Lucky bamboo is a popular indoor plant that’s fun to grow and easy to propagate. In this article, we’ll show you how to propagate lucky bamboo and expand your plant collection!
Native to Africa, these plants can be sculpted into many different shapes, like twists and braids, but they also look beautifully when growing straight up in their natural shape.
Even when lucky bamboo is shaped and cultivated, the offshoots tend to grow vertically, which can throw the plant off balance and make it look funny too. So removing these offshoots can be beneficial for the plant as well as a great way for you to grow more bamboo plants to keep or give away as gifts.
Propagating Lucky Bamboo Step by Step
Lucky bamboo is especially easy to propagate because it produces offshoots and roots easily in soil or water.
Here’s how to take a healthy offshoot and use it to grow a brand-new stalk of lucky bamboo.
Selecting a Healthy Stalk
Find a lucky bamboo stalk that has a leafy, dark-green, healthy-looking offshoot growing from it. These will grow off the side of the stem and point straight up, regardless of whatever shape the bamboo has been trained to take.
Find a parent stalk that appears to be healthy with plenty of roots (you may need to separate it from the other stalks in the pot to examine these) and several nodes, which are the “rings” around the stalks from which the offshoots grow.
A newer offshoot that’s actively growing may take root more readily, so those might be your best bet for a healthy, viable cutting. Make sure the offshoot is at least 4 inches long to ensure it’s ready to grow on its own without the support of the parent stalk.
Removing the Offshoot
The best time to take a cutting is in the spring, when your lucky bamboo should be gearing up for a growth spurt.
To take your cutting, use a pair of sterilized shears or scissors to remove the offshoot at the base where it connects to the main stem. (P.S.: You can sterilize your tools with soap and hot water, with disinfectant, or with a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball.) Try to make a nice, straight cut. If you don’t get it right the first time, no worries. You can trim the bottom so you get a clean cut straight across.
Trimming Bottom Leaves From the Offshoot
After you take your cutting, peel off the bottom leaves by pulling downward until you have at least an inch or two of the white, leafless stem showing. Make sure to leave at least a few leaves left on top of the cutting.
Deciding How to Root the Cutting
Lucky bamboo will take root pretty readily in both water and soil, so your choice of growing medium here largely depends on the medium you plan to use for your plant in the long term. If you’re planning to grow your lucky bamboo hydroponically or semi-hydroponically (in water, pebbles, LECA, or aquarium gravel), you should probably root your cutting in water because it will be easier to transfer. Or, you know, not transfer at all.
It’s also very easy to transplant a cutting rooted in water to soil, if that’s your end goal.
If you plant to grow your lucky bamboo in soil, you can root the cutting in soil and either leave it there or transfer it to a bigger planter once it’s taken root.
It’s all a matter of personal preference!
Rooting in water
To root your lucky bamboo cutting in water, fill a clear glass container with purified or distilled water, or rainwater, and place the cutting so that the cut end is completely submerged, but the leaves aren’t touching the water at all.
Do NOT use tap water on your lucky bamboo plant. All dracaena species, especially lucky bamboo (yup, it’s actually a dracaena—surprise!), are very sensitive to the chemicals in tap water and will quickly turn yellow, then brown in chlorinated water.
If you MUST use tap water, you can leave it out overnight before putting your bamboo in it. This will give the chemicals a chance to evaporate.
Lucky bamboo roots pretty well on its own, but you can add a little Propagation Promoter to the water to help the process along, and to ward off potential infection.
You can also include some clean pebbles or aquarium water in the container, which can help keep your cuttings upright! You can even plant more than one in the same container.
Place the cutting in a warm place that gets some light, but no direct sunlight.
Change out the water twice per week and top off as needed. Within about 6 weeks, you should see new roots starting to form! When the roots are an inch long, you can transfer the cutting(s) to a new container or plant it in soil.
Rooting in soil
Rooting lucky bamboo cuttings in soil is also super easy!
To do this, find a small container with drainage holes and fill it with a fast-draining potting mix. Cactus or succulent mix works well, and our Premium Potting Soil for Indoor Plants is also a great choice.
