Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana, USDA zones 10-11) is part of the asparagus plant family (Asparagaceae) and is not bamboo at all. This feng shui favorite is said to symbolize happiness and good fortune and has become a popular gift due to all that it represents. Lucky bamboo is a tropical plant that's easy to grow, but it is picky about a few factors, like how much water it prefers.
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The amount of water to give to lucky bamboo depends on your growing method.
Growing Lucky Bamboo in Soil
Growing in soil will give the lucky bamboo a longer life. If you do choose to grow your bamboo in soil, then it requires great drainage. Be sure to choose a container with a drainage hole, and use a loose potting mix instead of garden soil, which can become compacted and impede drainage.
Lucky bamboo doesn't like to dry out nor does it want to be waterlogged. Keep it moist and dump excess water from the pot's drainage tray if you must. However, try to avoid overwatering because you're pouring off soil nutrients each time you empty the drainage tray. Instead, water moderately and regularly.
Growing Lucky Bamboo in Water
A lucky bamboo needs to be submerged in at least 1 to 3 inches of water until it grows roots. Thereafter, simply covering the roots is sufficient for growing. However, if you have greater aspirations for your lucky bamboo, then you may want to keep deeper water. The higher the water level, the higher it will produce roots. Higher root growth means more roots, which in turn means more lush and abundant upper foliage.
Water and plant life often cause the production of algae, which grows if there's sunlight hitting the vessel and the water doesn't get changed enough. How often to change the water is a matter of debate, as some say to change the water weekly or at least once a month, whereas others say you can go two to three months between changes.
By having the roots covered with pebbles or rocks and then filling just as needed, the water level will drop each week, and you can simply top it off with fresh, filtered water. Fresh water will reduce the chances of algae growing, so it is best to do this weekly.
Cleaning the Container
As for completely changing the water, the container should be cleaned every two to three months to prevent bacteria from taking hold. Any rocks or pebbles should be cleaned too. Put them in a strainer and pour boiling water over them to kill any bacteria. This way, the rocks can't reintroduce anything to the newly cleaned container and fresh water. When adding fresh water after cleaning the container, feel free to add a drop of houseplant fertilizer to give it a helping hand. Only add a drop, though.
If your lucky bamboo is doing poorly, make sure you're not using tap water and take the appropriate measures to keep the plant healthy.
Be Careful With Light
Whether you are growing your plant in soil or water, you'll need indirect light. Lucky bamboo plants will scorch if they are left in direct sunlight. Even overly bright indirect light could be problematic, and you'll know because the edges of the leaves will be burned as if they've been too close to fire. If this happens, simply move the plant to a spot with less light but never keep the plant in a dark area.
Steffani Cameron is the daughter of a realtor and interior decorator mother and a home contractor father. Steffani is a professional writer with over five years' experience writing about the home for BuildDirect and Bob Vila. Raised with a mad love for decorating, Steffani gave up her Art Deco apartment to travel and work remotely for five years. She's in love with experiencing traditional decor around the world, including stays in Thai teak plantations on the Mekong River and cave homes in Turkey.