Esprit de Isle

Lucky Bamboo, Feng Shui, Bonsai & Gardening | The Spirit Of Whidbey Island

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FAQS & Facts 1

Following are some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) directed to Esprit de Isle and our factual replies. Please feel free to add your two bits if you wish to elaborate on any of the subjects, or to make an inquiry of your own. We strive to respond quickly and completely. Address your email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You may find the answers you need by reading the following Frequently Asked Questions or click on Care of Lucky Bamboo.  Note: Several readers have sent photos of their Lucky Bamboo which help in diagnosing problems.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?:

Q: I have a lucky bamboo plant that I have had for a little more than a year now. It has several stalks which have produced leaves that have more than tripled the height of the plant since I got it. (At this point, the stalks are about 6" high, which the leaves reach up to 32"!)

I have read in several places that I should prune the plant, but I am not finding a lot of details on how to go about that. How much should I prune it back? When instructed to cut at the 'leaf bract' what exactly does that mean? What will the leafy part look like if it continues to grow after pruning (so that I can tell if it is doing well)? I have also read about trimming roots. Can you describe how to do that? How much should I trim off?

I am nervous about pruning since the plant (except for the stalk described below) seems so happy and I'd prefer not to kill it by pruning it.

Also, one of the stalks has not done so well--its leaves have reached a few inches beyond the stalk itself. The top of the stalk and some of its leaves have started to yellow--what should I do about that? - Kyla

A: Kyla sent photos. The photos really help. You have some very lovely and healthy stems here and one problem child.

Addressing the top-heavy crowns:

  1. If you prune them part-way down, the new growth will begin at the bract closest to the cut.
  2. The new growth may adversely affect the overall appearance of the arrangement and cause it to be top-heavy, so you really don’t accomplish what you hope to.
  3. I would clip the crowns (or new green stalks) about two inches or less from where they emerge from the original stalks in order to encourage growth closer to those stalks.
  4. Soon, you should see the new shoots growing to replace those you have removed.

Take the stems that you have removed and place them in a glass with water. They will root quickly and when the roots are 1-3” long, you may place them into a fresh lucky bamboo pot, holding them in place with gravel or whatever medium you choose.

At this point, you may again cut the long, leafy stems just about any length you wish; allow the cut to dry, then drop a small amount of melted paraffin directly on the cut – make sure it is not too hot – just warm enough to still be liquid, covering all of the fresh cut. (The best way to do this is to turn the stem upside down and dip it quickly into the warm wax being careful to only cover the cut area and about 1/8” of the stem.) That keeps bacteria from entering the “injury” and causing crown or stem rot. Again, you should notice new shoots at the leaf bracts.

Addressing the yellowing leaves and the yellowing stem:

  1. I’m afraid this one is a goner. You should immediately remove it from the arrangement as its decay may adversely affect the rest of your healthy plants.
  2. You may attempt to root the sprout that looks the healthiest in the same way I describe rooting the stems, above.

It looks to me like you will soon have some healthy growing Lucky Bamboo stems to replace the one you must remove. You will also have some lovely new plants to keep or to share.

There could be a couple of reasons why the one stem seems to be dying.

  1. It could be an age thing. There’s no way of telling how old the stems are when they are purchased and they do have a life span.
  2. It also looks like there’s a small injury on the top of that stem which could have allowed bacteria to enter.
  3. In either case, the stem needs to be removed from the arrangement. It spoils the appearance of the arrangement and the decay or bacteria could spread to the rest of your plants.

"BROKEN" HEART BAMBOO:

Q: My lucky bamboo appears to be dying. It is a heart shaped one and the main stem has gone yellow and is slowly traveling up to the top. There are numerous little off shoots at the top that appear to be ok at the moment. I have read your information and know where I have gone wrong with (leaflet that came with it just said add a little water occasionally). Is there a way to propagate the shoots and try to save it or just throw it out and buy another. I live in Sydney Australia so they are readily available. Hope you can help. Pamela

A: Hi, Pamela. Actually, if you cut the shoots off from the main stem and put them in water, you should be rewarded with new shoots within a short time. Then you may "plant" the shoot in a small pot, anchoring it with gravel or glass marbles, keeping the water level consistent with the top of the gravel. Depending on the height of the shoots, the pot will need to be deep enough to be able to anchor the shoots to keep them from toppling over, although you only need water to cover about 1.5 - 3 inches of the stem to encourage root growth. You probably know that, without training, the shoots will just continue to grow upwards. You may, however, develop pretty plants by choosing to prune the stem somewhere near the top and allow new off-shoots to grow. This plant is actually quite self-perpetuating as you may continue to root new plants from the crown of the shoots. If you've read the descriptions from Esprit's web site, you'll see how it grows in its natural environment. It is part of the process for older stems to wither and die but new shoots ensure that the plant lives on.