Growing "Lucky Bamboo"

Category House Plants
Lucky Bamboo or Dracaena sanderiana is a tropical plant native to the rain forests of west Africa. This is a page about growing "Lucky Bamboo".


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August 2, 2005

Evidence that quick and inexpensive doesn't have to mean tacky and cheap. This elegantly simple good luck bamboo arrangement cost less than $10 to make, and was literally assembled in the back seat of a cab. It took less than fifteen minutes, not counting shopping and planning time. All the materials were bought at the local "Everything for a Buck" store - including the bamboo. If your dollar store doesn't carry living bamboo, you can usually pick up cut pieces for $2-$5 per piece.

The good luck bamboo is a traditional Chinese gift to those starting a new endeavor in their lives. Bamboo is typically used as wedding favors and given to those moving into a new home or beginning a new business. Because bamboo has such a long lifespan and can live and grow with little sustenance other than water, it's the perfect gift to wish prosperity and good luck.


Compare it to a florist's arrangement using similar materials at $25-$40.



  1. Choose bamboo with fresh shoots and interesting patterns. I chose stems of three different sizes to capture the asymmetry that is so lovely in Oriental ikebana.

  2. Trim the bamboo with a sharp paring knife if needed. Be certain that the knife is sharp. A blunt knife can crush the bamboo, making it more difficult for it to draw up water into its stems and leaves.

  3. Stand the tallest bamboo stem in the glass, holding it in place while arranging a single layer of glass aquarium stones or marbles around its base. Nudge the stones in close around the bamboo stem to give it support - but don't let go of the stem yet.

  4. Add the second bamboo stem, to the right or left of the first. Again, fill in around and between the two stems with glass marbles or stones. At this point, the stems should be able to stand on their own with the marbles holding them in place.

  5. Add the third and shortest stem, then fill the glass to the top with glass marbles, being careful not to crush the bamboo. Once the glass is filled, you can adjust the angle and direction of the bamboo shoots till it's pleasing to the eye.

  6. Choose a fitting wine charm to clasp around the stem of the glass. Because I made this arrangement to celebrate the grand opening of my brother's shop, I added yet another Chinese good luck symbol - a small silver turtle. Other appropriate ideas might be a flower, a frog or a coin.

  7. Carefully fill the glass with tepid water to within a half inch of the top. If desired, you can add plant food to the water, mixed according to package directions, but the bamboo will do just fine without it.

Caring for your bamboo plant

Caring for the bamboo plant is a simple matter of giving it plenty of light, and topping up the water whenever it evaporates and the top layer of marbles is dry. It will grow for years with just a little care.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

August 16, 2017

I have been growing bamboo in glass containers in my window for about 8 months. The water stayed clear and no fungus or algae occurred. All I ever did was add water or a few drops of plant food. I'm often out of town for a week and normally when I return the water is still clean and clear. This last time the water had turned green and the green fungus, algae or whatever the green is, was growing on the inside.


I can't figure out how this all of a sudden started happening. Anyone know what would cause this or what I can do to prevent this? I read that one solution was to add charcoal. I added small pieces of horticultural charcoal, but it floats to top and the water turned grey. It looks bad. Thanks.


August 16, 20170 found this helpful

This could be a problem with the water in your glass container. If you are using tap water to refill the container this could be your problem. Tap water contains high amounts of chlorine, which isn't good for growing the Lucky Bamboo plant. Furthermore, when growing such a plant it is recommended that you keep the plant out of direct sunlight. These two factors could of caused your water to turn green. I would suggest emptying your water and using distilled water in your glass container. Move the plant away from the window and direct sunlight.

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August 16, 20171 found this helpful

Perhaps the direction of the sun has changed and your window is getting more direct sun than it has in the past 8 months.


I'm assuming you are growing them in rocks and using either bottled or distilled water but you may also be over fertilizing them. You say drops so I'm assuming also that you are using fertilizer for lucky bamboo but you may still be giving too much as they will really grow well with only a drop or two every few months.

Here is a link that has a lot of information about the care but the second link has instructions on how to clean the green algae from your plant and rocks (which has to be done carefully).

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August 16, 20170 found this helpful

Tap water has chlorine, which causes green water. Try to use distilled water.

