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What Are the Differences Between Lucky Bamboo and True Bamboo?

What Are the Differences Between Lucky Bamboo and True Bamboo?

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Lucky bamboo is a popular indoor plant. People love it because it is both beautiful and easy to care for. You may see it popping up all over the place because it is so popular.

Lucky bamboo became famous because of the decorating style of feng shui. Feng shui describes lucky bamboo as bringing positive energy to its surroundings. It is a popular belief that lucky bamboo brings good luck both to the receiver and the giver.

Meditation leaders say that bamboo changes the chi energy flow in a room when placed correctly. Bamboo and lucky bamboo are commonly used in feng shui redesigns based on this principle of energy flow and because they look lovely.

In China, lucky bamboo is a popular gift. You can give it to relatives, friends, and colleagues on many different occasions from birthdays to weddings, anniversaries, job promotions, and academic achievements. Lucky bamboo is popular!

Popular giftings of lucky bamboo place it in containers that feature the design of soil, sand, or pebbles and water. Decorative pots and containers add more value to the lucky bamboo gift and add even more value to its popularity.

Is Lucky Bamboo a Real Bamboo?

Potted Lucky Bamboo
Lucky Bamboo

With the name lucky bamboo, you would think that it implies that it is indeed bamboo. But the popular houseplant that’s most commonly known as lucky bamboo is not bamboo.

There are over 1000 species of true bamboo from small dwarfs to tall bamboos, but lucky bamboo is not one of them!

What kind of plant is it? The botanical name is Dracaena sanderiana. The plant is named after a renowned gardener, Henry Frederick Conrad Sander. It is more similar to a lily than to bamboo because of how it can live in water.

Lucky bamboo is often also called Ribbon Plant because it has long thin foliage. It has also been called Friendship Bamboo because of it being given as a gift on so many occasions. Other common names include Goddess of Mercy Plant, Belgian Evergreen, Chinese Water Bamboo, or Curly Bamboo.

Lucky bamboo is native to Central Africa and parts of Southeast Asia despite the names suggesting that it is from China or Belgium. This plant is full of mysteries!

The good news is that lucky bamboo is hardy. Keep it in water and out of direct sunlight so it will live a long time. That makes it a good investment and a long life-giving gift for friends and family.


Giant Bamboo Forest

Because lucky bamboo and bamboo are not related, there are several significant differences between them.

Consider these four differences between lucky bamboo and real bamboo related to growth:

  • Visually, the stem of lucky bamboo is fleshy compared to true bamboo.
  • Real bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, growing as much as four feet in one day. Lucky bamboo grows as an average houseplant does.
  • Lucky bamboo can grow to be two to three feet tall. Larger bamboos can grow up to 70 feet tall. That’s a huge difference!
  • All bamboo species need soil to grow. Lucky bamboo can grow in water alone.

Several growth concerns can impact your plant and how you place it in your home:

  • Lucky bamboo can harm pets if ingested. True bamboo species are harmless to them. What does this mean for your pets? Most dogs will not jump up to disturb a plant so just make sure that it is out of reach. Cats, however, can find a way to climb and reach your lucky bamboo. The best advice is to watch your cats carefully when you first set out your lucky bamboo. See if your cats are attracted to it in any way. If, after some supervised sessions, your cats show no interest, you may be safe to let them roam free with the lucky bamboo left out.
  • Lucky bamboo is a great indoor plant and easy to grow. It does well in soil or water. Regular bamboo can only grow in soil and does not make a good houseplant, especially if it grows toward the fastest end of the rate scale.
  • It takes bright but indirect light. Direct sunlight will burn it. Both prefer lots of light. Bamboo does not need much light and does best in indirect light. True bamboo grows naturally in forests under a protective canopy.

Consider the following implications of how your bamboo responds to water:

Lucky Bamboo Growing In Water
Lucky Bamboo Growing in Water
  • Lucky bamboo arrangements are unique with the possibilities presented by growing in water. Some even plant these plants in pebbles or soil and water to cover it. Because of this possibility of growing lucky bamboo in water, you will need to change it often to keep the water looking and smelling fresh. You may need to change as often as every other day.
  • It is best to use distilled, rain, or purified water. Water with hard collections of minerals in the water can have an ill effect on the plants. You will know if the water is hard based on how it feels when you wash the soap off your body when you shower or your clothes when you wash them.
  • Regular bamboo should be watered just as you would your grass.
  • If you plant lucky bamboo in soil, you will need to allow for at least one inch of space around the plant so the roots can grow. Use great soil with good drainage. Water it so that the soil is kept moist but not waterlogged.

Follow these guidelines regarding fertilizer and your plant:

  • Lucky bamboo grows with little or no fertilizer. Don’t over-fertilize or it will scorch leaves. Always fertilize the soil or water directly and never spray leaves. Fertilizing can help fertilize distilled water because it only needs a few drops. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • True bamboo does well when fertilized as you would your grass.

A Few Things that Make True Bamboo Unique

Bamboo Wall

Although you may have wanted to know more about lucky bamboo primarily, some fascinating things make true bamboo unique.

Among the main characteristics of bamboo plants are its branches, coloration, and striping. Remember that 1000 kinds of bamboo adds a lot of variety!

The plant is also famous for the privacy it provides in backyards. It can take the place of a fence if planted and grown correctly.

Because of its rapid growth, the plant sometimes has a negative reputation. People call it a highly invasive plant. While that’s the case for numerous bamboo species, you can diagnose your plants by whether you have clumping or running species.

Runners have a long rootstock that grows horizontally and can become invasive toward surrounding plants. While gardeners can install root barriers to control the root growth, it’s often easier to plant clumping species instead. So consider this distinction before planting that barrier fence.

Clumping bamboo tends to be less aggressive toward other plants because of their compact root systems. Generally, all types of hedge bamboo are clumping species suitable for backyard planting.

Both runners and clumpers make for great patio plants that can be cut back whenever necessary.

When purchasing bamboo, you now have all the information that you need to make the best purchasing decision. Whether giving a gift to someone or buying for your own home, lucky bamboo plants make a great gift.

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