How To Grow Lucky Bamboo

Just stick them in water, surround with pebbles, + watch them thrive.

April 8, 2016
lucky bamboo
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Lucky bamboo—which is actually Dracaena sanderiana, and not a bamboo (which may Not Be As Green As It Seems)—has charmed its way into the hearts of plant lovers because it requires only basic care to thrive. Dracaenas are members of the Lily family, which includes the Easter lily and spider plant, says Alton Pertuit, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Clemson University, in South Carolina. Tip burn, when plant leaves tend to develop dead, dry, and unattractive tips, is common problem within this family, for a variety of reasons. 

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Low humidity can cause tip burn, Pertuit says. But in this family, it's mainly caused by fluoride. For dracaenas, very small concentrations of fluoride can be phytotoxic, meaning that the fluoride can kill plant cells. As concentrations of fluoride build up in the tips of dracaena leaves, the plant cells die, leaving brown tips. In order to prevent tip burn, limit the amount of fluoride that the plant is exposed to. Many municipalities in the US add fluoride to tap water to prevent tooth decay, so watering your plants once a week with fluoride-free bottled water may reduce or even eliminate fluoride, chlorine, and salts. Although The Truth About Eco-Friendly Bamboo is that watering with fluoride-free water will help, it may not eliminate tip burn immediately: Plants can store elements in their cells, so even if you place your dracaena in water free of fluorides, the phytotoxicity might still occur due to fluorides already present within the plant, Pertuit says. 

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Related: Organic Gardening Tips For Houseplants

To further care for your lucky bamboo plant, place it in bright, indirect light and fertilize only if it begins to yellow. Be sure to use organic fertilizer because the salts and high phosphorus concentrations often present in synthetic fertilizers can also cause tip burn.

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