How to Grow and Repot Lucky Bamboo, Plus an Easy DIY Project to Display It
Did you know that the houseplant often marketed as “lucky bamboo” isn’t actual bamboo? Its botanical name is Dracaena sanderiana, and it’s a member of the tropical water lily family. However, with its thick, banded stems and narrow leaves, this dracaena mimics the look of bamboo. The plant is considered lucky because of its associations with the Chinese practice of feng shui—the balancing of yin and yang. Having a few stems of this dracaena in your home is said to increase chi, aka vital energy or life source. Here's how to grow your own lucky bamboo and repot the cuttings to keep the good fortune coming.
What Is Lucky Bamboo?
Unlike true bamboos (which have roots in Asia), Dracaena sanderiana is native to Africa. In its native habitats, it's a perennial shrub that blooms in the fall and winter. However, you won’t see any flowers if you grow this plant indoors. As a houseplant, lucky bamboo can grow to be 3 feet tall in an indoor container—perfect for your entryway or kitchen space—and the leaves can grow up to an inch per month.
Lucky bamboo usually comes with multiple canes, and the number you’re growing has a meaning in Chinese culture. For example: Nine represents longevity and eternality. The number four is considered unlucky, so you might want to avoid that quantity of dracaena canes in your arrangement.
How to Care for Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboo makes an easy-care plant for a beginner, or someone who doesn’t have the time to baby a fussy plant. Although it doesn’t naturally live in water, lucky bamboo cuttings will easily grow roots in it. If you purchased cuttings already rooted in water, make sure to keep it 1-2 inches deep. Once a week, replace with fresh water. It's best to use filtered or distilled, because lucky bamboo is sensitive to the chlorine found in tap.
Keep your lucky bamboo in bright but indirect sunlight. If given less light, the plant grows more slowly and needs less fertilizer. Keep an eye on the color of the leaves; if they become dull or turn yellow, move your plant to a brighter spot. However, don’t leave it in direct sun because this could scorch the leaves.
Dracaena prefer warm temperatures, between 65-90°F. Avoid placing your lucky bamboo next to an air vent or cold window. And although it’s not necessary, applying a little fertilizer every two or three months encourages fresh, healthy growth.
Special Note: Lucky bamboo is toxic to cats. Place it out of your pet's reach and keep a watchful eye.
Repotting Lucky Bamboo
Move your rooted dracaena stems growing in water into a container of potting soil after the plants have grown several sets of leaves. When repotting lucky bamboo from water to soil, keep your newly repotted plant moist for the first few weeks to help it get acclimated. After that, it should develop new roots, and you can cut back on watering. Then you can wait until the top inch or so of potting soil feels dry before adding more water.
Propagating Lucky Bamboo
You can propagate your lucky bamboo by cutting a piece off a healthy main cane. Trim away any leaves on your cutting until you have a bare stalk. Put the cutting into a container with 1-3 inches of water and wait for it to develop roots. Once they appear, you can move the cutting into a decorative vase or other container to display it as you wish. Your dracaena cuttings can grow in water for several months, and up to a couple of years before needing to be repotted. Dracaenas won’t survive in water indefinitely.
Create an Easy Lucky Bamboo Display
Make a simple yet elegant tabletop display with your lucky bamboo stems by putting the cuttings in a decorative shallow bowl. Support the canes with a few handfuls of pretty stones, marbles, or glass beads. Here's what you'll need:
- 9 cuttings of dracaena, 6-8 inches tall
- 1 round, shallow bowl (this example uses a copper wok)
- 1-2 cups polished stones, glass beads, or marbles (depending on size of display)
1. Start with lucky bamboo cuttings.
Roots provide the plants with more immediate stability as they spread out among the stones. On the other hand, the arrangement lasts longer if you start with unrooted cuttings.
2. Add stones around cuttings.
Set your cuttings in the wok or bowl and hold them firmly in the center. Add stones, glass beads, or marbles around the bottoms of the canes until they stand upright on their own and all roots are covered.
3. Arrange canes as desired.
Carefully slide the cuttings (don't lift them) into position until the spacing resembles a natural grove, not a clump. Add more stones as needed to hold each cane securely. Then pour in water to a depth of 2 inches. Maintain that depth for the life of the arrangement and change out the water weekly.