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Close up of a lucky bamboo plant.
Despite its name, lucky bamboo is not bamboo. While its thin, green stems and small, narrow leaves might resemble bamboo, they are completely different plants. Lucky bamboo is a low-maintenance, handsome plant, and is often gifted as a symbol of good luck, fortune and prosperity.

What you need to know about lucky bamboo

Name: lucky bamboo, friendship bamboo, Chinese water bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana.

Height: up to 2m, but typically 0.3-1m.

Plant type: evergreen perennial. 

Climate: tropical and subtropical. Suitable for all indoor environments.

Soil: moist, well drained. Can also be grown in water without soil.

Position: filtered sunlight or part shade outdoors; bright indirect light indoors.

Foliage: small, dark-green elliptical leaves. Foliage may also be variegated with white or yellow stripes.

Flowers: clusters of white inflorescences, rarely seen.

Feeding: fertilise during the warmer months with a weak liquid fertiliser.

Watering: if growing in soil, don’t let it dry out – keep the mix slightly moist.

Appearance and characteristics of lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo has a slender green cane with distinctive light brown rings or leaf scars, where older leaves once were. Each leaf scar contains a node, where new shoots or roots form when propagated. Lucky bamboo is sold as a single cane or multiple canes potted together. The plants may be arranged in decorative spirals, braids, hearts or in two- or three-tier towers.

The green waxy cap seen on the end of the lucky bamboo cane is applied to seal cut ends, preventing new growth and allowing the plants to maintain their shape.

All parts of lucky bamboo are considered toxic if ingested, so keep away from children and pets.

Lucky bamboo, or Dracaena sanderiana, is often confused with Dracaena braunii. They look very similar but D. braunii has shorter flowers.

Close up of a lucky bamboo plant with leafy green foliage.

Uses for lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo is said to encourage the flow of good energy (qi) throughout the home. According to feng shui principles, lucky bamboo is ideal in most areas of the home, including the kitchen, office, living room and bathroom. However, it should not be placed in the bedroom as it’s considered to be too ‘energetic’.

How to grow lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo grows best in a well-lit spot, out of direct sunlight. It is often sold in a vase with water and stones, with the latter being used to help stabilise the plant. It can remain like this or – if preferred – can be planted in a pot with free-draining cacti and succulent mix. Ensure the pot has drainage holes.

Caring for lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo is an easy-care indoor plant. Leaves may occasionally turn yellow, and this may be the result of too much direct sunlight causing the foliage to bleach and droop. Remove affected leaves and move the plant to a more suitable location.

Lucky bamboo can also be sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals in tap water, which can cause the foliage to yellow. Before watering, let tap water sit for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

A lucky bamboo plant in a white pot on a windowsill.

How often should you water and feed lucky bamboo

Replenish the water every seven to 10 days, ensuring the roots are always submerged. If growing in a potting mix, water regularly to keep the mix moist.

Feed with a weak solution of liquid fertiliser throughout the warmer months.

Diseases and pests that affect lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo is generally free from pests but can be susceptible to root rot when planted in a potting mix that’s too wet. To prevent this from happening, ensure the pot has adequate drainage and keep the soil slightly moist but not waterlogged.

How to propagate lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo can be propagated by taking cuttings. Use a clean, sharp pair of secateurs and cut below a node on the stem. Put the cutting in a glass of water, ensuring the node is submerged. Change the water every seven to 10 days, or sooner if it becomes murky. When roots form, the plant can remain in the vessel or be transplanted into a pot containing a free-draining potting mix.

If you like this, then try

Chinese money plant: a lovely indoor plant with coin-shaped leaves, often gifted as a symbol of good luck and fortune.

Peperomia: this diverse group has varieties to suit all tastes and styles, from trailing to fleshy, upright forms.

Cast-iron plant: a hardy indoor plant that’s tolerant of shade and dry spells.

Start planting today

Check out our wide range of plants now and get your garden growing!


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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