Oct 15, 2010

Lucky Bamboo 101

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is actually a member of the Dracaena family, and is not really bamboo at all. The kind of bamboo people confuse it with is in fact a grass which is eaten by pandas in Asia. They do look very similar, though! This type of Dracaena is a popular houseplant. Legend has it this plant will bring good luck to your home and family.

Most Lucky Bamboo plants are sold potted in clear glass containers with decorative glass gems all around the roots. These are ideal since they are pretty to look at, and they help hold your plant up! If you see Lucky Bamboo sold another way (i.e. in soil, bare root) try to look for little glass gems at the dollar store or online to help hold up your plant. Stones or pebbles also work for this. Simply repot the plant into a glass container with water instead of soil. (Lucky Bamboo potted in water is easier to care for than one in soil -- due to the fact that soils carry bacteria and many fungal diseases).

If your Lucky Bamboo container or pot hasn’t been cleaned out in a while, it’s a good idea to do from time to time, both for cleanliness reasons and the health of your plant. As the plant gets larger, its roots will grow longer and begin to fill the pot. It’s a good idea to give these leggy roots a trim. Also, because this plant is (usually) potted in water alone, algae will build up over time on the inside of the container and must be cleaned properly.

Read on to find out how to change the water and clean out your bamboo pot!

You'll need:

Lucky Bamboo
A large bowl
A cup with high sides
Your kitchen sink (or a place with running water)
Soap and water
Clean water for your plant

1. Lightly grasp your bamboo in one hand (see above).

2. Hold plant pot over the bowl.

3. Gently pull bamboo out of the container. Let all glass gems/stones fall into the bowl. Next, clear off all gems from plant roots.

4. Set bamboo into the cup (right); high sides prevent your plant from toppling over. Set aside.

5. Rinse out the container with soap and warm water. Next, rinse gems or stones free of any debris.

This step helps remove algae buildup and refreshes your gems (which surround the plant and are in direct contact with it); It is important the gems and container remain clean so bacteria doesn’t harm your plant! Changing the water periodically is also useful in preventing plant diseases.

6. If needed (using scissors) trim excessively long roots to a uniform length. You can remove up to (but no more than) 1/3 of the plants’ roots. Doing this keeps the plant from sucking down a whole ton of water, and also makes it aesthetically pleasing when displayed in glass containers.

7. Replace plant into the clean container. Hold the stalks straight and make sure they are centered.

8. Then, replace gems around the roots and stalks to stabilize the plant

9. Finally, water your bamboo with clean water (at room temp). Be sure to change the water every 3 weeks or so and always keep the roots covered in water!

General Care
Give Lucky Bamboo good light, but not direct sun; this will kill your plant! A western or eastern facing window works very well. Keep an eye out for any spotting or discoloration of the stalks. If you notice this, it means one of two things: either too much water, or the plant is getting too much sun. Fill the container with less water and move the plant to a less sunny location.

Watering and Your Container Size
Depending on the container size, the plant may need more or less water. Clear glass containers work well to help you keep track of the water level. For example, if your plant is small (less than 5” tall) the container won’t need to be filled to the top. If your plant is larger (7-10” tall or taller) you can safely fill the container to the top. (Be careful if the stalks are mostly inside the pot -- filling it with water all the way can cause rotting. If, on the other hand, the stalks are completely above the pot and not really inside [that is, underwater], your bamboo will be safe from rotting)

So generally speaking,
Shallow container – fill to top with water
Deep container – cover roots and fill about ¾ way up

Keep in mind, there are exceptions to this rule; I'm speaking generally here! Be careful when watering, but always keep roots covered. The leaves tend to get a bit dusty, so rinse them off occasionally. Yellowing of leaves does happen sometimes. I find this to be a normal occurrence with Lucky Bamboo. Simply trim them off with scissors to keep it looking nice!

One of the major mistakes people make with Lucky Bamboo is letting the roots dry out. Although the plant can stay alive for weeks (sometimes months) in a dry state, the plant needs regular watering to thrive. On the other hand, I have seen bamboo get too much water – this causes the stalks to turn yellow and rot. Once this happens, the only option is to buy another plant!

I hope this little guide will provide you with some tips on care and maintenance for your plant. If anyone has questions or comments, please let me know!


  1. Hi, Thanks for the tips
    My lucky bamboo top tip has began to turn black and is soft, does that mean it is dead and that I need to cut that out?

  2. That portion of your bamboo stalk has died... cutting it out may help, however don't be surprised if the entire stalk eventually dies. Even so, it's worth a try! Cut out the dead portion and let me know what happens!

  3. I use to keep my lucky bamboo in a clear container with rocks, but kept having the mold problem. So I have recently moved them into a little miniature waterfall..The roots are not fully under a pool of water... but water is constantly flowing through the roots. Do you think this will kill my plant?

