How to Grow and Shape Lucky Bamboo (2023)

Sculptural lucky bamboo plants have eye-catching shapes, swirls, or braided stalks, and are frequently spotted in offices and residences for the purpose of good feng shui. They can also be trained so that stalks grow straight as an arrow and are adorned with smallish, simple floppy green leaves. Though the plant looks like bamboo and grows fast like bamboo (it can grow well over a foot in six months), it's not related to it at all, and it's actually more of a succulent. Be aware that this plant is not lucky for pets because it's toxic to cats and dogs.

Lucky Bamboo and Chinese Traditions

According to Chinese traditions, the significance of lucky bamboo is tied to how manystalksyou have. There are different meanings associated with various lucky bamboo arrangements. For example:

  • Two stalks represent love.
  • Three stalks represent Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life).
  • Five stalks represent balance, peace, harmony, and power in all areas of your life.
  • Six stalks represent good luck and wealth.
  • Seven stalks represent good health.
  • Eight stalks represent growth.
  • Nine stalks represent great luck.
  • Ten stalks represent perfection.
  • Twenty-one stalks represent a powerful blessing.

You'll rarely find a traditional lucky bamboo arrangement with four stalks. In Chinese culture, the word for "four" is close to the word for "death," so a gift of four bamboo stalks would be considered very rude as if you had wished death on the recipient.

Common NameLucky bamboo, friendship bamboo, ribbon plant
Botanical NameDracaena sanderiana
Plant TypePerennial shrub
Mature Size1–5 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide (indoors)
Sun ExposurePartial shade
Soil TypeWater or moist but well-drained soil
Soil pHAcidic
Bloom TimeFall, winter (does not bloom indoors)
Flower ColorWhite
Hardiness Zones10–11 (USDA), but typically used indoors
Native AreaAfrica
ToxicityToxic to animals


Watch Now: How to Take Care of Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo Care

Lucky bamboo has a well-earned reputation as being nearly indestructible, which makes this plant ideal for novice gardeners or forgetful waterers. You may want to get the light and water levels just right for your lucky bamboo so it thrives. Lucky bamboo is easy to care for as long as you grow it in good quality water.

How to Grow and Shape Lucky Bamboo (1)

How to Grow and Shape Lucky Bamboo (2)

(Video) My Secret to Grow Healthy Lucky Bamboo Indoors & Propagate Easily

How to Grow and Shape Lucky Bamboo (3)


When it comes to light, lucky bamboo prefers bright, filtered sunlight, such as what is found under a rainforest canopy. Avoid direct sunlight as it will scorch the leaves. They are more tolerant of too little light than too much. If the plant begins to stretch, however, or the green fades, provide more light. Rotate your plant often so that the light reaches the entire plant evenly.


Lucky bamboo can be grown in well-drained, rich potting soil. The soil should be kept moist, but not soaked. Additionally, it can thrive well when housed in pebbles or simply a vase filled with water, as long as it has at least an inch of standing water at all times.


Lucky bamboo is very sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals commonly found in tap water. Tap water is fine to use unless you havehard water(containing a lot of minerals). Because of this, it's a good idea to water your lucky bamboo only with bottled or distilled water, or tap water that has been left out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

If growing in a water vase filled with pebbles, change the water weekly to avoid any diseases and odors. Make sure that the water is always completely covering the roots. Add a bit of water every two to seven days as needed. Completely change the water every two to three months or more frequently if you find the water giving off a foul odor.

Temperature and Humidity

As you may expect, lucky bamboo plants prefer warmer temperatures, ranging between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing your plant anywhere near a draft (hot or cold), in front of an air conditioner, heating vent, or by a drafty window.Average humidity is fine for your lucky bamboo plant, so don't stress about increasing the levels in your home.


A single drop of liquid fertilizer each month is plenty for most lucky bamboo arrangements. Alternatively, specialty lucky bamboo fertilizers are available.

Plants grown in water will only need to be fed every other month or so using a very weak liquid fertilizer. Healthy lucky bamboo roots are red, so don't be alarmed if you can see red roots floating in a glass vase.

How to Grow and Shape Lucky Bamboo (4)


Despite its complex appearance, lucky bamboo is not pruned and shaped in the same way as bonsai, with plant wire and judicious trimming. Pruning is an important part of keeping your lucky bamboo healthy. Over time, most plants will become top-heavy, or intricate shapes will begin to lose their form but trimming helps keep that under control. In general, it's not a good idea to cut the main stalk of lucky bamboo. Instead, cut the offshoots using sterile snippers. You can trim them back to within an inch or two of the main stem. New shoots will soon emerge, and the resulting plant will be bushier. To discourage new growth, dip the cut end in paraffin.

