How to Cut and Propagate Lucky Bamboo

Updated March 23, 2022
lucky bamboo plant trip in a decorative white pot

Lucky bamboo is a beautiful and versatile plant that can grow in either water or soil, making it a favorite choice for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. Is it safe to trim your lucky bamboo? Absolutely! Not only can you prune a lucky bamboo plant, but if it grows too tall, it's necessary. Pruning and trimming a lucky bamboo plant is something you can do without worry over stunting its growth, as it's a hardy plant, and pruning makes it grow faster.

How to Prune and Trim Lucky Bamboo Plants

When lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) grows too tall, it's necessary to cut back the sprouts and trim dying leaves. Pruning and trimming lucky bamboo is surprisingly easy, and knowing how will enhance your enjoyment of this vibrant plant in your home.

How to Trim Lucky Bamboo Leaves Infographic

Tips for Successful Pruning

Pruning lucky bamboo doesn't require many tools. Healthy pruning can be done by following just a few simple guidelines.

  • Use sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears to prune your plant without injuring it.
  • Make clean cuts to your plant, being careful to avoid jagged cuts.
  • Jagged cuts and tears can risk infection for your healthy plant.

Importance of Pruning Your Bamboo Plant

Pruning encourages new growth and is necessary as your plant ages, and it's the secret to make lucky bamboo grow more branches. The sprouts will continue to grow while the stalk remains the same height and thickness. Because this can cause arrangements to eventually become top heavy, you'll want to learn how to trim your lucky bamboo plant to keep it stable.

  • If you'd like to root the cuttings for propagation, snip the sprouts about one or two inches away from the main stem just below the node.
  • This is the area where new roots will form and soon give you a new plant. That's why it's important that you cut the sprout so the entire node stays intact with the cutting.
  • Some people insist you must cut a sprout at an angle in order for it to root. This isn't true. You can cut the sprout either straight or at an angle and still have a good root system grow from the cut.
  • Leave a one to two inch nub on the shaft; this will encourage new leaves to grow from the cut area.
  • Trimming also helps your bamboo grow back fuller than it was before you trimmed it.
  • If you don't want more growth on your plant, then use paraffin to seal the wound left by cutting the sprout off of the shaft.

Trimming Lucky Bamboo Plants

It's always best to trim less than what you've planned to ensure you don't change your arrangement drastically, so trim incrementally. You can always trim more if necessary. Start trimming around the bottom of the plant and work your way up toward the top.

Trimming Stalks and Sprouts

The size of the bamboo shafts in your arrangement won't change, but the height of your arrangement grows as new sprouts emerge from the stalks.

  • Don't trim the bamboo stalks unless you wish to change the height of your arrangement.
  • Once you've pruned or trimmed a lucky bamboo stalk, it remains the trimmed height since the bamboo stopped growing as soon as it was harvested for your arrangement.
  • The sprouts and leaves are the only part of your arrangement that continues to grow after harvesting and will eventually need to be trimmed.
  • If you wish to shorten the length of the stalks, cut them and then propagate the cuttings in water or soil to create another arrangement.
  • Be sure to keep the leaves out of water since the leaves will rot if left soaking in water.

Trimming Leaves on Lucky Bamboo Plants

Lucky Bamboo

Leaves can die for any number of reasons, so you want to trim these from the sprout. Trimming leaves from the sprout or stem encourages more leaf growth. If you would like your plant to branch out and produce more leaves, then you can selectively trim just the leaves.

  1. Cut the leaf away from the sprout or stem. The stem from the sprout may be very long, with multiple leaves along the shoot.
  2. Make the cut right along the stem at the point where the leaf grows out from it. Be careful not to cut too close to the stem.
  3. While you want to remove the yellow/dead leaf, you shouldn't strip it from the stem.
  4. Make your cut just below the dead or yellowed part of the leaf, leaving the remaining green part growing out from the stem or sprout intact. This area will recover quickly, and soon you'll have new leaves growing in place of the cut leaf.
  5. If the leaf is close to the sprout, then cut at least one inch above the sprout.

Change the Shape of Your Lucky Bamboo Plant

If you decide you no longer like the way your lucky bamboo arrangement looks, you can make a drastic change by cutting all the sprouts back to the stalk. In this case, you'll want to trim the sprouts flush with the stalk. Because you've trimmed the sprout so close to the stalk, you risk that new sprouts might not grow from the trimmed area.

Lucky Bamboo Propagation

Lucky bamboo is an easy care plant that makes an excellent gift as a symbol of good luck and congratulations. Propagating a new plant from the cuttings of your lucky bamboo makes the gift even more special, so don't be afraid to start new plants to share.

  • Make sure the sprouts you use have at least two leaf points to ensure you have enough of a sprout to root.
  • Trim to the growth node, which is the joint between segments on the lucky bamboo stalk.
  • Place the sprout in either soil or water to allow roots to grow.
  • Select only choice cuttings to root to increase your chance of successful propagate.
  • When the roots start to grow, if propagating in water, add marbles or small stones to stabilize the plant.
  • Following good lucky bamboo care practices can ensure that your new plant thrives.
  • Rooting hormones are sometimes used to encourage fast root systems. If your plant is healthy, you won't need to use this.

Regular Trimming Keeps Bamboo Healthy

Keep your lucky bamboo healthy and looking beautiful by trimming and pruning on a regular basis. A well cared for bamboo plant can bring enjoyment for years.

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