Lucky Bamboo Plant Care at Home (Dracaena sanderiana)

If you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for plant that also brings good luck, add some lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) to your life. Even though this plant is perfect for beginner plant caretakers, it also allows advanced growers to weave and shape its stalks. While caring for this plant is simple, in my experience, the variety of stalk shapes and styles keep lucky bamboo interesting. In this guide, I’m going to share how I care for my Lucky Bamboo at home, including the best soil types, watering frequencies, fertilizing needs, light exposures, and ideal environmental conditions for optimal growth.

Ultimate Guide to Lucky Bamboo Plant Care at Home

What to Do Before Planting

In my experience, you can grow lucky bamboo successfully in potting soil or water. Before you bring a plant home, it’s a good idea to determine which method you’ll use.

If you’ll be using water only, you’ll want to look for a jar or vase without any holes. However, if you want to plant in the soil, I recommend a container with a good amount of drainage holes.

Growth Expectations

While lucky bamboo can grow tall in its native environment, it typically stays smaller indoors. I find the stalks typically grow between six and 24 inches yearly.

How to Plant a Lucky Bamboo

As mentioned above, you can plant lucky bamboo in soil or in water. While there are proponents of each method, I find that these plants typically live longer when they are grown in soil.

From experience, when you buy your lucky bamboo plant, it will likely be sitting in water. Remove the plant from its original container and place it into your new container.

If you are placing it in a container with water, you’ll just need to add enough water so one inch of water is covering the base of the stalks. If you wish, you can add rocks to the bottom of the container for aesthetics and to provide the plant a little extra foundation.

If you are planting your lucky bamboo in soil, place the stalks in a pot with drainage holes. Next, fill the planter with potting soil so one to three inches of the stalks are covered.

Best Soil Types

If you’re growing your lucky bamboo in soil, it’s essential to choose the proper soil mix. Lucky bamboo requires a well-draining soil mix that can retain just the right amount of moisture. Look for a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

I find that a peat-based potting mix designed for houseplants is a good choice. I like to make my own potting mix for these plants by combining equal parts peat moss and perlite. This mix provides excellent drainage and aeration, whilst also creating a stable base for plant growth.

Light Preferences

Lucky bamboo can withstand a variety of light conditions. The main thing to remember is to keep it out of direct sunlight.

I find that the ideal lighting for lucky bamboo is bright, indirect light. This can be found in the middle of a bright room or near a south-facing window covered with sheer curtains.

I position my lucky bamboo near an east-facing window, which receives lots of soft morning sunlight, and dappled light throughout the rest of the day.

Lucky bamboo plants can handle darker conditions, but they won’t thrive as they would in bright light.

Temperature and Humidity

What’s great about Lucky bamboo plants, in my opinion, is that they can handle a wide range of temperatures, as long as it doesn’t get too cold. To keep my plants happy, I keep the temperature between 65-90ºF. 

I also avoid locating them near any drafts or places where there are likely to be dramatic swings in temperature (such as backdoors, air conditioning units, or French windows).

I find that Lucky bamboo plants do fine in average humidity. They can also handle dry and humid conditions.

Watering

Like other Dracaena plants, lucky bamboo is sensitive to chlorine, fluorine, and other chemicals in tap water. As such, I try to use distilled water or rainwater when it comes to water them. Another option is simply to let a jug of tap water stand out overnight, which allows the fluoride content to settle.

If you are growing your lucky bamboo in water, you should change the water once a week. This will help prevent the development of disease.

I have my plants growing in soil and aim to keep the soil moist but not saturated at all times. My technique for knowing when to water is to assess whether the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch and then water again.

The amount of time between waterings will depend on the temperature, humidity, and time of year. Typically, I find that I need to water my plant roughly every 5 to 7 days in spring and summer and every 7 to 14 days in winter.

You will need to water more frequently when the air is hot and dry. Additionally, you will need to water more often in the summer than in the winter.

Fertilizing

In my experience, Lucky bamboo plants require very little fertilizer. I only fertilize my plants once a month, spring through fall.

I choose a liquid houseplant fertilizer and dilute it to one-fifth of the recommended strength.

Lucky bamboo plants are extremely sensitive to excess fertilizer, so it’s important that you properly dilute your fertilizer. Yellow leaves are more often a sign of too much fertilizer rather than not enough.

Pruning

As your lucky bamboo grows, you can prune it to keep its shape. Pruning involves removing the leafy shoots rather than trimming the stalks.

I use a sharp and clean pair of pruning sheats to remove the shoots. I cut the shoots as close to the stalk as possible.

I find that late fall or early winter is the best time to trim lucky bamboo, but it is okay to prune during other times of the year.

Propagating

If you wish to propagate a new lucky bamboo plant at home, you should use shoot cuttings.

Each cutting should have at least one leaf node. Place the end of the cutting in distilled water so only the base of the cutting is covered.

Change the water every week and watch for roots. After roots have formed, you can remove your cutting and place it in soil or water.

