Lucky bamboo is known by many different names, including friendship bamboo, water bamboo, ribbon plant, and more. It is often used in Feng Shui, and you can find it in garden stores and grocery stores.
Lucky bamboo isn’t actually bamboo; its scientific name is Dracaena sanderiana, and it is often grown indoors. It can grow outside in zones 10 and 11, and you can get it to grow by giving it what it needs.
What Is Lucky Bamboo?
Lucky bamboo is a plant that is said to bring good luck, fortune, and health to people who have it. It is native to Cameroon, West Africa, and although it resembles the bamboo family, it isn’t bamboo.
It has long pointed leaves and a segmented green stalk, and it grows at a moderate rate. The leaves can grow as much as an inch each month, and it can grow up to eight feet tall and two feet wide in the right conditions.
If this plant is grown indoors, it usually gets to be around three feet tall.
How to Get Lucky Bamboo to Grow
If you want your lucky bamboo to stay healthy and grow, you need to give it what it needs. It doesn’t generally require a lot of work, and it can grow in soil or in water.
If you grow it in water, you should add water to a container and then place some stones on the bottom so that the roots can grow into something. You can also grow it in a container with soil as long as it has good drainage.
You can plant lucky bamboo in different types of soil outside as long as it has good drainage.
Next, you need to make sure that your lucky bamboo has the right amount of sunlight. Outdoors, it requires morning sun, partial sun, or filtered shade.
If you are growing it indoors, you should keep it in a part of your house that gets indirect light from the sun. You should never place it in direct full sunlight because its leaves may burn, which can prevent growth.
Lucky bamboo can tolerate being dry, but it does best with regular watering. You should water it deeply until you see water coming out of the drainage holes.
The key is to feel the top inch of the soil and see if it is dry. When it is, you can water it; outdoor plants might need it once a week or more frequently if it is hot and dry outside.
If you are watering your lucky bamboo indoors, you may find that the leaves are burning or turning yellow. This is a sign that there is too much fluoride or salt in your water.
The best way to fix this problem is by using distilled water or harvesting rainwater to water your plant.
People often have trouble with their lucky bamboo when they mistakenly think that giving it fertilizer will help it grow more quickly. This can actually have the opposite effect.
Most of the time, you don’t have to fertilize lucky bamboo to make it grow as long as you are giving it everything else that it needs. However, if you grow it in water as opposed to soil, it may lack nutrients.
In this case, you can fertilize the lucky bamboo with diluted fertilizer for houseplants every three months to revive it. You will know that it needs it if you see the plant slow its growth and the leaves turn yellow.
Why Lucky Bamboo Isn’t Growing
There are a number of different factors to troubleshoot if your lucky bamboo isn’t growing as expected. Take a look at what you should consider if your plant isn’t growing.
1 – Adjust the Light Exposure
Lucky bamboo does best in filtered or indirect sunlight. If you expose it to too much direct light, the plant can be scorched and possibly die.
However, if you have it under only artificial light or if it receives too little light, it may stop growing. It needs the right amount of light to grow properly, so you should place it under a window where it can have filtered light all day.
The light is important for any plant, and lucky bamboo is no different. It is important to make sure that your plant has the optimal lighting to encourage growth.
2 – Check Temperature
You should also consider where your plant is in the house and what is near it that could affect the temperature. The ideal temperature range is between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and it needs to stay in this range.
If your plant experiences sudden changes in the temperature, it will stop growing right away. You need to make sure that the plant is in a location where the temperature stays constant with very little fluctuation.
Household items such as air vents, heat-emitting lights, and large appliances can cause temperature changes around the plant that prevent it from growing. Make sure that you place it in a location where it isn’t exposed to these things.
3 – Consider Your Watering Source
When you have lucky bamboo in the house, you might water it with your tap water. However, it can have chemical additives, such as chlorine and fluoride.
This plant can be sensitive to these chemicals, and when you grow it in water, it can’t filter them out with soil. If you want to make sure that this doesn’t happen, you can use filtered or distilled water to make sure that it is getting neutral water.
You can also harvest rainwater, which is free of chemicals. This could cause your plant to slow its growth, so it is important to rule it out as a factor.
Another potential water issue is that you may have algae growing in the water where you have your lucky bamboo. Algae can easily grow in glass containers if the light shines through.
When you grow lucky bamboo in water, make sure that you have stones in the bottom, and keep it out of direct sunlight. You will also want to change the water every two to three months.
