Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Grow Lucky Bamboo
Lucky Bamboo's Many Meaning and Care Tips
For Chinese New Year (or any other time of year), an auspicious gift is a lucky bamboo plant. Learn the meaning behind lucky bamboo and get some helpful growing tips!
What Is Lucky Bamboo?
Did you know that 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.
Lucky Bamboo’s Many Meanings
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 3 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 Grow Lucky Bamboo
Grow your lucky bamboo plant in soil or in water.
- To grow in water, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 drink of weak 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 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.
Happy Year of the Rat! Do you have a lucky bamboo plant? Let us know in the comments!
About This Blog
Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.