This post has affiliate/referral links. Learn more.
You water your bamboo plants regularly. They get all the sunlight they could need and even the occasional scoop of fertilizer. Then how are you here, searching how to save a dying bamboo plant?
Its diverse and striking aesthetic along with its many variations in size makes bamboo a very popular house plant. But bamboo pants are in fact far more suited to outdoor growth. They require regular care when grown indoors.
However, under the misnomer of “easy-to-manage,” these plants are often overlooked and end up badly maintained.
That’s why we’re giving you a comprehensive guide on how best to save your dying bamboo plants. This article will help you have effortlessly green foliage ready to welcome you and your guests.
Identify the Bamboo at Home
Like with any other living creature, you have to know what you’re working with before you try to save it. Even within the umbrella term “bamboo,” there are several species that your potted friend could be. Each species has specific requirements for sunlight, water, and soil conditions.
If you have a tied-up bundle of small bamboo-like shoots that you keep in a bowl of water or a small pot of moist soil, the chances are you have a lucky bamboo (Dracaena Sanderiana). It’s a commonplace gift for housewarming parties, which means it’s a plant often found in homes.
How to Save a Dying Bamboo Plant – 7 Easy Tips
Once you’ve assessed the damage, you now need to go about fixing it. Here are seven tips to keep in mind when learning how to save your dying bamboo.
1. Ensure an Ideal Location
After you get your lucky bamboo plant home, you learn that bamboos thrive in bright light and proceed to keep your plant on a windowsill, letting it soak in the sun.
What you may not know is that bamboos need loads of indirect sunlight for optimal growth. Sitting in the sun all day will cause your plants to dry out and wilt from dehydration.
If this is the case with your plant, let it rest in the mild shade for a couple of days. Keep a regular watering schedule.
On the other end of the scale, if your plant barely gets any sunlight, there is also a high chance it is in an environment cooler than what it needs.
An ideal spot for your lucky bamboo would be by a window that only gets hit by the early evening sun. Also, ensure it is far enough from the vents to maintain a steady temperature.
2. Water Just Right
Lucky bamboo plants can grow both in soil and water, but at different levels of hydration.
If you’ve chosen to grow it in water, make sure to regularly refill the bowl. This prevents it from stagnating. Once a week should be fine. If your lucky bamboo is rooted in soil, keep a regular watering schedule. The goal is to neither flood nor dehydrate.
You could use a soil moisture probe to determine the best moisture levels. However, there are DIY methods.
An easy setup you could create at home is to place a bowl of water next to the lucky bamboo. Link them with a linen or cotton cloth, so that one end is soaked in the water and the other is well placed around the base of the plant’s roots.
The water will move through the cloth via a phenomenon known as capillary action. This means there will be constant water flow into the plant’s soil, at the same pace that the bamboo is taking water in.
3. Locate the Yellow
While yellowing is a pretty tell-tale sign of your lucky bamboo dying, the location of the yellowing is a very effective method of determining how far gone your plant is.
If the leaves are beginning to yellow, you’ve caught it very early on. Your lucky bamboo has a high chance of making it. If a significant portion of the shoot’s leaves are yellow, you’re still in time, but you need to get things under control fast.
It is important to note, however, that if the yellow has reached the stems of the bamboo, your plant is closer to death than dying and if this is a problem with one plant within the bundle, the sick plant should immediately be removed to stop the damage from spreading.
4. Regular Trimming
You needn’t wait until your plant is visibly yellow to take matters in hand. Keep an eye on older leaves (the ones on the periphery, at the base of all the leaves) for signs of aging. If you see leaves with yellow stripes or leaves that are beginning to stoop, trim them off the node.
The node is a small bump near the base of the leaf. On lucky bamboo, they’re often on the ‘rings’ that mark the shoot. Keep your trims to the nodes for cleaner cuts. This will also help your lucky bamboo look healthier.
Make it a point to sterilize your scissors between trims as well. If you don’t, you run the risk of spreading the disease. It can go from one leaf to another shoot that might have just had old leaves.
5. Healthy Roots
Connecting back to the watering section, too much hydration can lead to root rot. If your lucky bamboo is in water, and the roots are getting slimy, it’s most likely root rot.
For bamboo potted in soil, common signs to look out for are a foul smell and browning stems, in addition to yellow leaves.
If you find root rot on your bamboo, cut the shoots above the last healthy node you can see (a node that isn’t close to the browning stem). The freshly cut shoots can then be replanted in a water medium until the roots are fully developed once more before they are repotted in the soil.
6. Clean Containers
If your lucky bamboo is water-based, cleaning the container is also part of maintaining your plant’s health. The schedule you set for cleaning your container can change with your plant.
While once a week is most commonly suggested, a good sign to pick up on is seeing a tinge of green in the water. This means that your container now has algae growing in it, and the water needs to be switched.
Fluoride or chlorine salts from tap water also end up as sediments along with the container and are extremely unhealthy for your lucky bamboo over the long run.
Switching to cleaner sources of water, like rainwater, or leaving a bowl of tap water to settle are both effective ways of improving your water’s quality.
7. Regularly Fertilize
When we say regular, we don’t mean frequent. While fertilization is necessary for lucky bamboo (and this applies to the shoots you’ve grown in water as well), the requirement for fertilizer is no more than two-three times a year.
More than that, and you’re overwhelming the plant with too much nutrition. Going back to the yellowing section, look to see if there’s a direction to how the yellow on your lucky bamboo spreads. If it’s moving from the base up, then you’re most probably over-fertilizing.
FAQs on How to Save a Dying Bamboo Plant
Can You Bring a Dying Bamboo Back to Life?
Yes. You can’t bring it back from the dead, but you most certainly can bring a dying bamboo back to life. The most common sign of a dying bamboo plant is when the leaves are yellow and begin to wilt. But the good news is, this is early enough in the plant’s wilting process to not give up hope.
Correcting some key points in the plant’s location, water intake, and soil moisture will easily have your bamboo leaves going from yellow back to green.
Why is My Outdoor Bamboo Plant Dying?
At its core, taking care of bamboo is the same for both outdoor and indoor plants — sufficient indirect sunlight, an optimal level of hydration, and regular trimming should take care of most of your issues.
However, the main difference is that things are a lot more out of your control when you have an outdoor plant. Things like soil moisture and maintaining constant temperature, that are far harder to regulate outside the confines of your home.
A neat way out of this is to literally grow your very own outdoor ‘room’ using windbreaks, but that is a commitment in the making. If you have a greenhouse or a tarp-covered nursery, those make for pretty good alternatives as well.
Takeaway – Let’s Keep Our Plants Green
The chances are that you were gifted the lucky bamboo that now rests on your mantle or your windowsill. It is commonly believed in East Asian culture that letting a gifted lucky bamboo die can culminate into bad luck, although the severity of this bad luck changes with each culture.
Regardless of whether or not you chose to believe in this, now that you’ve read through this article, you can rest assured that you know exactly how to save your dying bamboo plant. Follow the above seven tips to make sure your lucky bamboo is green and healthy — nowhere near bringing you bad luck.
Who knows? You might even be able to grow your shoots enough to gift a friend some of their very own potted luck!