UBC Botanical Garden Forums  

» UBC Botanical Garden


Go Back   UBC Botanical Garden Forums > Indoor and Greenhouse Plants

Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Plant Care, Propagation, Identification, Appreciation and more!

Post New ThreadReply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old August 17th, 2007, 02:07 PM
Lynette's Avatar
Lynette Lynette is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Ottawa Canada
Posts: 34
Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

I've had two lucky bamboo plants (in soil) for 5 years. They are about 2-3 feet high. In the last few weeks the leaves have started to turn white and almost translucent. Some leaves are still green but are leaching into white. The leaves feel limp with no body. The stalks are green and new shots have been emerging for a couple of month at the lowest junction.

The plants have been watered with well water which we recently began to soften more regularly.

They received diluted fertilizer every 3 months.

Appreciate any suggestions regarding what to do or if the plants can be saved.

Lynette
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old August 17th, 2007, 03:48 PM
photopro's Avatar
photopro photopro is offline
Collector of Rare Araceae (deceased)
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Siloam Springs, AR, USA
Posts: 2,455
Re: Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

You might want to look up Dracaena sanderiana. That is the species commonly sold as "Lucky Bamboo". It is not a bamboo. Try looking up the plant in a good plant book by the scientific name or possibly on the web. You might find an answer for your problem.
__________________
Steve Lucas
www.ExoticRainforest.com
"Listen to Mother Nature. Her advice is best!"
Corresponding Secretary, International Aroid Society To join the IAS visit www.Aroid.org
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old August 17th, 2007, 04:59 PM
Eric La Fountaine's Avatar
Eric La Fountaine Eric La Fountaine is offline
UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 2,742
Re: Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

Quote:
The plants have been watered with well water which we recently began to soften more regularly.
What do you use to soften the water? That could certainly be an issue.
__________________
Eric La Fountaine
Forums Administrator
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old August 17th, 2007, 05:15 PM
Lynette's Avatar
Lynette Lynette is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Ottawa Canada
Posts: 34
Re: Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric La Fountaine View Post
What do you use to soften the water? That could certainly be an issue.
We've always used rock salt (NaCl) but not as consistently as in the last year when our new well water smelled of sulphur. The other house plants are not showing any similar symptoms.

Lynette
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old August 21st, 2007, 11:47 AM
photopro's Avatar
photopro photopro is offline
Collector of Rare Araceae (deceased)
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Siloam Springs, AR, USA
Posts: 2,455
Re: Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

Eric may well be on to something. Apparently a major problem with growing Dracaena sanderiana, especially in water, is the salts that accumulate from fertilizer, and perhaps your filter. The plant does not like the accumulation. And if any is getting past your water softener the same may be true. In the case of fertilizers, they are fine provided they are given in small amounts. But if allowed to accumulate they can and will burn the leaves of the Dracaena. That may account for the "whitening". Since you grow them in soil, which is certainly the best way, much of what I've uncovered may not apply. But when I get to doing research I make all sorts of notes. And this is what I've found so far:

If grown in water, many people often won't change the water as necessary but will continue to add more fertilizer once the plant begins to decline in hopes of saving the specimen. But fertilizer can also accumulate in soil grown specimens. Constantly adding fertilizer in a attempt to make the plant "healthy" works against the plant's health. Since you didn't specify how you fertilize, this may well not apply.

The "Lucky Bamboo", or "Ribbon Plant", is often grown by followers of the ancient oriental art of Feng Shui. Growers of this oriental gardening technique use the plant but they don't grow it in water. They grow it in soil as do you. Growing the plant is considered to have the capacity to create a space where you feel safe and energized. Whether or not it brings luck to the grower is open to interpretation. But the way the plant is commonly sold, and grown in many homes, may determine if the plant itself will eventually be lucky, or perhaps unlucky. And since many try to grow it in water, the plant's luck may be doomed from the start.

Dracaena sanderiana is found growing in the tropical rain forests of Cameroon in west Africa. Despite the fact it is commonly sold in a container of water, the species is not aquatic. It grows in moderately bright light in the understory (area beneath the canopy) of the rain forest. Some say it "can't" grow tall, but during my research I found photos of the plant at six to eight feet in height and it is relatively attractive with its ribbon edge. It looks very little like the "bamboo" canes you buy it in the store, largely because it isn't a bamboo. And its also not a palm as some folks like to insist.

According to TROPICOS, a service of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the species is a member of the lily family. Growers in southern Florida who plant it in their yards have produced plants that are quite attractive. However, it is tropical, so don't try to plant it outdoors in colder climates.

The "Lucky Bamboo" is frequently marketed and "grown" as a hydroponics plant, in a decorative jar including colored rock or marbles to keep the plant standing upright. Fortunately, you've seen to give it what it truly prefers. Sometimes aquarium stores will sell one with a Beta fish inside the jar. They claim the plant produces food for the fish and the fish provides nutrients to the plant. Both are highly doubtful. It is rarely sold, at least in discount stores, in soil. Many plants can be grown using hydroponics, but are not intended, at least by Mother Nature, to grow exclusively in water. Common "ivy" such as juvenile Philodendron and Epipremnum species will survive for extended periods of time in water. But they don't grow that way in the rain forest. They are found rooted in soil and almost always climbing high into a tree.

