Do Bamboo Plants Need Sunlight To Grow?

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.

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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.

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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. 


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 in order 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.