Midday Fix: Tips for healthy lucky bamboo from Tu Bloom

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Tu Bloom

www.tubloom.com

Appearing:
Chicago Flower and Garden Show
March 14-22
www.chicagoflower.com

Tu's Tips:

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena Sanderiana) is native to parts of Southeast Asia and West Africa, but has been popularized to almost every region of the world today. The fusion between contemporary western ideologies alongside eastern mysticism has made this plant the forefront of many homes’ interior plant collection. Lucky Bamboo is extremely sustainable as a plant and can be grown in both soil and hydroponically (in water/soil-less mediums). Because 90% of household lucky bamboo purchased are typically displayed and grown in water (or water with rocks/pebbles, etc.) we will discuss easy to care instructions for these specifically.

Maintaining a happy and healthy Lucky Bamboo plant throughout the year is essentially simple as it is one of the best low-maintenance houseplants on the market.
I actually prefer them for indoor applications over succulents and air-plants. There are three (3) main factors that can impact the health of your Lucky Bamboo:

Water
Quality
Distilled water is best. I typically put those empty milk jugs and wine bottles to good use by making sure they are completely cleaned out and then just filling them up with water to let it sit overnight (uncovered). Chemicals present in municipal water sources may cause injury to houseplants, but because Lucky Bamboo that is grown is water it absorbs chemicals much quicker as a result you will often see browning or yellow of leaf tips and sometimes even the entire stalk. Filling the watering can and letting the water sit a day or so before using will often allow any harmful chemicals to dissipate to avoid these issues.
Level
This is the second part of why water is an important factor to keeping a healthy bamboo. Try to keep the water level consistent as the plant sends out bright orange roots up to the level where the water stops. Letting the water go consistently below the last water level does damage the new roots that are exposed to air that dries out when you allow the level to go lower than its original level. TIP: when a stalk is dead/dying and starts to turn yellow, remove that stalk and do a complete water change. This will ensure that any remnants of the dying stalk and its impurities do not pollute the rest of the healthy ones sitting it the same water.

Lighting:
Lucky Bamboo will do best with moderate levels of indirect light. In the natural world it grows in dense shade under the thick rainforest canopy of Africa. Direct light -- such as a sunny windowsill -- is way too strong for it and can scorch the leaves and ultimately kill the plant. The plant will tolerate a little light more easily than too much light. You can even keep Lucky Bamboo in rooms with no natural light, i.e. office, basement, etc.  Just move it to a brighter location -- but not in direct light-- for 2-4 hours during the day every few weeks if you are diligent. In low light the plant will just grow at a much slower rate, sometimes not even sending out new leaves. If you want your Lucky Bamboo to grow, it will need to be at the higher end of its light-range.

Temperature:
Lucky Bamboo prefers room temperature and is considered a tropical. It is best to keep it in an area that is at a consistent temperature. Large fluctuations, as with any houseplant indoors, can be harmful to the plant. TIP: during the dry winter months when we have our heat blasting inside, the leaves of your Lucky Bamboo can turn yellow or brown out if the humidity is low. Give it a nice mist of water (if you have a mister), or just wipe the leaves down with a soft wet paper towel which will clean and moisturize the leaves.

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