The shapes of lucky bamboo plants are formed not by trimming, but by rotating the plant stalks in front of a light source, which causes the plant to naturally grow toward the light. Professionals often grow stalks on their sides to create their distinctive spiraling shapes. But at home, this is a laborious process that takes patience and time to get right. It can be accomplished by placing the plants under a three-sided box, then paying close attention to their growth rates, and rotating the plants slowly and regularly.

(Video) Lucky Bamboo Care and Propagation for Beginners

Propagating Lucky Bamboo

You canpropagate lucky bambooat any time using cuttings to create new plants for yourself or to give to someone as an auspicious gift. But the rooting won't be shaped like the kind of plant you'd purchase. Take these steps to propagate lucky bamboo:

  1. Use a sterile, sharp cutting shear to take a stem cutting off the main stalk that has at least one leaf joint and trim the leaves to expose the growth nodes.
  2. Put the bare cutting into a container filled with enough distilled water to completely cover the bottom of the cutting.
  3. Keep the water clean and fresh as you watch for the development of red roots. Roots should appear in around 30 days.
  4. When the roots emerge, put the stalk in a decorative vase with water and pebbles or a pot with soil.

Potting and Repotting Lucky Bamboo

A lucky bamboo arrangement in a low dish or bowl should have at least one inch of space between the stalks and the edge of the vessel. This space allows the roots to spread out and support the plant. If your stalks are growing in a large glass vase, be sure the vessel is proportionate to the bamboo's height and can support the stalks. The water level should be just enough to fully submerge the roots but should not rise to meet the stalks.

If your plant has outgrown its vessel, transplanting lucky bamboo is relatively easy. Take these simple steps to repot the plant:

  1. Start with a clean container that is slightly bigger than the current one.
  2. If the lucky bamboo is growing in a pot of pebbles, gently dig up a planted lucky bamboo.
  3. Clean the pebbles with water before placing them in the new container.
  4. Carefully add the bamboo plant and take care to nestle the roots within the pebbles. You may need to add more pebbles to cover the roots and support the plant.
  5. If your bamboo is growing in a pot of water without pebbles, simply remove the stalks from the water, place them in a larger container and refill the water to the same level.

Common Pests

Lucky bamboo is susceptible to the same insect problems as other indoor tropical plants. They can be treated manually (picking off bugs) or by the same methods you'd use on any other indoor plant. Watch for mealybugs, aphids, and mites. You can even wash the entire plant in a very mild liquid dish soap and water (rinse thoroughly) to remove bugs, as well as any moldy spots.

Common Problems With Lucky Bamboo

Although lucky bamboo is an easy-going plant, there are a few issues to be on the lookout for as it grows. If your lucky bamboo plant dies, it will not mean you are going to have bad luck, it simply means it didn't receive ideal care or its lifespan has simply ended. The problems with this plant usually have to do with the quality of water used to grow and maintain the plant. Taking care to stay on top of changing the water and using the right quality water may eliminate any of the following problems.

Browning Leaf Tips

Chlorinated water or water with high levels of additives can cause leaf tips to turn brown and possibly kill the plant over time. Remove affected leaves with a sterile, sharp scissor. Remove dead leaves from the water so they do not rot because this may introduce bacteria.

Black Roots

There could be many reasons a plant develops black roots. The best course of action is to use small clean snips to cut the black roots away immediately and return the stalks to a container of new water.


If you notice algae growing in the water, it's usually because the plant is potted in a clear vase, allowing light to penetrate, and encouraging algae growth. Just clean out the vase so it's squeaky clean (use mild liquid dish detergent and water) and start again. You may want to switch to an opaque container if algae is a persistent problem.

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves on lucky bamboo usually indicate that the plant is receiving too much sun or too much fertilizer. Cut out the fertilizer and move the plant to a shadier location.

Brown Leaves

Brown leaves on lucky bamboo usually indicate dry air or polluted water. You can raise the humidity level by spraying the plant regularly. Make sure you're using the appropriate quality of water in the container, as well.

Mushy Stalks

If the stalks themselves begin to rot or turn mushy and black, they are likely beyond saving. It also means the roots are dead or dying. Many reasons contribute to dead stalks, such as poor water quality, a fungus, or bacteria that was growing in the plant when it was received.Decaying stalks threaten any other stalks they are close to, so your best bet is to remove them at once. If you have surviving stalks, you will need to change the water and replace the stones that were in the container.


