Lucky bamboo is actually not a bamboo at all, but cane cuttings of the Dracaena sanderana, or ribbon dracaena. It is immensely popular for its supposed ability to impart happiness, wealth and longevity.
Dracaena sanderana is native to Cameroon, located in western Africa. It is similar to other larger Dracaenas, except that it only reaches 3 feet high.
Bamboo as a Symbol
In Chinese culture, bamboo is a symbol of strength. When Feng Shui (a traditional Chinese philosophy of home arrangement) became widely popular, people began seeking out ways to create good "chi" or positive energy. Because bamboo makes an impractical houseplant, the similar-looking Dracaena sanderana was used as a stand-in.
Remarkably tough, this plant can survive in water alone for up to a year in a spot with bright, indirect light. Supply nutrition by adding a diluted liquid plant fertilizer to the water every other month. It can also be planted in a fast-draining soil as long as the container has excellent drainage; the container should be no more than 2 inches wider than the plant.
Dracaena sanderana can suffer from spider mites; washing off the leaves helps control them. The leaf tips can also be burned by high concentrations of salts or fluoride in tap water; instead use filtered water and change it often.
Reviving Lucky Bamboo
As the plant grows and becomes lanky it begins to look less attractive, so you may want to trim it back to the length it was when you first received it.
- University of Arkansas Extension
- Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo
bamboo as symbol, dracaena sanderana, lucky bamboo in feng shui
About this Author
Gwen Bruno has 28 years of experience as a teacher and librarian, and is now a full-time freelance writer. She holds a bachelor's degree from Augustana College and master's degrees from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin. She writes articles about gardening for DavesGarden.com.