Take your cutting and plant it upright in the soil, making sure to push the stem down an inch or two so the stalk has no problem standing up on its own. Water the cutting thoroughly with purified, distilled, or rainwater. (Again, Lucky Bamboo 101: no tap water allowed!) You can add a little Propagation Promoter to the water to encourage the cutting to root quickly.
Put the cutting in a warm, bright place but not in direct sun, and keep the cutting well-watered so the soil is evenly moist but not soaked.
Within about 6 weeks, the plant should have grown new roots. You can keep it in its container for now or transfer it to a different planter.
How Long Does it Take Lucky Bamboo to Propagate?
Lucky bamboo takes root more quickly than a lot of other houseplants! While it can take months for other plants to grow roots, you should see a new root system forming on your lucky bamboo cutting after about 4-6 weeks.
Caring for the Cut Parent Stalk
So what happens to the main lucky bamboo stalk after you take a cutting?
In many cases, a new offshoot will begin to grow on the parent stalk from the node below the original offshoot. To care for the parent stalk, simply keep up with its usual regimen, including appropriate light levels and clean water. That new offshoot should start growing soon!
Care After Propagating
Here’s how to care for your propagations once you’ve moved them to their permanent container.
Light & Position
Keep your lucky bamboo in a spot where it will get bright, indirect sunlight from an east-facing window, or from a south- or west-facing window that’s covered with a sheer curtain. You can also put your plant just far enough away from a bright window so it gets lots of light but the sun’s rays never hit the plant directly.
If you aren’t sure about your plant’s light conditions, err on the dark side. They’re much more tolerant of too little light than too much.
Again, NEVER use straight tap water on a lucky bamboo plant. We keep saying it, but nothing will kill your lucky bamboo faster.
If you’re growing your lucky bamboo in water or pebbles, make sure to change the water out and rinse the container every week.
If you’re growing your plant in soil, you’ll want to keep the soil evenly moist but not soaked. Water when the top inch or two of soil feels dry to the touch, or when a moisture meter reads 4. (Also, make sure your pot has drainage holes so your plant isn’t sitting in soggy soil for too long, which will cause it to rot!)
When to Transfer to Soil
If you plan to transfer your lucky bamboo propagation to soil after rooting it in water, you can do this when the roots are an inch long. This should take about 6 weeks after you take the cutting.
How to Propagate Lucky Bamboo FAQ
FAQ: Can you propagate lucky bamboo from leaves?
No, you can’t. Your lucky bamboo cutting will need at least a little bit of stem on it in order to grow new roots, so you can’t simply tear off a leaf (or replant the leaves you peel off the base of the cut stem) and get a new plant.
FAQ: How do I make lucky bamboo grow more branches?
Cutting an offshoot off the parent stalk will most likely cause it to grow even more branches and offshoots! You can also snip the top off a lucky bamboo stalk to encourage it to branch out. This process, called “pinching,” is really handy if you want your plant to branch when it’s showing no signs of doing so on its own.
The best time to do this is in the spring when your plant will probably start growing anyway. Take advantage of those growth hormones!
FAQ: Is lucky bamboo real bamboo?
Nope, it’s not! A lot of people don’t realize that lucky bamboo isn’t a bamboo species at all. It’s actually a type of dracaena, taking its place among the classic varieties like Dracaena marginata and Dracaena fragrans, and is scientifically referred to as Dracaena sanderiana.
FAQ: Is lucky bamboo toxic?
Yes. Lucky bamboo is toxic to animals and people, so keep this plant out of reach of children and pets!
FAQ: What if I don’t want my lucky bamboo to branch out from where I cut the offshoot?
No problem! You can simply dip the cut end in paraffin. You can buy this at craft stores or even melt a bit of an unscented candle. Easy!
Propagating Lucky Bamboo Final Thoughts
Lucky bamboo is easy to propagate, and these propagations make great gifts for your plant-loving friends!
These plants are considered lucky (hence the name), and even more so when given as gifts. Multiply your plants and bestow some luck on your loved ones with this simple and fun process.
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