Care, Growth, and Meaning of Lucky Bamboo
The Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboo is an indoor plant that is attractive, popular, and easy to care for. It's also considered to be an auspicious plant that brings good luck according to the principles of feng shui and vastu shastra.
The botanical name of lucky bamboo is Dracena sanderiana. The plant is named after a renowned German-English gardener, Henry Frederick Conrad Sander.
Lucky bamboo has many common names, including curly bamboo, Chinese water bamboo, friendship bamboo, Goddess of Mercy plant, Belgian evergreen, and ribbon plant.
Did You Know?
Lucky bamboo is not actually bamboo. It belongs to the same family as the lily.
Fascinatingly, lucky bamboo is not actually a bamboo plant at all. It belongs to the same family as the lily, and it is native to the tropical rainforests of Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.
How to Care for Your Plant
Lucky bamboo is a great indoor plant that is very easy to grow. Not only does it do well in soil, but it does well in plain water, as well. Properly cared for, it can grow to about 2 to 3 feet in height.
How to Grow in Water
- Fill the bottom of a container with pebbles and add enough water to rise to a couple of inches above the pebbles. The roots of the plant should be submerged.
- Change the water every one to two weeks in order to prevent rotting. The water should always look clear and smell fresh.
How to Grow in Soil
- Use well-aerated potting soil with good drainage.
- Water so that the soil is kept moist but not waterlogged.
Do's & Don'ts:
- Container size: Choose a container that allows for at least one inch of space all the way around the plant so that the roots have room to spread.
- Light: Place the plant in bright but indirect light. This plant cannot survive under direct sunlight; it will burn. You may need to periodically rotate the plant so that all sides receive equal light.
- Temperature: Keep the plant within a temperature range of 65℉ and 90℉. Do not place the plant near a heating or cooling vent.
- Water: Use water that does not contain chlorine or fluoride. These chemicals can affect the color of the leaves and make them turn yellow or brown. Distilled or purified water is best.
- Fertilizer: You can occasionally add a drop of liquid fertilizer to encourage growth. For best results, use a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for lucky bamboo—but be careful not to over-fertilize.
- Trimming: Remove dead or yellow leaves.
Is It Toxic?
It is not toxic is humans, but according to Pet Poison Helpline, it can be toxic to dogs and cats if it is ingested.
How to Propagate Your Plant
To propagate, follow these simple steps:
- Remove the bamboo stalks from the original container. The roots will look like a tangled-up ball, but you should be able to very gently tease them apart so that each stalk is separated, with its roots largely intact.
- Choose a healthy, dark green stalk with a new offshoot growing from the top. Look for a stalk that has at least two nodes (horizontal section dividers), and look for an offshoot that is at least 4 to 6 inches tall.
- Cut the offshoot at its base, where it springs out of the parent stalk.
- Remove the bottom set of leaves from the offshoot. The bottom part of the offshoot will be sitting in water, and you don't want the leaves to rot.
- Place the new cutting in a container with water (distilled or purified water is best). If you have more than one cutting from the original plant, you can place all of them together in the same container.
- Follow the care guidelines outlined above regarding light, water, and fertilizer. New roots will begin to grow from the cuttings, a process that should take around 30 days to complete.
Curly Lucky Bamboo
This plant can be curled by controlling the light that it receives. The process takes a long time and requires expertise. The technique involves exposing only one side of each stalk to light so that it starts to grow in that direction, and then periodically rotating the stalks. The process can take up to a year or more to complete.
Diseases That Can Affect Your Plant
Lucky bamboo is a relatively low-maintenance and hearty plant, but there are several diseases that can potentially affect it. For each of the following afflictions, I have described the appearance, possible causes, and proper course of treatment.
- Appearance: Brown spots on leaves.
- Causes: There are several potential causes of brown spots:
- Too much fluoride or chlorine content in the water.
- Too much exposure to direct sunlight.
- Lack of proper nutrition.
- Treatment: The treatment depends on the cause of the problem:
- Do not use tap water; instead, use distilled or purified water.
- Do not place the plant in direct sunlight. It should be placed in a spot where it receives bright but indirect sunlight.
- The proper nutrients will help the plant be resistant to disease.
- Appearance: Small, dark spots with red margins on the leaves. As the disease progresses, the leaves decay and die.
- Cause: Leaf spot fungus
- Treatment: Fungicidal spray. Cut off the infected leaves to prevent the disease from spreading.
- Appearance: Leaves develop small blisters on the surface that turn into hard, brown bumps. As the disease progresses, the leaves become yellow and droopy.
- Cause: Over-watering, which causes the roots to swell.
- Treatment: Reduce the amount of watering.
- Appearance: Leaves have a powdery white coat. As the disease develops, the leaves turn yellow and die.
- Cause: Fungal spores. When the spores land on the leaves, they cause an infection that manifests as a powdery white coat. This then prevents sunlight from reaching the surface of the leaves, causing the leaves to turn yellow and die.
- Treatment: Fungicidal sprays. Severely infected foliage must be removed from the plant.
- Appearance: Black spots on the leaves and stalks.
- Cause: Small insects such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which attracts the sooty mold fungus.
