How to repot a bamboo plant (lucky bamboo)

The lucky bamboo plants that commonly are sold at both garden centers and convenience stores are not bamboo plants at all. A member of the Dracaena genus, the lucky bamboo is more related to the corn plant and is simply the stalk of the plant grown in water. Once planted in soil, lucky bamboo is referred to by its common name, the ribbon plant. An easy to care for plant, lucky bamboo is a good starter plant for those who do not feel they have a green thumb.

How to repot a bamboo plant in rocks

I looked it up, It is getting large for the tiny container it came in, and I would like to transplant it. It is currently in some kind of gel that absorbs water and covered with a sprinkling of tiny rocks. What would be the best medium for me to use to transplant it? Can I use soil, or do I have to use something like the gel? I am afraid that the gel will eventually break down as it is looser in the pot. How to repot a bamboo plant ?

Why is it important to repot your lucky bamboo?

A lucky bamboo plant needs repotting when its current growing conditions have become unfavorable. Often, replacing the potting medium and the container can help fix the problem.

The first reason your lucky bamboo may need to be repotted is to provide it with fresh growing medium that can provide it with its essential nutrients and minerals. Doing this will maintain the plant’s overall health.

Another time that repotting can be helpful is when you are trying to bring a pest infestation under control. If you think your lucky bamboo may be infested with aphids, termites, mealybugs or bamboo mites, you can repot it in fresh soil, alongside your other treatment measures, to prevent further damage and ensure that the plant’s growth is not stunted.

If your lucky bamboo is kept in a container that has become too small, you will need to repot it to a bigger container to give its roots more space to grow into. Remember that lucky bamboo grows very quickly, so it will not take very long for it to outgrow its container. The roots can become suffocated and a change of container and growing medium will be necessary for it to continue growing optimally.

Basically, your plant’s pot needs to increase in size along with the plant itself. Think of it like a child’s shoes. Children’s feet grow much faster than most parents anticipate, and they are constantly buying new shoes that are a size bigger than the old ones. The same is true for your plants, and it is important not to disregard their needs.

how to repot a bamboo plant

how to repot a bamboo plant

When to repot lucky bamboo growing in soil

If you have a healthy bamboo plant in a small pot, say one or two gallons, the roots will probably fill in within the first year or two. Once the bamboo and its rhizomes have filled the pot, then it’s ready to move into a bigger container. As long as you are not disrupting the bamboo too much, then you can do this any time of year.

Look at the drain hole under the pot to see if the roots have reached the bottom yet. If you don’t see any roots, then it probably needs more time. Check again in a month or so.
If you do see roots, then the pot is beginning to fill out. Ideally, you’ll want to transplant it when the roots are just beginning to fill up the pot. That means the roots and soil will probably hold together when you lift it out of the pot. But you don’t want to see a ball of knots, from bamboo that’s already root-bound.

If it’s really root-bound, you might see the pot begin to bulge. This is fairly easy to see in a small, plastic pot. The rhizomes will push against the inside of the container, and then they will bend back in on themselves. This can make it difficult to remove the plant from the pot. And if you have a ceramic pot, it could be even more difficult. The pot may not survive the move.

With a seriously root-bound bamboo, you’ll need to perform something of an operation. A procedure like this will seriously disturb the roots, so you want to do it in the late fall or winter, when the plant is more dormant. This way, you are unlikely to damage fresh growth and potentially stunt the plant for the remainder of the growing season.

Repotting from gel to soil

Here’s how to successfully transition it from an aquatic environment to growing in soil:

  • Choose a grow pot (one with drainage holes, probably made of plastic), about 1 ½ to 2 times the diameter of the original pot.
  • Prepare a few cups of potting mix (houseplant potting soil is just fine) by pouring it into a bowl or pail and adding tepid water. (Moist mix is easier to work with than dry mix.)
  • Stir well to thoroughly moisten the mix. You’ll want it to have the consistency of a wrung sponge.
  • Place either a piece of newspaper or paper towel or a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot to prevent the soil from flowing out when you water. No drainage layer is necessary or recommended.
  • Fill the pot with moist soil to about half its height.
  • Remove the plant from its original pot.
  • If there are yellow or dead stems, remove them.
  • Knock the stones mixed with the roots free. You can always keep them for use as an ornamental mulch afterwards.
  • If the roots are moderately intertwined, pull them apart and spread them out away from the stems. If, however, they wrap around the inside of the original pot or form such a tangled mess you could never separate them, grab a pair of pruning shears and cut off the outside roots all around the root ball. No, that won’t hurt the plant! In fact, it will encourage it to form new roots more quickly. You can easily remove a third of the old roots without doing any harm to the plant.
  • Center the plant in the new pot and fill in around the roots with potting soil, tamping down lightly. (This assumes you want a cluster of plants in the same pot, as you could also have separated the stems, planting each in its own individual pot.)
  • Place the pot in a saucer slightly larger than its diameter and water gently to settle the plant in. Throw away any excess water that collects in the saucer.
  • Finally, place the plant under normal indoor temperatures in a spot that offers at least moderate light … perhaps its original location.

As mentioned, the plant may lose a few leaves at first, but will gain strength after a few months and should soon be even more attractive than ever.

how to repot a bamboo plant

how to repot a bamboo plant

Tip: how to repot a cactus plant

Repotting from pot to pot

  1. If you are repotting from one pot to another because your lucky bamboo has grown, you can follow standard repotting guidance, as your plant will already be used to living in soil.
  2. Select a pot that is approximately 2 to 3 centimeters larger than the pot your lucky bamboo was previously living in. Fill the bottom with stones and cover this with a layer of a fast-draining houseplant soil.
  3. Take your stalks out of their current pot and crumble away as much of the soil around their roots as you can without damaging their root systems.
  4. It is common for lucky bamboo to become quite root-bound. Don’t fear, you can gently pull apart its roots as much as you can without damaging them. Even if the root system stays entangled, it should not cause you concern. The roots will continue to grow outwards once they have been planted in a pot with more space.
  5. Position the stalks close together and fill the remainder of the pot with the soil.
  6. Water your lucky bamboo thoroughly after transplanting. After an initial deep water, you can return to your regular watering schedule.
how to repot a bamboo plant

how to repot a bamboo plant

Watch for Bamboo Health

Watch for falling leaves in the days after repotting. Most bamboo plants will lose a few leaves while adjusting to a new pot, but this should stop once the plant settles in. If it doesn’t, make sure you are not overwatering by poking your finger down into the soil. Let the soil almost dry out below the surface before you water the plant again.

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