Lucky bamboo, a dark-green houseplant that is normally sold and grown in vases of water, has been a symbol of good fortune for centuries. It is not a true bamboo plant--technically it is a member of the Dracaena family-- but it so closely resembles a stalk of bamboo that its nickname seems destined to stick. Although lucky bamboo plants can thrive for years growing in nothing but water, they react to sub-standard conditions by dropping leaves, turning yellow or brown, or even starting to rot away. If your bamboo plant is sick, you can restore it to health.

Bamboo leaves
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Step 1

Assess the quality of the water your bamboo plant is growing in. Stagnant water, chlorinated water and water with too much fluoride are all toxic for bamboo plants; your plant might react by displaying yellow or brown leaf tips and edges. Stop using water straight from the tap, and replace the water with water that you have let sit for 24 hours, which allows chlorine and fluoride to dissipate. Change the water weekly.

Step 2

Use the pH strips to determine if your water is "hard" or soft." Soft water contains salt that is harmful for bamboo plants, and is another cause of browning or yellowing leaves. If your water is soft, stop putting the plant in tap water, and switch to water that is filtered or distilled.

Step 3

Check the level of the water. It should be an inch above the roots; any further up, and you risk stem rot. Your bamboo plant may also drop its lower leaves.

Step 4

Sniff the bamboo plant to see if you can detect a sulfur scent; your bamboo plant may have this odor if parts of it are decayed. Use a sharp scissors to cut off any brown or diseased-looking parts, even if on the stalk. If you cut three-quarters of an inch above a joint, your bamboo plant may put out a new shoot.

Step 5

Assess the amount of light your bamboo plant is getting. In its natural environment, this plant grows underneath tall rainforest trees, so it requires light that is bright but indirect. Too much sun causes leaves to burn, and to display round dry patches and streaks. With inadequate light, your plant will look pale and "leggy," and be very slow to grow.

Step 6

Move your bamboo plant away from entrance ways and foyers, and into a part of the house with no drafts or sudden temperature changes. Bamboo plants react to these conditions by dropping leaves.

Step 7

Fertilize your bamboo plant with a dilute solution of plant food. African Violet fertilizer, diluted down to a tenth of its original strength, is a good choice.

Step 8

Continue to fertilize the plant every week when you change the water.

Step 9

Mist your plant regularly to maintain humidity; shriveled leaf tips and edges mean the air is too dry.