Pruned and curly shaped lucky bamboo stalk

How Do I Prune and Shape Lucky Bamboo?

A lot of people own a bamboo-like plant called Lucky Bamboo or Dracaena sanderiana. If yours is getting out of control, you might be wondering if you can prune your Lucky Bamboo. Maybe you want to give it an interesting shape like the Lucky Bamboo plants sold everywhere.

So, how do you prune and shape Lucky Bamboo? Luckily, if you have a plant that tends to be growing out of hand, it is very possible to prune the plant as needed. In fact, this is a very easy process if you have the right equipment and a little bit of knowledge. 

The Lucky Bamboo plant itself is not actually a true bamboo but a member of the lily family. This plant can grow up to 3 feet (91 cm) tall indoors but often is sold at a much smaller size. When your small plant begins to overwhelm its surroundings, you very much so should trim it or prune it to a more manageable size. 

Understanding Lucky Bamboo

Before you can trim your plant appropriately, you may want to learn more about Lucky Bamboo itself. Whether you have already purchased the plant or have simply loved the look of them for some time, it is crucial that you know exactly what you are getting. Lucky Bamboo is often sold in small containers with soil, water, or pebbles at the bottom. 

These plants are a great addition to your home, with many even keeping them on a desk or in an office. They grow in low light levels, even as far as 8 feet (2.5 m) away from a window. You should try to maintain at least 4 hours a day of bright, indirect light on the plant and change the water weekly. Distilled water and a brighter atmosphere can lead to even better growth. 

Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo 

As mentioned, there are certain growing conditions that your Lucky Bamboo plant needs to remain as healthy and thriving as possible. You want to avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves, which is why this is often a great indoor plant. In fact, the plant is more tolerant of too little light than too much light. 

The water you use for your plant is also extremely important. You should keep your plant in at least an inch of water, but you should not use unfiltered tap water. The plant is extremely sensitive to chlorine and the other chemicals that are often found in tap water. It is best to water your plant with filtered or bottled, distilled water. Tap water that has been left out for the chlorine to evaporate is fine too. 

If you opt to plant your Lucky Bamboo in potting soil versus the pebbles and water approach that many people use, you should keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. You can use a very weak fertilizer every month or so as needed. For most bamboo plants, a single drop of liquid fertilizer will provide enough food for the month and can provide optimum growth. 

Lucky Bamboo does prefer warmer temperatures like real bamboo plants, with the best temperature being between 65 and 90°F (18-32°C). A properly growing plant will have red roots. Also, it is important to note that the leaves of the plant are mildly toxic so you should keep them out of reach of pets and young children. 

Get more plant care tips for Lucky Bamboo here!

Pruning Lucky Bamboo plants

Since Lucky Bamboo is actually a plant in the same genus of trees and shrubs, it can grow fast but can also be pruned regularly. These plants tend to get top-heavy which can be put too much weight and stress on the roots themselves. Cutting the plant back can help to invigorate it and can promote new growth. 

Of course, pruning is also a way to change the shape of the plant to the one you find more enjoyable. This is a good option if your plant has become too large for its container as well. 

Perfectly pruned and arranged Lucky Bamboo stalks that form round pyramids
Pruning and arranging Lucky Bamboo

When to prune a Lucky Bamboo plant?

There isn’t really a great time to prune your Lucky Bamboo plant and it depends on the height of the plant itself. You do not have to wait until a certain time of year or plant age, you simply do this pruning when it gets too large to handle. 

How to prune your Lucky Bamboo? 

Regular trimming is an important part of keeping your Lucky Bamboo plant healthy and continuing to grow. As mentioned, these plants can become too top-heavy and will begin to lose their form over time.  

You should use sharp, sterile pruning shears to cut back your Lucky Bamboo. If you have any shoots that appear overly long, thin, or growing in a crooked or odd shape, these should be pruned down. This will encourage new growth that is usually more visually appealing. You should avoid cutting the main stalk of the plant but should cut the offshoots. You can trim these offshoots back to within an inch or two of the main stem itself.

When you trim the plant, new shoots will emerge, and it can result in a bushier Lucky Bamboo. If you do not want this new growth and would prefer a smaller plant, you can dip the cut ends in paraffin. 

If you want to change the look of your plant significantly, you can cut these shoots flush to the stalk itself. Cutting closer to the stalk usually keeps your plant from growing new shoots in these areas. You can also cut the stalk to the desired height, which may be ideal if your plant is growing very large or you keep it in a smaller area. 

There are some risks that come with this style of pruning as it can lead to infection for your plant. Trimming shoots away is a lot less risky as it still allows for regrowth. While cutting a plant stops the growth and your plant will never grow larger than that cut. 

