The Q&A Archives: bamboo roots turning black, a few leave bright yellow

Question: Hello,
I have had these bamboo plants for several years. Last year I repotted them in a glass vase with rocks. I have just topped-off the water level each week since then. The plants have seemed very healthy and had been growing, but a week or so ago, I noticed that the roots were all turning black (they had been whitish to orangish). Some of the leaves were also turning bright yellow. The only cause I can think of might be too much plant food, but I have been feeding them with plant food for years and haven't done anything different that I am aware of. I suppose it is possible I might have put too many drops in the watering can, but I don't think that I did. Last week, I removed the plants and rinsed the roots. Most of the black color came off, but there were still some patches that were all dark black. There was also a very strong, strange, burned, smokey, charcoal- like smell. I cleaned the glass vase and rocks with bleach (rinsing well), thinking there might be some type of mold invovled, and repotted the plants in the vase with rocks and water. About a week later, the roots are all black again. Do you have any idea what the problem might be? The plants seem healthy otherwise and I would hate to lose them after having them for years!
Many thanks,

Answer: Things don't sound too good for your lucky bamboo. They typically are problem free so the only thing I can figure out is that there was something on the rocks you used, something in the vase, or the water quality has changed since you repotted your bamboo. Now that you've used bleach to wash the vase and rocks, and you've rinsed the roots off with fresh water, try using only distilled water for your plant. I wish there were some fungicide or other treatment to suggest, but once the stems begin to turn yellow, it indicates the roots are either dead or dying. Most of the time, new roots will not be produced. Let's cross our fingers that your bamboo recovers!

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