Dracaena sanderiana is a relative of the commonly grown "Corn Plant", Dracaena fragrans. Some sites call that species Dracaena 'Massangeana', but that is not a species, but rather a cultivar. In total, there are well over 100 Dracaena species known to science. Dracaena sanderiana will do better, and is actually much less difficult to maintain, if grown as it does naturally, in soil. One reason is Dracaena sp. are easily affected, and sometimes killed, by fluoride. Unless you are using well water, you almost certainly have fluoride in your city water. As a result, you'll need to make it a habit to draw the water and allow it to stand in an open container for at least 24 hours so the fluoride can evaporate. For those trying to grow the plant in water, you will also need to make sure the water stays clear. Fog in the water is a sign of bacteria and that bacteria, can and will, attack the plant. Typically, people soon tire of constantly doing that routine every few days and soon just begin draw water out of the tap. Almost inevitably, the plant will begin to decline. I often wonder how many plants are sold by discount sellers that eventually lead buyers to kill their plant due to poor information. In your case, I'm unsure if your filter is capable of removing the fluoride.

Generally, rain forest species grow in very loose, fast draining soil. The majority enjoy damp roots, but not wet. Obviously, this one can live for longer periods of time in water since growers have figured out a neat way to sell millions of them by implying it is an aquatic bamboo and selling it in a jar. But the soil should drain quickly. You can use a "moisture control" soil mix and then add a handful of orchid bark and gravel such as found in Schultz™ orchid potting mix to help keep the soil loose. A good helping of Perlite™ will also be beneficial. Keep the soil damp, but not soggy. Your "Lucky Bamboo" will do best if kept in bright indirect, but not direct sun.

In your case, you may want to consider just buying plain old water from the grocery store since your filter may be providing salts and fluoride to the plant. You may also want to consider replacing a portion of the soil with newer potting soil mixed as I suggested. If you have been giving frequent amounts of fertilizer, slow down. A good method of giving the plant fertilizer is to offer about 20% of the manufacturer's recommended dose.

I do hope you figure out a way to overcome your problem. I hate to see long terms plants not doing well. Good "luck" in working out your plant's problems.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old August 22nd, 2007, 09:31 AM
Lynette's Avatar
Lynette Lynette is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Ottawa Canada
Posts: 34
Re: Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

Hi,

Thank you for all this effort integrating the information! I had done searches before posting here and it is lovely to have it all put together in your response. I originally thought it was a furasium infection and in fact found a 1989 reference to it being an infection in Egyptian D. sanderiana. But that may be waaay over the top of diagnostic protocols! :-)

The water I am using does not contain flouride as it is directly from a drilled well. However we have had to keep the softener chemicals more regularly topped up than with our old well. This may be contributing to an accumulation of salts as you and Eric pointed out (and might even have contributed to the demise of my beloved bonsai!). I have already taken the steps to use demineralized water.

Thank you for the information on the soil composition. Considering your advice, I can see that the soil could be looser so I will resolve that shortly.

I don't tend to fertilize my plants frequently - maybe twice a year with standard store-bought stuff. Although, there was one or two occasions several years ago when I used bonsai fertilizer and it did wonders for all the plants - except the bonsai!

This is all very much appreciated and, like you, I hate to see a plant die. One of the plants seems to be recovering; the new sprouts at the base of the stems look green and healthy. The other is not likely to survive.

Lynette
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old August 22nd, 2007, 10:15 AM
photopro's Avatar
photopro photopro is offline
Collector of Rare Araceae (deceased)
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Siloam Springs, AR, USA
Posts: 2,455
Re: Lucky bamboo leaves turning white

I hope you find a method to make them all happy again. Truly unfortunate about the bonsai. I hate loosing any plant and I have many hundreds!

One word on demineralized water. Don't use the deionized version often sold in stores. It is simply too pure. The plants need some minerals which can be found in the water. I once met an orchid grower in south Miami who was having a problem at least similar to yours and he resorted to just buying the 25 cent a gallon water sold near the front of the local Publix super markets. It was little more than filtered city water but it appeared all they really filtered was the chlorine. His orchids did great with the stuff. He did add a small amount of fertilizer (very small) to each of the gallons he bought and his plants thrived.

Hope you have success with these and I hope that "lucky bamboo" brings you lots of tranquility! And this made me learn a lot. I always enjoy that!
Reply With Quote
Post New ThreadReply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
lucky bamboo Eric La Fountaine Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 21 October 13th, 2008 08:16 AM
Help with Lucky Bamboo GAHMH Garden Pest Management and Identification 2 August 26th, 2007 03:31 PM
lucky bamboo Stickman000 Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 2 August 19th, 2007 04:45 PM
lucky bamboo leaves all turning yellow and dropping omnithought2004 Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 5 February 17th, 2007 09:40 AM
lucky bamboo.. linnyz Indoor and Greenhouse Plants 7 July 23rd, 2006 12:07 AM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:27 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2001-2011, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden & Centre for Plant Research