Fads impact all parts of life from what we wear to what plants we use in the house and garden.
Plants that are newly introduced to an area are exciting but often expensive and in short supply.
Ones that are easy to grow, and attractive do not disappear from the shelves; instead they become a mainstay.
Lucky Bamboo, dracaena sanderiana, is one of those plants that was introduced from Asia and is now commonly seen in homes, offices and malls.
In Asian culture, the plant is often given as a present. The person who gives the plant is also expressing their hopes for the recipient’s future. Two stems speak of love, three of happiness, five of wealth and six of health.
Lucky Bamboo looks like bamboo and grows quickly but is not really bamboo. It in fact is part of the dracaena or lily family. When found in the wild it is part of the understory of the tropical forest.
Like many plants that grow in that environment it is easy to care for.
Lucky Bamboo thrives in bright but diffused light but will also grow in lower lit areas. The leaves of the plant turn yellow when it is placed in direct sunlight.
Normal building temperatures are ideal for the plant, between 18 to 24C (65 to 75F)
Lucky Bamboo can be grown in water or soil. Most plants that are sold are in water and held in place with a combination of pebbles and wire.
Growers will have trained the plants into distinctive shapes such as spirals.
The plants will continue to thrive in water for many years. To keep the plant healthy it is recommended that the water be changed weekly.
The plants do best is water that is approximately one inch (three cm) in depth.
Lucky Bamboo is sensitive to water quality. Leaves will start to turn yellow if the water is dirty or high in salts or chlorine.
While distilled water is often recommended another solution is to allow the water to sit overnight to allow all the chlorine to dissipate before using it in the Lucky Bamboo container.
Changing the water regularly ensures that the water is fresh and does not stagnate. Water left in clear containers tends to have algae growth which is unpleasant and harmful.
The wire and string that hold the stems in formation will eventually need to be removed.
As the stems age and grow in diameter, the binding material does not expand. Instead it cuts into the stem and disturbs the flow of nutrients.
Lucky Bamboo stems can be removed from the water and potted into soil. The edges of the roots should touch the edges of the pot. Repot soil-based plants when the roots cover the complete inside of the pot or the plant needs to be watered more than once a week. Choose a well-drained potting soil. Lucky Bamboo will thrive in a small amount of water but it doesn’t like to sit in a pot of wet soil.
Always allow the top portion of the soil to dry out before watering.
Lucky Bamboo plants are usually propagated by cuttings. Start at the tip of an actively growing shoot. Count backwards four leaves and cut on an angle just below the joint. The cut should be done at a 45-degree angle with a sharp knife.
The stems can then be dipped in a rooting hormone and placed in approximately one inch (three cm) of water. Placing a clear plastic bag over the container will increase the humidity and speed up the rooting process.
Plants that are getting too large can be cut back. Cut the stem back to just above the joint. Once cut back, the stem will produce new shoots.
Lucky Bamboo may or may not bring luck but it is easy to grow and is an attractive plant.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org