QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

The following are questions that we have received from our visitors along with the responses.  

(For additional information on how to care for your lucky bamboo see our Care Instruction section.)

 You talk about 'stems' and 'stalks' as if they are interchangeable.

The 'stalk' or the 'stem' both describe the main plant which is the single piece of  lucky bamboo stalk. The foliage that grows above the stalk is referred to as the leaves, branch or shoot.

Are lucky bamboo plants difficult to care for?

Lucky Bamboo is growing in popularity because they are very hardy and fairly easy to care for.  Give them plenty of clean water and indirect sunlight.  Those cover the basics.

The leaves on my plant have turned yellow (brown).  Is that normal?

The yellowing of the leaves can be the result of too much direct sunlight, too low of water levels, extreme temperature changes or stress.  The yellow/brown part will not turn back to green.  That section of the leaf is dead.  With a sharp, sterile pair of scissors you can trim off the dead part of the leaf.  If the entire leaf is yellow then take off the entire leaf.  New ones will grow in their place.  If the branch turns yellow remove them by going down to where the branch is growing out of the stem and cut it right next to the stem.  Melt candle wax and put a drop of the melted wax on the cut to seal the open area. To keep the plant from turning brown or yellow here are a few things you can try;

  1. Switch from tap water to room temperature bottled water.  Tap water can cause leaves to turn color if there is too high of a chemical content (chlorine, fluoride).
  2. Try using the fertilizer made specifically for water-based plants.  Green Green will fortify the leaves and stems and bring optimum nutritional balance to the plant.
  3. Keep the plant out of extreme temperatures - too hot or too cold. They are happiest at 65 degrees up to 85 degrees .  Keep out of direct sunlight and away from a/c vents.

The stalk of my plant is yellow while the leaves are still green.  Can it be saved?

When the stalk turns yellow the plant is most likely going to die.  If the dead stalk is part of an arrangement you want to get it out of the arrangement right away before it affects the other plants. 

  1. The most common cause of yellow stems is caused by it drying out from too little water.  Even if the water level was low for only a day this can cause the'pores' that suck up water to dry out and harden up so that even when more water is added, they are unable to suck it up.
  2. Extreme changes in the temperature will affect the plant.  When the plant gets too cold the 'pores' shrink and they cannot suck up water.  Lucky bamboo should stay above 65 degrees.  Also, avoid adding cold water when watering the plant.  Use lukewarm or room temperature water to keep it happy.  It helps to keep the lucky bamboo away from the air conditioning system.
  3. Water is another reason for the yellowing stalk, toxic water, that is.  The chemicals from chemically treated tap water will build up over time and strangle the roots so that they are clogged. Use room temperature filtered or bottled water for best results.
  4. Fertilizers can be another source of the problem. Fertilizers used for plants that grow in dirt are far too strong for the lucky bamboo.  The roots of the plants potted in dirt pull in the nutrients they need while having to contend with the dirt, so the fertilizer is purposely made strong.  The lucky bamboo is used to pulling its needed nutrients out of the water.  It is like an open sieve and the dirt-based fertilizers are an over dosing in massive quantities. Use only the fertilizers made specifically for water-based plants.  Green Green is the fertilizer we recommend by choice.

How do I remove the lucky bamboo plant that is yellow from the rest of the arrangement?

Remove the dead plant from the rest of the arrangement right away.  The dead roots can spread rot to the other plants if left in the water too long. Remove the entire arrangement from the water. Take the dead stalk out by getting a firm grip on the stalk just above the roots and slowly pulling in out.  If the plant is tied into the arrangement then loosen the wires by untwisting them and pulling the dead stalk out. You may need to gently pull the roots apart from the other plants if they are entangled.  Don't worry if you end up ripping some roots, as these should quickly regenerate.  If the arrangement is made up of many braided strands removing one dead stalk shouldn't hurt the overall strength of the arrangement.

My lucky bamboo has been doing great then, without any warning, it just seems to be sick.  What should I do?

Keep your lucky bamboo warm, 65-85 degrees and exchange the water out once a month until it perks up.  Then change the water out every 3 to 4 months.  Use room temperature bottled or spring water.  As long as the stem does not turn yellow and mushy, your lucky bamboo is fine.  The yellow tips could have developed due to the use of tap water, lack of water, low temperatures or too much sun exposure.  Keep the water level just above the root line at all times.  Using a quart bottle, add 6-8 drops of the Green Green fertilizer (or another brand of water-based fertilizer) and then use the water from the quart bottle each time you add water to your plant.

My lucky bamboo is planted in soil but appears to be dying.  Help!

