If you're trying to green your space, it's good to know how to propagate your houseplants yourself so you can grow more plants without forking over cash. One plant that's famously easy to propagate from cuttings is the lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana, USDA hardiness zones 9-12). Decorators and apartment dwellers love the lucky bamboo since it can be grown in soil or in water.
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What Is Plant Propagation?
Propagation sounds complicated, but it's a practice that horticulturists have used for centuries. When you cut a twig or branch off a healthy parent plant and then encourage that cutting to grow roots, that's the start of propagation from a cutting. You can also grow from seed or divide the root clumps of some plants to make more plants. Whatever the case, once roots have established, the cutting is planted, and if luck prevails, a healthy new, independent plant grows. One day in a few months, the circle of propagated life can continue, and you can take more cuttings from the new plants.
If farmers and plant nursery owners had to pay for a new plant every time, they'd quickly go broke. Propagating some plants from cuttings is as tried and true a practice as saving seeds for the next growing season, and the most important skill you'll need is patience. The basics of propagating are pretty similar for most plants, but whereas others may need extra help, lucky bamboo keeps things simple.
How to Propagate a Cutting
Brace yourself for the list of things you need: pruning shears and a small vase or glass of water. That's all it takes. While helpful for propagating other plants, things like rooting compound or fertilizer are unnecessary with easy-to-root lucky bamboo. But it's important that the shears are sharp and sterile, as a dull cut can be traumatic to both the cutting and the parent plant, and infections can happen when shears aren't clean.
On the parent plant, look for a healthy shoot off the main stalk. It should have at least two segments or nodes on it. Cut it in a sharp, straight line just above where it connects to the parent plant. Wherever you cut, you'll be encouraging new growth on the parent plant, so be sure it's somewhere you're wanting it to be fuller.
Meanwhile, on the cutting, remove the bottom layer of leaves to encourage new plant growth. Place the bottom of the cutting into at least 2 inches of filtered or distilled water. Now, it's a waiting game. It can take a few weeks for roots to start showing, but as they do, you should see new leaf growth too. Care for it as you would any water-grown lucky bamboo by replacing the water once a month with fresh filtered or distilled water.
Once the Roots Establish
If it's been a few weeks and you have new growth and new roots, it's time to make your bamboo feel at home. Plant it on soil if you like, or continue growing it in water. For water planting, just add some pebbles or rocks or marbles to a container so that your bamboo stalk is snug and secure among them.
Always keep the roots covered, whether it's with water or with soil. Lucky bamboo can do better as a water-grown plant in its early days, but if you want it to live a longer life, eventually replanting it on soil is the move to make.
Be sure to always used filtered or distilled water for any lucky bamboo plants no matter how they're growing because they are notoriously sensitive to fluoride, which can cause brown leaves. Luckily, the lucky bamboo is an easy plant to keep healthy, and it's perfect for folks who like low-maintenance houseplants.