Caring For Lucky Bamboo
You don't have to look very hard to find lucky bamboo nowadays. These plants pop up in offices, on desks, in businesses, and in homes pretty much everywhere. An important part of feng shui, lucky bamboo plants are said to bring good luck and fortune, especially if the plants were given as gifts.
These tough stalks can survive in vases of pure water or in soil, and in a wide variety of light conditions.
How To Care For Lucky Bamboo
Technically, lucky bamboo is not bamboo at all, but a species called Dracaena sanderiana.
Although most are grown in water, lucky bamboo can be potted up in soil.
One final caution: lucky bamboo leaves are mildly toxic, so they should not be kept in a place where pets or children are likely to snack on them.
Lucky bamboo prefer bright, filtered sunlight, such as 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.
Lucky bamboo can grow indefinitely in a simple vase filled with pebbles and at least an inch of water. However, they are very sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals commonly found in tap water. 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. Healthy lucky bamboo roots are red, so don't be alarmed in a glass vase if you can see red roots. Change the water weekly.
Lucky bamboo likes warmer temperatures. Do not place the plants in front of air conditioning or heating vents.
Fertilizer: Plants grown in water will only need to be fed every other month or so, using a very weak liquid fertilizer. A single drop of liquid fertilizer is plenty for most lucky bamboo arrangements.
Despite its intricate appearance, lucky bamboo is not shaped in the same way as bonsai, with plant wire and judicious trimming. Rather, they are shaped by rotating the plant stalks in front of a light source, thus causing the plant to naturally grow toward the light.
Trimming, however, 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. In general, it's not a good idea to cut the main stalk of a lucky bamboo. Instead, cut the offshoots with sterile snippers. You can trim offshoots 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 parafin.
The most common mistakes related to lucky bamboo are usually connected to the water. Chlorinated water will kill them over time, and water that is dirty or infected with bacteria can be deadly. If a plant develops black roots, these should be cut away. Similarly, dead leaves should never be allowed to rot in the water as they might introduce bacteria.