The Q&A Archives: Lucky Bamboo

Question: I bought two stalks of lucky bamboo almost 1.5 feet long with few leaves on it. I put it in vase filled with tap water. It flourished for 3 months with more leaves coming out. Then I put few granules of miracle grow feed N shake. It seemed to tolerate for a month or so. I topped it with water and then I put some 10 drops of miracle grow liquid. I noticed that after 2 weeks of that, the oldest leaf on first stalk turned yellow, I removed that leaf, removed the water and filled with new one. After a week of that, I filled the vase(which is slim and tall) with blue stones. After few days of that, today I noticed that the stalk of second bamboo has turned yello and has become soft. I immediately removed the stones, changed the water, properly washed the roots and vase and put new water in it. I could smell odor inside the vase. whats going on? The vase is on my fireplace mantle and receives indirect afternoon sunlight or brightness.. will that yellow stalk die? any way to turn it green?

Answer: This plant really only tolerates indirect light, and yellowing can be a sign of too much light reaching it. In the fall, as the sun moves lower in the sky, more direct sun comes in through the windows than did during the summer. So the lighting is one thing to check. Next, this plant really seems to object to fertilizer salts and other minerals in the water so the yellowing could also be related to that. I would suggest using rain water for it if you can and do not fertilize it. Change the water and clean the vase frequently so it does not "sour". The bad odor is related to rot or decay of the roots or underwater portion of the stem. You may be able to save it if you can trim away the yellowed portion, then rinse the underwater part of the plant in a solution of bleach and water -- one part ordinary chlorine bleach to nine parts water. Also rinse out the container with the bleach/water solution. Allow it to air dry and then rinse and refill with plain water. This should help stop that problem from recurring in the water. Last but not least, if you are running the fireplace check and make sure the plant is not overheating on the mantle, or sitting in a hot draft. YOu may need to move it aside when the fire is lit. Good luck with your lucky bamboo!

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