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Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow? (And How to Fix It)

Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow? (And How to Fix It)

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Thanks to its adaptability and symbolism, the lucky bamboo has long since become a beloved plant worldwide. In many cultures, it’s believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and new beginnings. In others, it holds significance as a symbol of resilience and strength.

Despite popular belief, the lucky bamboo, botanically known as Dracaena sanderiana, isn’t actually bamboo but a member of the asparagus family. The fleshy stem separates it from a bamboo plant, but many people still refer to it as such because it looks just like one.

The lucky bamboo is a relatively low-maintenance plant. With minimal care requirements, including moderate light, proper watering, and occasional fertilization, it’s an accessible choice for those looking to add a touch of no-hassle greenery to their homes. 

Even so, it isn’t invincible. One of the things you might notice happening is its stems changing colors, turning from a light green to a yellow shade. If you know your plants, you already know that this is a bad sign.

Unfortunately, most people notice this issue when it’s too late and the plant succumbs to its problems and dies before they’re able to do some damage control.

To prevent this from happening and to ensure that you provide quality care to your beloved lucky bamboo, I’ll discuss the major reasons why your lucky bamboo might start to turn yellow and offer tips on what you can do about it.

Yellow Stems or Stalks

Yellow Stalks On Lucky Bamboo

Yellowing is a clear sign that your lucky bamboo plant is in distress. If not addressed promptly, the plant could be on the path of decline and eventually die. 

There are four main reasons why the stalks or the stems of a lucky bamboo start to turn yellow. These include: 

  1. Improper watering practices 
  2. Poor lighting conditions
  3. Too much or too little fertilizer
  4. Extreme temperature

More often than not, a yellowing stem indicates a bigger problem than a yellowing leaf. 

When the stem turns yellow, it suggests a problem at the core of the plant. The stem is the plant’s central support system, responsible for transporting water, nutrients, and sugars between the roots and the leaves. A yellowing stem implies a disruption in this transportation network.

To pinpoint the cause of your plant’s issues, start by checking for any changes in its normal growth environment. Take a close look at the plant and determine if anything has changed with your routine or the plant in general.

The easiest cause you might be able to identify would be that the stem wasn’t properly submerged in the water due to the water level being considerably low, or if the stem had been shifted by someone handling the plant.

What You Need to Do for Yellow Stems

There are a series of different steps you need to take if the stems have turned yellow. It’s recommended that you take appropriate action and work your way step-by-step to fix the problem. 

Firstly, remove all the yellowing stems from the plant and quarantine them. Put them in a separate vase and move them away from the area where your other healthy plants have been kept. This helps prevent the potential spread of any issues to other parts of the plant.

If the stems are part of a larger arrangement, wash the healthy plants surrounding them. You’ll also have to wash the vase and the filler with mild dishwashing soap. All of this is necessary to prevent the problem from spreading. 

When checking the stems, you need to make sure that there isn’t much slime on the stems. There shouldn’t be any soft parts on the stems either.

Wash the stems properly until all the slime has been removed from the plant. Stems that have soft spots need to be removed, as well. They’ll turn yellow with time, so pre-emptive action is best and can save you from a lot of trouble down the line.

If you’ve made any changes to the normal growing environment of the plant, reverse those right away. Move the plant toward an ideal growing environment (we’ll discuss that in the following paragraphs), and then watch the plants as carefully as possible.

Upon removing the affected stems, water the plants carefully for at least the next three or four weeks until the danger has passed completely.

Determining Why Your Plant is Yellowing

One of the clues that you can use to determine exactly why the yellowing started is to take a look at the point of origin. Where did it begin in the first place? Let’s talk about a few scenarios.

If the Yellowing Started on the Top Side

It probably indicates a lot of exposure to the sun.

Or, it could be the presence of spider mites or other insects that might be eating the plant from the inside out.

If you tied the stems together, inspect the wire. You might have tightened it more than needed, which could have damaged or broken the stem altogether.

If the Yellowing Started on the Bottom

Lucky Bamboo Yellowing From The Bottom

It’s probably a sign of too much watering, or the water might be too cold.

You might not have provided enough fresh water to the plant, or the amount of chemicals in the water might be higher than the plant can tolerate.

Root rot, slime, insects, presence of larvae, fungi, or microbes are also potential problems. 

The yellowing may have started from the bottom due to the plant not getting enough exposure to the sun, or receiving too much fertilizer.

