There are plenty of reasons why someone would choose to buy a lucky bamboo plant for themselves or to give to someone as a gift. With a strong symbolism and commonly used in feng shui practices, the lucky bamboo plant can help different areas of your life prosper.
Totally unrelated to the bamboo plant you’re thinking of right now, lucky bamboo is one of the most interesting houseplants you’ll ever come across and, today, we are going to tell you everything we know about it.
What Is a Lucky Bamboo Plant?
Regular bamboo isn’t exactly an indoor plant, so we’re definitely not talking about that bamboo which probably comes to mind when hearing this word. So, what is lucky bamboo and why has it become so popular across homes in every corner of the globe?
To celebrate the Chinese New Year, people often give each other lucky bamboo plants, but they stand as excellent gifts for plenty of occasions, from engagement parties to housewarming gifts. What a lot of people don’t know is that the lucky bamboo doesn’t have anything to do with the bamboo plant at all, as it is more related to succulents rather than bamboo. It’s also one of the most popular indoor plants for home décor.
Native to Africa but widely grown in Asia, the lucky bamboo plant has a very strong symbolism, which is why people choose to offer it as a gift. The number of stalks on a lucky bamboo plant has different meanings, as following:
- Plants with two stalks are a symbol of double luck and love.
- Those with three stalks attract wealth, happiness, and a longer life.
- Lucky bamboo plants with four stalks are considered to be bad luck, as they stand for negative energy and should never be given as a gift.
- Five stalks are a symbol of balance between the five different areas of health: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and intuitive.
- Six stalks are a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
- Seven-stalk bamboo plants are chosen to promote good health.
- Plants with eight stalks are good for fertility and growth.
- Nine-stalk plants are a symbol of great luck.
- 10 stalks symbolize a perfect and complete life.
How to Grow a Lucky Bamboo Plant
When it comes to lucky bamboo plant care, you’ll be happy to know that it isn’t a very pretentious plant, which makes it an ideal choice for home and office use (since you probably don’t have that much work time to spare to keep caring for plants). Below, we’re going to discuss the main requirements for a lucky bamboo plant to thrive in your own home, so you can see for yourself for friendly the entire process is.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to placing your lucky bamboo plant in light is that powerful direct sunlight will easily scorch the plant, so you always want to avoid that. Moderate to indirect sunlight are your best choices. These plants are more likely to thrive in low light conditions than in really powerful ones. If your lucky bamboo isn’t getting enough light, then you will notice the plant begins to stretch and its vivid green color begins to fade. If the plant is exposed to powerful light, the leaves are going to turn brown, almost as if they’ve been burned.
What’s really interesting about lucky bamboo is that it is a plant that can grow in both water and soil. Of course, water requirements for each of these two scenarios are different, so let’s go over each of the situations.
If you’re growing your lucky bamboo in soil, you want to keep it lightly damp at all times. You absolutely want to avoid leaving the soil to dry out too much, and overwatering the plant isn’t a solution either because it is susceptible to root rot.
If you’re growing it in a water vase, know that lucky bamboo is a plant that doesn’t need a whole lot of water to survive, so if you make sure the roots are covered in water, that should suffice. You don’t have to water it often, as the lucky bamboo’s water will last for seven to 10 days to thrive. You have to keep in mind that this medium makes the water susceptible to algae growth, which means that once per week, you are going to have to throw away stale water and add a fresh batch.
You can use tap water for your lucky bamboo plant IF chlorine levels aren’t too high. Experts recommend leaving tap water in a recipient overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate before using it to water your lucky bamboo.
Another important note as far as water is concerned is that you want to avoid water that’s rich in fluoride (which is a problem in some areas). If you know that your tap water has high fluoride levels, it’s best to use filtered water instead. Fluoride will not evaporate and high quantities can end up killing your lucky bamboo.
As you might have guessed, lucky bamboo likes heat, so it prefers temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When you’re looking for a spot to place your lucky bamboo plant, make sure you avoid spots with a draft (be it hot or cold). Yes, that includes the air conditioner, drafty windows, and heating vents. During the colder seasons, you can place the plant next to a window with light, but make sure you avoid cold drafts at all costs.
Lucky bamboo enjoys average humidity, so you don’t have to worry about increasing humidity levels inside the house. It also gets the water it needs from whatever is in the soil or vase, provided that you follow watering instructions as mentioned earlier.
If you choose to grow your lucky bamboo plant in potted soil, know that it likes rich and well-drained soil. As we mentioned earlier, you want the soil to be moist at all times, but avoid overwatering it. One of the major advantages of owning a lucky bamboo plant is that you can also place it in a bowl/vase with pebbles for more aesthetic appeal, as long as there is at least one inch of water for the roots to drink.
Lucky bamboo plant soil doesn’t need too much fertilizer (usually a drop per month will do). If you’re growing the plant in a water container, you need to feed the plant every month. You can find lucky bamboo fertilizer easily with a simple online search.
A lot of people think that pruning the lucky bamboo is a process similar to that of caring for a bonsai. However, this doesn’t take any peculiar trimming techniques or odd wiring. As you’re going to find out in one of our upcoming sections, shaping the lucky bamboo plant is mostly about how you expose it to a light source.
When it comes to trimming, you should know that this is an important part of making sure your lucky bamboo plant thrives. One characteristic of this plant is that it tends to become quite heavy in the top part as it continues to grow. Trimming will also help ensure that the intricate shapes of the lucky bamboo plant will not lose their form.
You want to avoid cutting the main stalk of the plant. Instead, you want to go for the offshoots (make sure you use sterile snippers in the process). You can make the cut to bring them to one or two inches from the main stem. You will notice that new shoots start to emerge pretty soon, making the plant bushier than before. If you ever want to stop new growth, cover the cut end in paraffin.