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August 20, 20171 found this helpful

Sounds like to me you need to change the glass containers, not the water.

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April 13, 2011

I broke my mother's bamboo plant at the stalk, upsetting us both. Will it live or die? It's still attached, and she taped it for support. Will it live? How do I fix it?

By Gabby from PA


April 18, 20111 found this helpful

It's fine! Bamboo is impossible to kill. It grows and spreads forever and ever.

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May 19, 20111 found this helpful

I don't know anything about bamboo outside, but if the bamboo is a house plant you can cut it off at the stalk where it broke. You can then put the broken piece in a new container, or even in the same container as the original plant. You may be able to root it. Leave the bottom part of the broken stalk in the original container. It will probably send out new stalks from the original. Be sure you keep the stalk ends in water and do not fertilize. You may end up with two bamboo plants instead of one!

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May 19, 20111 found this helpful

I don't know anything about bamboo outside, but if the bamboo is a house plant you can cut it off at the stalk where it broke. You can then put the broken piece in a new container, or even in the same container as the original plant. You may be able to root it. Leave the bottom part of the broken stalk in the original container. It will probably send out new stalks from the original. Be sure you keep the stalk ends in water and you have a good chance of success. You may end up with two bamboo plants instead of one!

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I read the previous answers and I am wondering about transplanting my "lucky bamboo" from its ceramic stone filled 2x5in box to a 5 to 10 gallon smartpot. With this I have plenty of time and indoor grow equipment to work with during winter months. My question is how large will this plant get and is it worth growing in a 5 gallon or larger pot? Also how do I clone or will it just spread on its own?


November 17, 20171 found this helpful

Some bamboo plants I believe grow to the size of their pot. Others only grow to the variety size, while some require their roots to be somewhat compact. Some "lucky' bamboo plants are not even real bamboo. So, its hard to answer this one. The big thing about them is that chlorine water will kill them over time. So, try to water it with bottled water when possible.
As for your original question, only replanting it will tell you for sure, but most likely it will grow larger once in a bigger pot.

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November 17, 20171 found this helpful

Leave it alone. It needs a tall glass vase or ceramic container

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October 18, 2014

How can I twist a straight bamboo stem into a curl or twist? I bought a straight bamboo stem and now I want to make it curly. I need help.

By Mina


October 19, 20140 found this helpful

You can't just "twist" a straight bamboo stem. It's not like hair! :-) The curls in bamboo stems were grown that way. The part of the stem that is already straight will always stay straight.

It's possible to grow a curly plant yourself, but it will take many months to get a curl, and during that time it must remain covered by a box with one small hole that lets light in, which the plant will bend and grow towards and make the stem curve. Not the best way to enjoy your plant!

There are instructions online for how to make bamboo curly, but if you really want one it would be a lot faster and easier to buy one that was already grown that way by professionals.

And just a little trivia, these curly (or straight) plants being sold as "lucky bamboo" aren't really bamboo at all - they're not even related to bamboo! They're called dracaena, and are actually in the lily family!

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October 7, 2012

My friend gave me a branch from her bamboo plant. I first had it in water, then it seemed the leaves were turning yellow and it ended up dying. So I am now trying another branch in gravel in a little amount of water. My bamboo plant seems to just sit and never grows. I want to do a twisted plant, but cannot have success in growing them. Can you help? What am I doing wrong?

By Pat H from Ragland, AL

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November 16, 2009

I have a small twisted bamboo that grows on stones in water. My question is can I trim the roots to promote growth or should I just leave them alone? I have had it for almost 2 years and change the water occasionally; it grows beautifully. So do I leave it alone or is there a benefit in trimming the roots? Like you would with fresh flowers put in a vase?

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November 16, 2009
By Ellen Brown

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

A: Sindi,

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.

Try it!


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Growing Bamboo Plants - Twisting Water Plant

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)

By Brenda

Growing Bamboo Plants - Twisting Water Plant

  1. Place the plant in an area of indirect sunlight.
  2. After a couple days, the bamboo will begin to reach for the sunlight.
  3. Turn the bamboo slightly, after the bamboo stalk has grown a few inches. Turn the bamboo based on how curly you would like the bamboo stalk.
  4. It will take a few months for the bamboo to have a distinct curl. It is worth the wait.

By certified

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