The very first thing you want to do is to get your plant out of the soil.  Rinse it off and put it directly into purified spring or bottled water.  Don't add rocks.  The plant needs all the help it can get to find its water source without having interference.  Lucky Bamboo grows naturally in standing water.  It is not use to soil and the soil can clog the pours it uses to soak in water.  The plant may be in shock due to not being able to get it's nutrient source.  It helps it if you give the plant a bath.  Fill a tub or sink full of lukewarm water and lay the plant in the water to cleanse, hydrate and acclimatize the plant.  Inspect the roots.  If they are white or orange they are healthy.  If they are gray or black you have some root rot.  Use your finger nails or a small tweezers to remove the bad roots.  Then put the plant in a clear vase with just water so that you can keep an eye on how the roots are progressing.  Continue to pick out black or gray roots. Lucky bamboo fertilizer will help to speed up the healing process.

How much water should I give my Lucky Bamboo?

Add water on a continual basis so that the roots are always well under water.  You do not need to go higher than the root line.  It won't hurt the plant to be deeper in water, but the deeper the water the higher up the stalk the plant will send out roots.

How do I change out the water?

Every three to four months you should change out the water because standing water attracts bugs and bacteria.  Take your plant out of the pot.  Wash the rocks off in very hot water.  Rinse the pot out in hot water.  Examine the roots to make sure they are a healthy white, yellow or orange color.  Then put it all back together again and add clean new bottled or purified water.  In some areas you can use the tap water if you allow it to sit opened for two days.

My lucky bamboo is growing new shoots but the stalk remains the same.  Why isn't the stalk growing?

The stalk of the lucky bamboo has been cut and sealed.  It will not grow any taller.  The shoots are the only portion that will continue to grow.

Can I transplant the arrangement?

 When you are changing the water out look at the roots to determine if they are becoming "root bound".  If the roots appear to be knotted and formed into a pot-shaped mass then it is time to find a bigger pot or you can trim the roots back a bit. If you choose to re-pot all you need is a larger ceramic or glass pot.  Dump out the rocks, remove the plant and place it into the new pot.  Add rocks and fresh room temperature water and you're done!

Should I trim the roots and how?

If your plant develops a large tightly wadded ball of roots it is time to transplant or trim.  Here are a few tips for trimming back the roots;

  1. Use sterile, sharp scissors or tweezers
  2. When trimming the root  leave around 1 inch of the root
  3. Brown, gray or black roots need to be removed all the way up to the end of the root where it is coming out of the stalk. 
  4. When finished, add a lucky bamboo fertilizer to the water.  Two to three drops.

My cat ate my bamboo!  Is the plant going to survive?  Is my cat ok?

Sorry about your plant...We don't know why cats are so fond of the lucky bamboo, but they certainly are. Using sharp scissors  trim back the eaten leaves.  This will help the plant to grow new ones.   We also suggest that you give the plant the fertilizer if you aren't already doing so, as this helps them to recover faster.

As far as your kitty, you will need to keep an eye on him.  We've had most everyone tell us that it didn't affect their cat.  We have also had a handful of people tell us that their cat became extremely ill.  Lucky Bamboo does not appear on the ASPCA's list of plants that are considered toxic for animals but to be sure you could contact your vet.

What kind of water should I give my lucky bamboo?

Spring water is good.  Distilled or bottled also works.  If the chlorine or fluoride level is not excessively high and the mineral content is low than you can use the tap water by running the water into a container and allowing the water to sit for two days uncovered.  This allows the chemicals to dissipate into the air.  You can test this for yourself and see what a big difference it makes.  Taste the water before and after.  You'll know one from the other.

How much water do they need?

The roots of the plant should always remain under water.  Give them enough water to insure that the roots are always covered.   You can keep the water level higher but the plant will grow new roots along the stalk where ever the water level is at.

Can I cut the plant?

Sure, you can trim back the foliage.  Many find that the foliage grows fast and full and needs to be trimmed back.  The original stalk cannot be cut.  Some have attempted cutting the original stalk so that they can have two plants instead of one.  Sometimes it works, but usually it doesn't.

Can I form a new plant from a shoot?

Yes.  Use a sharp sterile knife and cut the shoot right next to the stalk.  Light a candle and use the melted wax to seal the cut.  Dip your finger tip in the wax and dot it on to the cut.  Then take the shoot that has been cut off and put it in water and watch it form roots and develop a new plant.  You might also want to give it some fertilizer as this helps to stimulate growth.

There is a clear jello type substance forming on the roots.  What is this?