- Treatment: Applying insecticidal soap or oil to the affected regions of the plant will treat the mold and prevent it from spreading.
Lucky Bamboo in Chinese Culture
Lucky bamboo plays a significant role in the Chinese system of feng shui. Feng shui is a belief system that is concerned with how to harness energy to bring people into harmony with the environment.
According to feng shui, lucky bamboo is an auspicious plant that will bring positive energy into the home, office, or whatever environment in which it is placed.
The Chinese name for this plant is fu gui zhu. "Fu" means luck and fortune, "gui" means power and honor, and "zhu" means bamboo.
The Chinese name for lucky bamboo is fu gui zhu.
Fu = luck and fortune
Gui = power and honor
Zhu = bamboo
Lucky Bamboo and the Five Feng Shui Elements
To harness the full power of feng shui, an arrangement of lucky bamboo should represent all five elements.
- Earth: Pebbles or rocks (or soil, if the plant is being grown in soil)
- Water: Water to sustain the plant
- Wood: The stalk of the plant represents the wood
- Fire: A red tie or ribbon wrapped around the stalks represents fire
- Metal: A glass container (glass is classified as a metal in the feng shui system). If a different type of container is used, a metal coin can be dropped inside.
Placement of Lucky Bamboo
It is believed that when this plant is placed in the east, all family members will be bestowed with good health.
Placing the plant in the southeast is supposed to attract wealth and prosperity.
Giving and Receiving This Plant
In Chinese culture, this plant is a very popular gift for relatives, friends, teachers, and colleagues. It is given for a wide range of occasions—from birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries to job promotions, academic achievements, awards, and any other auspicious occasion. This gift is thought to bring good luck not only to the receiver, but to the giver, as well.
You might wonder if it is permissible to buy this plant for yourself, or if somehow the luck is transmitted only if it is given as a gift. The answer is no—even if you buy the plant for yourself, the luck will still be conveyed.
Number of Stalks Confers Different Blessings
According to the principles of feng shui, the positive energy of the plant differs depending on the number of stalks that are bound together. Here is a chart that decodes the meaning of each number.
Lucky Bamboo and Feng Shui Meaning
Number of Stalks
Known as the "lucky log" because it resembles a log with no roots, a single stalk brings prosperity and longevity. A sought-after gift for new companies and business endeavors.
Brings an abundance of love as well as double luck. This gift expresses love and affection.
Brings happiness, long life, and career promotions. A very popular gift.
Represents bad luck. Never given as a gift.
Attracts positive energy in the five areas of life: emotional, intuitive, mental, physical, and spiritual.
Brings opportunities to increase wealth.
Brings positive energy for overall health.
Represents growth and thriving. Also thought to increase fertility.
Bestows great luck to the receiver.
Represents a wish for a life of perfection, happiness, and completeness.
A powerful blessing for great wealth and strong health.
Why Is 4 Bad Luck?
In Chinese, the word for "four" (sì) sound a lot like "death" (sǐ). Only a subtle tonal difference separates the two words. For this reason, four is considered to be unlucky.
Lucky Bamboo and Vastu Shastra
Vastu shastra is an ancient Hindu system that seeks to integrate architecture with nature. In Sanskrit, "vastu" translates to dwelling or house, and "shastra" translates to teaching or doctrine. Taken together, the phrase refers to the science or study of architecture and design.
Just as lucky bamboo is considered to be auspicious in terms of feng shui, this plant is also considered to have special positive energy within vastu shastra. It is thought to bring good luck, promote harmony, and protect against negative energy.
Whether you choose lucky bamboo because of its significance in terms of feng shui or vastu shastra, or whether you choose it simply because it's beautiful and easy to care for, you really can't go wrong with this lovely plant. I hope you've learned something about how to take care of lucky bamboo, how to treat various problems that can arise, and how to understand its symbolic value in Chinese and Indian traditions.
"Caring for Lucky Bamboo." Nature & Garden.com.
"How to Remove Algae From Lucky Bamboo Stones." Dengarden.com.
"Vastu for home interiors: 10+ best indoor plants for a positive household." Architecture & Design India. April 30, 2018.
"Lucky Plants & Bonsai: Good Feng Shui for Home and Work." Dengarden.com.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
My Lucky Bamboo leaves are yellow. Can I trim them down and start anew?
When the leaves of the Lucky Bamboo plant turns yellow, trim the yellow leaves, as it will encourage new leaves to grow.Helpful 59
Some of my bamboo has turned bad, meaning that the layers of bamboo have reduced. how does this affect my Feng Shui?
Rotting of the Lucky Bamboo does not alter anything.Helpful 54
What type of liquid fertilizers can be added to a Lucky Bamboo Plant?
Use liquid fertilizers made specifically for Lucky Bamboo plants. Remember not to add too much fertilizer.Helpful 47
Can I buy the Lucky Bamboo plant on our own, or should it be gifted?
You can buy the Lucky Bamboo plant, it brings good luck, even if it is not gifted.Helpful 74
Can lucky bamboo be used to make bamboo straws?
The name of the bamboo that is used to make straws is Buluh Bamboo. It is a fast-growing variety that matures in two years.Helpful 3
© 2014 Nithya Venkat