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How to Prune Lucky Bamboo

By Marie Mulrooney ; Updated September 21, 2017

Lucky bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana, is in fact a member of the lily family. It’s not bamboo at all. This hardy houseplant is capable of adapting to a wide range of conditions. It will thrive in almost any light short of direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves. It will even flourish in a windowless bathroom as long as you give it pure water to live in. While this plant can be potted in sandy soil, it’s more commonly found in a small water garden.

Identify any healthy stems or shoots that have grown so long they make the bamboo formation unsightly or top-heavy. These unsightly or top-heavy stems are your candidates for pruning. Yellowed shoots can be simply peeled away from their stems, and yellowed stems should generally be removed entirely from the bamboo arrangements to keep disease from spreading to the other stems.

Melt a small piece of paraffin in a double boiler or the microwave. A 1-inch chip is sufficient. Watch it carefully as it will take a very short time to melt.

Use a sharp knife or cutting shears to cut through the bamboo stem you’re pruning, about 1/4-inch above the joint.

Dip the cut end of the parent stem in the paraffin, no more than 1/8-inch deep. This helps seal the stem against bacteria that might enter the open wound. No further care is needed for the parent stem. You may discard the pruned stem, if you like, or root it for use in another bamboo arrangement.


Things You Will Need

  • 1-inch chip or more of paraffin
  • Sharp knife or cutting shears
  • Glass container
  • Non-fluoridated, non-chlorinated water


  • If one stem in your bamboo arrangement is just starting to yellow, you might be able to prune the yellowed part away--following the procedure above--and then re-root the healthy part of the stem if necessary. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to isolate the diseased stem from the rest of the arrangement after pruning until you're convinced that no trace of disease is returning.
  • Make sure you prune any yellowed portions of the plane away entirely--you should be cutting into healthy bamboo stem as you prune, not the diseased part.
  • If you move the cut stem into a new arrangement, make sure you include enough gravel (aquarium gravel works well) around the roots to keep it steady, and keep the water level at about the same place on the stem.