Dracaena braunii

Dracaena braunii

Dracaena braunii or Lucky Bamboo is not really a bamboo but a Dracaena species from Cameroon.

It is readily available in pots of all sizes, mostly produced in China or Taiwan and said to be a good luck plant.

It is also said to be important for good feng shui. Great marketing but since it’s an African plant and feng shui existed long before it was grown in Asia, that just doesn’t make any sense (in case you had any doubt of course).

It is sold growing hydroponically (i.e. in water). It will grow for a while but, without appropriate hydroponics fertilizer and substrate, it will not be as long lived as grown in soil.

Caution: the plant is mildly toxic.

Description:

Dracaena braunii is a bushy evergreen shrub with slender stems that grows up to 1.5 m. In cultivation it rarely gets higher than 90 cm.

The green leaves are 15-25 cm long and 1.5-4 cm wide at the base.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Belgian Evergreen, Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Dracaena, Ribbon Plant

Synonyms:

Dracaena sanderiana, Pleomele braunii, Pleomele sanderiana

Etymology:

Dracaena: from the Greek drákaina (female dragon)
Braunii: in honor of Alexander Carl Heinrich Braun, 19th century German botanist

Origin:

Cameroon

Habitat:

Understory of tropical forest



Hardiness:

USDA zone 10-11

Dracaena braunii

Dracaena braunii

Care:

Substrate:

Grown in water, any inert material that will keep the stalks upright is good: stone pebbles, glass pebbles…

It may be transplanted to soil, any commercial potting soil will do.

Light:

Bright, no direct sunlight as this will burn the leaves

Water:

Lucky bamboo is sold grown in water and will continue to grow quite some time like that: change the water weekly, maintain about an inch of water.

However, it is sensitive to chlorine, so don’t use water that just came from the tap. Instead use bottled water of leave tap water for 24h to let the chlorine evaporate.

Note that the roots are reddish, this is normal.

When grown in soil, keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.

Fertilizer:

Grown in water, fertilize once a month with liquid fertilizer or, ideally, hydroponics fertilizer. Very little is needed: a single drop will do.

Temperature:

Room temperature: 18-32 °C

Shaping:

Sure, you can buy them in spiral form or even interlocked to a neat weave. But this is done industrially by exposing them to a light source or growing them horizontally and turning them. It can be done at home but it is a long and tedious process.

Trimming:

To keep your Lucky Bamboo in shape, you will need to trim the offshoots. Don’t trim the main stalk.

Propagation:

Cuttings:

  • take cuttings with at least 1 leaf joint
  • trim bottom leaves to expose a node
  • plant the cuttings in water: keep the water clean by refreshing it regularly or adding some charcoal
  • or plant the cuttings in soil: plant deep enough that the node is buried, keep moist and warm
  • rooting hormone is not necessary as the cuttings will root readily

Cuttings:

Cut a leaf into pieces of about 7-10 cm and plant them in moist sand.

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