Lucky bamboo leaves turning yellow

amjohnsoApril 20, 2006

Long story short i got some lucky bamboo for my birthday, I have had it for a few days and now the leaves are turning yellow. When i got the plant and did some research and i have been: keeping it out of direct sun lightand letting the water sit in an open container for 24 hours or more to let the harsh chemicals diffuse out. The only obvious problem at this point is the plant was in soil so perhaps it it getting to much nutrients or the rotts are starting to rot. I took the plant out and washed off the dirt and the roots did not appear to be brown mushy and looked like many i have seen in pictures online so i think that eliminates rotting of the roots. So now that everyone is all caught up what can i do to return the plant to its normal state? I want to make it a all water plant and i have seen many conflicting methods on to raise them in water. How do i go about it without causing anymore damage to the plant? thanks

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The leaves could be yellowing because the plant has been growing in soil and it's now it water. `So, I'm sure it needs time to adapt.
What did you mean when you said something about getting harsh chemicals out??
Though it doesn't need direct sun, it does need bright light. So, make sure it's not sitting in too dark an area.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 2:19PM
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Your plant is going to go through an adjustment period, a conversion if you may. Since it was in soil, it had soil roots. Now that you've washed off the soil and placed it in water, it has to grow water roots. It can do it but until it does, it is possible that it will go through a stressful period. Leaves turning yellow and wilting leaves is normal. It is having trouble drawing up moisture with soil roots. The soil roots are virtually useless in the water.

Make sure you have washed off all traces of soil. Any soil left in the water can lead to root rot that will lead to damage for the plant. Don't place it yet - but do place it later - in bright light and definitely no sun until it converts to water roots. It doesn't need more stress right now and placing it in a bright location will stress it. Change the water often to provide a regular dose of diffused oxygen, which is vital. You can trim the roots by at least 1/3 to encourage new water roots to grow. It won't hurt the plant. The soil roots will be replaced over time and they're already not much use.

Provide added humidity to help your plant get the moisture it can't with its roots. Spray mist, place it on a pebble tray, put a plastic bag over it, whatever you feel will improve humidity...

Basically, it will - hopefully - go into a somewhat dormant state and concentrate on making roots. This is a Dracaena and Dracaenas are prime candidates for forming water roots and becoming hydroculture plants. Hydroculture is a step above growing plants in water; the roots in hydroculture do not sit in water, they sit above it. You might want to consider going one step further into hydroculture and giving your plant a permanent succesful method that requires little effort.

I hope this helps a little! Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 2:51PM
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This probably isn't your issue, given all else that's going on with your plant, but I lost 2 dracaena sanderianas (lucky bamboo) to a bad draft before I knew better. First the leaves yellowed and then the stalks - I wasn't able to save them. So along with everything else you do...keep them out of drafts!


    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 6:13PM
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Thank you everyone for you input on how to rectify this situation all comments were of great help. As for the comment about harsh chemicals in the water I was refering to chlorinated or fluorinated water that i have read about in my research. thanks again i'll post how everything turned out.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 6:46PM
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I know you already got your information you needed but i work at a store where we sell bamboo. The bamboo is not suppose to be in soil. We've tried so many times but they all end up dying. It likes water that doesn't have chlorine in it, as you already know. As long as the stalk hasn't gone yellow yet then the stalk is still good. I would just cut the yellow leaf off. They also like iron. You can put an old rusty nail in the water. The stalk will change colour to a dark green.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 12:01PM
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Wow kaydid00, I am so intrigued by your suggestion about the rusty nail! Does it really work?? For how long to do you put it in the water? Temporarily or permanently?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 3:13PM
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I've had a Lucky Bamboo plant for over two years and slowly in the last month or so, all the leaves are turning yellow. HELP! When do you know it's time to put it in a bigger pot? I've had it in the same pot and the same stones since I got it!! I'm noticing a brown ring around the stalks neas the rocks. Should I transplant it??

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 12:16AM
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username_5(banned for no reason)


LB is routinely grown in pots barely wider than the plant is and very little depth. Don't worry about repotting.

If the green is yellowing the most likely explanation is the plant needs a *tiny* amount of iron or nitrogen.

Here is what you do.

Forget the rusty nail thing, the idea is to provide iron (iron oxide) and nails aren't always iron these days.

Go get a complete, organic fert. Add just a tiny amount to the water and you are done. By tiny amount I mean around 1/4 or less what the package says.

The other thing you can try, before ferting, is dumping the water, flushing the plant with fresh water and then filling up with new water. Often the nutrients in fresh water are enough to keep a plant like LB going for months.

In most cases LB can be kept going nearly forever with water changes a few times per year and a really light organic fert once per year. Not even that often in most cases.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 1:01AM
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I seem to have a problem with my lucky bamboo. I have had it for an year now in water and I just fill up the water and it was doing pretty well so far. But of late, the new leaves coming out are turning yellow. The stalk is still green. I read the posts earlier and saw that changing the water and rinsing out the roots helps.Is there something else I need to do. Please let me know.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:48PM
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I guess I am not the only one with lucky bamboo problems. I had one for a few years and recently almost every leaf turned yellow and droopy. Finally, today, I took three stem cuttings and discarded the plant; lo and behold, when I emptied out the small pot, it was completely overgrown with roots; I could barely get them out of the pot they were packed in so tight. This was the last thing I had thought to look for, although it really should have occurred to me, since it was a small pot. Am I correct in assuming the roots just strangled each other due to lack of space?


