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Dracaena sanderiana

Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is really not bamboo. It is a part of the asparagus family and is related to the snake and corn plant.

Want to get lucky? Me too, and as we move into a new year, I am not taking any chances. I am welcoming the new year and asking the universe for good luck. I have eaten black-eyed peas, cabbage cooked with money, and 12vgrapes (one round food for each month), and I have lucky bamboo.

Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is really not bamboo. It is a part of the asparagus family and is related to the snake and corn plant. It is a stalk with long slender leaves.

A staple in Feng Shui, bamboo is thought to bring good luck and happiness. The number of stalks in the container carries a message. One stalk promotes unity and a continuous flow of energy. Two stalks bring good luck in love; three continued growth and new birth. Four is associated with death; do not give a planter growing four stalks of bamboo.

Five stalks of bamboo represent longevity, happiness, and prosperity. Six stalks welcome opportunity and good luck; seven welcome health and personal growth. Eight stalks of bamboo bring infinite energy and blessing. Containers with nine stalks represent success and gratitude.

This bamboo is not only considered lucky, it is easy to grow. The stalks can be planted in pebbles and water or soil.

If you choose to plant in water, use small pebbles to stabilize the stalks. Keep the roots covered in water, and try to change the water every month to keep it fresh. This is often thought to be a short-term growing medium for the bamboo, but mine has been in water for years and continues to be a healthy plant.

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When planted in soil, the plant likes wet feet so keep the soil moist. Whether yours is in water or soil, keep it away from drafts. This is a plant that thrives in tropical conditions. It does not like chlorine. I use tap water for my plant and have not had trouble. If you notice problems, consider using distilled water.

Indirect sunlight will protect your bamboo from sunburnt leaves. If the bamboo leaves are turning yellow, it may be getting too much sun or too much fertilizer. If you fertilize your plant, once every month or two is often enough. The lucky bamboo plant is happy when the roots are slightly crowded in the container. Don’t be in a rush to repot.

You many notice some bamboo plants have beautifully twisted stalks. They can be braided, curved or formed into other shapes. This is done by manipulating the light received by the plant and involves creating a three-sided box and turning the plant as it grows. These formations do not happen overnight, and require dedication and patience to achieve results.

In proverbs and folklore, lucky bamboo is a plant that represents the five elements. Earth is the pebbles in the container; wood is the stalks of the plant; water is in the container; fire is in the red ribbon almost always tied around the stalks, and metal is a penny in the soil or tied to the ribbon.

The bamboo stalks are hollow, which allows energy, wisdom and prosperity to move through the plant. This sounds like the perfect way to start a new year. Moving positive energy through our plants, our homes and our bodies. Another good thing about lucky bamboo — it is lucky to give or receive, even if that means gifting it to yourself.

Jane Powell is a longtime West Virginia University Extension Service master gardener through the Kanawha County chapter. She is the communications director for a community foundation and a volunteer with several nonprofits in the community. Find her blog, “Gardening in Pearls,” at You can contact her at

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