water-bamboo

What is Water Bamboo?

The indoor plant known as water bamboo or lucky bamboo has a number of other names. Not really a bamboo at all – even though they look very similar – lucky bamboo is actually Dracaena sanderiana. It acquired the nickname water bamboo because it will grow for a long time in a small amount of water. True bamboo will quickly die in standing water.

Other Names for Water Bamboo

You may find this plant under a number of different names in nurseries and garden centers. These include:

  • Dracaena braunii
  • Dracaena sanderiana
  • Sander’s or ribbon dracaena
  • Curly bamboo
  • Chinese water bamboo
  • Friendship bamboo
  • Goddess of Mercy plant
  • Belgian evergreen
  • Ribbon plant.

Growing Water Bamboo

Water bamboo needs bright indoor light and temperatures that are consistently above 50°F (10°C). However, it cannot tolerate direct sun. A sunny windowsill with a translucent blind or shade for sun protection will give it the light it needs. Most homes meet the temperature requirement, but many people move this plant outdoors in the summer.

Containers for Water Bamboo

Glass and glazed ceramic are the most common containers for water bamboo. It can be grown in a vase or a flatter container that is heavy enough to prevent it tipping over. Fill the container with pebbles, marbles or glass chips to provide a base for the plant to grow on. The roots will reach down into the water but the plant itself must be above water level.

Water Quality

Water bamboo is very sensitive to chemicals. Rainwater is the ideal choice for this plant. However, filtered or distilled water will also work well. It’s better not to use tap water. Tap water from a well may be all right, but municipal water contains chlorine and may also contain fluoride. If necessary, you can let tap water sit out on a counter overnight to dissipate the chemicals.

Hard Water

Water from a well or spring might not have purifying chemicals like municipal water, but it may be hard water, with naturally dissolved minerals like calcium and lime. These can damage the plant and will often leave chemical deposits on the inside of the container. If you have a water-softener in your water system you can’t use that water for your water bamboo plants. Use rainwater, distilled water or filtered water instead.

Algae Problems

Algae can be a problem with water bamboo plants. This green growth commonly occurs if you over-fertilize or because of the high light conditions required for water bamboo. Change the water completely every two weeks – use room temperature water. Scrub the container and rinse well. Opaque containers should eliminate the problem of algae entirely.