Lucky Bamboo

photo by Kate Russell

photo by Kate Russell

Lucky Bamboo has been a symbol of prosperity and good fortune for centuries, I think its because even the black-thumbed beginner can produce abundant roots and have it thrive! Dracaena Sanderiana lives in water, rooting down into pebbles to keep it upright and its not actually a true bamboo but its thick sectioned stalk surely looks like it is. Dracaenas are a large family of plants Native to Africa and most of them can be rooted in water just like lucky bamboo. This particular variety is prized for its hardy stalk that is cut and waxed on one end. The other end is soaked in filtered water and weeks later the cut-top produces shoots and beautiful
narrow leaves.

The tradition of giving lucky bamboo as a house gift started in southeast Asia 5,000 years ago. This plant was commonly used in the practice of feng shui as it represented earth, water and wood thus adding chi and energizing the home.

The different numbers of stalks to each plant had different meanings as a gift :
• Three stalks bring happiness, health and a long life
• Five stalks stimulate the 5th elements of life
• Six stalks bring health
• Eight stalks bring development and prosperity
• Ten stalks symbolize perfection and fulfillment
• Twenty-one stalks bring a powerful blessing

In China, one would never give a four stalked plant as this was very bad luck, the number four represents death and negative energy in Chinese culture. As westerners began to embrace other asian traditions such as yoga and tai chi, lucky bamboo began to pop up in americans homes and offices, quickly becoming the trendy plant to have in the mid to late nineties. Currently, its India that is buying and selling lucky bamboo as it is all the rage there to own this special plant.


Trends aside, Dracaena Sanderiana is a great one to have if your just beginning to learn about plants. Rooting one in a clear vase makes it even easier, you just have to check to see if the roots are wet and top off the evaporating water from time to time. The new shoots on lucky bamboo can also be cut and placed in water, these too will form new roots. A novice gardener will soon find themselves propagating new plants and just like that- they are hooked!

And the knowing of how to create more plants in the world is a great thing to be hooked on!

Jeanna Gienke