As the plant grows, you can strip away leaves to obtain a bamboo-looking stalk.

Repotting 

In my experience, Lucky bamboo plants rarely required repotting. However, when they become rootbound, you should repot them.

When you repot, obtain a pot or vase that is one inch in diameter wider than the current container.

How to Twist Lucky Bamboo Stalks

A single twisted stem of a lucky bamboo plant

With all the twisted lucky bamboo available today, you may think achieving this look is an easy process. However, I find that it requires a degree of practice and patience!

Twisted stalks are grown using the plant’s natural desire to grow towards the light. By rotating either the plant or the light source, your plant will develop spiral stalks.

I find the easiest way to achieve twisted stalks at home is by using a three-sided box. This ensures the plant only receives light from a single point. Once your plant is in its box, you’ll need to carefully monitor and rotate it over time.

Braiding lucky bamboo stalks relies on a similar process. However, it is more difficult than twisting stalks.

If you want to braid three stalks, you will need to start with three different stalks. Turn the stalk so one side faces the light, and rotate the other side faces the light. This will cause the stalk to grow back and forth.

After you have three woven stalks, it’s time to braid the stalks together.

Other designs like hearts also rely on turning a stalk as it grows toward the light.

Common Problems and How to Treat Them

Tall lucky bamboo stems in a vase of water on a small white side table in a living room indoors

I find that Lucky bamboo plants are some of the hardiest houseplants out there. Fortunately, they don’t experience many issues. However, keep an eye out for the following.

Yellow Leaves

If you notice the leaves turning yellow on your Lucky Bamboo plant there could be several causes.

One of the most common causes is water with too much chlorine or chloride. If you notice yellowing leaves, try watering your plant with rainwater or distilled water.

Another cause of yellow leaves is overfertilizing. When you apply fertilizer, it’s important that you first dilute the fertilizer. Use water to mix the fertilizer to one-fifth of the recommended strength.

About Lucky Bamboo Plants

While lucky bamboo plants are native to Central Africa, it has been grown and cherished in China for a long time. Some Chinese people have been using this plant indoors for over 4,000 years.

Real bamboo is challenging to grow indoors, but lucky bamboo makes a good imposter.

While lucky bamboo has been popular in China and Taiwan for a long time, it only gained popularity in the United States in the past 20 years.

The species name sanderiana refers to the German-born gardener Henry Frederick Conrad Sander.

Lucky Bamboo Plants Meaning & Symbolism

A lucky bamboo plant in a ceramic marble plant pot on a shelving unit indoors

Lucky bamboo is one of the most popular Feng Shui plants. Practitioners believe these plants bestow good luck and prosperity, although the exact symbolism varies depending on the number of stalks:

  • One stalk: commitment and simplicity
  • Two stalks: love or double happiness
  • Three stalks: happiness, wealth, and a long life for everyone
  • Four stalks: bad luck, death
  • Five stalks: peace and balance
  • Six stalks: blessings
  • Seven stalks: good health and luck

The placement of a lucky bamboo plant also impacts its meaning. When someone places a plant on the Eastern edge of a house, they hope to attract good health. When they place in a Southeast corner, they hope to attract wealth.

Lucky Bamboo Plant Care FAQs:

Does Lucky Bamboo Really Bring Luck?

According to Feng Shui, lucky bamboo does bring good luck. However, the answer might depend on who you ask. If you’re hoping to give someone a plant to wish them well, lucky bamboo is a great choice.

Does Lucky Bamboo Grow Better in Soil or Water?

Lucky bamboo can grow well in both soil and water. Plenty of people use both methods with success. However, some people believe that growing in soil will produce healthier and longer-living plants.

Can Lucky Bamboo Survive Without Sunlight?

No, lucky bamboo needs light to survive. However, you can use artificial light if you don’t have natural sunlight. Lucky bamboo plants don’t need direct sunlight, but they do require indirect light.

How Long Do Lucky Bamboo Plants Live?

If you keep your lucky bamboo plant in water, it should live for a few years. If you plant it in soil, it can live for over five years.

Where Should I Place Lucky Bamboo in My House?

Place your lucky bamboo plant in a location where it receives bright yet indirect sunlight. The interior of a bright room or a place a few feet away from a south-facing window are great locations. The location of your lucky bamboo plant can also influence Feng Shui. You should avoid placing this plant in a bedroom since the strong energy can prevent relaxation. If you place lucky bamboo in a bathroom, it will help balance out any negative energy.

Are Lucky Bamboo Plants Pet Friendly?

Lucky bamboo is toxic to both dogs and cats, so keep it out of your pet’s reach. While it’s not safe for pets, it’s non-toxic to humans.

Wrapping Up

Lucky bamboo plants are some of the easiest houseplants in my collection to care for. My number one tip is to ensure the potting medium never dries out and make sure you’re using well-draining soil. These symbolic beauties are a great addition and will thrive for years in your home or office.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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