Problems With Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo is one of the easiest houseplants to maintain. It requires less care than your average houseplant and is hearty even in less than optimal growing conditions. However, as it is a living thing, it is not completely without its problems. In fact, there are several very common problems that occur due to simple mistakes in care. With a few tips, these problems can be avoided or corrected before the plant experiences serious distress.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves are the first warning sign that something's not right with your lucky bamboo. If you have a new lucky bamboo plant whose leaves are yellowing with your first water change, it could be that your water has too much chlorine or fluorine in it. Changing to filtered water, or allowing your tap water to sit in an open container for 24 to 48 hours before giving it to the plant, can help solve this problem. The second most common cause of yellow leaves is too much exposure to direct sunlight. To remedy this, move the plant to an area where it will not receive as much sunlight, like a desk or countertop. Never place it in direct sunlight, such as in a sunny window.

Thin, Spindly Stalk

Thinning, spindly stalks are often the result of too little light. Move your lucky bamboo plant closer to a natural light source, while making sure to keep it out of direct sunlight, and see if your plant improves. This condition could also be caused by too much fertilizer. If you've never fertilized your plant, it could have been over fertilized by the grower or manufacturer. Change your bamboo's water every 3 to 7 days and do not fertilize for 6 months to a year. Bamboo doesn't tolerate fertilizers well and should only be fed a few drops of an extremely diluted solution (one part houseplant food to ten parts water). Never fertilize more than every 3 months, and, ideally, only fertilize one to two times per year.

Yellow, Soft Stalk or Leaf Damage

Unfortunately a soft stalk, or a yellow or brown stalk, indicates that your plant is already dead. There are many reasons why your bamboo could have died. It could have already had a fungus or bacteria problem when you purchased it. Its roots could have begun to mold or rot due to water conditions, or it could have dried out from lack of water. If one bamboo in your bunch yellows or goes mushy at the stalk, remove it immediately in case it has something it could pass to the other healthy stalks. If all the stalks are dead, remove them, and clean your container and any rocks or marbles well. Take stock of the light, water and fertilizer conditions of your plant.

Keywords: lucky, bamboo, problems

About this Author

Lillian Downey is a writing professional who has served as editor-in-chief of "Nexus" literary journal and as an assistant fiction editor at the "Antioch Review." Downey attended Wright State University, where she studied writing, women's studies and health care.