How to Grow Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo Meaning and Care Tips

February 5, 2019
Lucky Bamboo

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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? Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana or braunii) is native to Africa, but is now grown around the world as a good-luck houseplant.

Lucky Bamboo 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

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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

  • 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.

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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 Pig! 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.

2019 Garden Guide

Reader Comments

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Lucky bamboo

Thanks for the great lucky bamboo article. I’ve had one for about 4 years. I thought its small, rectangular contaywas too small & tried to put the plant in a bigger pot. Not good! Back to the little one. I now have new “volunteer” shoots coming up, but I’m afraid to transplant. Any advice? Thanks again!

Once those new shoots get to

Once those new shoots get to be about 4-6 inches long you can cut them off from the stalk and place them in a separate glass of water. Snip or pull off any leaves that fall below the waterline or they will rot. Put the glass in a bright location out of direct sun. Change the water weekly to keep it fresh. It takes about a month for the cuttings to develop their own roots, then you can place them in their own vase with pebbles or pot them up in soil.

I loved your information on

I loved your information on the Lucky Bamboo plant... I just received one recently as a gift. How wonderful to have all the care instructions right on time!

Lucky Bamboo Plant

I have a Lucky Bamboo Plant that my daughter’s Dad got me a few years ago. I’ve been trying to get it to curl even after a few or longer but I still love it.

Lucky bamboo article

It is Year of the Pig not Dog.

Lucky Bamboo Article

Maybe the article was originally written when it was the Year of the Dog.

Thanks

The Editors's picture

Thanks for this catch! Yes, you are correct. We updated the article. 

lucky "bamboo" in soil or water

Your article says lucky "bamboo" can be grown in soil or water, and it goes on to tell how to grow it in water, but there's nothing about how to grow it in soil. rich soil? poor soil? fertilized soil? unfertilized soil? does it prefer drier or damper soil?

Growing Lucky Bamboo in Soil

The Editors's picture

Lucky bamboo isn’t picky when it comes to soil. Use a standard potting mix with a few scoops of perlite mixed in to increase drainage. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, letting the top inch or so dry out between waterings.

thank you :^D

thank you :^D

Bamboo is NOT toxic to cats

Bamboo is NOT toxic to cats

Luck Bamboo

The Editors's picture

Bamboo might not be dangerous to pets, but “lucky bamboo,” which is actually a type of Dracaena, is known to be toxic. 

Lucky Bamboo

I do have a lucky bamboo growing in water. Some of them sprouted branches from under the water and I cut one of those branches and put it in the soil. For some reason, the one in soil has now developed yellow leaves, not sure why.

Lucky Bamboo

Thanks, I love your articles about plants. I did not know about the "lucky" bamboo.
I think i should get one or two or 21 to be healthy, wealthy and wise!.

How can I encourage my bamboo mini-forest to grow SLOWER?

Erm...yeah, that. Even after giving many rooted snips to neighbors, I still have large glass vases filled with ever-growing stalks camping out by a kitchen window (great indirect light). I didn't know the water needed to be changed so often - have been doing that and disinfecting (then thoroughly rinsing) the vases/rocks/pebbles maybe twice a year (thanks for the tip!), and while I do try to use distilled water, I often end up using regular chlorinated tap water... So, how can I encourage this ever-growing forest to grow a bit less enthusiastically? They're vying with the "generic kitchen vine" to take over the place.

Lucky Bamboo

Where can I get one?

Lucky Bamboo

I've bought them at Wal Mart before. You can probably get them at another store that sells potted flowers, a florist or a greenhouse. You might have to ask if they have any there or if they can order one for you if they're out of stock.

Hi, Florence - I've seen

Hi, Florence - I've seen lucky bamboo sold at Lowe's hardware stores, weekend markets, farmer's markets, etc. Now that you know what to look for, you'll probably spot them everywhere.

Lucky Bamboo Article

I really appreciate you posting this article. I learned a lot of new things I didn't know about lucky bamboo. Thanks!

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