Bamboo Care: Why Is My Bamboo Turning Yellow?

Bamboo is pretty when its leaves are bright green, but it can be a problem when the leaves turn yellow. No matter if you have it in the garden or room, this can be a concerning problem. Healthy bamboo has dazzling leaves and hollow stems, and you can make them look like that with proper maintenance. Many gardeners and homeowners plant bamboo as natural barriers to block the view and create a private space. It looks nice in the garden and office, and it can live a few weeks without water. Since bamboo grows and spreads fast, taking care of them is not a difficult task to achieve. If you are interested in growing these ornamental plants, here is everything you need to know about them.

1. What Makes Bamboo Turn Yellow?

The two most common causes that make bamboo plants turn yellow are either too much sunlight or too much tap water. To solve the first cause, you may need to reposition your bamboo plant to somewhere away from direct sunlight. Another solution to this is by creating some sort of shade to prevent sunlight from turning the bamboo yellow. Bamboo does find in just fluorescent light so too much sunlight is not really necessary for this type of plant. As for the second cause, you can easily fix it by using filtered water instead of stagnant water or tap water. When watering, avoid the top of the shoots and change the water more frequently if you plant it in a vase.

Sometimes the bamboo leaves turn yellow because of their natural aging process. When you have a bamboo plant for a long time, the cause of it turning yellow is rather simple. All you need to do is cut or peel off the yellow leaves so that new leaves can grow. Make sure to not keep the yellow leaves until they turn brown or black because they can spread. Once it spreads, the plant turning yellow is the last thing to concern about because the whole plant could die. So if you see the leaves turning yellow, get rid of them as soon as possible.

2. How To Save Yellow Bamboo Leaves

This is also another important factor that you should be aware of because bamboo turns yellow in some parts annually. Some bamboo leaves are turning yellow at a certain time of the year before dropping then the fresh green leaves regrow. You should expect bamboo leaf loss in spring, and that time is also normal for stem and leaves to turn yellow. Treatment will be needed if large parts or the whole bamboo plants are turning yellow, and here are the solutions.

2.1. Compost

Always pick organic compost for your bamboo plant because it likes acidic, loamy, and rich soil. This type of compost provides the nutrients that the plant needs while making the soil drainage better. So if you grow some bamboo plants outdoors, this is also an additional help to fix the yellowing problems. Sometimes the plant does not receive enough nutrients that it needs, especially when you are too busy to check them. If you haven’t provided them with any compost before, you should consider adding some once in a while. Compost is so much better than chemical or synthetic fertilizers, it is nicer to let your plant grows with natural nutrients.

2.2. Soil

Soil is like a home of the bamboo plant, and an uncomfortable home can cause yellowing in them. We are talking boggy soil, dry soil, or low soil nutrients that fail to support their needs to grow. Bamboo is like other plants, it needs good drainage to flourish which is why you should check the soil regularly. Overwatering can cause the soil to be damp and soggy which can affect their roots. At the same time, the plant is turning yellow because the soil is too dry for it. Since it is not a drought-tolerant plant, you should never leave the soil too dry. The longer it grows, the more water it needs as it spread wider and wider each year.

2.3. Water

Overwatering or under-watering can threaten the growth and life of your bamboo plant. Bamboo likes a lot of water, but overwatering can make the soil mucky which leads to diseases and pests. Meanwhile, lack of water can slowly kill the plant which you can see by the yellow parts on the plant. So how often should you water your bamboo? For outdoor bamboo plants, it only needs around an inch of water a week either from manual watering or rainfall. As for the indoor bamboo plant, you will need to provide fresh water once a week and clean the container every few months. Remember to use filtered water to prevent yellowing on your bamboo or lucky bamboo leaves.

3. Bamboo Care FAQs:

3.1. Is yellow bamboo dead?

Yes, but only the parts that are yellowing such as leaves or some parts of the stalk. What you should do is removing the leaves that turned yellow immediately by pruning the plant with sharp and sterile scissors. Then try to identify what causes them to become yellow by checking the factors I mentioned above. Remember that unhealthy symptoms can spread fast so make sure to take action as fast as possible.

