Leaf tips on lucky bamboo can turn yellow if you water it with water containing fluoride, chlorine or high levels of salt. Yellowing appears at the tips of the leaves first, then spreads throughout the whole plant until it dies. Provide your plant with clean, filtered water. Lucky bamboo resembles true bamboo, but it's not related to it. True bamboo is a member of the grass family and includes over 1,200 species of plants. However, in spite of their differences, bamboos share a similar need for well-drained soil, sufficient light and adequate water or their leaves will turn yellow and die.
Bamboos are evergreen plants and keep their leaves year-round. However, in the spring, they grow some new leaves, so it's normal to see a lot of yellow leaves at that time of year as old leaves die off and are replaced. Leaf replacement doesn't occur all at once. It's a gradual process and you should see yellow and green leaves alongside new growth.
The amount of sunlight a bamboo prefers depends on its species. Some bamboos grow well in full sun; others prefer indirect lighting or shade. Yellow leaves on your bamboo might mean it's a species that prefers indirect lighting, similar to the kind of light it would receive in its native forest environment where tall trees filter light from above. Try giving it less light.
Too much or too little water can cause bamboo leaves to turn yellow. Many varieties are drought-resistant, but newly planted bamboos need to be watered once or twice a week for the first three to six months. Provide your plant with around 1 inch of water every week or 10 days. An easy way to estimate the amount of water needed is to look at the size of pot your bamboo is planted in. If the pot is less than 5 gallons, provide 1/2 gallon of water. If the pot is over 5 gallons, provide 1 or more gallons of water. The bamboo needs more water if the edges of the leaves roll up. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch will help keep the moisture in.
Bamboo mites cause yellow lines and streaks to appear on the leaves. The lines grow longer and spread. The mites are only 1/60 inch, but you can tell that your plant is infested if you see flat sheets of webbing on the bottom side of the leaf. Bamboo mites feed by sucking the juices of the plant. Bamboo mites don't kill their host plants. Their effect is mainly cosmetic, since infected plants aren't as visually attractive.
Leaf rust is caused by the puccinia fungus, which causes yellowish, yellowish-brown, brown or black spots to appear on the lower surface of the leaves, along the veins. If the infection is severe, the tissue between the spots will also turn yellow and die. Culm purple blotch is another fungus infection, which is caused by Fusarium stilboides. This disease starts with the appearance of yellow spots and stripes appearing on the culm or main stalk of the plant. The spots spread and turn a purplish-brown. Leaves on the culm turn yellow and drop off and the culm dies.
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- University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences: Growing Bamboo in Georgia; David Linvill
- American Bamboo Society: Bamboo Mites - Is there a Problem with Bamboo Mites?; Gib Cooper
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