  4. Probably not, as long as the plant stalk isn't fully submerged underwater. If you find the roots are in contact with the flowing water at all times, that's exactly what you want! If, however, the stalks are being splashed with water constantly, I would recommend you move the plant to a different location. Over time, the stalks will become yellow, and that's no good!

  5. what is the procedure if there is black algae on the roots? so far, swished them in filtered water. Can you clean them with water that has a touch of white vinegar in it?
    THX! A
    Don't know what else to put in the profile.....

    1. You should be able to use a touch of white vinegar mixed with water. This may help to remove the algae, but make sure to put the plant back into fresh water after a couple of hours!

    2. Can i Keep Bamboo in Unclear Vessels or Bowls like in Porcelain pots?

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  22. My bamboo stems are approx 2 feet and spiral at top. The leaves are maybe 3 feet. What do I do with them? Can they be cut back down?

  23. I have had my Lucky Bamboo plant for about about 2 1/2 years and the stalks are literally climbing up my wall and I have had to use tape to keep them standing up straight. Is there anyway I can replant the stalks in order to start other plants?

    Thank you for any information you can provide.

    1. Marie, may I ask you, What is your secret to keep healthy bamboo plant? How do you prevent the leaves from turning yellow? Once they are yellow, will they die eventually? Half of one stalk is yellow. I cut it off. The rest is turning yellow too :-(

  24. Hi I just recently got a lucky bamboo plant and 2 of the 3 tips are dried out. What should I do?

  25. Hello

    Have had my LB for about a yr now. Recently I noticed just how much it has grown due to the fact every leaf ,except the new sprouts, are drooping over at its midpoint..
    LB is green to light green with a few slightly dried tips.
    It looks depressed. any advise?

    Thank you

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  32. My son got a lucky bamboo plant for me and I love it! My only concern, it isn't in a glass container, and it is a 3 inch pot. The plant itself looks beautiful, but I have tiny pebble looking things holding it up. Do I need a glass container? Are the stones okay, or should I use the glass beads. Also since I just got it yesterday, shouldi clean it all out?

    1. Any container should be fine. I keep mine in my aquarium covered over half way up the stalk with water, and they've been thriving for about a year now. Stones, pebbles, whatever supports the stalk. Just make sure not to crush the roots under anything too heavy. Any stones that fit in the pot should be fine.

  33. Hi.. few of my lucky bamboo stalks have turned black.. i think these stalks have died completely :-( what should I do now? Should i replace the stalks or buy a new plant itself? I have bought a new lucky bamboo plant and planning to removes stalks from there and put it into my old plant? Is this recommended? Please answer urgently as I do not want to do something which can have a bad impact in future

  34. how do you keep a plant from getting top heavy? mine keeps on tipping over -- I have tie wraps in the middle but that's not helping

  35. hi i bought bamboos for my mom and it trurns yellow dull and some white scale are on the leaves i washed it well and change the water and change the place as well but white scale are still on it and my stalks are in curl shape naturally some hard and prominent spot on it i dont know what is that its a new branch coming from it or just because of that white scale please help me i m so worried

  36. great tips . that gonna help me for my garden .. thank you

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  38. how much time to live lucky bamboo ?

  39. Thanks for the info

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  42. Great lucky bamboo tutorial, but I would like to mention that lucky bamboo does better in soil than in water. It will eventually die in water, but in soil it can live for several years and grow dozens of feet tall. If you're interested in learning more about planting in soil check out my site Bamboo House Plant

  43. My mom and I both really found this interesting so thank you very much.

  44. I have a lucky bamboo plant and I talk to it daily. I give it a good morning kiss and another in the evening as well as hugs during the day. It has grown over four inches since I started kissing it. Do you find that physical touch is as important as water?

  45. Thanks for the post. After reading this I think I have my bamboo too deep in the vessel and have over watered. The leaves are turning yellow.

  46. watch out this http://www.athelasplants.co.uk, i saw lots of home plats there like Bamboos, Acres, Shurbs ...i have purchased online lots of home plants from there website

  47. Hi,
    Can i grow bamboo in a plastic container?

    1. Yes of course! Just make sure it has adequate drainage :)

  48. I have had a lucky bamboo plant for 3.5 years. It is only about 12 inches tall. It seems to have stopped growing about year ago. Would placing it in a larger container start it growing/getting larger again?

    1. These plants like to be root bound, but if you want to try it, move it to a pot just one size larger.

  49. I recently cleaned my lucky bamboo container and rocks with bleach water then used soapy water to clean everything before I put the plant back in. I only use water each time I water that has been setting for a couple of days. One week after cleaning the container, the bottom inside leaves are all turning yellow. I now know I shouldn't have used bleach but what can I do to save my plant?

