All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo, Chinese water bamboo, Sander’s dracaena, curly bamboo, etc., are some of the many names Dracaena sanderiana has. With its origins in the central African area, it is one of the most popular indoor plants in countries like India. Although at present its cultivation has spread in hundreds of countries around the world. That is why today we will talk about how to use the fertilizer for lucky bamboo, we will analyze both for the case of cultivation in water and in the soil.

Interesting fact: if we want to know the history of lucky bamboo, we can find data from more than 4000 years ago within Chinese culture. There it is understood as a symbol of good luck, happiness, wealth and prosperity in general. If you live in China and have one of these bamboos at home, I have no doubt that you are a lucky millionaire. 😉

1. How to make Lucky Bamboo Spirals

Although this post is intended to study everything about the fertilization of lucky bamboo, I have no doubt that if you have one at home you have wondered how you can form it as a spiral. That is why we decided to say the first section to answer that question.

How to make Lucky Bamboo Spirals
Lucky bamboo spirals

There are basically two ways to achieve that shape of our lucky bamboo. In the first method we will use the sun, and the need of plants to receive its rays of light. While the second is similar to what is known as wiring in bonsai.

1.1 First method

Here the only item you will need is a cardboard box and scissors. Take the scissors and cut one side of the box. Once done, place the bamboo inside the box and take it to a place with good sunlight.

Leave the box in that location for several days, you will see how the little plant is going to twist looking for the light. Once you see that it is already growing almost horizontal, turn the pot a little so that the development changes direction.

You will have to repeat this procedure many times to form the spiral. As you can see, it is a technique that will take you several months to form the spiral lucky bamboo.

1.2 Second method

This second method can be a bit quicker to do, but you will have to be very careful doing it, and it can only be done on tender, thin shoots. You will need a tube (it can be PVC), its diameter must be the diameter you want the spiral to have.

Place the PVC pipe in the pot or container where you have the bamboo. Next, get a florist wire (the same one used on bonsai) and use it to fix the tender bamboo shoot by copying the circumference of the tube.

Then, as the plant grows, keep tying it to the tube so that it gradually forms the spiral. With this technique it is not only possible to form spirals, use your imagination to create the most striking and beautiful shapes you want.

2. NPK values of a fertilizer

Talking about fertilizers is talking about nutrients, because in order to identify one fertilizer from another it is necessary to know what nutrients it is composed of. To easily and quickly recognize a fertilizer, so-called NPK values ​​have been defined.

These values, which you will typically see on the front of any fertilizer container, are three numbers. Each number is the percentage by weight of the nutrient with respect to the total weight of the fertilizer. And will you say what nutrients each number has? The letters NPK represent the three most important nutrients for a plant.

  • Nitrogen (N): favors the growth of the aerial part of vegetables (leaves, stems). It is, in part, responsible for the green color of plants and confers resistance to pests.
  • Phosphorus (P): it is very important in the ripening of flowers, seeds and fruits. It participates in the formation and development of roots and has an important role in resistance to drought.
  • Potassium (K): it is decisive in the development of the whole plant, it allows the roots and stems to be strong and the seeds, fruits and leaves, large. It provides resistance to pests and diseases, helps the circulation of other nutrients around the plant, and regulates the functions of the plant.

So, now you know that if you buy a 10-20-30 fertilizer, 10% of the total is nitrogen, 20% of the total is phosphorous, and 30% is potassium. Pretty easy, don’t you think?

3. Best fertilizer for lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo is not a plant that needs a lot of nutrients. Plus, you can usually get by without a hint of fertilizer and you won’t have a problem. However, there are times when you may need fertilizers, otherwise we would not be writing this post.

If it grows in water and uses distilled water, it lacks many nutrients (ex: magnesium, iron, etc). Therefore, it will be advisable to add some fertilizer in those cases. You can also apply fertilizer if you want to give the plant a boost to grow stronger.

On the other hand, this indoor plant has the ability to remain in what is known as suspended animation, that is, without developing for many months. This is a very good feature for those who want the plant to stay small and not grow lush. Something that can happen if we fertilize too much.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

Let’s see below some of the fertilizers that can be used on this bamboo.

3.1 Liquid fertilizer for lucky bamboo

Most of those who grow lucky bamboo do so directly in the water. In these cases, if you are going to apply fertilizer, it is good to do it with a liquid one.

