The average person spends approximately 85% of their life indoors, often surrounded by technology and removed from the natural world. If your space isn’t set up right, this can lead to all kinds of issues, from increased anxiety to an out-of-whack circadian rhythm. Fortunately, you can easily add some Zen to your space with bamboo houseplants.
Bamboo, a symbol of strength, serenity, and resilience, is a great candidate for Zen. However, since growing true bamboo plants indoors can be challenging, bamboo-like houseplants make a suitable and effective alternative. These plants, including lucky bamboo, lotus bamboo, bamboo palm, and horsetail, evoke feelings of peace and relaxation, adding balance and a feeling of Zen to your space.
If you’re looking for ideas on the types of bamboo houseplants that will add Zen to your home, you’re in luck! In this article, we will explore the best bamboo look-alike plants that will leave your space feeling like the epitome of Zen.
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What is Zen?
The word “Zen” has a long history behind it. Zen can be traced back to the 5th century when Buddhist teachers brought the practice of meditation to China. From China, the practice spread further to Japan, Korea, and beyond.
In Japan, Zen gardens refer to meditative “gardens” that can be as simple as sand and stones. These set the scene for mindfulness practices, allowing users to meditate and escape the chaos of everyday life.
Today, Zen is practiced by millions across Asia and beyond. The term, now more than just a practice, has practically become synonymous with peace, tranquility, and serenity.
Bamboo plants and Zen
Since bamboo plants have a long history within Asian culture, it’s no surprise that bamboo has close ties to Zen practices. Simple and elegant, bamboo plants play an integral part in tea ceremonies and Zen gardens.
An important aspect of Zen is the beauty in empty space that is uncluttered, which is reflected in the simplicity of a bamboo plant.
How can houseplants add Zen to your home?
Many studies have been done to observe the positive effects of keeping houseplants on the nervous system. One study found that people surrounded by indoor plants and other elements of nature had more positive psychological stimulation and fostered greater well-being compared to being surrounded by environments that are not natural.
In another study, researchers found that caring for plants resulted in significantly lowered stress by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system. Indoor plants inherently require some care and interaction, so taking care of the plants in your home can become a calming or even meditative experience.
This is especially important if you also work from home since having plants around your workspace can help to decrease stress and encourage more positive, calming emotions.
Fun Fact: Research has also found that greenery can foster emotional attachment to a particular environment. Next time a friend or family member moves, consider giving them a plant as a housewarming present!
Can you grow bamboo plants indoors?
Growing true bamboo plants indoors is challenging since they can grow to tremendous heights and require adequate space and growing conditions. While it is technically possible, it is not considered a beginner-friendly option.
Luckily several varieties of houseplants are so similar to bamboo that they are accepted as indoor-friendly bamboo alternatives. Alternatively, if you don’t have a green thumb but still want some bamboo greenery in your home, you can consider adding fake bamboo plants to your space.
That said, if you’re bent on growing bamboo indoors, we recommend starting with a smaller dwarf or groundcover variety.
Bring Zen into your home with these 4 bamboo houseplants
Ready to practice Zen and introduce tranquility into your space? Here are our favorite 4 bamboo look-alike houseplants:
If you’re looking to bring peace, serenity, and Zen into your home, lucky bamboo is one of the best choices. Lucky bamboo is also very easy to care for and propagate, which makes it a great plant for beginners.
Lucky bamboo, or Dracaena sanderiana, looks so similar to bamboo that many people aren’t even aware that it is not related to true bamboo.
Lucky bamboo would work fantastically for a mini Zen garden in your home. One of the crucial elements of a Japanese Zen garden is rocks. Lucky bamboo is often grown in water with decorative rocks, adding those extra Zen elements to your bamboo houseplant.
Lucky bamboo is also a very prominent plant for feng shui and has a reputation for bringing balance and luck into the home. It is often sold in clusters, with different denominations having different symbolic means, from attracting wealth to love to wellness and health.
Another beautiful Dracaena, the lotus bamboo (Dracaena compacta), looks very much like bamboo with simple stems and a rosette of leaves at the top resembling a flower.
The lotus flower has a huge significance in Zen gardens. Emerging from muddy water, lotus symbolizes purity and wisdom. Lotus bamboo combines both the symbolism of the serene and simple bamboo with the purity of the lotus flower to amplify those feelings of Zen, peace, and serenity.
Lotus bamboo has very similar care needs to lucky bamboo, making it suitable for beginners. It is very compact so it would make a great addition to a desk in a home office. This one often doesn’t get as much press as the lucky bamboo, but it is equally beautiful and will surely bring Zen into your home!
Do you find the foliage on true bamboo relaxing? If so, bamboo palms (Chamaedorea seifrizii or Chamaedorea erumpens) are gorgeous and easy-to-care-for houseplants that will add a lot of greenery to your space and improve the ambiance of your home. These plants are also not true bamboo, but are nicknamed bamboo palms due to their likeness to bamboo.
Bamboo palms also help to purify the air, which makes them perfect for creating a Zen atmosphere in your home. They have delicate bamboo qualities but a more tropical appearance.
Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is a herbaceous perennial plant with swollen joints similar to bamboo but thinner and more delicate than traditional bamboo. Although often grown outdoors, you can successfully grow Horsetail indoors as houseplants.
This plant may not be as beginner-friendly as the others on the list, but it truly encompasses the aesthetic of grassy bamboo and will certainly bring Zen into your space.
Horsetail grows naturally in wetlands, and they prefer full sun, so make sure to place it in a sunny corner in your home and give it a little extra water to replicate those wetland conditions. Horsetail plants are also ideal for having a water garden, so you can experiment with growing them in water as you would with lucky bamboo.
FAQ about bamboo houseplants
Should lucky bamboo be kept in water or soil?
Lucky bamboo will do well in either water or soil, as it is quite hardy and doesn’t need many supplemental nutrients to survive. If you keep it in soil, you must provide your plant with adequate drainage, both in the soil and in the pot, to prevent root rot. If you grow it in water, you should change the water at least weekly.
Are there other ways to bring Zen into the home with bamboo?
If you are looking for additional ways to bring Zen into your home, you can also incorporate bamboo artwork or even use furniture with bamboo materials. The earthiness of these natural elements will still contribute to balance and feng shui with even more minimal care requirements.