Q: There are plants which can grow in water only and are sold at Oriental booths in the malls. They look like a tall stick but they begin to twist near the top. What is this plant and how do you get it to twist?
Hardiness Zone: 9b
Sindi from Phoenix, AZ
The plant you're referring to is bamboo. It normally grows in straight sticks, but you can make it curl by manipulating the light conditions as it grows. As the plant grows, it is shielded on three sides. One easy way to do this is to put the bamboo sticks in a vase of water and place the whole thing in a covered box. Cut a small hole (a few inches in diameter) in one side of the top of the box. This allows only one side of the vase inside access to bright light. As the plants grow naturally toward the light, you can manually rotate the vase every time the stalk grows a few inches (usually once every week or so). Each time you rotate the vase a new side is exposed to the light and the stick will start growing in that direction. It can take as long at 6 months to make 1 full curl in the bamboo.
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We have one in my office. It has sat in a tall vase for 2 years in only water. I have to add water about once a month, but I have never had to change the water. It twists on it's own. It has grown to over 5 feet. It sits on my desk and goes to the ceiling with no support. Great plant for those without a green thumb. (05/10/2006)
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