How to Trim Lucky Bamboo Leaves

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If you're looking for an easy-care plant bursting with personality, the lucky bamboo plant might be what you're seeking. Lucky bamboo (​Dracaena sanderiana​, USDA zones 9-12) is known for its ability to be manipulated to grow in all kinds of shapes and patterns, making it popular for gifts and home décor. Part of how to manipulate it comes down to encouraging growth through pruning, so it is helpful to understand how to trim lucky bamboo leaves.

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Why Prune a Lucky Bamboo?

Pruning is necessary unless you want this fast-growing plant to take over your home. It can grow to 3 feet in quick order. Pruning is how you can keep that growth in check, and you can do it at any time. Staying on top of it with regular pruning can mean creating new growth and more foliage. In addition, the plant gets very top heavy due to its vigorous growth rate, and this puts strain on its lower stalk and roots, making pruning necessary for keeping it strong and healthy.

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Tools Needed for Pruning

Before you head out to the garden to prune your lucky bamboo, you'll need the following tools:

  • Good pruning shears:​ Since the shoots and leaves are small to medium in size, precision bonsai pruning shears are perfect. Shears must be sterile before you start pruning because plants can get infected, so make sure the blades are clean.
  • A sharp knife:​ If you plan to shorten the plant by cutting the stalk or cane, you'll need a good utility knife. As long as it's sharp and clean, something from your kitchen will do the trick. Cutting the stalk is a risky gamble, as it's more likely to become infected, so the sharp and clean aspects are not negotiable.
  • Rooting compound:​ If you plan to root any of your cuttings for new plants, that's a whole other project, and you you'll likely need rooting compound.

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Tips on Pruning a Lucky Bamboo

Pruning a lucky bamboo can be tricky. Here are a few tips to get it right:

  • Shoots are the stems that grow out of main stalks. If you're not fond of how they're looking, you can cut them back flush to the stalk.
  • If you like the place in which it's growing but not the amount of growth, you can prune the stem to just an inch or two long, and it will promote more growth along its stub. Doing this will make the plant a bit bushier.
  • If you have leaves that have yellowed or browned, never clip off the damaged part of the leaf, as this can cause more problems, like infections. Instead, clip off the whole leaf at its base to redirect food and energy to other areas of the plant.

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Shortening a Lucky Bamboo

Cutting the top off the plant or just shortening the stalks or canes is a big choice because it will dramatically alter the plant's look. Wherever you cut it, a new shoot will jut out just below the top, and a whole new area of growth will begin.

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To do this:

  1. Look for the horizontal rings around the stalk; these are called nodes.
  2. Always make a clean, straight cut about 1/4 inch above the node.

Within days, new growth may occur all over the plant because this sort of pruning causes a lot of energy and food to be redirected, and abundant growth is the result of that. Any 6-inch cuttings that have a node in the middle are ideal for propagating your lucky bamboo plant.

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