Lucky Bamboo: What It Is and What It Isn't
A common misconception is that a lucky bamboo plant is the same thing as a true, traditional bamboo plant. It’s an easy mistake to make. After all, lucky bamboo gets its name from its striking resemblance to traditional bamboo, with its green stalks, distinctive rings (or nodes), and long, tapering leaves. However, it is in a completely different family of plants. Believe it or not, it is actually more closely related to asparagus, although we don’t recommend having it for dinner.
So, if Lucky Bamboo isn’t really bamboo… then what is it?
In this blog post, we will break down the biggest differences between real bamboo and lucky bamboo, and help you discover which is the best plant for you.
Let’s Get Scientific
Traditional bamboo belongs to the subfamily Bambusoideae (of the grass family Poaceae), of which there are over 1,400 species. These range from dwarf to giant bamboo, and include many species that are popular in landscaping for creating privacy. By and large, Bambusoideae is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Lucky bamboo’s scientific name is Dracaena Sanderiana.
Dracaena is a genus of the family Asparagaceae, which is best known for (you guessed it) garden asparagus. While Dracaena Sanderiana is mostly grown commercially in China and Taiwan, the species is actually native to Central Africa, along the Congo River and the basin of Lake Chad.
The Dracaena genus also includes a variety of other popular houseplants, such as the ribbon plant, snake plant, corn plant, and dragon tree.
How To Tell The Difference?
Although the stalks of lucky bamboo and regular bamboo may look similar at a glance, there a few notable differences. Both are relatively inflexible, but regular bamboo tends to have a bit more give. Regular bamboo has “woody” stalks; if you have ever seen bamboo shelves, floors, or furniture, this is what it’s made of. Lucky bamboo has “fleshy” stalks, which are less brittle, but a bit more easily damaged. Lastly, regular bamboo can vary in color from green to brown to yellow depending on the species. Lucky bamboo, on the other hand, will always be green if it is healthy. Any stalks turning yellow or brown indicate a dying plant.
The biggest difference is in how the two plants grow.
Real bamboo is a fast-growing, somewhat invasive plant that is often regarded as a weed. It spreads quickly and can be difficult to contain, so it is often kept in special planters when grown in a yard. Although certain species can be grown indoors as large houseplants, it is mostly grown outdoors in soil with lots of sun. Some species of bamboo can grow up to four feet in a day, and up to a full height of 70 feet, so it is important to do your own research when choosing a variety to plant.
Lucky bamboo is primarily sold in cut stalks and arrangements that are kept indoors as houseplants.
These are plants that have been grown to a certain height or shape and then cut like a flower. The stalks still have roots and can live for many years in just water, but they themselves will never grow in height. It’s the offshoots and leaves that will grow with time, giving you a full and bushy plant. They can live with very little natural light, and don’t do well at all in full sun, so they are great for a low-light home or office space.
If you’re still not sure if this is the bamboo you’re looking for, let us help you out.
We might be biased, but around here we really love lucky bamboo. Traditional bamboo, or as we sometimes call it, UNlucky bamboo (wink wink), is great for meeting landscaping needs or creating a privacy barrier. When it comes to houseplants, though, you really can’t go wrong with a lucky bamboo plant. They are so easy to care for and will show you a lot of love with very little work. And of course, every home needs a little feng shui! Check out our broad assortment of lucky bamboo stalk bundles and arrangements, and stay crafty!
- Steven Hughes