As a first point you should know that lucky bamboo is capable of obtaining the nutrients that are dissolved in the water. In general, tap water can give you all the properties you need. It will only be a matter of you being careful to change the water regularly, and always put clean water. Dirty water can cause plant disease.

With what we’ve just pointed out, arguably the best liquid fertilizer for your lucky bamboo is simply clean water. But if you need to apply more nutrients you will have to do it using a balanced liquid fertilizer. When I say balanced, it is the one with the three equal NPK values. Generally a 2-2-2 mix works well. If you go to a good nursery, you will get liquid fertilizers specially created for lucky bamboos.

3.2 Organic fertilizer (homemade)

In all the articles in which I dedicate a section to recommend homemade organic fertilizers, you can see that I recommend several. Among them it is very common that you see compost, manure, earthworms, etc. All of them very good homemade fertilizers, but in the case of lucky bamboo I do not recommend that you use them.

This type of fertilizer contains a high content of nutrients, in concentrations that are generally unknown to us. For a plant like this bamboo that doesn’t need large amounts of nutrients, applying some of these fertilizers could cause problems.

If you want to apply some homemade fertilizer, I can recommend fish tank water. Which is nothing other than the water you get after cleaning your fish tank. This has good amounts of nitrogen, dilute it with normal water so as not to exceed the amount of nutrients you apply.

4. How and when to fertilize lucky bamboo

To achieve a better understanding of the subject we will divide this section in two. In the first, and most extensive, we will see how to fertilize a lucky bamboo grown in water. While in the second we will analyze the case that the cultivation is carried out in the soil.

In any case, if you’ve been fertilizing regularly, and you start to see that the leaves and / or stems are yellowish, stop fertilizing immediately. If the crop is in water, change it to a new one to remove any excess nutrients it may have.

Fertilizer for lucky bamboo in water
Lucky bamboo in water

If you weren’t fertilizing and the leaves or stems turn yellow, this may be a sign of a lack of nutrients. That is why it may be advisable to carry out a fertilization. Let’s see how to make it done.

4.1 Lucky bamboo plant in water

First of all, let’s go over when to use lucky bamboo fertilizer. This is when you want to stimulate growth, if you use distilled water in cultivation, or when the plant is yellowish and you have not fertilized it. These are the three most common cases in which you will need to fertilize.

If your plant is developing well, looks healthy, and is comfortable with its size, you should not fertilize. Just keep changing the water regularly (every two weeks) and the plant will still be fine. In my country there is a saying in football that says “team that wins is not touched.” You probably don’t like soccer, but the saying applies perfectly to this case. If the plant is fine and you are satisfied with the plant, why modify something?

Now, if you need to fertilize, do it with a balanced 2-2-2 fertilizer or a fertilizer specially prepared for lucky bamboo. In this case, read the instructions on the container to define exactly the dose of fertilizer to apply and the regularity. Depending on the fertilizer you buy, you may need to apply it with every water change or just every three months. As I say, it will depend on the fertilizer you buy.

4.2 Lucky bamboo in soil

In case the cultivation is on land, you can also use fertilizers specially designed for lucky bamboo. Although you can also use the usual liquid fertilizers for indoor plants. If you opt for the latter, dilute it a lot as it doesn’t need as many nutrients.

When transplanting, buy a mixture of soil for garden plants, it will have all the necessary nutrients. Thus being able to dispense with any fertilizer until the new transplant.

5. Super green fertilizer

When I started writing this article I realized that there are many users asking about super green fertilizer. It is a ready-to-use liquid fertilizer for plants like lucky bamboo.

In general, you can find it in a 36 ml bottle format. And it is useful not only for lucky bamboo but also for any indoor plant. Today in stores like Amazon you can find 6 bottles at a price of US $ 12.63. Cheap? Expensive? I really do not know, I have never used this fertilizer so I do not know its results.

I just wanted to dedicate this small section since there are many people who are looking for it. And for those who are not looking for it, they will know that this super green fertilizer is one of the useful liquid fertilizer options for lucky bamboo.

6. Feeding lucky bamboo (video)

To finish we have selected a good video (from Gardening is my Passion channel) where you can see how you should feed your lucky bamboo. This is the case of some small bamboos grown in water. I have no doubt that it will be useful to you, being able to contrast what you have seen so far in this post.

And with this we can end this article. I hope it was useful to you, and that you know both how to fertilize and shape your lucky bamboo. 😉

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