How To Replant Lucky Bamboo Plants

For the past year, I’ve been cultivating a bamboo plant with five stems. It is housed in a glass jar that is stuffed with tiny white stones. I store it in a window, out of the direct sunlight. I have to drain the water and thoroughly rinse the stones once a week to keep the water from becoming bad. It has hardly grown at all, and the leaves are beginning to fall off. By putting it in soil, I’m trying to give it new life. That seems possible. If so, what kind of container, soil, vitamins, and watering schedule do I need?

Since a few years, retailers have been selling us “lucky bamboo,” but it is actually just cuttings of a dracena known as the ribbon plant (Dracaena sanderiana). It is typically a thickly leafed tropical shrub, but all of its lower leaves have been removed to reveal a stem with several evenly spaced nodes that does, in fact, resemble a bamboo.

This plant generally grows in soil, thus the aquatic habitat (stones and water) in which it is grown is not natural, which explains why it hasn’t grown much in your home. You’re also “fortunate” in that it appears to be healthy aside from a few leaves that have fallen off, as the lucky bamboo frequently begins to badly deteriorate after a year or two of growing in water. Most pass away in the end.

Thoughts of planting it in soil are a good inclination, though. If your plant’s decline isn’t too far along, this transition to a terrestrial habitat (into potting soil) should offer it a significant boost.

You can either grow a new plant from cuttings or transplant the original plant into soil to do this.

Be aware that a lucky bamboo occasionally exhibits negative initial reactions when it is transplanted into potting soil; yours may shed additional leaves. This is due to the fact that after spending its whole life under in water, its roots must once again adapt to terrestrial surroundings. However, that is only a short-term situation. Soon, fresh, strong roots start to grow, and from that point on, the plant actually fills out more and grows more quickly.

Here’s how to successfully move it from growing in water to doing so in soil:

1. Pick a grow pot that is between 1.5 and 2 times the diameter of the original pot. It should have drainage holes and be made of plastic.

2. Pour a few cups of potting mix (houseplant potting soil will do just fine) into a bowl or pail, then top it off with lukewarm water. (Working with moist mix is simpler than dry mix.)

3. Give the mixture a good stir to evenly wet it. It should have the texture of a wrung out sponge.

4. To stop soil from dripping out of the pot when you water, put a coffee filter, a piece of newspaper, or a piece of paper towel in the bottom of the pot. There is no drainage layer required or advised.

5. Add moist soil to the pot until it is about halfway full.

6. Take the plant out of the pot it came in.

7. Cut off any stems that are dead or yellow.

8. Remove the roots and stones from the mixture. Afterward, you may always retain them to use as decorative mulch.

9. If the roots are just slightly entangled, separate them and spread them apart from the stems. Take out a pair of pruning shears and cut off the outside roots all the way around the root ball, but only if they wrap around the inside of the original pot or become so tangled you can never separate them. No, the plant won’t suffer from it. In fact, it will be encouraged to grow new roots faster as a result. A third of the old roots can be readily cut out without harming the plant.

10. Place the plant in the center of the new pot and lightly push down the potting soil around the roots. (This implies you want a group of plants in one pot; otherwise, you may have divided the stems and planted each in its own separate pot.)

11. To help the plant settle in, place the pot on a saucer that is just a little bit larger than its diameter. Any extra water that gathers in the saucer should be discarded.

12. Finally, place the plant in an area that receives at least moderate light—possibly its original location—under regular indoor temperatures.

The plant may lose a few leaves at initially, as previously said, but after a few months it should gain vigor and become even more beautiful.

Cuttings are the “quick and simple way to save a disgruntled lucky bamboo. Cuttings frequently begin growing faster than transplants, so you’ll effectively be beginning from scratch. What you should do is:

5. Add potting soil to the pot until it is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the top edge.

6. Trim the plant’s stems to the desired length. A 90-degree angle is acceptable. Put the roots and the stem’s bottom in the compost.

Apply rooting hormone to the base of each stem with a cotton swab.

8. To achieve the best results, evenly space each stem in the potting soil by poking a hole in it with a pencil.

9. Place each cutting (stem) cut side down into a hole, being sure to cover at least two nodes with potting soil (three nodes will produce even better results).

10. Lightly tap the cuttings so they stay upright.

11. Put the cuttings container in a room-temperature setting with dim to moderate lighting.

Because of the terrestrial roots that will sprout in this dry climate, your fortunate bamboo will be able to resume its more typical growth pattern. You ought to notice a significant improvement in its appearance within a few months. The lifespan of a bamboo plant grown in potting soil can reach many decades.

Giving a soil-rooted lucky bamboo regular indoor temperatures, moderate light, and possibly some sun, as well as watering the root ball whenever it seems dry to the touch, are all relatively simple maintenance procedures.

I can’t possibly tell you how frequently you’ll need to water because that will vary on the growth environment. However, a lot of people discover that they only need to water their plants once a week when they are planted in a pot with moderately excellent light. Every year or so, you’ll need to repot your plant, and eventually, maybe after 5 or 6 years, you’ll probably need to cut it back little because it may become very enormous.

Since the fortunate bamboo is not a particularly greedy plant, fertilizer (not vitamins) is only a minor worry.

First, give it a year without fertilizing at all to become accustomed to its new surroundings. Once the plant has reached its second year, one or two applications of all-purpose fertilizer, applied in the spring or summer as directed on the label, will be sufficient. Furthermore, you’ll discover that your fortunate bamboo will probably thrive even if you never fertilize it.

Once your lucky bamboo is placed in a more conducive (read terrestrial) habitat, you’ll watch it really take off.


A lucky bamboo growing in rocks, unlike most plants, will not require watering because it is naturally growing in water. Just watch that the water never falls below the level of the rocks to prevent the roots from drying up.

The presence of the rocks ensures that the water reaches all of the plant’s roots equally.

To prevent the growth of algae, change the water in the pot every seven to 10 days. You might only need to do this every ten to fifteen days in the winter.

Use filtered water or rainwater, always. If you must use tap water, allow it to sit in the sun for a day so the chlorine can vaporize before using it on your plant.


Bamboo plants are fortunate in that they can thrive inside without direct light. If the plant is exposed to direct light for even a short period of time, the leaves will burn.

The plant only has to be placed in a location where it may receive four hours of indirect sunlight each day.

Because the plant’s leaf tissue can freeze in the winter if it does not stay warm enough, you can place it where it receives more light than usual.

You can also assist the plant by putting it under a grow lamp if there is very little light available.


Because it normally thrives in humid climates, lucky bamboo can tolerate higher humidity levels than most other plants. Growing the plant in rocks is advantageous because the environment is already pretty humid and offers nearly ideal circumstances for your humidity-loving plant.


You seldom ever need to fertilize a plant because it already gets the majority of its nutrients from the water and rocks in the pot. Feed it three times a year at most; more frequent feedings can be harmful.

Use a fertilizer that is easily dissolved in water so you can simply apply it to the plant’s water in the container.


Mealybugs and spider mites are the pests that lucky bamboo plants are most frequently seen with. You can get rid of these bugs by hand, or you can clean the plant with rubbing alcohol to get rid of the pests. Remove the rocks from the saucepan and wash them with soap if there are any insects on the rocks themselves. Before placing the rocks back in the pot, make sure the soap has been thoroughly removed.