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  51. I bought a lucky bamboo at Walmart with 2 in shape of heart and 6 other stalks beside the others can I transplant in 3's?

  52. I just recently purchased a lucky bamboo plant and it came in a glass non see through cup with soil and just a few pebbles and I'm wanting to transfer it to just pebbles and water how would I go about this without killing it thanks in advance

  53. I have a bamboo plant in soil. It has out grown it's pot..it was purchased at Lowe's with soil in it...I give it bottled water only and let it dry out completely. It is growing in leaps and bounds. When I replant of into pebbles can I take the stalkd that I trim off and teplant those to start another ba
    Bamboo plant

  54. I've had my Lucky Bamboo for a couple months now and it's leaves have grown a couple inches. It doesn't seem to have any issues. I bought it from Home Depot and it's in a little 2 inch (ish) ceramic pot with pebbles. I water it quite a bit. When should I consider transplanting it? I just don't want to disturb it if it seems to be happy ;) Thanks!

  55. I was really glad to find this post. I have had my lucky bamboo baby for 4-5 yrs and honesty never new any of this! I just thought I was suppose to water it and keep it free of dust but lately it has been looking very limp. My son told me to repot it so I was doing research and came across your article and will definitely try this. I just hope I can get it free from the pot after all these years without harming it :(

  56. Hello!

    First of all, I grow only in soil, if that makes any difference to what I'm about to ask.*
    My lucky bamboo has had very small, almost unnoticable wrinkles/shrivles in the stalk for most of it's life (read asterisk below if interested as to why) and they have gotten much better. Now, they are nearly unnoticeable but haven't changed much at all in the past few months or so, and I'm certain it's not a watering problem. The plant is healthy for the most part, it had been revived from the brink of death, and has been growing green and lush as of late; no yellow whatsoever on the plant. My questions are:

    a. What causes are there to this, not including underwatering

    b. Is this something the plant is just very slow at healing from?

    c. What do you suggest to help with this situation, and could you share some advice or experiences with this?

    Any help is greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance to any answers from anyone!

    *I am personally completely against the method of growing any plant, especially lucky bamboo in water exclusively. I don't have any problem with people who do choose to do that, but I personally do not like the idea of it at all, and I strictly grow in soil (50% FoxFarm HappyFrog | 50% coco) as no plant including Draceanas can live indefinitely and exclusively in water, they eventually die much before their lifespan. Also it encourages the possibility of a lifelong friend and guide, as opposed to a temporary house-plant.

    - I was guided here by Love to post the following: -

    (WARNING: Reading beyond this point is not recommended for those illiterate to spirituality as well as close-minded individuals or those who wish not to hear someone's personal beliefs and/or experiences, and is not required to answer nor does it pertain to my question :P )

    My history with my beloved Draceanian friend:

    My beloved lucky bamboo has been through some of the most difficult times in my life, and the past 3-4 years, including some personal problems in which I had neglected giving it the care and love it needs and for the span of about 1.5 years provided it with just barely enough care to live. However recently I have found a new path, and realized this plant had survived only because it was conscious of my will to change and was full of love. Immediately, I made a promise to it and myself to give it all the love and care it gave to me; as it had survived when the other 5 had not, and had another day passed I would have lost out on a true miracle.

    So do not take these little common plants as ordinary; for they have a capacity for life, and more-so love greater than most people could ever imagine, and even have the ability to outlive the lifespan of humans if the surrounding environment, intention, set and setting are properly aligned.

    With unconditional love,
    My best regards to those who connect with my story, and especially those who did not, but still chose to read on -

    -A single drop in the ocean of All; by the name of Anthony.

  57. we have a bamboo at work and it has lots of little ones and is getting too big for the container. can we just split them up I worry that the roots are very tangled together.

    1. Yes, you can separate the individual plants, just use scissors to separate the root balls, then repot as you normally would.

  58. My plant has yellowed tips of the leaves. I changed the water, watered it less, and moved it to a less direct light placement. Nothing has helped yet- ideas?

    1. Once my lucky bamboo plant actually got a case of spider mites. check your plant's leaves for little webs. Spider mites can cause leaf yellowing. Washing the plant's leaves with a mild soapy water should do the trick. If no change, try rinsing again. Good luck!

  59. I think my plant is completely rotted as all the stems r soft except 2 r alive. Wud these 2 stay alive? Also. I accidentlt pulled the leaves off oneof the branches. Will the leaves continue to grow? Looks like theresa lil bit of roots?

  60. My bamboo have gelly type alge it's not seen harmful it's like white gelly so I have to rainse it or not

  61. My bamboo have gelly type alge it's not seen harmful it's like white gelly so I have to rainse it or not