A Houseplant That Grows in Water: Lucky Bamboo Care Tips





Introduction: A Houseplant That Grows in Water: Lucky Bamboo Care Tips

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Are you a beginning houseplant gardener? Here’s a great one to get started with because it’s easy as pie to keep looking good and sure to become a topic of conversation as you’re busy showing it off. I’d to introduce you to Lucky Bamboo, a plant which grows in water, and give you a few care tips to make sure yours stays as healthy as can be.

First off, Lucky Bamboo isn’t a bamboo at all. The canes, stalks or stems (whatever you prefer to call them) resemble the canes of a bamboo plant. It’s a dracaena, Dracaena sanderiana or braunii to be exact. Lucky Bamboo has been a part of Chinese culture for thousands of years but has really skyrocketed into popularity in the past 15 years and is now commonly found in many parts of the world.

Step 1: This Is a Plant Which Goes Both Ways: It Grows for the Long Haul in Both Water And/or Soil.

Lucky Bamboo is found in may different forms and arrangements. The number of stalks have different meanings as do the different forms like trellis, tree, spiral, etc. This isn’t something I know a lot of about, but I do know that you should avoid an arrangement using 4 stems. It’s bad luck in the Chinese culture and who needs that? 3 stems is a favorite number because it represents happiness, long life and wealth. Yes please!

Step 2:

This arrangement sits in my guest room & hopefully bestows my guests with good luck & fortune.

Here’s what I’ve learned about caring for Lucky Bamboo in water:

1- LIGHT: Lucky Bamboo does great in bright light. It’ll tolerate lower light levels just fine but it won’t grow much. Be sure to avoid putting it in direct, hot sun as it’ll burn baby burn. You may need to rotate your plant so it gets light evenly on all sides. Right now mine sits in a north window sill but I’ll need to move it as the weather heats up because the glass gets hot here in the Arizona desert when those summer days roll around.

Step 3:

2- WATER: There is a bit of mixed opinion regarding this. Some people never change water, some change it frequently & others every now & then. I fall into the every now & then category as I change the water about every 2 months. I make sure the water completely cover the roots in both of my arrangements so I add a bit of water as needed, every 2-7 days depending on the temps. If the water is smelling bad, then change it!

Here’s 1 thing I can tell you about your Lucky Bamboo & water: if your tap water is hard (containing a lot of minerals), then you’ll need to use distilled or purified water. All dracaenas are prone to tipping so if yours is starting to show a lot of brown tips or a build of white in the vase or dish, don’t use tap water. I use purified water now for mine (it costs about a dollar a gallon & lasts for at least 2 months) & I’ve already seen a difference.

Step 4:

3- CONTAINER SIZE: If your Lucky Bamboo arrangement is growing in a low dish or bowl, them make sure it has at least 1″ of space all the way around so the roots can spread out a bit. Mine which has been growing in the low white dish for 3 years now is going to need is going to need a larger vessel soon as the roots are stating to get crowded. My much taller spiral stems are in a glass vase proportionate to their height. I only keep about 3″ of water in the vase, just enough to make sure the roots are fully submerged.

4- FERTILIZER: I’ve never fertilized mine, but if you feel the need, there’s 1 called Super Green which is specially formulated for Lucky Bamboo growing in water.

5- PESTS: Mine has never gotten any. Like all dracaenas, Lucky Bamboo is subject to an infestation of spider mites, especially in the fall &/or winter when the heat comes on. Also, keep your eye open for thrips, scale & mealy bugs.

Step 5:

Time to wrap this up with a few “Do Not’s:

– Do not place your Lucky Bamboo in direct sun.

– Do not use tap water if your water is hard. Your Lucky Bamboo will do much better with distilled or purified water.

-Do not let your Lucky Bamboo dry out – keep the roots covered with water at all times.

-Do not keep the water levels too high – just covering the roots is fine.

-Do not place your Lucky Bamboo near a heating or cooling vent. Also, keep it away from any cold drafts.

-Do not let dust collect on the leaves because the pores need to breath. Periodically clean the leaves with a brush, damp rag &/or spray off with water.

Lucky Bamboo is not only 1 of the easiest houseplants to grow but it’s as fascinating and interesting as a plant gets. If you’re a beginning gardener, be sure to give this 1 a try. I’ve been gardening for over 55 years and I love this plant. And hey, don’t we all need a little luck brought into our homes?!!

Happy gardening,




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    9 Discussions

    My pleasure - I'm sure you'll have great success! Nell

    I've cut it back leaving a good stem about 6" tall. And I also have 4 (!) others trying to root. These are anywhere from 6 - 7" tall with the top about 1' including leaves. Yes, it was definitely very spindly. ?

    I have had my 'lucky bamboo' for 12+ years. It's gotten very tall and quite straggly. Can I cut it back? Thanks! Terry

    3 replies

    Hi - Yes you can. The growers do this all the time. Lucky Bamboo is actually a dracaena & they respond very well to pruning. You'll eventually see a sprout (or sprouts) appear near the cut. Nell

    Great! Now I wonder how far down I should cut it.........hmmmm. And I don't suppose the top part can be rooted - or can it? Thank you so much for letting me know so promptly about cutting it back. I do appreciate it. Terry

    Hi Terry - The top part should root too - just make sure 1 or 2 of the nodes is in water. Nell

    Lucky Bamboo is a semi-popular plant for aquariums because it helps to remove fish waste from the system. A mistake that I see a lot with newer people using Lucky Bamboo is that they fully submerge it. make sure the leaves are above the water line!

    Good guide. I have a lucky bamboo that I got 4 years ago and it is thriving. I've never replaced the water and just top up with tap water. My tap water is almost distilled due to the source (river water that is fed by snowmelt in the summer and rain the rest of the year). It lives in a quart mason jar with river rock for support. It is so happy in that setup that it sent out a shoot and I have a baby now!

    1 reply

    Thanks for sharing about the aquarium - I never knew that. My water is so hard & full of minerals here that I have to use purified water. I don't change the water in the tall vase (just add to cover the roots) but I do about every 2 months in the shallow container because that gets on the "funky" side. How wonderful you have such good water! Nell