Gardener alert!: Trying to save lucky bamboo plant

Just what it sounds like. I got a Dracaena sanderiana plant in July and it’s not doing well. I nearly broke off the branch with the leaves a few months ago, but it’s survived and we managed to keep all the leaves attached. The last few weeks the leaves have turned yellow and started to wilt and I hope we can keep the thing alive. Lately we have been keeping it out of direct light because I thought that was the way to keep it - but it seems like it’s made things worse.

We have south and west facing windows and we can move it. But is there a way to perk it up while some other treatment takes effect? This was a birthday present, so I want it to keep going.

What happened to it, exactly? Did the branch break partway through? Did it just take a hit (you brushed against it hard by accident or it tipped over and hit the table)?

It was on the window sill and I shut the window quickly and nearly broke the leaves off. We put an ace bandage around the branch for a week or so, and to my amazement it didn’t break off. But that was months ago.

How big is it and how long have you had it? Did the break heal or is it just held together by the bandage?

If the break didn’t actually heal, you may be out of luck. The leaves would be starving because they’re not getting the water or nutrients from the roots. In that case, you might be best off air-layering it and starting a new plant from the roots that will grow at the break. The old trunk may throw another branch if you keep it watered, too.

On the other hand, other than sentimental reasons because it was a birthday gift, D. sanderiana is cheap and common…you can probably pick up new plants at the supermarket for $5 or less.

We’ve had it for six months and it’s about 14" in height. The break did heal. We took the bandage off after a week or two and it’s stayed together on its own.

Is your water hard? The plant prefers filtered or spring water (or rain water, if you have a collecting barrel). Too many minerals or additives in the water will yellow the leaves.

Also, you want to keep it out of direct light, but it still needs bright light. If you have something like sheer curtains, placing it in the room side of the curtains in that window will help. If you don’t, do you have a larger but airy kind of plant you can put between the dracaena and the sun? Something to give some dappled shade.

I’d wondered about that. We used to leave the water out, which some people recommend, but we haven’t done it lately. I think I’ll repot it and use some filtered water.

It’s winter and the plant isn’t doing much, so now wouldn’t be a great time to do anything drastic. If you repot it when it isn’t growing, you may very well kill it.

OTOH, you probably do want to lift the rootball out and have a look/snif, to make sure the soil is evenly moist but not wet, no rot, and neither dried out in spots.