#6: Repotting and propagation
If you’re growing your lucky bamboo plant in a container, there might be a time when you have to repot it. When you notice that the roots are starting to feel too tight in the container, that’s when it’s time to repot your lucky bamboo (for those of you growing your lucky bamboo in water, simply move the plant to a larger vase).
Holding the plant in a rock medium means you can simply throw away the rocks, move the plant to a new container, and replace the rocks. For soil growth, make sure the soil is damp, then use your hand to flip the plant while holding the stalks, remove it, and move it to a larger container.
Propagating a lucky bamboo plant requires that you set your eyes on a healthy parent stalk (which is made from at least two bamboo segments) with an offshoot. Grab a sterile pair of shears or scissors and cut the offshoot from the parent stalk. Remove the bottom leaf layer in order to make an independent stalk. Grab a small container, add the stalk, add water, and care for it as you would care for any lucky bamboo plant.
#7: Pests and diseases
The easiest way for a lucky bamboo plant to catch diseases is by watering it with water that has too much chlorine. This will slowly kill the plant, especially if the water is infected with bacteria.
Should you notice that your lucky bamboo plant has any black roots, make sure you cut them right away. Do the same things if you notice there are any dead leaves fallen in the plant’s water, as this aids the growth of new bacteria which can infect your lucky bamboo.
Growing the plant in water means that you’ll have to add fresh water each week. Otherwise, stale water promotes algae growth.
If you notice that the plant’s leaves are turning yellow, that means the plant has either too much fertilizer or has been exposed to way too much sunlight. Reduce the amount of fertilizer added and move the plant to a spot with more shade.
If the leaves turn brown, it means the air inside the room is too dry. You can either purchase a humidifier or you can simply spray the plant with fresh water.
As far as pests are concerned, lucky bamboo is susceptible to fungal infections, mites, and mealybugs. Fungal infections are signaled through grey fuzz located on your plant. To get rid of them, simply remove the infected growth and make sure that stalks and leaves are dry. Air circulation also helps with this problem.
When dealing with mealybugs, you can remove them by hand or by rubbing alcohol. Mites aren’t that much of a danger for lucky bamboo, but they can spread to other house plants and cause more serious damage.
Is Lucky Bamboo Toxic?
It’s important to note that lucky bamboo is toxic to cats and dogs, so you might want to avoid growing one if you have pets or place it out of their reach (easier said than done when you have cats that can easily climb all over the place and reach higher spots with ease). If your pet consumes parts of a lucky bamboo plant, they can end up having abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and even dilated pupils. The plant is not toxic to humans.
How to Twist a Lucky Bamboo Plant
Even if feng shui practices recommend having a straight plant, twisting it can create some really interesting designs and boost the aesthetic of the room. Interestingly enough, you can twist a lucky bamboo plant by manipulating its light source so, if that’s something you might be interested in trying, here is what you need to know:
- Grab a cardboard box and cut one of its sides.
- Put your lucky bamboo plant inside the box.
- Place the box with the cut side to make it face a light source.
- Follow the regular instruction for lucky bamboo plant care until you notice the plant starts to grow towards the light.
- Rotate the plant to make it continue to grow towards the light. The rotation process will cause the plant to slightly lean. Spinning it in the same direction will eventually cause it to spiral.
How to Braid a Lucky Bamboo Plant
Braiding is another option for helping your lucky bamboo plant grow in interesting shapes. In order to do this, you’re going to have to:
- Either plant your own lucky bamboo or pick one that comes with three potted stalks (it’s important that these be planted with two inches of space between them and they should measure about half an inch to a full inch in thickness).
- Prune the base for each of the three stalks.
- Braid them just as you would brain a strand of hair. Leave about five inches of unbraided stalks at the end.
- Use a twist tie to secure the top of the braid, but make sure it’s not too tight.
- Continue with the usual lucky bamboo plant care steps and watch the brain strengthen.
Lucky Bamboo & Feng Shui
Lucky bamboo has a lot of symbolism in Asian cultures and the meaning behind this plant has spread all over the world. If you’re a feng shui aficionado, you probably know every hidden meaning behind having a lucky bamboo plant but if you don’t, we did the research for you.
The qualities of the lucky bamboo plant make it flexible. As a plant that grows pretty quick, it symbolizes upright growth and nobility. The hollow stem stands for an open and humble heart.
In feng shui, it’s always best to choose plants that have upright stems, as curly one often symbolize spiraling energy. The placement of lucky bamboo inside the home can attract different energies:
- Placing it in the wealth corner (known as “Xun”) is a way to attract wealth and abundance. It’s common to place three or nine stalks in Xun, especially in the office or bedroom. If you’re not sure how to locate the Xun corner, simply stand at the entrance of your home and pin the far left corner.
- Placing it in the relationship corner (known as “Kun”) will support a healthy and prosperous relationship with your current or future spouse. Kun can be found by standing at the entrance of your home and pinning the far right corner. You can place a water base in the Kun corner and put two lucky bamboo stalks inside it (one for you, and one for your partner). For more relationship balance, you want the stalks to be similar in size.
- Due to its connection to the wood element, lucky bamboo is often placed near the entry of the home. It symbolizes harmony in the family, new beginnings, and growth. Near the entry is where energy is allowed into your life, so this is why lucky bamboo should be placed here.
- Since lucky bamboo is associated with prosperity, you can also place it on your desk, the spot connected to your work and life path.
Lucky bamboo plants make excellent gifts and are common in feng shui practices, as they represent wealth, harmony, health, and new beginnings. These plants stand for different things based on their shape and number of stalks, so be sure to check out our section above, where we explain the significance of each number of stalks, just to make sure you’re giving the perfect gift to someone you care about.