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Is Lucky Bamboo a Real Bamboo

Lucky bamboo is a popular indoor plant that is attractive and easy to care for.

According to feng shui, lucky bamboo is an auspicious plant that will bring positive energy into the home or workplace in which it is placed.

In Chinese culture, it is a very popular gift for relatives, friends, teachers, and colleagues for a wide range of occasions—from birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries to job promotions, academic achievements, awards.

Lucky bamboo is believed to bring good luck not only to the receiver but to the giver, as well.

Lucky bamboo. Heidi De Vries, CC BY 2.0

Is Lucky bamboo a real bamboo?

The popular houseplant that`s most commonly known as Lucky bamboo is not actually bamboo.

While it does look a lot like bamboo; jointed stalks with a tuft of strappy leaves sprouting either from their tops or from the side of their upper joints, it is not related to the true bamboo species.

So if it is not a bamboo then what kind of plant it is?

Lucky bamboo is a dracaena or Dracaena sanderiana.  

Dracaena sanderiana is a species of plants in the Lily family or Liliaceae.

Common names of Lucky bamboo

The botanical name of lucky bamboo is Dracaena sanderiana. The plant is named after a renowned German-English gardener, Henry Frederick Conrad Sander.

Lucky bamboo is often also called Ribbon Dracaena or Ribbon Plant because of its long thin foliage.

Other common names include Curly Bamboo, Chinese Water Bamboo, Friendship Bamboo, Goddess of Mercy Plant, and Belgian Evergreen.

Despite several of its common names that suggest it is from China or Belgium, it is native to Central Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

What is the difference between Lucky bamboo and true bamboo species?

Although the word bamboo occurs in several of the plant’s common names, D. sanderiana or Lucky bamboo belongs to an entirely different taxonomic order than true bamboos.

Because the plants are not related there are several major differences between them.

Appearance wise, the stem of Lucky bamboo is fleshy, which distinguishes it from bamboo.

Growth rate – real bamboos are some of the fastest growing plants in the world, while Lucky bamboo has a growth rate of an average houseplant.

Growing conditions for bamboo species can vary a lot but one thing that is common for all bamboo – they need soil to grow. Lucky bamboo, on the other hand, can grow in water alone.

Safety for pets – Lucky bamboo can be toxic to dogs and cats if it is ingested. True bamboo species are harmless to them.

Lucky bamboo care

Lucky bamboo is a great indoor plant that is very easy to grow. It does well in soil and plain water, as well. Properly cared for, it can grow to about 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) in height.

Place the plant in bright but indirect light. This plant cannot survive under direct sunlight; it will burn.

It will do OK in low light circumstances but prefers lots of light. Light conditions for Lucky bamboo don`t differ regardless of where it grows – water or soil.

Grow in water

Most Lucky bamboo arrangements feature the stalks growing in a decorative pot of water or planted in pebbles.

Let`s see what are some simple tips to grow it.

Fill the bottom of a container with pebbles and add enough water to rise to a couple of inches above the pebbles.

Make sure that the water is always completely covering the roots.

Change the water every one to two weeks in order to prevent rotting. More often if you notice a foul odor. The water should always look clear and smell fresh.

Tap water is fine to use unless your tap water is hard (containing a lot of minerals). If so, use distilled or purified water. Rainwater is a great option as well.

Grow in Soil

Caring for Lucky bamboo in the soil is not more complicated than any average houseplant.

Here`s what to keep in mind to keep it happy and healthy.

Choose a container that allows for at least one inch of space all the way around the plant so that the roots have room to spread.

Use a well-aerated potting soil with good drainage.

Water so that the soil is kept moist but not waterlogged


Lucky bamboo can go for a long time with little or no fertilizer. Too much of it actually can cause problems. If it`s overfertilized you will see some scorched leaves.

There are times when you may need to fertilize your lucky bamboo. It is important to use the right amount of fertilizer, be careful to not add too much. Always add fertilizer to the soil or water and never as a spritz.

If you are keeping your plant in distilled water, the water is dirty, the leaves are yellowing, or you want to stimulate growth – fertilizing can help Lucky bamboo to stay healthy and beautiful.

Because Lucky bamboo is easy to overfertilize, be careful to add only as much as is necessary. Only a few drops of fertilizer usually is all it needs.

How much exactly, will depend on the specific fertilizer instructions and water to fertilizer ratio. The best way to have the correct amount is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.