Does Bamboo Need Sunlight – Best Plant Care Tips

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Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by Cristina

This blog post answers the question, does bamboo need sunlight and gives you important information about plant care. First, we need to clarify that most people who ask this question are not growing bamboo! If you are growing “lucky bamboo” this is a popular indoor plant. It is also an excellent outdoor plant.

However, it is, as we have said, not bamboo. Proper bamboo is not really a plant I think has many places in indoor gardens as it is just going to take over and get out of hand. So, in this article, we will deal with “Lucky Bamboo” on the indoor side, and lucky bamboo and bamboo on the outdoor side. Do bamboo plants need sunlight to grow? Yes – they are plants – plants photosynthesize, using sunlight. Now that we have cleared that up, let’s have a closer look at the topic.

What is the Difference Between “Lucky Bamboo” and Bamboo?

Lucky Bamboo is actually a Dracaena. This means it is related to a snake plant. Bamboo is a type of grass. Both have a similar-looking stem type. The chances are if you bought “Bamboo” in a nursery, and it is in a pot for indoor growth, it is probably “Lucky Bamboo”. Lucky Bamboo will at best grow into a small plant that is a few feet tall. This makes it an ideal houseplant. It tolerates low light and is just really tough.

Real bamboo is generally quite a large plant. There are a few dwarf bamboo plants, but even these are quite big. If I wanted a bamboo look indoors, I would stick to lucky bamboo (which is not bamboo as we have pointed out repeatedly).

Do Bamboo Plants Need Sunlight to Grow?

For lucky bamboo, we must understand that these plants have relatively low light requirements because their photosynthetic cycle is CAM based – this means they need low light for relatively long periods because the system they use is relatively inefficient. So you do not need bright light (dappled shade is fine) but you need light for long enough that they can top up their energy levels. In my experience, 8 hours of light is adequate, and below this, you will need to supplement with some form of supplemental lighting.

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Real bamboo plants are a different story. Rather unusual for a tropical plant that is technically a type of grass, bamboo is a C3 photosynthetic cycle plant. Tropical grasses are often C4 photosynthetic cycle plants. There is however a somewhat greater need for light generally with this photosynthetic cycle than for the CAM system used by the lucky bamboo.

Some species of bamboo are relatively shaded tolerant and others that require full light. My general advice here would be to go to a nursery and ask for a bamboo species that do well in your area, and that is shade tolerant. There are so many types of bamboo, and each country has different rules about which ones can be sold, and which ones cannot.

This is because many species of bamboo can actually become quite invasive. Planting bamboo is easy – getting rid of it is not! Find a variety that is known to be safe in your area.

Do Bamboo Plants Need Sunlight To Grow

Do bamboo plants need sunlight to do well indoors? The answer is yes. If your bamboo plant is not getting enough light, it will grow tall and spindly with long internodes between shoots. If there are limited sunny spots available, you may need artificial light sources to supplement your plant’s health.

In low-light situations, new shoots will have a harder time growing and the plant will be more susceptible to disease. Again, my advice is for indoors I would grow lucky bamboo – for outdoors if you really have to, grow bamboo – just be warned, it looks pretty for a while, and then it takes over. Real bamboo is really difficult to get rid of as well.

Does bamboo like direct sunlight?

So, does bamboo like direct sunlight? The answer is yes, bamboo plants grow best when afforded at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. However, these plants come in several different varieties, each having its own tolerance levels when it comes to sun and shade exposure. This is the reason that many gardeners want to know the answer to the question, does bamboo need sunlight?

To be happy, healthy, and thrive, the more sun exposure that bamboo plants get, the better. In other words, if you are growing bamboo in a greenhouse or atrium, ensure that they are placed at points that receive the highest amount of humidity and light throughout the day.

You also have to keep in mind that very harsh rays of sunlight for extended hours can scorch the plant leaves. So, depending on the climate in your region, you should also be a step ahead and keep an eye out for sunburnt leaves. 

Check Out What Do The Orange Root Plants Mean?

How Many Hours Of Sunlight Does Bamboo Need?

Most real bamboo plants are tropical, or sub-tropical plants – this means that they are used to days that are half sunlight, and half darkness with a slight variation around this for the sub-tropical plants. The further North or South you go, the greater the variation in day/night length between winter and summer. Generally, for most bamboo, and lucky bamboo as well, you need to work around this – they need at least 8, preferably 10 hours of light to thrive. In many parts of the world that are outside this range, you will need supplemental lighting to keep your plants happy in winter.

How Many Hours Of Sunlight Does Bamboo Need

Does Bamboo Grow Well in Shade?

My general experience is that it does not. Bamboo shades itself – but the tall plants subsidize new shoots with energy so that they can grow up and find the light. Lucky bamboo on the other hand grows well in the shade.

Read more about Do Snake Plants Need Drainage Holes?

