During the winter months, for those with a passion for green, growing, things, it is interesting to check out what the garden centers of our local department stores have available. One interesting plant that I have been noticing is “Curly” or “Lucky” bamboo. I am told that this plant in the home brings good luck but, whether or not this is true, the plant is very decorative and unique.
In China, Lucky Bamboo plants are a symbol of good luck and are frequently given as gifts during the Chinese New Year. Recipients of Lucky Bamboo keep it near the entrance to their homes to attract good fortune. The number of stalks that the plant has determines the kind of luck it will bring. Three stalks, which is most common, are reputed to bring good happiness while five stalks mean wealth.
Lucky Bamboo is actually not a bamboo, rather it is a member of the family of plants called draecena. Draecena are native to rain forest areas of the world and include such common houseplants as the corn plant, pleomele, Madagascar Dragon tree,\ and striped draecena. These plants are also closely related to such houseplants as the snake plant and mother-in-law’s-tongue.
Lucky Bamboo is a very “easy care” plant but there are several essentials for a healthy plant. First of all, since it grows in water, the condition of the water is important. One to two inches of water in a glass container is usually enough to sustain the plant. The water should be changed weekly and, if tap water is used, be sure to let it set in a separate container for 24 hours before use. Letting it set is important to allow the chlorine and fluoride in the water to dissipate.
Lucky Bamboo does best in indirect light. In its natural setting, this plant would grow under the cover of taller plants and trees and direct light will cause its leaves to burn. Normal indoor temperatures are best for Lucky Bamboo and the nutrients required by the plant can be provided by adding a drop or two of liquid fertilizer to the water each time it is changed. Browning or yellowing of the leaves can indicate problems with the plant. If this occurs, try moving the plant to a spot farther from direct light or check the water, as Lucky Bamboo will react to too much fluoride or chlorine. If the latter is the case, switching to distilled water can help.
Whether Lucky Bamboo brings good fortune or not, it is an “easy care,” interesting, plant and one that will add a unique “green spot” to any home during these long, gray, winter months.