Skip to Content

How to Shape Lucky Bamboo ― Top Tips

How to Shape Lucky Bamboo ― Top Tips

Lucky Bamboo is a beautiful, prolifically leafy plant, characterized by thick, twisting green stalks and long, elegant leaves. 

While it is named for its likeness to plants of the bamboo genus and the notches on its stems, lucky bamboo is actually a dracaena, and you should follow dracaena care advice when growing it.

As lucky bamboo grows, it often begins to take over the space it lives in and needs to be pruned back. It is malleable and can be trained to grow into striking shapes.

Once you have mastered the proper techniques, you will be able to sculpt your lucky bamboo into whatever shape you choose.


How do I shape my lucky bamboo?

You can train lucky bamboo to grow into a wide variety of shapes by manipulating its access to a light source using a three-sided cardboard box. You can also use copper wire to encourage spiraling, or braiding techniques to create braided stems. You can also combine all three techniques. 


Shaping lucky bamboo using a light source

The most effective and best-known way to manipulate the shape of a lucky bamboo plant is to encourage growth in a specific direction by strategically controlling the plant’s light exposure. 

Lucky bamboo, like almost all plants, will grow towards the light. By restricting a plant’s access to light, you can force it to grow in a particular direction.

Of course, this process takes time and patience, and you shouldn’t expect to be able to sculpt your lucky bamboo into the desired shape overnight.

The most popular way to use light to shape lucky bamboo is to cut the bottom and one of the sides out of a cardboard box so that you are left with a three-sided box. Make sure that the box comfortably fits over your plant. 

Once your plant is in its box, face the open side of the box towards the most direct light source, which will usually be a window. 

To enhance your lucky bamboo’s growth in the desired direction, you can also invest in an LED grow light, and place the grow light at the opening of the box.

If you want to create spirals, you can gradually turn the plant inside its box so that a slightly different part of the plant is continually being encouraged to grow towards the light, which creates a curling effect.

How soon you turn your plant inside the box depends on how tight you want its spirals to be. If you are looking to create a smaller curling effect, you can turn your plant slightly after just a few days.

If, on the other hand, you want to create larger spirals, you can leave it for two to three weeks before turning it. 

You can also change the increments in which you turn the bamboo to determine the severity of the spiral. If you turn it gradually, the plant will develop gentler, straighter-growing spirals.

If you turn it more dramatically when repositioning it, the spirals will be flatter and more intense.

The cardboard box technique can also be used to train your plant into growing into more than just spirals––it just takes a bit of practice. Soon you will be able to use light exposure to direct growth up or down and to the left and right. 

It will be difficult to shape your lucky bamboo if it is in poor health. If your bamboo plant is dying, try to save it before beginning to sculpt it. 


Shaping lucky bamboo using copper-annealed wire

Another way to train your lucky bamboo to assume a novel shape is to use copper wire to encourage particular growth patterns. 

To shape your dracaena cuttings using wire, you will need to purchase the plants while they are young.

The older lucky bamboo gets, the more difficult it is to bend, and it may end up cracking if you try too hard to force it into a spiral. 

You need to wrap the wire around your bamboo stalk, starting at the bottom, and bend the wire into the shape you want your lucky bamboo to be.

Wrap the wire loosely to avoid damaging the plant. The stalk should be sitting inside the curled wire structure comfortably. It will adopt the curl of the wire over time.

You should leave the wire in place until the lucky bamboo stalk has taken on the desired shape. If it begins to lose its spiral, you can re-wire it and leave the wire on for a longer period before removing it again. 

Do not leave the wire on for too long without checking that it is not damaging the plant. If the plant has grown and the wire is now cutting into the skin of the stalk, you should loosen the wire immediately. 

When you do decide to remove the wire, make sure you do so carefully. Begin at the top and unravel it in a downward direction. 

Lucky bamboo will assume a new shape more quickly if it is living in a humid, warm environment. If it is receiving proper care, it will not only be more likely to take on its shape, but it will also grow faster, which will reduce the time it takes for it to assume its desired shape.

Make sure you are giving it the best water for houseplants, as this will further boost its health and increase its readiness to take on a new shape. 


Shaping lucky bamboo by braiding it

Another way to increase the sculpt your lucky bamboo is to braid it into a desired shape. You will need to plant three of the Dracaena Sanderiana stalks approximately two to three inches apart.

Then you need to gently braid them together. Once you have done so, fasten them at the top using a twist tie. 

One of the easiest ways to set up your stalks for braiding is to propagate a lucky bamboo plant. If you cut a stalk into three pieces by making two diagonal cuts at equal distances to create three similarly sized portions.

Place the cuts in water until roots begin to appear and then either transplant them into soil, or else place them into a vase with a substrate like gravel or stones. 

If you propagate lucky bamboo with the aim of braiding it, allow the stalks to become accustomed to their environment before you start to braid them.