Many propagated lucky bamboo stems in containers

12 Lucky Bamboo Plant Care Tips

Plants are a nice accessory piece to include in your home. I love going to the store and picking out different plants to display in my home. Sometimes though, I forget that they require a lot of care, attention, and responsibility. 

Lucky bamboo plants are on that list of plants that can look great in your house but need certain care and attention or it can wilt, droop and no longer look fresh and lively. To help you with this, I’ve put together 14 lucky bamboo plant care tips to keep your new plant happy and healthy. 

1. Keep the water level at a couple of inches 

When caring for a plant, you, of course, want to make sure they get the perfect amount of water to stay healthy. With a lucky bamboo plant, in particular, you should ensure they aren’t receiving too much or too little water or else they may wilt or die. When the first plant is bought and starting to grow, it most likely won’t contain any roots. 

At this point, you’ll want to make sure to fill the pot with up to 1-3 inches of water. Once the roots eventually grow in, you’ll pour more water in the pot to cover the roots entirely. Make sure to maintain constant and consistent water levels so the lucky bamboo plant is getting the perfect amount of water. 

As the plant grows in age, it will begin to grow in size as well. If you pour water more and more up the stalk, the roots will start to grow more up the stalk as well. Once the plant gains more roots, the foliage at the top of the plant will become more thick and lush. 

2. Use rocks or pebbles with water to stabilize the plant

Lucky bamboo plants don’t require many nutrients or fertilizers like other plants. So if you would like to use only water to grow your lucky bamboo plant, you can do that. All you’ll need is the following: 

  • A smaller vase
  • A larger vase or pot as your plant grows
  • Pebbles or rocks to help support your plant

The lucky bamboo plant does still require a little bit of fertilizer. Even though it can go a while without it, it will still eventually need some fertilizer added to keep it happy and growing. Two different types of fertilizer can be used: 

  1. Diluted water-soluble fertilizer that is commonly used on other house plants 
  2. Leftover aquarium water that has been previously used 

The best time to fertilize your plant is when you’re changing its vase every two weeks. 

3. Use soil to grow your bamboo plant 

A lucky bamboo plant doesn’t need soil to grow, but you can still do it this way instead of just water. Follow the steps below to grow lucky bamboo in soil: 

  • Grab a pot with proportions equal with your plant
  • Fill it with potting soil (you may use an organic potting soil mix with lots of nutrients like this one)
  • Put your plant in the pot
  • Add enough water in the potting soil to moisten it well, but don’t make it dripping wet. 

If the soil you are using doesn’t have fertilizer, you can add organic indoor liquid fertilizer or lucky bamboo-specific fertilizer. Add one drop of the liquid fertilizer.

Don’t forget to mist the soil every few days as well to ensure it’s still receiving the necessary amount of moisture recommended. 

4. Place the plant in a location with sunlight 

Since this is a plant, it, of course, needs sunlight to survive, similar to many other common plants. This plant’s sunlight is a little different than what most plants require. When an outside bamboo plant is grown in nature, it has natural light shining down on it. 

Normally, the other plants and trees surrounding this bamboo plant will allow the light to hit it while shading it so the sunlight isn’t directly hitting the plant. 

A similar instance should occur with the inside lucky bamboo plant as well. It needs sunlight, but direct sun exposure is too much for it to handle. When I’m in the sun for too long, my skin will easily start to burn. The same thing happens to the leaves of lucky bamboo. 

This is why the lucky bamboo plant needs to receive a fairly adequate amount of light to stay properly cared for. So wherever you place your plant, make sure it’s sitting in a spot where it will get light, but not directly with the sun beating down on it. 

If the plant doesn’t receive the necessary amount of light, this can result in the poor color of the plant. You can also see a weakened growth and unnatural stretching of the plant and its leaves. Additionally, this can stunt the plant’s growth and keep the leaves from growing. 

Three stalks lucky bamboo plant planted in pebbles
Lucky bamboo planted with pebbles

5. Constantly change the water and Keep the vase clean

When you decide to adopt any type of living creature, like a guinea pig, for example, you have to clean their cage. Lucky bamboo plants are the same way. Their pot or vase is like a cage, meaning it needs to be washed and cleaned regularly for the plant to maintain proper living conditions. This means that you must change the water every two weeks

Filling the vase with water seems as simple as filling it up using the faucet from the sink. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Tap water can not be used to fill the vase of a lucky bamboo plant as it contains salts and chemicals, such as fluoride, that can harm the plant. Below are the types of water you can use to feed your plant.

  • Distilled water 
  • Bottled water 
  • Filtered water 
  • Rainwater 

Sometimes, tap water is the only liquid you may happen to have on hand. If this is the case, you can use tap water ONLY if it sits out all night in an open container. This is because the chemicals evaporate inside of it. Sometimes, the water will still contain fluoride even if it sat out all night. 

This is why you should try not to use tap water too much to feed your plant. Using tap water once or twice when absolutely needed shouldn’t hurt it. If it’s used too much, however, you could see damaging effects on your plant. It will normally make the tips of your plant’s leaves turn brown. To avoid this, refrain from using tap water unless absolutely necessary.

