(Not so) lucky bamboo

After four years I’ve finally managed to kill our lucky bamboo.

What’s surprising is not that it eventually died, but rather that it lived as long as it did. It was stuck on the edge of the bath tub in our guest bathroom where it was supposed to lend an exotic note to the décor. It was in a glass vase filled with pebbled and water, so in essence it was in water all the time (the recommended way of growing it). And for four years it was actually nice and green although it never saw sunlight—in fact the light level in that spot was pretty low. I’m not bemoaning its demise, but rather I’m singing its praises. It was as care- and maintenance-free as you could ever hope for.

Which brings us to its unfortunate common name. Most people think lucky bamboo is a bamboo, but it isn’t at all. Its Latin name is Dracaena sanderiana, and it’s an understory plant native to the rainforests of Cameroon. I have no idea how an African jungle plant became associated with feng shui but millions of lucky bamboos are sold every year. Apparently, lucky bamboo is one of the most popular feng shui cures—although this article, when talking about the wonderful properties of bamboo, completely ignores the fact that lucky bamboo isn’t a bamboo at all (which proves my point).

My lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
looking not so lucky
The shriveled skin came off as I pulled the plant out of the vase,
releasing a rather unpleasant odor of decay

When you kill a lucky bamboo, does that mean your luck runs out? I sure hope not!

Maybe I’ll get another one at IKEA to cure the bad feng shui that no doubt exists now in our house.


  1. When you find another, pick up two. Then you can keep one in a well-lighted area and swap the two plants out every couple of weeks, recharging the low-light one.

  2. I think I figured out what killed it. You're supposed to replace the water every two weeks. All I ever did was top it off. Still, we got four years of enjoyment out of two $1.69 plants :-).


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