In Chinese culture, bamboo is a symbol of luck and success. For that reason, potted bamboo plants are popular in home and office decorating, especially by proponents of Feng Shui philosophy. Lucky bamboo is often displayed with several stalks bundled together with a ribbon and held upright by pebbles inside a vase.
Bamboo is one of the least labor intensive plants given its simple growing requirements. It is perfect for children and adults who have little gardening or plant knowledge or time to maintain it. However, the right conditions must be in place. Follow these tips for your lucky bamboo plant.
Choose healthy bamboo stalks that are bright green with intact foliage. Avoid stalks that are yellow, brown, spotted, diseased, or infested with insects. If buying an arrangement, check that soil is moist and that roots are developed.
Place your bamboo plant near bright light, but not directly in it. Naturally growing bamboo is found in humid forests under tree canopies, and it cannot tolerate direct bright sun. The Ideal temperature for bamboo is between 65 degrees and 80 degrees. Possible locations in your home or office include near windows and on top of desks or side tables. Avoid placing bamboo near drafty windows or doors or near heating sources. If you grow it outdoors, bring it inside during cold months. Also, keep the plant away from pets because the leaves are poisonous to animals if ingested.
Overexposure to sun will cause algae to grow in the water, which affects the appearance and may damage the root system. Although bamboo can survive in low light conditions, moderate light is needed for stalks and foliage to prosper.
After bringing your new lucky bamboo plant home, hold off on watering it for a few days. This lets the plant adjust to the new lighting and temperature conditions.
Bamboo is a unique plant that can be grown both in water only or potting mix.
If your plant is grown in water only, ensure that it has a depth of at least 1 to 3 inches. Add more water only when the container is half full. Avoid using tap water because chemicals like chlorine and fluoride in it can damage the plant. Use filtered water or rain water instead. You can also use dirty aquarium water loaded with beneficial nutrients if you have it. Change the water entirely every week, but keep the water level consistent while the bamboo is young. Do not assume that adding more water means you do not have to water it as often. The root system is formed based on the level of water in the container, and fluctuations will change how the roots develop. Once the plant is larger and established, increase water level in the container.
If your plant is grown in soil, water enough to keep soil moist. However, always perform a finger test first. The top layer of soil can dry out, while the inside remains moist. To prevent overwatering your plant, insert your finger to a depth of 1 inch. If your finger is dry, then it's time to water.
Give your bamboo diluted plant food every 2 months. When you change the water, add a small amount of dirty aquarium water for its nutrients or a plant food like Miracle Gro. However, pay attention to the foliage and stalks. If you notice yellowing, the plant has been overfed. In this case, change the water and avoid feeding it for several months.
For a different decorative style from straight bamboo stalks, you can force your bamboo stalks to curl over time. Place your bamboo plant near bright light. Using a cardboard box with one side removed, and cover your plant with the open side facing the light. Over time, the stalks will bend towards the light. When you observe a bend, rotate the plant to encourage a spiral design. Keep in mind that bamboo grows slowly, so this process will take time.
Avoid transferring your bamboo to a larger pot as it grows taller. The stems thrive when crowded together, so cut off length instead. Cut the stalk about an inch above one of the nodes, the rings growing around the stalk. Wait a few days and then promote growth by misting the top with a spray water bottle.
For the tops that were cut off, insert the bottoms into rooting hormone. Follow manufacturer's instructions carefully. Let the bottoms dry out overnight and then put the stalks in water for rooting. Grow the stalks as you would an established bamboo plant.