    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 2:02PM
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I"m so upset! It seems I have the opposite problem from most others... my LB plant has been thriving in soil for almost 2 years now. All of a sudden, ALL of the bottom leaves are turning yellow. WHAT DO I DO TO SAVE IT???

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 9:52AM
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(For asfarrose) this is so annoying, I posted a reply, but it didn't post up. Anyway, here's what I basically said:

If your stalks have turned yellow, dispose of them, they're no longer any use, they're dead. If it's only your leaves, doesn't matter where it starts, it's like one of the following issues:

-the bamboo plant isn't retaining its natural climate conditions, meaning it's not humid enough or the water is too cold for it to live on.

(the best thing you can do in this situation is to place the plant in fish bowl with hot, but not overwhelmingly so, water. You should then place a napkin or tissue paper over the top in order to keep it warm. That, or place a clear plastic bag over it.)

-your roots could be bad. You should take a look at what the roots look like, if it seems like they're being cramped or overrun, you should place them in a larger container

(though I'd advise you to start placing it in water instead)

-you plant could also be recieving too little sun, this is justified from the bottom turning yellow before the top

(i'd advise more sunlight, but not direct sunlight, it'll kill it faster)

other than that, your descriptions are a little too vague for my advise to be much help. good luck.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 12:19AM
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James, maybe this info on bamboo plants, will help you out some!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 2:51PM
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Hi there,

I have a somewhat related problem. About a month ago, I repotted my lucky bamboo plant. Now, one of the three stalks doesn't seem to be doing too well, and all of the leaves seem a little droopy. Two stalks are a vivid green, but have yellowing leaves at the bottom. One stalk is turning slightly yellow -- but it is the tallest, and healthiest looking, stalk, and it also sprouted a new leaf even after it started turning slightly yellow. I did put i a stick of Miracle-Gro --- perhaps this was too much??

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 11:08AM
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I needed some help with the bamboo.
I got these plants potted as gift.
2 weeks ago, we had some cold rain and after that, I saw both these plants turning yellow. Also the stalks.
How do I revive them ? Any ideas ?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 7:33PM
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I have a lucky bambo that all of the leaves are green but whole the stem has been yellow and i want to know what can i do for it?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 4:04AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

In soil or water? Are you/have you been fertilizing? With what?


    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 10:10AM
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I have three lucky bamboo plants (dracaena sanderianas)All were in water for about two or three yrs. The water I have is hard water that's was right from the tap, the vase they were in, the water was changed each week, didn't have yellowing leaves.
I decided to plant them all in with a big pot of Syngoniums (soil kept on the moist side) Not one leaf yellowed after the move.That was 3 or 4 yrs ago.
The plants receive bright light, some direct sun, (maybe a half hour or less) and dapple sun.
I mix up a very weak solution of reg fertilizer each week and all three LBs are as green as when I moved them from water and planted them in soil.

In soil, it should be kept on the moist side (not wet) and well draining, good, bright indirect light is sufficient.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:57PM
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Hi Billy Rae! Great to hear from you:-)

I miss seeing your beautiful plants and your postings, unless I am not where you have been lately.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 9:02PM
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Hiya Mike!

Good to see ya! I've been around, maybe not always posting, but around:0)
I should be around more as it warms up! With a small winter storm and 40-50 mph winds the past two days, warm weather can't come soon enough!

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 11:38PM
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I've had two Lb for a few years now and recently the leaves are turning yellow not all but most. I try and fert them with this liquid bamboo fert I get at the store called Super Green but I don't think its working. All the stalks are green except for one but I removed it and threw it away. They don't get direct sunlight but I admit they get little light. I change the water every now and then and wash off the plants. After I wash off the plants I fill the containers with tap water and often add purified bottled water. Could the size of the container and the amount of rocks in the the container be the problem. I have my containers filled to the top with glass rocks. I hope I'm not sufficating them! Also some of my stalks have dry spots I guess you could say at the top of the stalks. Is that a bad thing? Please help I would hate to lose my plants!!!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 10:07PM
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hey i hear alot about LB being grown in soil is better then some ppl say in water is better I have 2 in soil now but they are starting to droop and turn yellow a little bit Im thinking of transporting one to water to see what happens how show I go about doing this?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:04PM
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Hello! I would like some help & advice on my bamboo plant. This plant was given to me earlier this year, about April. The plant has been growing a lot. I changed the water routinely, and fertilized and the leaves and plant were beautiful and blooming. Last week I changed the pot it was in to a much bigger one since the plant was thriving so well it was on the verge of tiping over since it was huge. I placed rocks in it, and fresh water. Last Friday the plant seemed fine, and then I come to work this morning and the leaves are turning yellow. Mostly on one stalk, but it seems like it's starting on the others as well. There are 6 stalks tied together. I changed the water, cleaned the vase and the rocks and put in distilled water just now. As I changed then, I saw that the stalk by the roots and turning a greenish yellow, but I didn't notice that before. What is going on with my plant? I'm so worried!! What do I do now? I can send more pictures!!! PLEASE HELP!!!!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:36PM
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This is a closer picture of the yellowing leaves

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:38PM
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This is what it looked like before the change

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:40PM
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And this is her when I first got her

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:41PM
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I recieved this plant as a gift after buying a bonnie curly plant from etsy i looked in there catalog but didnt match up with this plant,please can anyone help me out and let me know what this plant is i would really apreciate it. Serre

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Serre, compare it to Tradescantia zebrina or fluminensis. Is this the same plant you posted in the tropical forum?

In the future, more people will see your message and pic if you start a new discussion for it.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 7:48AM
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