Lucky Bamboo Plant Turning Yellow?

Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow?

First of all, calm down! Trust me, I know it could be nerve-racking when you get to see your Lucky Bamboo plant turning yellow. But, not to worry, we can get to the root of this problem together. Yellow leaves and stems in your plant indicate dead cells of the plant. This means that the plant is slowly dying and needs you to show more love!

So, why would your Lucky Bamboo leaves and/or stems turn yellow? There are several reasons for a yellowing Lucky Bamboo: 

  • Exposure to direct sunlight 
  • Chemicals in water 
  • Over-watering/under-watering
  • Over-fertilizing 
  • Inadequate temperature 
  • Low humidity
  • Root rot

I remember how I struggled to take care of my first lucky bamboo plant. I just thought “I water it and it’ll grow.” There shouldn’t be much to it to keep it looking beautiful, right?! 

But I was wrong, my plant got yellow leaves… before I knew it, I got yellow stems. It was a nightmare for me! The good news is I learned how to take better care of my plant later. And now, I’ve got even more lucky bamboo plants at home. They’re all doing well.

I’ll tell you the mistakes I made… you might just be doing the same thing without knowing it. Let’s find out what you’re not doing right. We’ll take it from the most likely reason. Are you with me?

Direct sunlight exposure can turn Lucky Bamboo yellow

Lucky Bamboo plants burn easily when exposed to direct sunlight. Eventually, the leaves would turn yellow and later die. Even if it’s only exposed to intense sunlight just once in its lifetime, it can turn yellow! 

This is because the native habitat of Lucky Bamboo (also known as Dracaena sanderiana) is actually under the lush foliage of a tropical forest. It’s a natural ground cover there.

You see, nowadays it’s also used as a house plant in a protected environment. Don’t grow it under the sun outdoors. And even indoors you should keep it away from windows with direct sunlight. 

Remedy for the sunburn issue

  • Check for the position of your plant:
    • Is it standing right on the window sill – facing East, South, or West?
    • Does your plant get direct sunlight at one point throughout the day? If you can, check the lighting every hour or so for a whole day.
    • The angle of the sun changes with the seasons. Maybe this allowed for direct sunlight.
    • Did a recently cut tree create a new opening for sunlight?
  • If the leaves have turned yellow due to direct sunlight, you should change the lighting conditions immediately. Simply move your plant to a shaded area or a dark room for a few days and then check if it has brightened up – or is it “greened up”?
  • Basically, Lucky Bamboo thrives in indirect sunlight. It performs best in bright, indirect lighting
  • You might want to leave your lucky bamboo near a window, but make sure this spot only receives indirect bright light. Near the kitchen window is a great spot. 
  • A better place for your lucky bamboo would be the bathrooms. This could also do your houseplant good. Your plant would get suitable lighting conditions and increased humidity.
Yellow leaves of Lucky Bamboo and a unhealthy houseplant with the text: Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow

Lucky Bamboo can turn yellow due to chemicals in water

Generally, if your Lucky Bamboo stem turns yellow it’s a sign that there’s something wrong about the water you use for your plant. Listen carefully because this is where I got it all wrong!

Your Dracaena sanderiana reacts to chemicals like fluoride and chlorine. These chemicals are usually used to treat tap water but they are seriously harmful to your plant. They can even kill your Lucky Bamboo plant.

Remedy for the chemical issue

  • Although this can be hard, it is advisable to quit watering your bamboo plant with tap water.  
  • Ideally, you should use filtered, spring, or rainwater for your lucky bamboo plant. 
  • You can also use bottled water. Often this could have also been treated with chlorine, though. And I wouldn’t encourage the plastic waste that comes with bottled water. 
  • How can you get rid of chlorine in the water? You can set it in a glass, bottle, or bowl somewhere exposed and wait for about 24 hours (can be a bit shorter). You can try this out with tap water. This procedure would make the chlorine and fluoride in the water evaporate. So, it becomes suitable for use on your Lucky Bamboo plant.
  • Additionally, I’ve found out that some people recommend the use of leftover water from the aquarium. The water supposedly contains helpful fertilizers produced by fish wastes. I do not own an aquarium, so I haven’t tried this before. Have you tried this out? Tell us your observation in the comments! 
  • Some people keep recommending distilled water but I wouldn’t use it. It’s rid of all the natural minerals that are usually in water. Humans can’t drink it, so I won’t give it to my plant either. If you have experience with distilled water, let me know in the comments.