The 'jello like" substance is most likely the moisture retaining gel that is used during transcontinental shipping to keep the plants damp.  Most of the time the plants reach the customer with this washed away, but occasionally some gets in the roots and then slowly works it way out.  It is harmless and can be thrown out.  (Don't put it down a drain because it clogs the drain.)

If the jello-like substance is slimy with a scum-type substance this could be a fungus and that is a different matter all together.  If there is a rotten type smell, that is another sign of fungicide.  See the answer to the last question for more details.

Does the arrangement come assembled?

The majority of the arrangements are tied or weaved together.  There are other arrangements that are made with individual stems.  Use the instruction sheet that comes in the box to see how to arrange the stems in the vase.

How are the arrangements packaged.  Is there a lot of assembly required?

The plant comes packaged individually so as not to be damaged by the other items.  The rocks and the vase are separately wrapped.  Unwrap each of the items.  Carefully remove the wrapping around the roots.  These are water absorbent towels used around the roots to keep them damp during travel. Then set the plant in the vase, add the rocks, add the water and you are done! 

Can these plants be shipped during really hot weather?

Plenty of moisture is provided to the plants for shipping.  In the winter we also use heat packs when the temperatures are extreme.  After years of shipping these plants we know what temperatures are safe and which are not.  We watch the weather reports and will inform customers of shipping delays if the temperatures get to extremes that prohibit shipping.  We found that customers would prefer that the package be delayed rather than have it arrive damaged or dead.

Is the packing slip and pricing included in the box?

We do not put packing slips or receipts in the box.  Customers receive these through the email.  The name of the sender is on the outside of the box and inside we include a care sheet and instruction sheets as needed for each plant. The information sheet includes use of Green Green Plant food, assembly of the plant, plant care and details about the symbolic meanings of the various numbers of stems used in arrangements.  We will include a hand written note to the recipient if the customer chooses to send one.

Are the plants guaranteed?

If, upon arrival, something is broken or wrong with the shipment notify us as soon as possible.  We will file a claim and get it replaced.  We will ask for photographs of the damage in order to verify the claim. Returns are subject to a 15% restocking fee.  Original shipping, handling charges, returns shipping cost and restocking fees are not refunable.

Is there any way to make the plants grow faster?

 The Green Green fertilizer, that we use here, provides nutrients to the plants that increase growth.  However, other  vital factors are needed to help the plant stay in balance; use of distilled or bottled water, right water levels, out of the direct exposure of the sun and steady temperatures of 65 - 85 degrees.

My soil-based household plants sometimes get bugs.  Do lucky bamboo ever do that?

Mites sometimes get into the lucky bamboo.  We don't really deal with mites on our plants but they can pick them up from other household plants or pets or just the environmnet.  If the leaves are turning brown and the plant looks droopy look at the underside of the leaves to see if there is a sticky brown substance.  This is a byproduct of the mites eating up the pigment in the leaves.  When they've eaten enough, the plant won't be able to synthesize the light it needs and will begin to turn brown.  You may also notice white spots on the leaves where the pigment is now gone.  Other clues include tiny webbing on the leaves and the extremely tiny mites themselves, which are white in color. 

Killing them is the only way to save the plant.  Fill a sink or bucket with room temperature water.  Add two to three drops of liquid dish washing detergent.  With your hand slowly mix the water to dissolve the soap but not to the point of creating bubbles.  Then lay the entire plant into the water and allow it to sit there for twenty to thirty minutes.  When you take it out rinse off the roots, but not the rest of the plant.  This provides a protective cover and kills the insects.  You will need to do this several more days to kill any eggs that may hatch.  You can also put this soap water solution into a spray bottle and use it on all your household plants.  They LIKE it!  Mites are extremely contagious and love to move from plant to plant. Next you'll need to trim off the leaves that appear to have been affected by the mites.  New ones will grow in their place.  Keep the affected plant away from your other plants until it is well over its bout with mites.

You can also go to your local nursery or garden center to find a product designed to kill spider mites on ornamental plants.  We regularly give our plants a bath in the soap water solution just as a precautionary measure - and because the plants like it!

If my plant develops a fungus what should I do?

We have not had to experience any kind of fungus on our lucky bamboo because it comes to us in Grade A conditions and we go to the extreme to maintain those conditions.  Visitors to our site wanting help with this problem have almost always purchased their plants from a grocery store or large box stores.  We suggest that you use the same bath procedure of soap-water as explained in the answer above. Keep giving the plant the bath for four to five days.  Wait a week and if it still shows signs of fungus then visit a nursery to determine what type of fungi the plant has and their recommendations on how to treat it.  If you find something that has a high success rate, please contact us and let us know so that we can share it with others coming to this site.