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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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The lucky bamboo is a gorgeous species of flowering plants that is usually classified as a perennial herb, capable of reaching heights of up to 100 cm.

The plant is very unique and has leaves that are partially twisted, usually grey or green in color. The fleshy stem separates it from a bamboo plant, but many people still refer to it as the lucky bamboo because it looks just like one.

Adding some lucky bamboo plants to your house is an excellent idea, and it’s going to dramatically improve the aesthetic appeal of your house. However, you should know that just like other plants, this one also requires a considerable amount of care and attention.

One of the things that you might notice happening to your lucky bamboo is it might start to change colors, turning from a light green to a yellow shade. If you know your plants, you already know that this is a bad sign.

It’s recommended that you pay attention to the plant carefully and take a series of remedial steps if you want to fix this problem.

Unfortunately, most people notice this issue when it’s too late, and the plant eventually succumbs to its problems and dies altogether.

To prevent this from happening and to ensure that you are able to provide quality care to your plants, we will talk about all the major reasons why your lucky bamboo might start to turn yellow, and what you can do about it.

Yellow Stems or Stalks

Yellow Stalks on Lucky Bamboo

There are two key things you need to know first of all; the yellowing might occur on the stems or the stalks, and the plant may need urgent attention when that happens. If you are not particularly careful, the plant might die.

The key to saving any plant when it starts to turn yellow is to take action rapidly, and then look for a probable cause.

Primarily, there can be four reasons why the stalks or the stems of the lucky bamboo might start to turn yellow. These include water, the lighting conditions, the fertilizer, and the temperature.

More importantly, you should know that a yellow stem indicates a much more serious situation than a yellow leaf.

That is why you will want to spend more time trying to find the cause and then fix the issue. That’s because the other stems are at risk as well, and if you are not careful, the entire plant might fall off.

You need to start off by checking for any changes in the normal growth environment of the plant. You will want to first take a close look at the plant and determine if anything has changed with your routine or the plant in general.

The easiest cause that you might be able to identify would be that the stem wasn’t properly submerged in the water due to the level of water 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 that 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. First of all, remove all the yellowing stems from the plant, and quarantine them.

Effectively, you need to put them in a separate vase and move them away from the area where your other healthy plants have been kept. It’s incredibly important that you keep the yellowed stems from the healthy ones.

If the stem was part of a larger arrangement of other bamboos too, you need to wash all your healthy plants carefully.

Along with that, you also need to wash the vase and the filler with a mild dishwashing soap too. 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.

Moreover, there should not be any soft parts on the stems either.

You have to wash the stems properly until all of the slime has been removed from the plant. Any stems that have soft spots need to be removed as well.

With the passage of time, these are going to turn yellow as well, so pre-emptive action is best and can save you from a lot of trouble down the line.

If you have made any changes to the normal growing environment of the plant, you need to reverse those right away. You need to focus on moving the plant toward an ideal growing environment (we will talk about that in the following paragraphs), and then watch the plants as carefully as possible.

You will need to water the plants carefully for at least the next three or four weeks until the danger has passed completely.

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 had tied a wire to the stem, that may have been tightened 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 is 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, fungus, or microbes are also serious 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.

One of the most important things you need to understand is that the yellow part is dead. Nothing you do will bring it back. However, that 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, you might want to leave it there to soak for up to 10 minutes. You also need to feel the stem to determine parts that are still soft. The areas that are soft are likely to turn green within the next few weeks.

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

You need to 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 discoloration that you can see.

The part of the stem that is left with you can be placed in the water and with the passage of time, it is going to root and will begin to sprout, as long as you keep it warm and in the sun. Again, just make sure you keep the plant separate from others while it recovers in full.

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 Ideal Lighting

The lucky bamboo needs bright, though indirect light to grow properly. You can place the plant on a countertop or 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 with the passage of 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 its place.


Lucky Bamboo in Water

Apart from that, the lucky bamboo plant also needs water. The plant is actually quite particular about the conditions of water that it is 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 consider using 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 will form around the roots of the plant, and will eventually result in root rot.

To prevent such problems, it’s best if you avoid letting the plant be in stagnant water over long periods of time. This can also interfere with the nutrients or absorption of water that the plant needs.


One of the signs of overfertilization is the yellowing leaves or stalks. If you only recently fertilized the plant, you should consider waiting 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, it is highly recommended that you only fertilize the plant just once or twice in a year, and only make use of a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Also, you need to 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.

There are many gardeners who are able to grow the lucky bamboo for years without ever needing to fertilizer it at all.


You always need to keep a look out 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.

If your plant starts turning yellow, it’s a sign that it’s on its last legs and it is probably going to die very soon. So, to prevent that from happening, you need to take action as quickly as possible.

Extreme yellowing or a withered appearance usually indicate that the plant is too far gone and can no longer be saved.

But, if not, there are a few steps you can take. The lucky bamboo prefers a loamy, rich, acidic soil, so you might want to consider adding organic compost in the mix from time to time as well.

It’s going to 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.

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. You need to take action as quickly as possible if you want the plant to survive.

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

But, if you want the plant to survive the yellowing, you will need to be on your toes. These plants usually succumb to the yellowing and die because people are unable to take action on time.

If you identify the problem quickly, you will be able to save your plant!

Before you go: Now is the perfect time to start tracking your gardening progress, and I created a garden journal to do exactly that. Click the image below to see it in action and to get your own copy.

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