Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow?

Written by dan ketchum
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Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow?
Keep your lucky bamboo's leaves green with the right amount of light and fertiliser. (bamboo image by Alice Becet from Fotolia.com)

Dracaena sanderiana, actually a species of plant unrelated to true bamboo, goes by many names -- water bamboo, ribbon plant, friendship bamboo and of course, lucky bamboo. This common houseplant, a fixture of Feng Shui practices and East-meets-West styles, requires little maintenance from its owners. Though yellow leaves and other problems may occur, simple remedies bring lucky bamboo back to full health.

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Causes

Yellow or brownish leaves are perhaps the most common issue green fingers encounter when growing Dracaena sanderiana plants. While healthy lucky bamboo sports bright green leaves, yellow leaves usually indicate over-fertilisation. Likewise, yellowed stalks result from too much fertiliser. Too much direct sunlight may also cause lucky bamboo leaves to turn yellow.

Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow?
Too much light causes lucky bamboo's leaves to yellow. (bamboo image by Bube from Fotolia.com)

Remedies

If your new lucky bamboo plant exhibits yellow leaves, change the water as soon as possible. Use distilled water or rain water to avoid further complications. If you've owned the Dracaena sanderiana for a while and have been regularly fertilising the plant, change out the water and avoid fertilising for at least three months. Change the location of the lucky bamboo, moving it a further away from direct sunlight without cutting off its light source entirely. If your plant has yellow stalks, cut off the green top and allow it to regrow.

Why Is My Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow?
Yellow leaves call for new water. (bamboo image by Bube from Fotolia.com)

Other Common Problems

In addition to yellow leaves, too much fertiliser and overexposure to light can result in brown stalks, rotted stalks or algae growth. Poor light exposure leads to slow or weakened growth, stunted leaf formation and dull colouration. Fluoride in lucky bamboo's water supply commonly causes leaves to exhibit brown tips. Scales, mealy bugs, thrips and spider mites sometimes affect lucky bamboo plants with dirty containers or old, unclean water supplies.

Ideal Environment

Lucky bamboo flourishes in water or soil. Regardless of where its roots lie, the plant's environment must meet certain conditions to avoid yellow leaves and other issues. It needs moderate temperatures -- about 18.3 to 21.1 degrees Celsius -- and bright but indirect sunlight. Perhaps most importantly, the plant requires a constant water level. If planting in water, make sure the water covers the bamboo's roots. Refill the container with fresh distilled water every few weeks. For plants in soil, keep the soil consistently moist and mist the plant's leaves regularly. About a 1/2 tsp of diluted water-soluble fertiliser helps lucky bamboo thrive. Apply it to plants in water once every three months and plants in soil monthly.

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