Many people today like to keep, what they think are, corms of bamboo, in glass vases in their homes. Known as Lucky Bamboo, this plant, according to Feng Shui, can represent a harmonious balance of all the five elements of nature -- water, fire, earth, wood and metal. It's ease of growing (it happily survives in a glass vase with just a couple of inches of water, stones and little else) has made Lucky Bamboo one of the most popular house plants of this decade.
However, the Lucky Bamboo is not a bamboo at all. It is botanically named Dracaena sanderana and is a resilient member of the lily family that grows in the dark, tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and Africa. The stems are able to twist into attractive shapes, and the plant is an elegant addition to most homes.
 Why should I be aware of this?
Arjun plays the bamboo flute
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Afficionados of Feng Shui use lucky bamboo as a houseplant. Depending upon the number of stems and how they are tied, the plant is believed to bring luck, prosperity and good health to the people who tend it.
Even for people who do not necessarily believe in Feng Shui might like to grow and propagate Lucky Bamboo at home. Here are some reasons why --
- It is very easy to grow and propagate. Grown hydroponically: ie in a vase with decorative pebbles and water (no soil), it requires bright indirect light to grow.
- It requires very little by the way of care and fertilizers.
- It's corkscrew-shaped stems give it a lot of aesthetic appeal.
Philosophically, the lucky bamboo represents the ultimate Oriental wisdom: the significance of being flexible and hollow (open) on the inside, so as to allow the spirit to freely flow through.
 All about Lucky Bamboo
Keep water fresh by changing it every week, and always keep water levels at approximately an inch from the base of the canes. Lucky Bamboo prefers plenty of indirect sunlight and room temperatures at 65-70o. Although opinions differ on feeding, the Lucky Bamboo is a living organism, so it makes sense to occasionally add a mild solution to the water such as African Violet fertilizer. Since growth can be controlled by feeding, small amounts of fertilizer will keep the plant at a manageable size.
New stalks can be propagated from the original plant by using a sharp knife to cut through a stalk - just below the joint. Place the cutting in fresh, clean water. A fine mist spray to stalks is sometimes suggested to stimulate new bud growth.
 Lucky bamboo and culture
A couple of stems of Luck Bamboo make a great, eco-friendly gift. Feng Shui practitioners give it to friends and family on the Chinese New Year, on housewarmings and other social occasions.
 Feng Shui and lucky bamboo
Along with its ease of growth, Lucky Bamboo has long been associated with the Eastern practice of Feng Shui - or the bringing of natural elements of water, fire, earth, wood and metal into balance within the environment. Lucky Bamboo is believed to be an ideal example of the thriving wood and water element, with the addition of a red ribbon sometimes tied around the stalks - which is believed to "fire" the positive flow of energy or chi in the room.
The number of stalks also has meaning : three stalks for happiness; five stalks for wealth; six stalks for health. Four stalks, however, are always avoided since the word "four" in Chinese sounds too similar to the Chinese word for "death"!
According to Feng Shui, the lucky bamboo is considered lucky when it combines/represents all five elements of feng shui, which are:
- Wood - the Bamboo itself
- Earth - the Rocks the Bamboo grows in
- Water - the Water the Bamboo grows with
- Fire - most pots usually have a red ribbon tied to them
- Metal - the glass pots belong to the feng shui Metal element. If the Feng Shui Lucky Bamboo is planted in a pot other than glass, such as clay or ceramics, it will usually have either a metal coin, or a metal figurine with it.
 What can I do about it?
Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lucky bamboo plant at home --
- Use distilled water to prevent algae from growing in the lucky bamboo vase.
- Using bottled spring water will ensure fast growth and a beautiful deep green color. (Tap water often has chemicals and additives that are not found in the plant's natural habitat. By watering with tap water, the leaves often turn yellow and do not grow as quickly.)
- If a foul odor emanates from a lucky bamboo, it has probably rotted beyond redemption. Some believe that the rot that causes this can be bad for health. So, it is best to throw the plant out and get another one if this happens. Then change the water more frequently to prevent it happening again.
Lucky bamboo is frequently seen growing in unusual twisted, curved, or spiraling forms, which seem to enhance its appeal and sense of mystery. The plant does not grow this way naturally. In fact, the curving shapes are produced by laying the plants on their sides, with light directed from the top and shielded from each side, causing them to grow in one direction only toward the light and opposite gravity. The plants are rotated regularly to encourage the spiraling form. Naturally, this is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process which justifies the somewhat higher prices commanded by lucky bamboos!
 Did you know?
- It is estimated that bamboo has been a symbol of good fortune in the Asian culture more than 4000 years.
- Because lucky bamboo is able to thrive in many areas of the home or workplace where other plants would not, it is valued as a means to enhance the positive flow of energy or "chi" in these areas.
- Lucky bamboos make an elegant, green alternative to flower arrangements. This is because they have a lovely decorative quality and are living plants - unlike flowers that will wither away in days.
- Innovative gardeners have managed to twist Lucky bamboo into all sorts of shapes, including towers, pyramids, pineapples and even dragons!
 See also
- About Lucky Bamboo
- Emily Compost
- Lucky Bamboo