The water in the container is stagnant, and it will get warm and provide the perfect environment for other problems to occur. The roots can grow fungus or mold, which is another reason to make sure that you change the water and clean out the container.
You also need to clean the stones or whatever else is in the container to help give the roots something to hold onto. Otherwise, bacteria can build up and lead to other problems.
4 – Add Fertilizer
Lucky bamboo doesn’t require fertilizer to grow as big as it is capable of, but if it is lacking any of the nutrients it needs, you might want to carefully consider adding fertilizer. You can use diluted houseplant fertilizer and add it to your plant’s soil, or use a few drops of liquid fertilizer if it is in water.
That said, lucky bamboo can go for years without needing fertilizer. It thrives on nitrogen, so it gets what it needs from fresh water.
If you use distilled water for your plant, it won’t have magnesium or iron. In this case, you might need to add a few drops of fertilizer.
If your water has gone too long without changing and becomes dirty, you need to change it, and you may want to add some fertilizer to give it a boost. In this case, you can take this precaution to make sure that the plant stays healthy.
Another time to consider fertilizer is when you notice that the leaves are turning yellow. Sometimes yellow leaves are a sign that your plant is lacking nutrients, so fertilizer can help.
Make sure that you are careful when you fertilize the plant because it is easy to over-fertilize it. If your plant’s leaves turn yellow after you add fertilizer, you may have overdone it.
In this case, you need to change the water and replace it with distilled water, and hope that the plant recovers.
There are fertilizers that are made especially for lucky bamboo. They are usually made with two parts nitrogen, two parts phosphorus, and two parts potassium.
If you use houseplant fertilizer, make sure that you dilute it to 10% the strength. It should be a NPK balanced fertilizer that is similar to those made for this plant.
5 – Check for Pests
Another potential cause of your lucky bamboo not growing is that it is suffering from spider mites. If you notice spider mites on your lucky bamboo, you need to take care of it.
Start by laying your stalks down in the sink or the shower, and spray the plant with a little bit of force. You need to get the underside of the leaves, and do it thoroughly so that you get the mites and their eggs.
Then, spray the tops of the leaves and the nodes, and make sure you get the entire plant. It is important to remember that spider mites are so small that you can’t see them, and they can inflict a lot of damage.
If you have concerns about spider mites, you can do this once a month to protect your plant. If you actually know that you have mites, you may need to take more aggressive steps.
You can combine a tablespoon of mild dishwashing soap with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a cup of water. Another concoction that you can make is made up of a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar, a cup of water, and a tablespoon of baking soda with a couple of drops of dishwashing soap.
Put your mixture in a spray bottle, and spray the plants generously. You can also buy some horticultural oil or neem oil for your plant.
It is important to take action as soon as you suspect that there are spider mites on your plant because if it gets out of control, your plant might not recover. You should spray the plant once a week until you kill the mites.
Lucky Bamboo Growing Rate
Bamboo grows faster than most other plants, with some types growing as much as three feet in a day. However, lucky bamboo, despite its name, isn’t bamboo.
Lucky bamboo is a member of the asparagus family rather than the bamboo family. Although it looks similar to bamboo, it grows much more slowly, which is why some people worry that it isn’t growing properly.
Lucky bamboo grows more quickly in soil than it does in water, but people often want to grow it in the water. However, when you grow it in water, it is unlikely to grow more than a few feet over less than a year.
In the soil, as long as it has everything it needs, you can expect lucky bamboo to grow between six and twelve inches a year, and it will be fully grown in a few years.
You can easily slow the growth rate by moving it further away from the light. If you want it to grow faster, you should plant it in soil and keep the soil moist.
Another tip to increase the rate of growth is to add a drop of fertilizer made for lucky bamboo once a month. Just be sure not to over-fertilize it.
You can also affect the growth rate through pruning. Pruning will encourage the foliage to grow, and new shoots will grow where you cut it.
The new growth will help it grow more quickly, but you should make sure that you make clean cuts with a sharp knife that is sterile.
Lucky bamboo is a popular plant that people love to have in their homes. It is rumored to bring luck, health, and fortune to anyone who has it.
People often find it unique that it can grow in water, and they love the way it looks in a clear container with stones or pebbles on the bottom.
However, this plant won’t grow as quickly in water as it will in soil. If you want your plant to grow, you need to make sure that it has everything it needs.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.