Bamboo involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

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

The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new Lucky Bamboo plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

How to propagate 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 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.

Dip the lower cut-end of your Lucky Bamboo cutting in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting

Insert the Lucky Bamboo cutting in moist, free-draining rooting soil.

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

Place the set up in a warm, shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until the new Lucky Bamboo plants are well established.

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 your Lucky Bamboo crown of leaves in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting

Insert the stem of your Lucky Bamboo crown of leaves in moist, free-draining rooting soil.

Place the set up in a warm, shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until the new Lucky Bamboo plants are well established.

Lucky Bamboo Care, Dracaena sanderiana Care

Photo Credit: Amazon.in

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) Problems Indoors

Lucky Bamboo brown leaf tips and yellow edges

There are four possible reasons for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in Lucky Bamboo.

One possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Lucky Bamboo is dry air.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Lucky Bamboo. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Lucky Bamboo is underwatering.

Maintain the soil moist at all times for your Lucky Bamboo and do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

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

Use chemical free water and regularly flush out salts from the soil for your Lucky Bamboo.

The fourth possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Lucky Bamboo is cold draughts.

Protect your Lucky Bamboo from cold draughts or place the plant away from cold draughts.

Lucky Bamboo bleached dry leaf patches

Direct sunlight will cause bleached dry patches on the leaves of Lucky Bamboo.

Move your Lucky Bamboo to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunlight.

Lucky Bamboo brown leaf spots

Lucky Bamboo will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered.

Maintain the soil moist at all times for your Lucky Bamboo and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Lucky Bamboo yellowing lower leaves

Yellowing of the lower leaves is a natural process in your Lucky Bamboo. As the plant matures it sheds the lower leaves.

Each lower leaf of your Lucky Bamboo turns yellow and dries leaving a crown of leaves on top of the cane-like stem.

Lucky Bamboo leaves soft, curled, brown edges

If the temperature is too low your Lucky Bamboo leaves become soft and curled and the edges turn brown.

Maintain an average room temperature and protecLucky Bamboo from cold draughts.

Lucky Bamboo dying

Lucky Bamboo is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil.

Ensure the pot for your Lucky Bamboo has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid soggy soil.

Reduce watering for your Lucky Bamboo during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist.

Another possible cause of the death of your Lucky Bamboo is keeping it too cold

Maintain an average room temperature for your Lucky Bamboo and protect it from cold draughts.

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

Regularly flush out accumulated salts in the soil for your Lucky Bamboo by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow it to run for a few minutes and repeat several times.

Lucky Bamboo Pests

The 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 appropriately for the pests.

Is Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) toxic?

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is toxic to both humans and pets. The leaves contain a substance which is toxic.

If ingested the leaves of Lucky Bamboo can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite and depression.

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