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Lucky Bamboo Cultivation

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017
Lucky bamboo is a form of water lily, and thus grows best in water gardens.
lucky bamboo close up image by Trevor Goodwin from Fotolia.com

Lucky bamboo is a bamboo-like plant that is actually a water lily. Although it looks like bamboo, it grows best in water gardens or pots filled with water, sand and stones. Lucky bamboo is a popular gift in China and is said to bring positive things, depending on the number of stalks given as a gift.


In Chinese, lucky bamboo is called fu guei zhu. Fu is sometimes translated as riches or wealth. Guei can mean power or honor. Zhu is the character for bamboo. Fu guei zhu, or lucky bamboo, is native to subtropical areas like southern China and Taiwan. Lucky bamboo are often given as gifts at the opening of a business in China and Taiwan or any other time a gift that will bring luck is desired.


Although many people think the curled lucky bamboo is as easy to produce as curves in a bonsai, getting a young lucky bamboo to curl is very difficult. To create the curled bamboos, cultivators lay the bamboo on its side and prevent light from reaching all but the top. The bamboo will grow toward the light. By rotating the lucky bamboo as it grows, cultivators can create curled lucky bamboo.


Lucky bamboo is very easy to grow. If you want to keep it the same size, all that is required is a vessel, like a pot or a dish, with a little sand in the bottom to stabilize the roots and rocks to support the base. Cover the rocks and roots with water, and your lucky bamboo should do fine, although it likely won't grow much.


The way to get your lucky bamboo to grow is to add fertilizer. Use a 1/2 strength African violet fertilizer to encourage growth. Add the fertilizer every two to six weeks, depending on how much you want the lucky bamboo to grow. When the bamboo reaches the size you want, stop fertilizing.


Lucky bamboo doesn't require much light. In fact, too much light can be bad for the plant. If you must place your lucky bamboo in a brightly lit room, try to select a location that gets as little light as possible. Some people keep lucky bamboo in a windowless bathroom because of its very low-light requirements. If your lucky bamboo faces a bright window, remember to rotate it periodically to keep it from growing toward the light.


About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.