Can You Save Your Plant After Yellowing? How to Treat Yellow Bamboo Stems

The reality of the situation is this: when a bamboo stem turns yellow, it’s often an indication that the affected part is no longer viable and may be dead or dying. Nothing you do will bring it back. 

That said, this doesn’t mean the entire plant is dead. There are steps you can take to bring back the plant.

When washing the stem in mild dishwashing soap, leave it there to soak for up to 10 minutes. Mild dishwashing soap has antimicrobial properties that can help disinfect the stem, reducing the risk of harmful microorganisms that may be present on the surface.

While you’re at it, feel the stem to determine parts that are still soft. The soft areas are likely to turn green within the next few weeks. Don’t discard them.

When you identify the point where the stem is still firm, use a sharp knife and cut through it at that point.

Take a look at the cross-section and see if the center is still soft. If it is, you need to make another cut and find the point where the center is firm and there’s no visible discoloration.

The part of the stem that’s left can be placed in the water and, over time, it’ll root and begin to sprout—so long as you keep it warm and in the sun. 

Again, make sure you keep the plant separate from others while it recovers in full.

Ideal Growing Conditions for Lucky Bamboo

Now that we know how to treat yellowing bamboo stems, it’s time to focus on the yellow leaves. Before we do so, let’s talk about the ideal growing conditions for the lucky bamboo plant.


The lucky bamboo needs bright, indirect light to grow properly. You can place the plant on a countertop in the bathroom, or even in the kitchen. Anywhere will do, as long as the plant isn’t directly in the line of the sun as it filters in through the window.

If the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight over time, the leaves will start turning yellow. Eventually, this will move toward the stem, and that could indicate a big problem as mentioned above.

Yellow leaves are probably going to drop off, but as long as you provide the right amount of sunlight again, new ones will take their place.


Lucky Bamboo In Water

The lucky bamboo plant is quite particular about the conditions of the water it’s kept in.

In most cases, the tap water that you use might contain an excessive amount of chemicals that are used to treat the water, to the point where they could damage the plant.

That is one of the main reasons why tap water isn’t recommended for treating the plant. Instead, you should always use distilled or filtered water for all your lucky bamboo plants. 

Moreover, you also need to make sure that the plant doesn’t sit in stagnant water for too long. If that happens, bacteria and algae are going to take over the plant. They’ll form around the roots of the plant, and will eventually result in root rot.

To prevent such problems, don’t leave the plant in stagnant water over long periods. Apart from root issues, stagnant water can also interfere with the nutrients or absorption of water that the plant needs.


The lucky bamboo prefers loamy, rich, acidic soil, so make sure to add organic compost to the mix from time to time.

It’ll greatly benefit the plant because the organic compost provides a whole host of different nutrients at a relatively slow rate, thus keeping the plant healthy and improving its appearance.


One of the signs of overfertilization is the yellowing leaves or stalks. 

If you only recently fertilized the plant, wait a few days. Let the plant recover on its own. In some cases, that could take a few weeks. In others, it might even take a few months.

As a rule of thumb, only fertilize the plant just once or twice a year, and only make use of a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Also, make sure that you dilute the fertilizer to around one-tenth of its actual strength before application.

Lucky bamboos are sensitive plants, so you need to be very particular about how to approach the fertilization process.

Many gardeners can grow the lucky bamboo for years without ever needing to fertilize it at all.


If the growing conditions for your plant are too stressful, it might start to die. Look out for drafts in the room and make sure the temperatures remain as consistent as possible.

The lucky bamboo thrives in temperatures between 65°F to 90°F (18°C to 32°C). Sudden temperature fluctuations or prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50°F (10°C) may harm the plant. 

Growing the lucky bamboo is pretty easy, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part.


You always need to keep a lookout for injuries to your lucky bamboo plant. Injuries to the plant may cause the leaves or the stalks to turn yellow.

Plucked leaves, vigorous pruning, damage from pets, or from falling over are all considered injuries and can cause damage to your plant. 

Exposure to extreme cold or heat can also be detrimental to the health of your plant.

Final Thoughts 

If your plant starts turning yellow, it’s a sign that it’s on its last legs and will probably die very soon. But don’t lose hope just yet. To prevent that from happening, you need to take action as quickly as possible.

Start by checking the basics—see if it’s getting the right amount of water and sunlight. Sometimes, a simple adjustment in these factors can work wonders. 

Then, check other factors: assess the surrounding temperature, inspect for any signs of pests or diseases, and check for injuries. 

As long as you follow the tips highlighted in this article, you can rest assured that your lucky bamboo can continue to bring positive energy to your space.

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