3.2. How do you fix yellowing bamboo?

Since there is no one specific cause that makes bamboo turns yellow, you will also have multiple solutions. The most common ones are:

  • Apply fertilizer once or twice a year, and start doing it now if you haven’t done it yet.
  • Check the water, and avoid or stop using tap water if you have been watering the plant with it. Use filtered water instead because this is what your plant needs.
  • The first that you should do to fix a bamboo plant when it turns yellow is to prune it. This is to remove the dead or dying part to make room for fresh leaves to regrow. Things are the same if you spot crooked or thin shoots, prune them as well because they are not healthy.
  • For indoor bamboo like lucky bamboo, make sure to maintain a consistent temperature for the plant. Indoor bamboo plant does well in temperatures between 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit which is a common temperature at home. Also, make sure to avoid keeping the plant under air conditioners or heat vents.
  • If you plant your bamboo in a vase, clean it regularly while providing proper water to the bamboo. You don’t need to water a lucky bamboo plant in the pot or vase. However, you have to replace clean water every 10 days or so to keep the plant happy. Without regular new water, there could be algae growth which affects the health of the plant.

3.3. Is it bad if bamboo turns yellow?

The answer is yes and no, and here is why. It is not bad if bamboo turns yellow when it is time for it to shed its leaves in spring. This happens when the bamboo plant cuts off nutrients in those leaves and uses them in other parts. It is bad if your new or young bamboo is turning yellow because it could be from faulty caring. That is when you have to check and fix the placement, soil, and watering habits.

3.4. How do you revive a dying bamboo?

Depends on how fast your notice the yellow leaves, bringing back a dying bamboo is not so challenging. Once you start seeing the leaves are turning yellow, remove them right away by using clean and sharp scissors. This is to prevent it from spreading to other bamboo leaves and other parts like the root system. Yellowing is an unhealthy sign due to various causes, fix the problems immediately so that you can revive the plant.

3.5. What does healthy bamboo look like?

A healthy bamboo plant should have green leaves. At the same time, the leaves should look fresh without any brown or yellow tips. The stems of the bamboo should be firm and strong without looking crooked or soft. If your bamboo plant is bright green all over, it is absolutely healthy. Along with that, the roots and stalk should also show no sign of decaying or rotting. When all parts look good down to the roots, you know your plant is doing great.

4. Why Is Lucky Bamboo Turning Yellow?

Lucky bamboo plants are small indoor plants that you can have anywhere from home to office and more. Just like the name suggests, people believe that lucky bamboo brings fortune and wisdom to the owners. This can be the case if you take good care of them so that they can shine with their bright green color. But why are your lucky bamboo leaves begin to turn yellow when these plants are famous for being durable and indestructible? Can a plant lose its pretty appearance under stress? Question no more because I am going to tell you the causes and solutions to yellowing lucky bamboo plants below.

5. What Makes Lucky Bamboo Leaves Yellow & How To Fix Them

5.1. Direct Sunlight

Lucky bamboo is small, and it thrives in lush rainforests where it receives indirect light. This is the first thing that you should know about a lucky bamboo plant when you want to have one. Those who don’t know will end up placing their lucky bamboo by the window, thinking direct sunlight is good for it. Direct sunlight cans scorch the leaves of the bamboo which turn them yellow then droop from the plant.

Solution: First, you will need to move it from direct sunlight trim off the yellow leaves from your lucky bamboo. Then relocate the plant to a warm spot with sufficient yet indirect light like on the table. If their other leaves start to show the same sign, then you might want to check for other causes below.

5.2. Injured Stem

When the stem bends or breaks, it fails to support supply the nutrients to the other parts of the plant. Then you will see a leaf or two begin to drop, become weak, or change their color. Not every lucky bamboo owner thinks of this cause before other reasons, this is why I mention it. Sometimes extreme pruning or heavy application when you remove them to change the water can injure the stems. If this is the case, there are a few things that you can do.

Solution: You can cut the upper part from the broken stem to give room for new sprouts to grow. Make sure to use clean and sharp scissors or shears to trim the stalk just above the node. Then protect the cut stem from infections by sealing it with organic melted soy wax. Put the stalk back to its original place, and it will grow back with proper environment and maintenance.

5.3. Insect Infestation

It is very rare for a lucky bamboo plant to experience insect infestation, but the possibility is never zero. This is why insect infestation is one of the reasons that make lucky bamboo turning yellow. Without proper care, mealybugs and mites will grab the opportunity to attack your plant and cause serious damages. These pests suck plant juices from the leaves and stems, resulting in curling, falling off, and yellowing of the leaves. If you don’t take action fast enough, the insects can destroy the entire plant within a few weeks.

