About Lucky Bamboo
The houseplant known as lucky bamboo doesn’t even belong to the bamboo family. It’s actually Dracaena sanderiana. Most commonly grown in water but occasionally grown in soil, it likes bright filtered light, occasional fertilizer and a warm environment. Like other Dracaenas, its sap contains a chemical that can be toxic to cats, dogs and people if ingested.
Caring for Lucky Bamboo
Like most plants, lucky bamboo will usually thrive if its cultural requirements are met. These include:
- Bright filtered light, such as a south-facing window with a translucent screen.
- Regular potting soil or a container with about one inch of water over rocks or marbles.
- A drop of liquid fertilizer every other month or so.
- Temperatures between 65 and 90°F (18 and 32°C).
When lucky bamboo leaves begin to yellow, one of the first things to do is check the light situation. Lucky bamboo can tolerate a little direct sunlight. Overdo it and the leaves will begin to yellow and shrivel as they dry out. Solving the problem is simple – cut back on light. Too much fertilizer can also result in yellowing leaves.
Check the Water
Lucky bamboo grows well in plain water, but the quality of the water is very important. The plant is extremely sensitive to chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine. Rainwater or filtered water are better choices than tap water and distilled water is also an option. If you have to use tap water, place it in a bowl on the counter overnight to dissipate chemicals. Always use room temperature water.
When Stems Turn Yellow
Yellow stems on lucky bamboo is a much more serious problem than yellow leaves. Yellow stems indicate a systemic problem that’s affecting the whole plant, such as an infection. Most plants move on from yellow stems to mushy or rotten stems, indicating the whole plant is dying. At this point, you’re better off to throw the plant away and get a new one.
Prevention is the Best Strategy
Keep your lucky bamboo healthy and yellow leaves won’t ever show up. In addition to managing light levels, be meticulous about preventing contamination. Change the water at least once a week and thoroughly clean the container. Rinse well to remove cleaning chemicals. Use an opaque container if algae is a problem.