Lucky Bamboo's leaves are turning white or pale

Why is my Lucky Bamboo turning white or pale?

After neglecting my Dracaena Sanderiana for a few weeks, I noticed that the leaves turned pale or almost white. After fixing the issue, I thought I should share my results with you.

There are three reasons for your Lucky Bamboo to turn white or pale: Direct sun, drafts, and bad water. This houseplant is very sensitive to these things. So, making sure you place it in the right spot and feed it good-quality water should do the job.

However, don’t wait too long or it will be hard to revive the plant…

Do you grow your Lucky Bamboo in soil or water?

Even though most places sell Lucky Bamboo in water, you can actually grow it in almost everything: Soil, pebbles, marbles, or even ornamental glass chips.

If you had your plant for a couple of years, I advise you to transplant it into a soil-based environment. It is also helpful to use soil if you want to use your tap water which often contains chlorine, fluoride, or other chemicals. Soil will somewhat filter the water, which is impossible for an all-water environment.

How should you go about moving this houseplant from water to soil? Prepare a pot with a potting mix that doesn’t contain fertilizer. The pot or container should be at least 2 inches larger than the total diameter of your plant. Check the roots of your Lucky Bamboo. If they seem to be very long, carefully trim them a little bit and untangle them. Then plant it into the pot or container. That’s it.

Quality of water can turn leaves white or pale

Although Dracaena Sanderiana doesn’t need that much water, this fluid still influences the health of your plant immensely. Especially if you grow it in water only, you have to feed it “gourmet cuisine”.

If your tap water is too hard and you’ve been using it to water your Lucky Bamboo, your plant may turn white because of the water quality. In this case, you should switch to bottled water. For the sake of the environment, I would like to advise you to get a large reusable water container though. Some people will advise distilled water, which is fine too, but I prefer normal drinking water. Distilled water is not meant for humans. So, keep it away from kids to avoid accidents.

If you grow your Lucky Bamboo in water, exchange it with softer, less chemical water. To reestablish the plant’s health, change the water more frequently than you did before. Every couple of days will be perfect for the first month or until the plant looks healthy again. Then you can go back to your old routine. Then observe if your Lucky Bamboo stays happy. You may not have changed the water often enough in the past. This could be a reason, why your Lucky Bamboo turned white or yellow.

If your Lucky Bamboo actually turned yellow, not white, read this blog post.

How to check your water quality

Hard or water with too many chemicals, is one reason why the leaves on Lucky Bamboo turn white or pale. Tap water often contains chlorine, salts, or fluoride, which is simply too much for your cute little houseplant.

There are two ways to check your water quality:

In the end, it’s best to test the water on your own. Testing kits don’t cost much, just $20-40, and it will also give you a better insight into the water that you are using for your own body on a daily basis. So, it’s a win-win situation after all.

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Sometimes even the best green thumb gets hit. The leaves on the Lucky Bamboo plant turn pale, and you have no clue what happened. I'll give you some reasons why the leaves turned white and how to (hopefully) revive this houseplant. #luckybamboo #housplants #indoorplants #luckybamboocare

Did you change the location of your Lucky Bamboo?

In case, you definitely know that it cannot be the water that is causing your Lucky Bamboo to turn white or pale, it might be the location. Did you place the pot or container in a different spot? Did it get direct sunlight? Is it in a place, where it experiences extreme temperature differences or drafts? Did you move it outside?

Dracaena sanderiana is not an outside plant

One of the biggest mistakes you can do is planting Lucky Bamboo outside. It could grow in USDA zones 10-11 but sudden temperature changes still can cause the death to the plant. So, if you’ve recently put it outside, you should bring it back inside asap. This houseplant likes warm and stable temperatures.

Stable warm temperatures without drafts

If you changed the position of your plant that suffers from extreme temperature changes, get it outta there. This can be caused by vents, windows, AC, stoves, dishwashers, or other devices that heat up or cool down.

Lucky Bamboo prefers stable temperatures around between 65-85°F without drafts.

So, if you placed it at a window that you often use to air out your house, put it somewhere else. Stoves or ovens can change the surrounding temperatures pretty rapidly too. Drafts from AC vents could also cause a dying plant.

So, if you care about your Lucky Bamboo, just find a new draft-free spot for it.

