Bamboo stalks will shrivel if the plant is overwatered, underwatered, if they are getting too much sun, too much fertilizer or if it needs repotting. If you are growing lucky bamboo stalks in water and the stems are shriveling it is time to move your plant into soil.
Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is not a true bamboo but a Dracena species which means that it is drought tolerant, will grow in low light levels and is sensitive to too much fertilizer.
This article will explore why luck bamboo stalks are shriveling and how you can solve each problem.
Why lucky bamboo stalks shrivel and solutions
Here are the top 6 causes of lucky bamboo stalks shriveling and how you can solve each problem.
Underwatering or letting lucky bamboo dry out too much can cause the stems to shrivel. The plant that lacks water will develop dry and brown leaves and dry stems which can wrinkle and shrivel. Lucky bamboo likes moist soil so if you let it dry out too much it can shrivel quickly.
Lucky bamboo will recover from shriveled stems quickly if it is watered deeply. Take care if your pot does not have drainage holes as it is easy to overwater and leave the roots sitting in water. My lucky bamboo is growing in a pot that does not have drainage so I keep it watered by spraying the soil every 3-4 days to keep it moist.
If your lucky bamboo is planted in a pot with drainage holes you can take it over to a sink or outdoors to water it with your hose or tap. Let the extra water drain out the bottom to keep it happy. You can do this once per week in the warmer months and reduce this to once every 2-4 weeks in the winter.
Test the soil to see if it is moist and add water if it seems dry.
2. Direct sunlight
Lucky bamboo can be sensitive to too much sunlight and direct sun can cause damage to the leaves and wrinkled stems. Sunburn can happen on stems and leaves if they are placed in direct sunlight or have radiant heat from a window.
Move your lucky bamboo into a bright area indoors but avoid direct sunlight, particularly afternoon sun. Filtered light through a curtain or out of the direct rays is perfect. Keep your lucky bamboo at least 2 feet away from the window to make sure it is not burnt by the radiant heat.
Lucky bamboo love warm, humid conditions and can grow rapidly in spring and summer. Keep the soil moist and away from direct sun and it will add a few inches of growth on their stems.
Overwatering lucky bamboo can cause the stems to wrinkle. While dracaena like moisture, too much water can damage their roots and cause stem damage. Too much water can cause the root tips to rot which will stop the plant for efficiently absorbing water and nutrients.
Reduce your watering schedule to keep the soil moist but not wet. It is ideal if your lucky bamboo is growing in a pot with drainage holes and then placed inside an indoor pot to catch the drips. Mine does not have drainage so I need to take a lot of care when watering.
Test the soil with your finger or a skewer 1-2 inches down and spray the soil with water if it seems dry. Reduce your watering in winter as the soil will take longer to dry out.
4. Too much fertilizer
Lucky bamboo can be sensitive to too much fertilizer. Adding a lot of high nitrogen liquid fertilizer or too much slow release fertilizer will cause damage to the plant and leggy or wrinkled stems.
Fertilize lucky bamboo in spring with slow release indoor plant fertilizer. A good quality slow release fertilizer added once per year will give the bamboo all of the nutrients it needs to grow well but not too much.
5. Time to repot your plant
Wrinkled stems on lucky bamboo can be sign that it is time to repot your plant. Wrinkled stems are a sign of water imbalance, poor or compact soil or a soil that has run out of nutrients. If your bamboo has outgrown its pot then it can become root bound and struggle to get the water and nutrients it needs.
Find a pot that is 1 inch deeper and wider than the original pot. Choose some good quality all-purpose potting soil and fill the base of the pot. Remove the bamboo from its original pot and gently transfer it to the new one. Backfill the pot with the new potting soil and water it well to settle it in.
6. Move stalks in water into soil
If you are growing lucky bamboo in water and you notice the stems are wrinkled it may be time to move it into soil. Lucky bamboo will grow for months in water but when you see the stems wrinkle it can continue to grow well in soil.
Move stalks into some fresh potting soil to give it new nutrients, access to water and more room for their roots to grow. Lucky bamboo will grow for years in soil so move it into a pot when you are ready and move the pot size up as the plant grows.
Why lucky bamboo stalks are shriveling | Summary
Lucky bamboo stalks will shrivel if they are given too much water, if they dry out too much, if they get too much fertilizer or too much sun. Repotting a bamboo that is filling out the pot, keeping the soil moist and fertilizing once per year in spring with slow release fertilizer.
Lucky bamboo are a beautiful indoor plant that makes a modern statement. They are perfect gifts or gifts for yourself.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.