The lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is both an attractive houseplant, and a symbol of good luck and fortune for people all over the world. This plant is usually sold in water, even though it is not actually an aquatic species. Fortunately, growing these charmed house plants hydroponically is great fun and easy to do.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about growing your plant in water.
Growing Lucky Bamboo In Water vs. Soil
Lucky bamboo plants are native to parts of West Africa where they grow in the understory of moist forest environments. There they are naturally adapted to growing in soil and are not typically found in water.
They can, however, grow and survive in water for long periods of time in containers and vases. Your plant will probably not grow as vigorously or as large if grown in water only, but many growers have kept these plants alive for several years by growing them this way.
You can grow your lucky bamboo in just about any container that will hold water. Glass and glazed ceramics make great choices. In a clear glass vase, algae can become an issue, especially if the container is exposed to any direct sunlight.
Choose a container that provides at least an inch (2.5cm) or so of extra room around the outside of the plant’s stems. This will provide them with room to grow and make cleaning and maintenance easier.
Lucky bamboo is a rather thin-looking plant when grown as a single stalk. In fact, they look best when grown in a group, and for the more superstitious growers out there, the number of stems you have in a single container has different meanings in feng shui.
For example, 3 stalks bring wealth, happiness, and luck, while 7 stalks are said to ensure good health. In fact, just about any number of plants in your vase will bring luck. Apparently, the only exception is 4!
While your lucky bamboo can grow without soil, it will still need some structure to root in. The best materials to use are inert gravel or small pebbles. You can pick up some small river stones or gravel from garden centers or, for a greater variety of colors, consider visiting an aquarium or pond supply store.
Whichever gravel or stone you select, be sure to wash it off thoroughly to remove any residue or dust. Forgetting this step will probably result in cloudy water.
To get started, pour a thin layer of gravel into your container, and then set your plant’s roots on top of them. Holding the plant in place, pour more gravel around the stalk to hold your plant in place.
Lucky bamboo is sensitive to the chemicals found in tap water. Common chemicals include Fluoride, Chlorine, and Chloramine. Continued exposure to these chemicals can be very harmful to your plants and will result in damage to the leaves.
Safe water sources include
- Reverse osmosis (RO) water
- Distilled water
- Well water
The water in your container should only just cover the roots of your plant. Having too much of your plant’s stem submerged underwater is not a good idea, so a depth of 1 or 2 inches (2.5-5cm) or so is usually sufficient.
Unlike soil, the water you grow your lucky bamboo in will need to be replaced regularly. Stagnant water will develop bacteria, fungi, and algae, which could be harmful to your plant.
It is good practice to change the water once a week or so, but many growers let it go longer without any trouble. While changing the water, take the opportunity to give the container and gravel a good cleaning too. This all helps to remove algae and prevent infections from bacteria and fungi.
Less is more when it comes to fertilizing this plant. Too much fertilizer can damage or even kill your plants, so always feed them with caution.
Lucky bamboo is not a heavy feeder, so frequent fertilizing is not hugely important. Plant-specific fertilizers are available and can be used safely, as long as the product-specific instructions are followed. Alternatively, a diluted balanced NPK fertilizer can be added to the water of your plant.
Planting lucky bamboo in water is easy if you follow the right steps and make the time for some simple regular maintenance. Use the information in this article to keep your plants healthy and looking great.
See more: How to care for lucky bamboo