6. Pick a pot with easy drainage 

When planting a lucky bamboo plant in soil, you will need to find the perfect pot made to help it grow naturally and easily. Usually, the main type of pot that can help you do this is one that contains a hole in the bottom. This pot should be able to easily drain the moisture from when you water your plant. Whatever type of pot you pick, try to make sure it’s approximately 2-3 inches bigger than the size of your lucky bamboo plant. 

7. Keep up with proper plant care to maintain a healthy green color 

Since it’s of course, a natural plant, it’s known to be a gorgeous forest green color. It doesn’t always stay that way if it’s unhealthy and not cared for. Normally, if your plant turns a different color, it could mean there is something wrong with it. Below are different colors the plant could turn if there’s something wrong. I will also tell you what precautions you should take to make it turn green and keeping it from turning back to that color again. 

What to do when leaves turn yellow 

This normally means the plant is being exposed to too much light or it’s being given too much fertilizer, causing it to look and feel unhealthy. Try moving your plant away from the light so there isn’t too much basking on to the plant. Refrain from the sun directly hitting the plant. 

As mentioned earlier, lucky bamboo plants don’t require a large amount of fertilizer. They can sometimes even go awhile without receiving any at all. That means they can easily develop negative reactions when they get too much fertilizer added.

If the plant turns yellow because of this, change whatever water is currently in the pot with distilled water. Then refrain from fertilizing the plant for several weeks or months. 

What to do when the stalks turn yellow 

The stalks of the bamboo plant should be a greenish color. So when they start turning yellow, this could be a negative sign. To take care of this, you should use a similar method you’d use when the leaves turn yellow. 

Immediately change the water in its pot and replace it with water that is distilled. Don’t add any type of fertilizer to the water. Unfortunately, when the stalk begins to turn yellow, it can mean that that part of the plant is dying and it’s usually too late to save it or do too much about it. If this is the case, it’s usually best to cut off the green top then start with a brand new plant. 

If only one of your stalks is yellow and you have multiple stalks resting in the pot, the others can still be saved. 

Be sure to immediately take the yellow stalks out and change the water to distilled water. The remaining stalks should continue to remain in their green state if you make sure to only add the appropriate amount of sunlight and fertilizer to the plant from now on. 

What to do when the stalks are dry or wrinkly 

As discussed earlier, your lucky bamboo plant needs the appropriate amount of water to keep it green and healthy. Sometimes, they don’t get enough water which results in the plant’s stalks looking wrinkly and dry. If your plant’s stalks look like this, but you’re following the proper watering instructions, it may not be traveling through the roots very well. 

Take out the soil or pebbles that surround your roots to get a close look at them. If the plant has a large number of roots, it’s able to handle more water. So if your plant looks like it has a lot of roots, try to increase the amount of water you’re feeding it.

Keep the soil or rocks removed for a bit when you water your lucky bamboo plant so they are directly receiving the water. Or you can keep soil and pebbles in the pot, just make sure you’ve cleared a path for the water to get through to the roots of the plant. 

It’s important to remember that your plant needs to always have at least an inch of water flowing inside at all times. Just like people, plants can feel stress and strain. They mainly feel this due to lack of water.

If they have gone an extra-long amount of time without water, more stress is put on them and their stalks may not recover. If it hasn’t been too long and you’ve added water quickly after they become wrinkly or dry, you may be able to save them. Additionally, the wrinkles may end up disappearing. 

The stress may also carry on into the leaves. If this is the case, they will begin to turn yellow or brown. All that is needed to be done is to peel the discolored leaves off of the plant in a calm and gentle manner. 

What to do when the tips of the leaves are brown 

When this reaction occurs, it normally means your plant isn’t receiving the necessary water to survive properly. This usually happens when you serve it too much tap water as it’s usually a result of too much fluoride. This is known as “fluoride burn.” 

This color could also mean the air around the plant is rather dry. So in addition to changing the water with rainwater or distilled water, mist the leaves for a little bit every day to provide more healthy moisture to the plant leaves.  

What to do when the stalks are mushy or brown 

If you are still adding too much fertilizer or water to your plant, they can continue to discolor and remain unhealthy. This makes their roots start to rot by turning a brown color. They will also begin to mush and no longer look steady or thick. 

If this happens, it’s unfortunately too late for your plant to continue its life. You’ll need to go ahead and cut the tops of the plant off and begin a new plant by starting over at its roots. 

What to do when a sticky white substance grows on your lucky bamboo 

The stalks of your plant should always remain green. If you notice anything peculiar growing off of it, this normally means something is growing on it. It’s usually bugs. If you see any bugs or spiders crawling on your plant, make sure to grab the plant pot. Start to clean it, along with the pebbles, with clean, soapy water. Then be sure to rinse out the vase or pot completely. 

Each stalk should be washed with this soapy water and rinsed accordingly. Put the recently cleaned stalks back into the pot then fill it back up with bottled, distilled or rainwater. 

What to do when the lucky bamboo plant is becoming pale

If your plants to get pale or white, it’s either the water, sunlight, or drafts. As said in the previous tips, you should use distilled, filtered or rainwater. You also should check the spot that your plant is standing. Maybe it gets direct sunlight during some hours of the day. In addition, drafts can make your plant look unhealthy. So, check if windows or air vents create an unfavorable environment.