Spiral Lucky Bamboo and heart-shaped Lucky Bamboo with the text: How to Prune & Shape Lucky Bamboo

Cutting Lucky Bamboo plants 

Cutting your bamboo plant can lead to infection, which is why you should be careful when making any cuts. This stops your plant from growing taller and the only way to increase the plant’s height after a cut is the new shoot. Of course, knowing where to cut your bamboo and how to cut it properly is essential to avoid unwanted results. 

When you look at a Lucky Bamboo plant, you will notice that the stalk itself has clearly defined rings, which are referred to as nodes. You should make any cuts just above these nodes for the best results. All cuts should be clean and smooth, which reduces the chance of infection. 

You can cut new growth back to above a node or cut where the new growth joins the main stalk to remove the shoot entirely. When you cut a shoot to the main stalk, a tan scar usually appears on the plant. Often, it is best to do drastic cuts in the cooler, winter months as this is when your bamboo experiences slower growth to begin with.

Lucky Bamboo plant growth after pruning 

If you simply trim the new shoots, they will grow back within a few days or weeks. As previously mentioned, these shoots can grow back bushier and healthier compared to their appearance before pruning. As for cutting, this will lead to a halt in growth and new shoots often do not emerge from a close cut. 

When you do trim or cut your plant, you should not throw away these trimmings. You can use the bamboo trimmings to propagate new Lucky Bamboo plants.

Shaping Lucky Bamboo plants 

Lucky Bamboo can be shaped differently than other plants like bonsai, which uses a plant wire and regular trimming. With Lucky Bamboo, you can simply shape the plant by rotating the stalks in front of a light source. This causes the plant to grow naturally towards the light. 

Lucky Bamboo stalks shaped into spirals or curls
Curly or spiral Lucky Bamboo

How to shape Lucky Bamboo into spirals or curls

If you have seen Lucky Bamboo that has been grown into a beautiful spiral shape, you might be wondering how this is done. Maybe you have a straight Lucky Bamboo plant and want to shape it in a more interesting way. You should note that this process takes some time and effort if done at home.

You can do this with small or tall plants. It would speed up the process if you do it in more humid and warm conditions like a greenhouse.

What you need:

  • Your plant
  • Cardboard box that is slightly bigger than your Lucky Bamboo
  • Scissors

Step-by-step guide on curling your Lucky Bamboo:

  • Cut the bottom and one side out of the box.
  • Place the box over your Lucky Bamboo with the open side facing the light source (window, grow light).
  • Wait until you see the plant growing towards the light.
  • Turn it a little bit once it reached the amount of curve you want. If you turn it in shorter intervals, it will get a tighter curl. If you leave it longer, it will grow in wider spirals.
  • You have to turn it regularly and slowly. Otherwise, you won’t get a smooth curl. Maybe make a note how many days you kept it in one position.
  • Prune as you go so that it doesn’t become too top-heavy.
Two Lucky Bamboo stalks that have been shaped into a heart
Heart-shaped Lucky Bamboo

How to shape Lucky Bamboo into a heart

Spirals aren’t the way to go for you? Maybe you want to bring love to your house or have a wonderful gift for someone special. Shaping Lucky Bamboo into a heart isn’t all that difficult. We actually wrote a whole blog post about it. Read it here.

Woven or braided Lucky Bamboo stalks and two single stalks next to them
Source: Flickr

How to shape Lucky Bamboo into a woven form

This is by far the most challenging but most incredible shape for Lucky bamboo. This demands a lot of patience, time, and attention. Personally, I would rather buy it already woven, but if you want to experience with weaving Lucky Bamboo at home, here is how.

What you need:

  • Young and healthy Lucky Bamboo: This shape doesn’t work with older plants. The roots should be untangled, healthy and fine. Make sure they grow outwards. Pick at least 3-4 stalks with less than 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
  • Shallow pot
  • Pebbles, ceramic chips, or beads
  • Florist’s tape or string

Step-by-step guide on weaving or braiding your Lucky Bamboo:

  • Take the container and fill it with the pebbles, ceramic chips, or beads (only 1 inch / 2.5 cm).
  • Place the bamboo stalks into the container with 2 inches (5 cm) of space in between. If you want double stalks in a braided pattern, set two side-by-side and then leave 2 inches (5 cm) to the next pair. You can also arrange them in a circular shape. This way you can work on a vase-like or pineapple shape.
  • Whatever you do, the roots need to be buried in the medium. The plant will need support in order to grow sideways.
  • Fill the container with filtered or distilled water (at least an inch (2.5 cm) above the medium).
  • Tie stalks together in the way you want it to be woven. This will force the Lucky Bamboo into a certain direction.
  • Utilize light sources where possible or needed. Cover sides in order to force the stalks to grow in your wanted direction. Read the guide above how to use a cardboard box.
  • Prune as you go to keep the perfect shape.
Any questions or tips to share? Leave a comment!

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

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