Solution: For light cases, you can use an alcohol solution to gently wipe the pests off the plant. Alcohol or a mixture of lukewarm water and mild soap can also do the job very well. And don’t worry if soap can affect the plant as long as you choose the mild ones with a light effect. Then trim the parts where the pests cause the damages to prevent further spreading to the remaining areas. If you grow your lucky bamboo in the water, clean the container and pebble then refill it with distilled water. In case the damage is serious, the only solution is to discard the plant.

5.4. Low Humidity

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, and low humidity makes the surrounding atmosphere and environment dry. This can lead to a lack of water for the plant which can result in water loss and yellowing. Normal household humidity is between 40 to 60%, and lucky bamboo requires around 50% of humidity.

Solution: Gravel tray or pebble tray is not just for show but also for retaining humidity for the plant. You can get some nice pebbles and put them on a tray then pour water on the tray. Keep your lucky bamboo atop the pebble tray so that it maintains a stable humidity level. Another solution is to mist your lucky bamboo plant on dry and stuffy days. Mist it several times a day, and you will be able to solve the humidity problem right away.

5.5. Nutrient Deficiency

Well, if everything is all good but one leaf or two does not look well, it can be a nutrient deficiency. This is a sign that your lucky bamboo needs more macronutrients or micronutrients to support its growth. Lack of micronutrients like nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium causes the leaves to turn yellow. Things are the same when macronutrients like minerals and vitamins are in very small amounts.

Solution: One of the easy ways to bring the green leaves back is by giving them the nutrients that they need. For water lucky bamboo, you can simply add some liquid fertilizer to supply the plants with nutrients. As for lucky bamboo in a pot, you will need to add a bit of fertilizer and water it more. Make sure that the pH of the soil is between 6.0 to 6.5 so that there are sufficient nutrients. Once they receive what they need, they will continue to grow healthily for you sooner or later.

5.6. Over Fertilizing

Outdoor bamboo needs fertilization once or twice per year, and what about your indoor lucky bamboo? Things are quite similar because too much fertilizer can create unpleasant conditions in the soil. I understand that you add fertilizer because you want the plant to grow fast and healthy. However, the sudden growth of the plant can harm or slow down the development of the roots. Poor root structure is unable to support the entire plant, hence the appearance of brown or yellow leaves of lucky bamboo.

Solution: To fix this, you will need to wash off the soil with a lot of distilled water. Simply pour water on the soil and let it drain through the bottom to wash away the excess fertilizer and salts. In case you see white crust at the corner of the pot or on the topsoil, change the potting soil. Lucky bamboo only requires a moderate amount of fertilizer once a month. Avoid feeding them with too much fertilizer, and this problem won’t occur again.

5.7. Unfitting Temperatures

Sometimes lucky bamboo leaves can turn yellow if the indoor temperature is unfitting for the plant. You want to make sure that the daily temperature should be between 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit for a pleasant environment. If it gets too cold or too hot, your lucky bamboo plant may experience stress which is bad for its growth. Then it will result in yellowing, wilting, or leaf falling from the plant.

Solution: Move the plant to somewhere with a more stable temperature, far away from doors and windows. When it is too close to the doors and windows, the temperature keeps fluctuating in different seasons and times. A place in the middle of the room or near the table at a distance from air conditioners is good.

5.8. Water Quality

Not so much for a hardy plant since lucky bamboo is susceptible to damages due to water quality. You don’t want to water them with unfiltered water that has chemicals like chlorine or fluoride. This is a long-term effect that damages the plant bit by bit before it starts wilting and yellowing. Too much water is already bad, let alone too much water with chlorine. Many beginners don’t know that their lucky bamboo prefers filtered water, and the good thing is solutions to save them are available.

Solution: The solution to this matter is rather easy if you have been watering your lucky bamboo with tap water. All you need to do is give the plant purified water or rainwater that you collect. This sounds like a lot of work, and I totally understand this. Since bamboo doesn’t really need daily watering or daily water changing, there is another way if you only have tap water. Before it is time to give some water to your plant, let the tap water sit for a day or two. The chlorine will evaporate which makes it safe for your lucky bamboo. Things are even better if you can install a water filtration system since it is also good for your health. The system will get rid of those chemicals like chlorine or fluoride from the water that you use daily. It is a win, so consider it.

Final Thoughts

Bamboo or lucky bamboo is an amazing plant that is worth investing in due to its appearance and easy care. There are many species that you can choose from, but the species for home or office is not abundant. It is okay if you see their bright green colors start to change because there are solutions to fix those. Since it is a common problem, there is nothing serious to worry about. I hope that my tips above are helpful, and your bamboo plant will grow healthily from now on.