Houseplants forum: Need Help With Bamboo

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Denver, CO
Feb 24, 2016 10:34 AM CST

I've had this house bamboo for about a year now and only recently has it begun to turn brown and leaves have been dying. I've been so busy I have been unable to address it but now very seriously want to help this guy out. I have him above the vanity in my bathroom. It gets a little light in the morning. The vase is filled with rocks I accumulated from outside my apartment. As you can see one of the roots has risen above the rocks. Do you think it requires additional rocks in the base or simply a larger pot or what? Disclaimer: I am a total novice - desirous to learn though! Thank you !!

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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Feb 25, 2016 11:59 AM CST
Hi Shnif!

Your plant is called Dracaena sanderiana, often called lucky bamboo, but is not a bamboo.

The roots wants a bit more air, but it can grow in water like you did. To clean up the upper part, you can cut off the dried out leaves. I think it is accumulated salts and maybe dry air making the leaves brown, and during winter, most houseplants really slow down, so they are not at their best. You can also totally remove that growing offshoot with a clean sharp cut, and the plant will just grow a new one, but got to have patience, it takes awhile. Wait for Spring to do that though. We are approaching Spring, so the plant will start perking up.

You can also clean up the container, remove carefully the rocks and plant, wash off and clean the rocks with water, so if there is any salt accumulation there it gets cleaned out. And replace it back in your container.

If you like, you can already move it to a container with drain holes and with well draining soil. It has a good root system already. Or in my case, since soil at times attracts fungus gnats, I maintained my similar plant in a glass container but I used water gel beads so the roots can still get moisture and allows good air circulation below. I don't use fertilizers it absolutely hates it.
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Feb 27, 2016 7:39 AM CST
Lucky Bamboos are nothing more than Dracaena cuttings rooted in water. They are not at all related to true Bamboo plants.

Like many cuttings, they can remain in plain water for many years. Or once roots have developed, they can be transitioned to small pots with potting mix. The stones are there primarily for decorative purposes and to provide some ballast so the container doesn't tip over. They are otherwise irrelevant.

It is likely that the brown leaves and leaf tips on yours are a result of the water level occasionally dropping below some of the upper roots. The roots must be completely covered with water at all times. If your local tap water is on the hard side, the mineral salts may be contributing to the problem. Use filtered or distilled water instead. Replace the water completely every week or two to avoid stagnation.

It is hard to assess the light from the photos, but Lucky Bamboo does best when it gets lots of very bright indirect sunlight and that is more than most bathrooms have. Keep yours as close to the window as possible.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
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Feb 27, 2016 9:08 AM CST
There are pics here. The soil-grown plants are leafier and healthier looking, IMVHO.
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
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Feb 27, 2016 3:13 PM CST
Looking at this scummy vase, I think it's time to dump it and clean well, cut the stem, and start afresh, given that you can supply decent light per WIll. It will need some good light to grow better.
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