Temperature and humidity

When it comes to temperature, bamboo plants need sunlight to do well in most temperatures around 70°F/20°C at night and a humidity level of 50 percent or more. Make sure they are protected from drafts as cold air can cause damage to leaves that will affect their growth. It’s best to keep them indoors during months where temperatures drop below this, but you can put them outdoors during the warmer months.

Soil – Do bamboo plants need sunlight

Use a well-drained, rich potting mix with some perlite or sand to help drainage. 


Prune leaves and shoots to maintain a neat look, but do not remove too many leaves or you will slow down the growth of your plant. If it keeps losing leaves, check the humidity levels around the plant and repot it if necessary.


Lucky bamboo is not a very heavy feeder. Because it is such a popular plant, you can actually buy premixed fertilizers for it! Here is a good example.

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For proper bamboo plants, I would just add a bit of manure or similar fertilizer every year if it is growing outdoors. Or compost. I have actually never put fertilizer on bamboo. For outdoor growth of bamboo, it can always benefit from a subtle suggestion that male members of the family use it as a sustainable natural urinal – this will encourage dogs to do the same, and thus you take some pressure off the cities sewerage system and use a sustainable natural fertilizer source for your bamboo. 


Can Bamboo Grow in Artificial Light?

If you’re wondering, if can bamboo grows in artificial light, then the following information would be useful to you. Firstly, depending on the bamboo plant variety that you’re growing, light demands can vary. This is because while some bamboo does well in low light exposure, varieties like the lucky bamboo plant actually prefer artificial lights.

The way to tell if your bamboo plant is getting enough light is to monitor its leaves. Light green colored or faded leaves are signs that your bamboo plant is not receiving the required amount of light. In this case, the artificial lighting may be too low and not able to meet the demands of the bamboo.

If you opt for artificial lights for bamboo, then slow growth is possible as these plants, although hardy, do best in natural light.

Lucky Bamboo Plant Outdoors – Care Tips

For the best care tips for lucky bamboo plants outdoors, the information below would be of great value to gardeners. These hardy plants are easy to grow and maintain when afforded the correct care. Seeing that there are several varieties of bamboo, knowing what type you are growing would also be advantageous to maintain your plant effectively. Have a look at the list below to aid you in growing a thriving bamboo plant.

Lucky bamboo plant care tips:

  • Lucky bamboo grows best in warm indoor spaces that are well-lit.
  • Outdoor lucky bamboo plants should be protected from harsh sunlight and extremely cold weather conditions as it can contribute to their deterioration. 
  • Bamboo plants that are growing in plant pots or directly in the ground outdoors thrive in shaded areas of the yard that receive morning sun. 
  • Although lucky bamboo can grow in water, it does best when planted in soil as its lifespan is also extended in this case. Growing the bamboo plant in water will also require you to change the liquid weekly to avoid rot.
  • Deeply watering your bamboo plant weekly is recommended to keep it healthy and encourage root growth. This can be done using manual watering or rainfall. Keep in mind that the deeper the roots delve into the soil, the harder they will become when faced with drought.
  • Fallen bamboo leaves serve as mulch for your plant as they keep the roots moist and protected. The leaves also decompose and enrich the soil with essential nutrients, which is great for encouraging bamboo plant growth.
  • In the spring season, adding a layer of balanced fertilizer or compost will keep your bamboo plant thriving.

How Much Water Does Bamboo Need?

If you want to know how much water bamboo needs, then read on. Although bamboo grows well in water only, when it is planted in soil, it does not have a high demand for moisture. Growing bamboo in water alone will require you to ensure that the plant roots are always submerged underneath. If you opt to grow your plant in this way, then remember that you would also need to change the water weekly to keep it growing at its best. 

For those who have planted bamboo in the soil, deep weekly watering is needed for it to stay healthy and happy. Keep in mind that the soil should have excellent drainage properties to avoid root rot and other bamboo plant diseases. Container-grown bamboo should have plant pots with drainage holes for excess water to escape. 

Final Words – Do Bamboo Plants Need Sunlight?

We have to stress again that there is a big difference between lucky bamboo and real bamboo. Lucky bamboo does not need much light – real bamboo does to get established. Generally, you will probably be growing lucky bamboo if you are growing it indoors, and ensure that it gets at least 8 hours, preferably 10 hours of diffuse light – you can use supplemental lighting in winter to ensure that your plant thrives. If they get less light, they become disease prone.

Read more about Lucky Bamboo vs Bamboo – Which Bamboo Is The Best For You?


Can bamboo plants survive without sunlight?

No. They are plants, and the definition of a plant is that it is a photosynthetic organism that can capture the energy in sunlight and make sugars. If it has no sunlight it will starve.

Is it OK for bamboo plants to have wet feet?

This depends on the species. Some can tolerate it. Some will thrive. Some will die. Lucky bamboo can be grown in water. It is in fact not a bamboo at all, but it is often sold in water pots because this looks nice to some people.

Where should bamboo plants be placed in the house?

Near a window ideally to get diffuse light. Ensure they get at least 8 hours of indirect sunlight, with, ideally a bit of more direct light during that time.

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