Is your lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) looking a little untidy? Maybe it’s grown too tall and become a little top-heavy for your favorite vase. Whatever the reason, pruning this wonderful plant is easy with a little know-how. Read on for everything you need to know.
What You’ll Need
- A sharp pair of pruning shears or heavy-duty scissors
- Isopropyl alcohol or a bleach dip and a rag to disinfect your cutting tools of any bacteria or fungal spores before spreading them to your plant.
- A candle or paraffin wax (optional)
Once you’ve gathered all these supplies, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started.
Preparing Your Cutting Tools
Make sure your cutting tools are sharp before pruning. A sharp blade is safer to use and makes a clean cut, which does a lot less damage to the plant. A regular heavy-duty pair of scissors can be used for this job, but a decent pair of hand pruners is the best tool for the job.
It’s always a good idea to disinfect your scissors before pruning. Bacteria and fungal spores on the blades can infect your plants, so it’s worth spending an extra minute or two to prevent any health issues in the future.
To do this, simply wipe them down with a clean rag or cotton balls dabbed in isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. Alternatively, alcohol wipes can be used for this purpose.
When To Prune
Lucky bamboo is an evergreen plant that generally responds very well to pruning. This means you can trim your plant at any time of the year.
How To Prune
Your lucky bamboo plant will have one or more stalks, with one or more leafy shoots growing from its nodes. The nodes are the rings on the stalk which make this plant look like a true bamboo. You can trim either the stalk or the shoots of your lucky bamboo.
If your plants have grown too tall and you wish to shorten them down drastically, cutting the stalk is a good option, although this will leave your plant looking rather bare until a new shoot develops. The good news is that you can use the off-cut to propagate a new lucky bamboo plant.
If you plan on pruning the stalk, make your cut about half an inch above a node. The new shoot will grow from the nearest node.
If you’re happy with the height of your plant, but would prefer to see it grow a little denser and bushier, shoot pruning will be the better option. By trimming the shoots back close to the stalk, you will encourage the plant to produce new leafy stalks, creating your desired look.
Sealing With Wax
Since new shoots grow from the nodes of the lucky bamboo plant, cutting the main stalk creates a wound that will not regrow. This cut can result in a lot of moisture loss for the plant, or even worse, an infection can set in.
To prevent this, many growers will seal the cut in wax. This is not an absolutely necessary step, but it is easy to do and provides long-lasting protection. You can use regular candle wax from an uncolored and unscented candle, or paraffin wax for this task.
Simply heat the wax over a stove or in the microwave and dip the tip of the cut stalk in the liquid wax. Remember to be careful, when doing this, hot wax can burn your skin and paraffin is flammable.
One of the reasons for the popularity of lucky bamboo as a houseplant is its ease of care and maintenance. Many growers put off trimming their plants because they are worried that they will damage them. With the right tools and knowledge, however, there’s really very little to worry about.
After reading this article, you are ready to prune your lucky bamboo to make it shorter, bushier, or both. Have fun!