(Video) Lucky Bamboo Propagation Tutorial

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(Video) how to curl lucky bamboo


How do you shape a lucky bamboo? ›

Keep the box and plant there until you notice the plant leaning towards the light source the plant

How do you shape bamboo growth? ›

The shapes of lucky bamboo plants are formed not by trimming, but by rotating the plant stalks in front of a light source, which causes the plant to naturally grow toward the light. Professionals often grow stalks on their sides to create their distinctive spiraling shapes.

How do I make my lucky bamboo grow more branches? ›

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert: The nature of lucky bamboo is to grow a single stalk. However, you can make al lucky bamboo stalk branch by cutting the top off. If you top the lucky bamboo stalk, two new branches will appear on the side of the stalk just below the cut. You can then root the top to start a new stalk.

How do you train a lucky bamboo stalk to be spiral? ›

Care for your plant as normal until the plant starts leaning towards the light. Slightly rotate the plant, and it will continue to grow towards the light. Keep rotating the plant as it leans slightly — if you spin it in the same direction it will eventually become a spiral.

Does lucky bamboo grow better in soil or water? ›

Lucky bamboo can be grown in soil or water. If you're growing the plant in water, filtered or distilled water is your best option for keeping your bamboo's roots moist and healthy. (Tap water may contain chemicals that can burn its stalks). Always use clean water to refresh your plant.

How do I make my lucky bamboo grow curly? ›

Lucky bamboo plants need indirect light to thrive, and at least some of their cells must know this because the stalk of the plant grows in the direction of the light. The trick to "curling" the stem is to manipulate it's growth pattern, using light, until it has wound itself into a circle.

How do you make bamboo shape? ›

Prepare to bend the bamboo pole.
  1. Begin by torching the pole again. ...
  2. Periodically wipe the pole with a wet rag. ...
  3. As you work the pole with the torch, begin to bend the bamboo pole into your desired shape.
  4. Repeat torching, bending, and dampening until you finesse the bamboo into the desired shape.

Should I put my lucky bamboo in soil? ›

Dracaena sanderiana

They're called “lucky bamboo,” and despite their ubiquitous presence, they are anything but common. Lucky bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana, is widely cultivated as a houseplant that can grow in both water and soil.

How do I make my bamboo bushier? ›

Cut lower branches off at their origin on the culm. To maintain nice appearance, it's best to use hedge trimmers or a mower to cut dwarf bamboo plants back to ground level every year, as you would with many ornamental grasses. This helps to rejuvenate the plant and keep it looking dense and bushy.

What kills lucky bamboo? ›

Lucky bamboo requires minimal care: Simply refill with water to maintain a constant level and replace the water completely about once per month. Distilled water is best. Tap water won't kill lucky bamboo, but over time the fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals it contains cause the edges of the leaves to turn brown.

How often do you need to water lucky bamboo? ›

Your lucky Bamboo plant doesn't need a lot of water. In fact, too much is bad for it. 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 pot, make sure that it's not too moist or dry.

Does lucky bamboo regrow when cut? ›

If you wish to cut back your lucky bamboo more drastically, with the intention to reshape it, you can cut as many shoots as you want flush to the stalk. Usually new shoots will not regrow from the pruned areas due to the close cuts.

When should I repot my bamboo? ›

Bamboo grows quickly, so must be repotted when you start seeing leaves that are much lighter in color than usual, markedly fewer new shoots and stalks that are thin and weak.

How many bamboo stalks are lucky? ›

Six stalks attract prosperity and advantages to achieve greater wealth. In the Chinese language, “six” sounds like the word “luck”. Seven stalks bestow good health.

How do you make bamboo shape? ›

Prepare to bend the bamboo pole.
  1. Begin by torching the pole again. ...
  2. Periodically wipe the pole with a wet rag. ...
  3. As you work the pole with the torch, begin to bend the bamboo pole into your desired shape.
  4. Repeat torching, bending, and dampening until you finesse the bamboo into the desired shape.

Where do you cut lucky bamboo? ›

Cut straight across the top of your plant if you want to shorten the lucky bamboo. Topping just means that you cut off the leaves and top of the stalk. It also encourages the bottom of the plant to put out new shoots and leaves, so topping is a good idea if you want the plant to fill out.

What do I do if my lucky bamboo is too tall? ›

If the plant is getting too tall, cut an offshoot from the main stem one inch above the node. Set the newly cut stalk in two inches of water and wait for roots to grow. In a few weeks, the new plant is ready to continue growing in water alone or potted in soil.


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