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Chinese Water Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo  

Dracaena sanderiana

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Well known throughout China, this plant is probably the most popular indoor plant in China and is well regarded in art of Feng Shui in which the plant is treated as a symbol of good luck. New businesses are presented with towers of canes up to 1 meter high as gifts of luck for the new venture and the plants will be kept near the entrance of the business to attract good fortune. Chinese New Year is celebrated with the giving of a Dracaena as a gift to bring prosperity for the new year. Lucky Bamboo is also attributed to bringing good luck, prosperity, health (Chi), harmony, peace and virtuous (Zen) Relationship.

Lucky Bamboo is a popular indoor plant world wide and is one of the hardiest of all indoor plants as they are able to survive with only the light from a light bulb without any natural sunlight. The dracaena is typically grown in a good quality potting mix and the most novel and popular method is in clean water. Roots are easily formed on the stems and will live in water indefinitely if occasional fertilizer is applied and the water remains fresh.

Growing in water.

Provided the water does not become polluted the dracaena can survive indefinitely. They can be grown in clear or opaque containers with up to 50 mm of water (5 to 10mm preferred), the water does not need to be changed unless it becomes cloudy or smelly or some canes begin to rot, in a container without rotting material the water will remain fresh indefinitely and only need to be topped up as the plant drinks, week doses of fertilizer can be applied occasionally, in sunny positions the water may become green, this is not a problem but may need to be rinsed if the algae chokes the water. The dracaena canes produce new shoots when cut, these shoots will grow upright for up to 1 meter with about 3 to 4 cm between each leaf. The growth is controlled by the availability of food and so the plant can be kept small for a very long time. The stems once to tall can easily be cut above the lowest leaf to encourage a new shoot and keep the plant small, each leaf stem can produce only one shoot so be careful not to damage them. The canes can be kept out of water for short periods provided the roots are kept moist. If the roots dry out or are damages some canes may die, these are easily removed once they go soft. Take care when removing the plant from water often as this can damage the roots and cause some stems to die, these stems will rot and should be removed once soft, a newly purchased plant may loose one or two stems, this is normal and is hard to prevent, remove these once they become soft, not before. Dracaena in water should be kept in a warmer position than those in soil, in cold dark places the lower stems will may yellow off and die.

The canes can be grown in a number of different ways, in clean water, in stones or pebbles to support canes, in sand or any other well drained media that will allow water to pass through, provided the media can remain fresh the plants will thrive. In potting mixes with organic media the soil can decay if kept to wet, this process produces bad bacteria than can rot or damage the roots. The dracaena grown in an organic potting mix must not be kept in water, rather the media should be allowed to drain and dry on top between watering as any normal indoor plant. Dracaena towers can be separated into individual plants, these can be kept in water or planted into a good potting mix and treated like a normal indoor plant. Best growth is achieved in any well lit or sunny spot, individual plant can survive in low light and can live in a room without natural sunlight provided it gets 4 to 6 hours of light from an artificial source like a light bulb. Larger towers require more light as the lower plants are often in shadow and so care must be taken with these. Towers should be rotated every week or two to allow all sides to receive light. Some plants in the lower levels will die in the first few months if, light is to low, the water is to cold, the plant is handled excessively, or rotten stems are not removed.

Recipe for a healthy plant.

Plenty of light, keep wet always, feed sparingly and avoid handling.

This method of growing Dracaena sanderiana has been introduced into Australia by Paradisia,

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