Walking on sunshine – Doesn’t work for Lucky Bamboo

Sunshine is the killer for your Dracaena Sanderiana. So, please, move it to a spot with indirect sunlight. It does need some sunshine for growth and the beautiful green color, but too much will cause a fade. I had mine sitting in a window that was mostly shaded by a tree. However, we had to cut the branches a little bit and I simply forgot to move my Lucky Bamboo out of the direct sun. So, this caused my plant to become pale.

Now I found a new spot and revived it (read below).

Keep the leaves clean

Too much dust on the leaves, stop the plant from breathing. It can cause the discoloration or brown tips. Every now and then, dust it off or wipe it off with a cloth. Super simple, right?!

How to revive Lucky Bamboo

Now you know all the reasons why your Dracaena Sanderiana developed white or pale leaves. How do you improve its health again though?

Cut off the leaves that look white, yellow, brown, or dead to you. This way the plant can put all its power into new or healthy leaves. You can use shears for pruning as you do with other plants.

Fortunately, my Lucky Bamboo only had a couple of pale leaves but maybe your problem is a bit more severe.

Once you’ve cut off all the bad leaves, you may add a tiny tiny bit of fertilizer to give it an extra boost. Don’t be too generous with it though. Potted plants, especially Dracaena Sanderianas, don’t have the need for plenty of fertilizer because there is no rain to wash it away.

If you have the plant in water, exchange the water more frequently until it is back to its normal healthy status. Only cover the roots, don’t add too much water.

If you have it in soil, keep it moist.

Observe your plant and hope for the best. It should grow new leaves within a few weeks. If not, your troubleshooting probably came too late. And in this case, I am very sorry about your loss…

What helped you with your problem? Let me know in the comments!


  • I have 80 lucky bamboo plants I had them in water….I planted all of them is soil……they are doing great……..I add a little epsom salt when I water them the epsom makes the leaves a dark green……I also use Miracle Gro…….and mist them daily……..its hot where I live……..I have bamboo 4 feet tall…….I use distilled water…

    • Hi Patrick, that’s a huge amount of Lucky Bamboo plants you’ve got! Thanks for sharing your care tips!

  • My bamboo stalks are turning white and the leaves are yellowing. Do I trim the stalks? Are they dying?

    • Hi Sandra, what water are you using? Have you changed the water regularly? Or are you growing in soil?

  • I started them in soil, but they weren’t looking good so I put them in rock and water. They did well for a year. Then the leaves started yellowing. I removed the rock. That’s when I noticed the stalk had gone white. There was also a foul odor to the water. I’ve trimmed the stalks and put them in water I’ve allowed to sit for 2 days. I’m praying I don’t have to trim more. I’ve seen videos recommending antibiotic additives. Should I do that?

    • Hi, Sandra! I don’t see how this could be helpful. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and I don’t think this is the issue here. How long did you keep the water until it smelled foul? And how are the roots looking? I really hope your plant will recover!

      • The water was 3 days old. I’ve trimmed a the stalk and removed the yellow leaves. Right now they look really good. My fingers are crossed

        • Good luck, then! I hope it’ll recover quickly. Maybe a little bit of fertilizer will help it along, too.

  • I just bought a bundle of 10 stalks they looked amazing when they arrived …I have 2 1 gallon “fish” bowls (plastic) with black gravel and a few colored gravel mixed in …I first put them in one bowl an left them tied I used spring water …the next day I untied them and moved 5 of them to the second bowl and placed the bowls across the room… day 3 of having them the stalks are turning pale day 4 there starting to get a whiteish tinge to the stalks but the branches off the tops are still nicely green .. HELP WHAT DO I DO TO BRING THE GREEN BACK INTO THE STALKS BEFORE THEY DIE ON ME !!😭

    • Hi Tina, I can really feel you’re scared. I would check if the places are too sunny or too windy (AC vents blowing on them). Usually, the sun is the biggest factor for pale stems and the water. Springwater isn’t bad though, so it should be fine. If you are still concerned you can use bottled water for testing purposes. If they get better from that you’ll know that it’s the water. Keep in mind going step by step to troubleshoot would be best.

  • Thank you for the tips. I love my bamboo had them for almost 3 years. I have them in water in a long glass vase. I stopped changing the water for a few months (really bad I know) and noticed the leaves were paler and the tips brown. I’m giving it more love now I hope they recover. Thanks for the advice.


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