How to Grow Lucky Bamboo | Almanac.com

How to Grow Lucky Bamboo


Lucky Bamboo's Many Meanings, Plus Care Tips

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Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is a houseplant—not real bamboo! It’s popular because of its ability to grow in low light in the home or office. Learn more about how to care for Lucky Bamboo for years of good health and fortune!

What Is Lucky Bamboo?

The plant we commonly call “lucky bamboo” isn’t a type of bamboo at all. Despite its appearance, lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana or braunii) is actually more closely related to succulents than to bamboo, which is a type of grass. Lucky bamboo is native to Africa, but is now cultivated around the world as a good-luck houseplant.

Why is the Plant Called Lucky Bamboo?

In Chinese lore, lucky bamboo symbolizes good fortune, and feng shui practitioners use it to attract positive energy. The number of stalks have different meanings:

  • 2 stalks symbolize love or double luck
  • 3 stalks bring three kinds of luck: happiness, long life, and wealth
  • 4 stalks are bad luck; they bring negative energy and are thought to be a death wish!
  • 5 stalks balance 5 areas of health: emotional, spiritual, mental, intuitive, and physical
  • 6 stalks attract prosperity and wealth
  • 7 stalks promote good health
  • 8 stalks are good for success, growth, and fertility
  • 9 stalks bring great luck
  • 10 stalks bestow a complete and perfect life
  • 21 stalks are for great wealth and enduring health


How to Start Growing Lucky Bamboo

Most people who grow lucky bamboo indoors have the plant in water. Here’s how:

  • Use a layer of pebbles to stabilize the stems of the plant and hold it in place.
  • Add enough water to keep the roots covered. (If it hasn’t grown roots yet, the plant will need at least 3 inches of water.) 
  • Distilled or filtered water is best, especially if you have fluoride or chlorine in your tap water. These chemicals can cause the green tips of the leaves to burn and turn brown.
  • The container must have drainage holes; while you water frequently, do not let it sit in water or become waterlogged.
  • A clear container makes it easy to see the roots and check the water level, but it can also cause algae to grow, so you may want to use a colored container.
  • You’ll need to keep raising the water level as the plants grow to keep it above the roots.

Lucky Bamboo Care Tips

Lucky bamboo is a very easy-going plant that doesn’t require much attention. Follow these tips for success with your plant: 

  • Change the water every 7 to 10 days, cleaning the pebbles and container as well.
  • Normally, lucky bamboo will grow fine without any fertilizer, but if you wish, you can give it a small drop of houseplant fertilizer monthly.
  • Since this plant grows in the shade of taller trees in nature, keep it out of direct sunlight. Bright, indirect light is best. If it starts to fade to a pale green it needs more light.
  • Lucky bamboo likes warm temperatures, in the 65° to 90°F range.
  • Caution—this plant is toxic to cats!
  • If you wish, you can transplant lucky bamboo in the soil.

If the stalks get too tall, cut them off and start a new plant by rooting the stalks in water. Keep them in a shady area until new roots form, then plant them in soil or pebbles. Tie a gold or red ribbon around the stalks to hold them together and to symbolize good fortune.


Young stalks can be trained to curl by using wire to hold them or you can try blocking light on three sides of the plant causing it to grow toward the light. Keep turning as it grows to form the curve. This takes time, but makes for a fun project. Pliable stalks can also be braided or twisted together.

Many times Lucky Bamboo plants are given as an auspicious gift. We hope these tips give you years of good fortune growing Lucky Bamboo! Do you have a lucky bamboo plant? Let us know in the comments!

Learn about the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Zodiac!

About The Author

Robin Sweetser

Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Read More from Robin Sweetser

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