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How to Take Care of Lucky Bamboo

Three Parts:Selecting a Lucky Bamboo PlantPlanting the Lucky Bamboo PlantCaring for and Styling Your Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo, also known as Ribbon Plant or Dracaena sanderiana, is not actually bamboo. It belongs to the lily family and is native to shady, tropical rainforests, but it is still a beautiful segmented plant that, unlike true bamboo, is easy to grow indoors. To take care of lucky bamboo, start with a healthy plant, grow it in lightly fertilized water or soil, water sparingly, keep it in warm temperatures but away from direct sunlight, and arrange the stalks as desired. Caring for lucky bamboo is relatively simple as these are hardy plants that don’t need much attention -- and it may even bring you a bit of luck.

Part 1
Selecting a Lucky Bamboo Plant

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    Find a plant that looks appealing to you. Don’t just pick the first bamboo plant you find, but look for a healthy one. You can find Lucky Bamboo plants at your local garden center or nursery, and even some grocery stores.
    • It may be labeled one of the following ways: Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Plant, or occasionally by its true name, Dracaena sanderiana.
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    Pick one that’s a vibrant green color. Caring for a Lucky Bamboo plant isn’t very hard, but if you get one that isn’t healthy, it will be much harder to care for and it may die. The size of the plant doesn’t matter too much here, as most of them will be fairly small.
    • It should be an even green color all over with no blemishes, bruises, or yellowing.
    • The stalks should be a consistent color from the base to their tops.
    • There also shouldn’t be any browning on the tips of the leaves.
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    Make sure it’s been planted properly and doesn’t smell. Lucky Bamboo plants are very resilient, but if they have been planted incorrectly or have a sour odor, they could be sick, and won’t grow.[1]
    • Bamboo plants don’t have a fragrance like flowers do, but if they haven’t been watered properly, they can grow bacteria and develop a stink.
    • Check the current water levels, and check to see if it has soil or fertilization. Many bamboo plants are grown hydroponically, just in water with small rocks or pebbles to hold the stalks in place. Some may be in soil, however, so check to make sure that it is at least half full of water, or the soil is moist, but not soaked.

Part 2
Planting the Lucky Bamboo Plant

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    Decide between water or soil.[2] There are advantages to both options depending on how much you are prepared to care for it. Too much soil or fertilization can actually harm your plant. However, if you are using tap water and it has fluoride and other chemicals, you may want to use soil and fertilizer to prevent yellow tips.[3]
    • If you are growing it in standing water, you will need some pebbles to hold it upright. If in soil, try mixing a third each of sand, peat moss, and regular soil to ensure excellent drainage.
    • For water only, make sure that your plant has at least enough to cover the base of the roots. You should also change the water at least once per week to prevent the plant from rotting. It is a good idea to rinse the vase, pebbles, and plant each time you do this.
    • If you are growing the plant in soil, water the plant just enough so that the soil is moist.
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    Choose the right container. Your pot should be about 2 inches larger in diameter than the plant. Most Lucky Bamboo plants already come in a pot, but you can use your own pot to make the plant more your own.
    • A clear container works well for water and will show off your plant and pebbles, but make sure that you keep it out of direct sunlight.
    • You can also use a ceramic pot and grow it in either pure water or in soil. If you use soil, plant the bamboo in a pot with a drain hole.
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    Add a very light fertilizer periodically for quicker growth. Too much fertilizer is worse than none at all, so use it sparingly. This is especially true of potted plants because the fertilizer will not become diluted by rain and can’t run off like it will for plants in the ground.

Part 3
Caring for and Styling Your Lucky Bamboo

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    Water sparingly. Your lucky Bamboo plant doesn’t need a lot of water. In fact, too much is bad for it.[4]
    • Water your plant about once a week and ensure that there’s a few inches at all times, enough to cover the roots.
    • If you have soil in your plant, make sure that it’s not too moist or dry. Your bamboo plant can live well in just water, so over soiling or fertilizing can actually harm it.
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    Keep your plant out of direct sunlight. Lucky Bamboo in the wild is usually shaded from direct sunlight by other, taller plants. You should keep your plant in an open, and bright area, but one that isn’t exposed to direct sunlight all day.[5]
    • To best care for your Lucky Bamboo, keep it away from windows that get a lot of light. Instead, place it in a part of your room not so exposed.
    • Your Lucky Bamboo plant will also grow best in temperatures between in 65°F and 90°F.
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    Arrange your stalks. If you wish to style the Lucky Bamboo plant, choose a few prime stalks to make a linked arrangement and put it on display. You can manipulate the stalks to grow around each other or curl with a bit of work; to do this you have to use younger stalks that haven’t grown a lot and hardened yet.[6]
    • You can simply plant your stalks in a line or rows if you want straight stalks.
    • To curl your Lucky Bamboo plant, get a cardboard box and cut off the bottom and one side. Place the box over your plant with the open end facing your light source. Your stalks will begin to curl towards the light as they grow. Once you see a bend, rotate your plant.
    • You can also wrap some wire around younger stalks crisscrossing them. As they grow you will add more wire to keep them stable as they intertwine.
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    Remove dead or yellow leaves. Sometimes the ends of your leaves might turn yellow. This could be caused by a few factors: you plant isn’t getting enough water, there’s too much soil or fertilizer, or too much direct sunlight. You can trim off the yellow parts, or remove the whole leaf.
    • To remove the yellowed tips of your leaves, sterilize a pair of pruning shears or sharp scissors and with light rubbing alcohol or vinegar, then cut the yellow part off following the natural shape of the leaf.
    • You can remove whole leaves by simply pulling them down off the stalk at the base of the leaf.
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    Propagate your plant. When one or two of your stalks gets too tall you can cut them and replant them. This will help you care for your Lucky Bamboo plant by ensuring that it doesn’t get too crowded and can produce new plants.
    • Take your longest stalk and remove the smaller leaves at the base of the shoot.
    • With a sterile knife or scissors, cut the shoot about half an inch from where it connects to the stalk.
    • Place the shoot in a bowl of clean, distilled water. Keep it in a shady area for about one to two months until it begins to sprout roots. Once you see roots, you can replant it the same pot as your bamboo plant.
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    Tie the stalks in place with ribbon wire or other ribbon. People often tie a gold or red ribbon around the stalks of Lucky Bamboo plants to hold them together, and as an extra symbol of good fortune.
    • Add pebbles to finish off the look and hold the arrangement in place.
    • Place your Lucky Bamboo plant somewhere where you will it enjoy day and remind you to care for it.


  • Don't overwater your plant. You only need to water about once a week.
  • Using bottled spring water will ensure fast growth and a beautiful deep green color. (Tap water often has chemicals and additives that are not found in the plant's natural habitat. By watering with tap water, the leaves often turn yellow and the plant will die over time.)
  • Don't put it in direct sunlight.
  • Only add fertilizer once every two months if it all.
  • Add a diluted liquid aquarium plant fertilizer (1-2 drops) if you want your plant to grow faster.


  • If you notice a foul odor coming from your plant, it is probably too late to save it. Some people report that the rot that causes this can be bad for your health. So, it is best to throw the plant out and get another one if this happens. Then change the water more frequently to prevent it happening again.
  • On a side note, if your bamboo has sprouts off of the main stalks, those can be saved from rot. Simply cut them off and place them in fresh water. This can prevent you from having to throw the whole plant out.

Things You'll Need

  • A small "lucky bamboo" plant
  • A pot 2 inches bigger than the plant.
  • A little bit of sunlight
  • And some soil and fertilizer if desired.
  • Purified water.

Article Info

Categories: Gardening | Indoor and Patio Plants