Planning to Get Indoor Bamboo Plants? Here is what you need to know

Indoor Bamboo Plant - Lucky Bamboo

Whenever one thinks of word bamboo, we think of long green bamboo rods of which houses are made. Or the food which panda’s keep munching on.

In fact, 150 years ago, in India people were using handmade pens made from thin bamboo sticks

Now if you’re planning to keep indoor bamboo plants, thinking of these as some miniature version of the tall bamboo shoot, here is the surprise – indoor bamboo plants are not the same bamboo.

In fact, they are not even real bamboos.

The reason they are called bamboos is that of the appearance of their stalk, which resembles bamboo sticks.

Indoor bamboo plants are planted in pots and vases, while the outdoor bamboos are planted on the ground. The outdoor ones also has a hole in the middle.

In this article, we will cover indoor bamboo plants and all that you should know before getting this beautiful plant in your house or office.

Types of Indoor Bamboo Plants

There are two popular types when it comes to Indoor bamboo plants.

These are

  • Lucky bamboo (dracaena sanderiana)
  • Lotus bamboo (dracaena deremensis or dracaena compacta).

Dracaena are defined as a tropical palm-like shrub or tree with ornamental foliage, popular as a greenhouse or indoor plant.

Origin of Bamboo Plants (Indoor)

Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is also called Ribbon Dracaena, Lucky Bamboo, Belgian Evergreen or Ribbon Plant. They come from tropical west Africa where they grow in rainforests.

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Lotus bamboo (Dracaena Compacta) plant is native to South East Africa. They have been used as houseplants since the mid-19th century and are very popularly known as hard to kill plants.

That’s why lotus bamboo is bit costlier than lucky bamboos.

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Appearance

Lucky bamboo, are small, shrubby plants with slender stems and flexible strap-shaped leaves. They have slender, joint stems and clusters of green/white and green leaves that can reach up to a foot in length.  

The name ‘lotus bamboo’ comes from its tightly clustered leaves resembling lotus flowers. It has a thick green stem and several clumps of short dark green leaves 2″-4″ in length. Mature lotus bamboo plants eventually reach heights between 6 and 10 feet.  They have more joints when compared to lucky bamboo and the bamboo is much thicker than lucky bamboo.

Growth

While both plants (Lucky and Lotus bamboo) are long-living, growth is faster in the case of lucky bamboo.

According to Orchid Asia, lucky bamboo can grow at a rate of approximately 18 inches in 6 months. The leaf clusters separate the stem as the plants mature.

Lotus bamboo are comparatively slow-growing, with stems growing approximately 6 inches per year. It’s can also tolerant neglect and can survive with minimal maintenance.

Favorable Conditions

Both (Lucky and Lotus bamboo) are valued for their ability to grow in moderate to low light.

However, lotus bamboo can tolerate higher light levels including fluorescent lights. Because these plants are tropical, they do well in Indian temperatures.

Care should be taken to not place them in direct sunlight.

Both plant varieties react badly to both chlorine and fluoride in water.

When watering these bamboo plants, tap water is sufficient if chlorine levels are low. If fluoride levels are high in tap water, it is recommended to use a non-fluoridated water source such as bottled water. Fluoride does not evaporate and is toxic to both varieties of bamboo plants.

Although bamboos grow better indoors when planted in soil, they are often sold with the roots in water.

If you are growing in water, take care to change the water every week. If you are growing in soil, remember the soil needs to be well drained.

Indoor bamboo plants love humidity and thrive in it.

One way of increasing humidity is by putting a humidity tray below the pot. Keep misting them with water spray every few days. If you can afford a humidifier, keep one in the room.

Planting Facts

It is important to know that as time passes bamboo plant become rootbound and they need to be repotted in a larger container.

Bamboo can grow in two different patterns.

A “runner” will spiral around a large container within three to five years whereas “clumpers” grow slowly outwards and can last in the same pot up to 5-6 years .

Fertilize the bamboo plant with care. Since they grow quickly, they need extra nutrients to support and maintain their growth. Make sure not to use a high salt based fertilizer. And avoid fertilizing during the first six months as the nurseries sell the plants with adequate fertilizer to last about six months. Be careful not to over fertilize.

Lucky bamboo stems are flexible and can be manipulated, either with wires or a light source, into twisted, curling or braided stems.

Lotus bamboo is also an air purifying plant. The famous NASA Clean Air Study indicated that lotus bamboo plant aided in the removal of indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.

Propagation

Plant propagation means using existing plant parts to plant it in some other location.

New plants of indoor bamboos come from short cuttings which are often kept in water. Take a cutting from a healthy stalk. After you remove an offshoot from the main stalk, remove the leaves and place the offshoot in water until it grows its own roots.

You can either continue growing the lucky bamboo in water or transplant it to the soil.

Pruning

Pruning (also called trimming) of an indoor bamboo plant is important to maintain its health and to keep the desired shape (as bamboo plant loses its form as the time passes).

For Lotus bamboo, wait till spring (as spring is a season of active growth and will make plant recover faster). It’s not a good idea to cut the main stalk of a lucky bamboo. Instead, cut the offshoots.

It is important to keep in mind is that once the main stalk of bamboo is cut, it will not grow.

This trait allows the bamboo plant dimensions to be permanently controlled. This is done by a technique called topping. Also for showing the beauty of the bamboo stalk, cut the lower leaves as the beauty of the bamboo stalk sometimes gets blocked due to thick leaves and branches.

Always be careful to cut just above the nodal points. Nodal points are rings on the plant. That will prevent leaving any stub which can rot and deteriorate.

To compensate for the lost leaves, branches below the cut will produce more leaves, making the foliage thicker. If you want vertical growth, thin the branches. Thinning will allow more sunlight and air to penetrate the plant which will lead to a healthier growth.

Don’t throw away the pruned branches or offshoots as you can use them to propagate new plants.

Cultural Importance (Feng Shui)

The plant’s common name lucky bamboo and lotus bamboo is because of the symbolism of bamboo and lotus. According to chinese culture, bamboo stands for long life and vitality, while lotus stands for purity and good fortune.

A lucky bamboo planted in a metal-trimmed ceramic pot, tied with red ribbon, is thought to contain all five elements of feng shui: earth, water, wood, fire, and metal.

Feng shui also has certain attributes to the numbers of stems in a container.

  • Two stalks represent love
  • Three stalks represent Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life).
  • Five stalks represent the areas of life that represent wealth spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and intuitive).
  • Six stalks represent good luck and wealth.
  • Seven stalks represent good health.
  • Eight stalks represent growth.
  • Nine stalks represent great luck.
  • Ten stalks represent perfection.
  • Twenty-one stalks represent a powerful blessing.

Lucky bamboo plants are never arranged in four stalks.

In Chinese, the word four is close to the word for death, so a gift of four bamboo stalks would be considered very rude. It is as if you had wished death for the person you are giving to.

Dangers

Both (Lucky and Lotus bamboo) are vulnerable to spider mites and bugs. This can be treated with insecticidal soap. Additionally, lotus bamboo should be watched for signs of mold.

Indoor bamboo plants are poisonous to pets specifically cats and dogs.

The level of toxicity is mild to moderate and the symptoms to look out for are drooling, vomiting, weakness, uncoordinated dilated pupils.

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