True Bamboo vs Lucky Bamboo
These two plants are very different except in name. Among the differences:
- Lucky bamboo will grown in plain water; true bamboo dies in standing water.
- True bamboo grows outdoors in USDA Zones 5 and above; lucky bamboo grows outdoors only in zones 10 and 11.
- True bamboo can reach over 100 feet; lucky bamboo tops out at five feet or less.
Growing Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboo does best in bright indirect light. Direct sunlight may burn leaves. It grows well in plain water – preferably rainwater or filtered water. It needs little or no fertilizer. A drop of liquid fertilizer once a month will easily meet its nutrient needs. However, it may also be grown in well-drained soil if kept moist.
Lucky Bamboo Growth Habits
Unlike true bamboo, which grows by elongating individual cells with water, lucky bamboo grows in sections with whorls of leaves. As the plant grows taller, lower leaves drop off, leaving the typical jointed stem appearance of a bamboo. It is considered a moderate grower – again very different from true bamboo, which can grow three feet in a day when mature.
How Lucky Bamboo Grows
Given the right growing conditions and care, lucky bamboo will typically grow about 19 inches in six months. The plant grows in a series of steps, shooting up a section of stem, then developing leaves. It repeats the process until it reaches maximum height, losing some leaves along the way so that leaves are concentrated on the plant top.
Lucky Bamboo at Maturity
Found in tropical rainforests in southeast Asia and Africa, lucky bamboo is not a large plant even in its native habitat. While this is partly due to competition for nutrients and light, even under the best conditions, a lucky bamboo plant rarely grows more than five feet tall. Individual leaves are typically about nine inches long at maturity.
Problems with Lucky Bamboo
Although lucky bamboo needs minimal care, that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Change the water at least every two weeks. Scrub the container clean and replace any pebbles, glass chips or marbles with fresh pieces. Use room temperature water and avoid tap water, which may have chlorine or fluoride in it. An opaque container will cut down on problems with algae.