Excessive fertilizing can turn the stems and leaves of Lucky Bamboo yellow

Most times, the yellowing of Dracaena sanderiana stems are a result of over-fertilizing. If you’ve got yellow stems and leaves, your first guess should be “excessive use of fertilizer”.

Normally, your plant would survive for years without fertilizer. Really, this houseplant doesn’t require fertilizing. Some people want more leaves and greener colors, though.

So, if you actually fertilize your lucky bamboo, then you should only consider organic products or using the ones made particularly for Lucky Bamboo. This should be done just once in a while!

Remedy for excessive use of fertilizer

  • For Lucky Bamboo planted in water: If you overfertilized your plant, quickly change the water and clean all items. Put in freshwater. This immediate change would work if it hasn’t consumed all the fertilizer. Usually, this is the case if just the leaves are turning yellow. If you have fed your Lucky Bamboo too much fertilizer, both the leaves and stems would have turned yellow. And then, this procedure will not save your plant. 
  • For Lucky Bamboo planted in soil: You should re-pot your plant. This is the best procedure to save your plant from too much fertilizer. Ensure you re-pot in fresh soil without fertilizer.

Yellowing Lucky Bamboo due to watering issues

Usually, you can choose to keep your Dracaena sanderiana in soil or in water with or without rocks/pebbles. If you choose the latter one, you would think that you can’t do anything wrong with watering. That’s not entirely true. So, let’s take a look at how watering issues could affect your plant’s health in both placements.

Lucky Bamboo in soil

Dracaena sanderiana loves moist soil. Keeping it dry might be the reason your houseplant has turned yellow. Overwatering can also be a problem when it’s not draining well. 

  • You should always check your plant and water the soil when it gets dry
  • You can easily check if your plant needs water by putting your index finger in the soil until the first joint. If it feels dry, then you should water your plant. 
  • Be careful not to overwater your plant. Only water when your plant needs it. Also, ensure that the container drains very well. Good Lucky Bamboo doesn’t require that much water. Overwatering would cause your beautiful plant to turn yellow because of root rot (I’ll talk about this below).

Lucky bamboo in water

If you’ve kept your bamboo-like houseplant in water with rocks at the bottom, you should use a transparent container. This would help you to observe the water level. Too much water in the pot could cause your plant to turn yellow. Additionally, too dirty water could also be an issue. 

  • The roots of your plant should be drenched in water. You want the water to get up to 95% of the root. Keep your water level constant. But ensure it’s not too much or too little.
  • If the water turns dirty, dark, or black, change it immediately. 
  • I know you want your evergreen Lucky Bamboo plant back! Keep it fresh, change the water every two weeks. Keeping your water supply fresh would keep your plant healthy and give it oxygen, nitrogen, nutrients, and additional trace elements your plants would love.
  • Actually, leaving your plant in old water would create a favorable condition for the growth of bacteria, mold, and fungi. You know this isn’t good for you, so it isn’t good for your houseplant either. It’ll result in root rot.
  • You should empty the entire water in your pot, clean it, and add fresh water. Well, I made the mistake of always adding up more water each time. This got my bamboo stems yellow, too. 
  • You’ll also have to clean up your container and pebbles thoroughly every time. 

Rotting rots will turn your Dracaena sanderiana yellow

Your houseplant can turn yellow due to root rot. Like I mentioned earlier, you should absolutely avoid dirty old water. This creates unfavorable conditions that’ll eventually lead to rotting roots. However, root rot is more prevalent with Lucky Bamboo which is living in just water and rocks.

How do you know if the roots are rotting, you ask? Healthy Lucky Bamboo roots are orange. Literally everything else is unhealthy. Rotting roots are brown, sometimes already black. If the yellowing of the Lucky Bamboo stem starts at the bottom, it’s a great indicator for root rot.

