Cutting lucky bamboo is necessary when the sprouts grow too tall and leaves die.
Lucky Bamboo Isn't Bamboo
Lucky bamboo isn't actually bamboo. The plant belongs to the dracaenas family.
Cutting Lucky Bamboo: How To Trim
Lucky bamboo is a versatile plant that can grow either in water or soil. You can trim it without worry over stunting its growth since it's a very hardy plant. Pruning makes it grow faster. Be sure your scissors or pruning shears are sharp. You want the cuts to your plant to be clean, not jagged. Ragged cuts and tears present opportunities for unwanted bacteria and disease to enter into the healthy plant shaft.
Stalks Vs. Sprouts
The size of the bamboo shafts in your arrangement won't grow. The height of your arrangement grows as new sprouts emerge from the stalks. You probably won't trim the stalks unless you wish to change the height of your arrangement. Once you've pruned a stalk, it remains the trimmed height since the bamboo stopped growing as soon as it was harvested for your arrangement. The sprouts (leaves) are the only part of your arrangement that continue to grow after harvesting and eventually need trimming.
If you wish to shorten the length of the stalks, you can cut them and then transplant the cut halves in water or soil to create another arrangement. New sprouts will grow from the cut stalks and soon you'll have another arrangement. Be sure to keep the leaves out of water since the leaves will rot if left soaking in water.
Start Out with a Small Trim
It's always best to trim less than what you've planned to ensure you don't over prune your arrangement. You can always trim more if necessary. You should start trimming around the bottom of the plant and work your way up toward the top.
Importance of Trimming Your Plant
Trimming encourages new growth and is necessary as your plant ages. The sprouts continue to grow while the stalk remains the same height and thickness. This can cause arrangements to eventually become top heavy and necessitates a trim.
Rooting Cut Sprouts for New Plants
As mentioned earlier, you can take cuttings to root either in water or soil. If it's your intention to root the cuttings, then you'll want to snip the sprouts about one or two inches away from the main stem just below the node. The node is where the sprout first emerged from the shaft. 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.
New Growth for the Shaft
By leaving a one 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.
Selecting Trimmed Sprouts
You'll want to select only choice cuttings to root. Make sure the sprouts you use have at least two leaf points to ensure you have enough of a spout to root. Trim to the growth node. You can either root the sprout in soil or water. Some people use rooting hormones to encourage fast root systems. If your plant is healthy, you won't need to use this.
Change the Shape of Your Plant
If you decide you no longer like the way your lucky bamboo arrangement looks, you can make a drastic change by cutting the all of 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, new sprouts might not grow from the trimmed area.
Risk of Infection
If you cut the stalk of your bamboo, there's a risk of bacteria seeping into the cut area. If your bamboo becomes infected, the water will turn murky or brown and have an unpleasant odor. At this point there's very little you can do to save your bamboo and it should be thrown away.
Regular Trimming Keeps Bamboo Healthy
Cutting lucky bamboo is easy when you follow these instructions and will keep your plants healthy if done on a regular basis.