Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is an indoor plant used by practitioners of feng shui for its ability to bring positive energy or "chi" into a household. It has been a part of Chinese culture for centuries and its symbolism of luck, strength and resilience have even remained popular into the 21st century.
Plant Name Significance
Although lucky bamboo is not really a part of the bamboo family, it was given the name because of the similar appearance. Since almost every aspect of lucky bamboo has a form of symbolism behind it, even the words "lucky bamboo" have significance. In the Chinese language, the words for lucky bamboo are "Fu Gwey Zhu," which literally translate into, luck (or fortune), power and bamboo.
Feng shui is the practice of combining different materials to create a balance of energy when designing a building or interior decorating. This is accomplished by using the five elements found in nature, which are water, earth, fire, wood and metal. This balance is naturally created with lucky bamboo, since the stalks of the plant are considered wood, the plant grows in water and small pebbles or rocks are usually placed in the water. To add the element of metal, small coins are sometimes placed in the container or hung from the sides. Fire is then achieved by wrapping red ribbons around the bamboo or the container may have a shade of red in its design.
To dispel negative energy, lucky bamboo is normally placed in spots where good energy is needed. In the business place, it is often set next to a cash register or on a counter to encourage business and good fortune. When used in a house, it is usually put in the family area to provide positive energy for all family members and guests who may visit the home.
The number of stalks used in a lucky bamboo arrangement are thought to create different kinds of luck. To draw a type of luck, a certain number is used to bend the energy towards a specific outcome.
Two is for love or used as a way to double your luck. Three is for "Fu Soh Lu", which means happiness, long life and wealth. Five is for wealth, but refers to success in the different areas of life such as a good career, good health or a good relationship. Six is for additional prosperity or luck in creating wealth. Seven is for health. Eight is for growth and is sometimes used by couples who want children. Nine is for good luck to the person that receives the nine stalks and is often given as a gift. Ten is for those that desire completion or perfection, and when given as a gift, the person wishes that you have everything you could possibly desire. Twenty-one is for blessings in all areas of a family's life.
One and Four
For the symbolism of number one, a lucky log, which is also a type of bamboo, is given instead of a single stalk of lucky bamboo. This log also grows in water and is given as a gift to business owners to help their business proper. There is no meaning for four lucky bamboo stalks, however, since the number four in Chinese sounds very similar to the word "death" and the use of four stalks is thought to draw negative energy instead of positive.