Remedy for root rot

  • If you’ve got your plant in water with rocks at the bottom and you suspect they are infected with root rot, you need to clean up the rocks thoroughly. 
  • Replacing your rocks is a better solution. Cleaning rocks is a bit difficult because they usually have rough surfaces.
  • If you insist on cleaning the rocks, you could take them out for a week or two after cleaning your container. This would help to observe your plant closely and determine the reason for the yellowing. But truly, rocks can be a source of bacterial contamination. 
  • You should also observe the roots closely. Maybe there are some healthy roots left. You could try cutting back the unhealthy roots in order to eliminate the infection. Then take care of your plant properly and it may revive.

Note: Planting your lucky bamboo in soil instead of water can minimize the possibilities of root rot. Generally, this indoor plant will do better and stay longer in soil.

Low humidity can cause yellow leaves on Lucky Bamboo plants

If the leaves on your bamboo-like plant are turning yellow, low humidity could be a culprit. The natural environment of this plant is a very humid, tropical forest. So, low humidity can be a serious problem.

Remedy for low humidity

You simply need to increase your plant’s humidity by spraying the leaves lightly with water. When the humidity is high, water will collect on the leaves. By misting or spraying your plant, you imitate these natural conditions.

Lucky bamboo leaves can turn yellow due to inadequate temperature 

If the leaves on your Lucky Bamboo are turning yellow and you’ve ruled out all the other possible causes mentioned above, inadequate temperature could be the cause. 

Lucky Bamboo detests cold temperatures! It mainly does well in temperatures between 65 and 90°F (18-32°C).

How to fix the temperature issues

  • Avoid the use of cold water, only use water at normal room temperature. 
  • If your plant is kept in extremely cold water during winter, it will turn yellow.
  • You want to avoid cold temperatures as well. You don’t want to place your Lucky Bamboo under the AC or in a cold room.

How do I save a dying bamboo plant

If you’ve tried all the solutions stated above and you still find your plant getting worse, don’t be in a hurry to throw your lucky bamboo away. You can still try a few more options I’ll be stating below. 

The yellowing issue could either be on your stems or leaves. If you’ve got yellow stems, they are dying and might not root anymore. But lucky bamboo plant with yellow leaves and green stems can still root.

What to do?

  • Generally speaking, it’s advisable to wait till your yellow leaves are dried before cutting them off as this would prevent your plant from getting injured due to the cutting. However, you need to understand that desperate times require desperate measures. You’ll have to cut them off now in order to allow new leaves to grow. 
  • If you’ve got dying stems and the roots are still in good shape but the top of the stem is yellow. You still have a chance to save your plant.
  • First, you should critically examine the root. (This is what you should do when your lucky bamboo starts to turn yellow). Usually, your lucky bamboo roots should be red or orange in color. Dying roots appear black, brown, or gray in color.
  • If a part of the lower stem is still green and the other part is yellow. Simply cut off the yellow part and replant the healthy part in soil. Keep in mind, you should use sterile tools and the stem won’t grow taller. Only leaves will grow. More about trimming Lucky Bamboo here.

From yellow to green – Taking good care of your houseplant

Frankly, there are many things you can try out in order to get your yellowing Lucky Bamboo turn green again. You don’t have to get rid of your plant. Just keep trying out different things.

In fact, once you know what’s causing your plant to turn yellow, you’ve solved half the problem. And now, all you need to do is to take effective steps to revive your beautiful indoor plant. 

After that you should take good care of your Lucky Bamboo, we came up with these 12 Lucky Bamboo Care Tips. You should absolutely read them so that your plant will recover and thrive afterward.

If all went wrong and your houseplant didn’t make it, you can buy a new plant and try these care tips on a fresh and young plant. I promise you will not experience the same problem if you stick to them.

Have you been in this situation before and you swiftly got over it? Share your experience in the comments!

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Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo

We are James and Natalie – newly-weds & nature lovers!

We want to give you the best information possible on bamboo. Get inspired to grow bamboo or to switch to natural bamboo products!