What to do when algae grow in the water or pot 

If you’re spotting algae on or around your plant, this could be a result of too much light shining on it. It could also mean you’ve placed too much fertilizer in the pot as well. Algae are known to form due to too fertilized, nutrient-filled water and too much sunlight. 

When this happens, you will need to precisely clean the plant, the pebbles and the pot. Then put the plant back into the pot and fill it back up with water. Since the algae can form from the light, try moving it away from the sun. 

8. Keep the plant at a healthy temperature 

With bamboo plants, they thrive in temperatures that we’re normally known to thrive in. As long as the room is approximately 65 to 90°F (18-32°C), they survive in a strong and healthy manner. 

Make sure they’re constantly staying in this controlled room temperature. If they are placed in front of a window that is extra drafty or an air vent, the dramatic bursts of cool or hot air can be damaging to them. Be sure to avoid that. 

9. Create another lucky bamboo plant using vegetative propagation 

If you are hoping to create a new lucky bamboo plant, you can do this via vegetative propagation with a fairly simple process. Follow the steps below:

  1. Locate the raised rings that look as if they are growing around the plant’s stalk, this is called the node. 
  2. Cut approximately an inch above this node, creating a top and a bottom. 
  3. Keep the bottom node inside of this container. 
  4. Continuously mist the bottom after a few days as this will help it start to grow. You’ll see new leaves start to form as well
  5. The leaves at the top of the plant will already be formed. Take it and dip it inside of rooting hormones. Before you return it back to the container, let this dry on its own overnight.  

10. Rotate the plant to make it curvy or wavy

Some plants are shaped fairly easily by simply getting trimmed and groomed in the proper fashion. With lucky bamboo plants, however, this works a little bit differently. To properly shape this plant, the stalks of it need to be rotated toward wherever the light is shining in. This makes the plant able to grow wherever the light is facing. 

You may see pictures of plants that are shaped into a spiral. While this is a very entertaining and unique form to see, it’s a little difficult to maintain. It is still doable, though. The steps below can teach you how to make the plant curvy or wavy:

  1. Put the plant underneath a box that has three sides. 
  2. Watch carefully at how fast the plant grows 
  3. Continue to rotate the plant on a regular basis by making different sections of the plant face toward the sun. 

11. Trim the plant to keep it healthy 

When you see a lucky bamboo plant displayed in someone’s home that looks healthy and attractive, it’s usually the owner of the plant who worked to make it look that way. It needs to be clipped and groomed properly in order to maintain that shape.

Your plant may end up having an excess amount of leaves on the top of it or different types of shapes might begin to form on your plant. Additionally, some shapes that were originally on your plant may lessen or start to go away. 

To properly take care of this, grab some sheers and get ready to cut. Never cut the stalk of the plant but try to instead cut the plants’ offshoots with scissors that are sharp and more importantly, sterile. 

These offshoots can be cut within one or two inches of the lucky bamboo’s main stem. Once you see this, you’ll notice new shoots begin to form. Then the plant will look very bushy and attractive.  

Pot full of lucky bamboo stalks and the text overlay: Lucky Bamboo Plant Care Tips

12. Keep an eye out for bugs on your plant

I’ve owned a few primarily indoor plants and I’ve almost always had issues with bugs crawling all over them. If you end up purchasing a lucky bamboo plant, you may, unfortunately, see this same problem. The good part, though, is this can be easily handled by simply keeping an eye out for these bugs and picking them right off the plant as soon as you see them. You can also wash them off with water.

If you use any other strategy for keeping bugs off your indoor plants, most likely these strategies should be fine and safe to use on a regular plant as well. 

Good to know about lucky bamboo

Keep it away from pets 

Most plants are perfectly fine being in the presence of different animal breeds and species. Lucky bamboo plants, however, need to be away from animals, especially cats. Their plant species, known as dracaenas, are known to be dangerous for animals to be around and interact with. So it is definitely not advised to have these plants in your apartment if you already have plants residing there. 

How quickly does lucky bamboo grow? 

It has been known to grow at a fairly fast pace. In as little as six months, this bamboo can grow taller and taller until it’s reached approximately 19 inches (50 cm) as long as it’s properly watered and displayed in necessary sunlight. 

How tall can this plant get? 

If cared for in a proper way, this plant is able to grow to be up to approximately 5 ft (1.5 m) tall. Be sure to have something steady inside of the plant’s vase to keep it held up as it grows more. Just water isn’t enough to hold it up when it gets taller. If this is the case, you will need to hold it steady with pebbles or plant it in soil. 

Make sure to trade out the smaller pot for a larger one as your plant continues to grow so it can keep up with growing a lucky bamboo plant. 

Caring for your lucky bamboo plant 

Owning a lucky bamboo plant can come in handy when showing it off to people and displaying it in your living room. In order for it to look attractive though, make sure to keep up on regular cleaning and maintenance. Following these recommended tips can help you care for a plant that will last for a very long time.

Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: Natalie Schneider