Does Bamboo Need Soil to Grow? – An In-depth Look

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Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Griselda M.

Does bamboo need soil to grow, or can you just plant it inside a glass of water, and it will thrive? This answer is not straightforward. But yes, you can do this planting method for a while, but eventually, it does need some nutrients, ideally from the soil. Let us explore this topic in a bit more depth.

Bamboo refers to a large group of grass family plants in the Bambusoideae grass subfamily. There are about 1000 species spread over 91 genera, so this is a really broad and diverse group of plants. What this means is that, if you can come up with a rule that applies to all these plants, known collectively as bamboo, that allows you to grow them in one or another specific way, then you are a superhuman worthy of elevation to higher status! However, some bamboo-like varieties are sold as novelty plants that are pretty tough and able to grow in water for a while.

Is Lucky Bamboo a Bamboo?

I like to go on about this, but common names are really bad. There is a plant called “Lucky Bamboo.” This is not actually a bamboo plant at all, but it looks a bit like bamboo. It is in fact Dracaena sanderiana.

Lucky Bamboo is often seen in little vases with water in them. Typically, these types are fed plant nutrients to keep them alive. It is most likely that you found this page trying to find out how to grow lucky bamboo.

Lucky Bamboo is Often Sold in Vases Where They Grow in Water

Lucky Bamboo (which is not bamboo) is sold in these little water containers. In this regard, we will refer to both lucky bamboo and real bamboo in water in this article. Does Bamboo Need Soil To Grow

Does Bamboo Need Soil to Grow?

No! Most plants can be grown without soil – this is broadly referred to as “hydroponics”.  Most plants need some type of support for their roots, and they need nutrients in the water to stay alive.

Lucky bamboo produces quite stiff roots, and these allow the plant to be able to stand up using the roots as support. In this regard, lucky bamboo is widely sold in glass containers – sometimes, the plants are bent in a spiral at the base to create support. Some vendors sell bundles of lucky bamboo that can be placed in a glass vase and grown in water.

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What Type of Nutrients Does Hydroponic Bamboo Plants Need?

Lucky bamboo plants need a small nutrient dose of a hydroponic solution such as this. Follow the dosing instructions. I generally use rainwater, or, if you cannot get this bottled drinking water – if you have tap water, it can have chlorine or quite high levels of salts that can interfere with the health of your plants. When providing nutrients to lucky bamboo growing in water, I would suggest adding 20% less than what is recommended and working the dose upwards slowly until your plants look perfect. It is easier to add nutrients than to subtract them.

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Does Bamboo Need Soil Or Rocks to Grow?

Many people who grow lucky bamboo will add pebbles to the glass vase/pot or various other supports. If you want to make your life a whole lot easier, you can even plant your lucky bamboo in well-drained potting soil. Plants always grow better in soil, as soil supports microbial life, and this supports your plants.

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Does Bamboo Grow Better in Soil Or Water?

As a rule of thumb, most plants tend to grow better in soil. Hydroponics is one of those hobbies that can become addictive, and hydroponics fans are always very proud of what they do. However, soil just produces better effects on plants – soil has microbial activity, organic matter, and small and big particles, and it releases nutrients differently than how nutrients are available if we just grow plants in water.

If you can grow a plant in soil, do so. It is less stressful, a lot less fiddly, and plants thrive in good soil, as they have always done on Earth, long before we arrived on the scene with crazy ideas such as, “Hmm, I wonder if I can grow plants without soil?” So yes, you can grow a plant without soil, but the plant can grow itself with soil, and this means you have a lot less work to do.

Does Bamboo Need a Lot of Water?

So, does bamboo need a lot of water? The answer is yes; bamboo plants prefer plenty of water to thrive. Therefore, when watering bamboo, you should endure that it is soaked to at least 8 to 12 inches into the soil. However, the soil that your bamboo is planted in should also have excellent drainage properties to protect the plant roots. This is because standing water can be harmful to your plant. If you have potted bamboo, then drainage holes in the container are essential.

This will ensure that excess moisture escapes from the bottom of the plant pot. Overall, the weather plays an important role when it comes to watering plants. So, depending on the weather conditions in your region, knowing how much water does bamboo need and how often to feed your plant moisture is essential.

For the most part, watering once or twice a week in areas with moderate weather conditions is advised. For hot and dry regions, bamboo watering should be done every two to three days or as needed. 

How to Repot Lucky Bamboo Plant in Rocks?

Knowing how to repot the lucky bamboo plants in rocks can prove advantageous. This is because these plants grow very well when they are planted in small stones and pebbles. Keep in mind that when I say small stone, I do not refer to dirt. The stones aid in keeping your lucky bamboo plant upright when it is growing. The use of bottled or distilled water is also best for lucky bamboo plants to thrive, even after repotting them. Follow the repotting instructions below to transfer your lucky bamboo successfully.

What you will need:

  • A plant pot, decorative or plain.
  • Water
  • Rocks
  • A cloth 


Step 1: Clean and fill

Fill up a third of your plant pot with rocks after you have cleaned them with running water. You can use a scrub brush to get rid of any matted dirt.

Step 2: Water

You can now pour water into the pot until it reaches the halfway mark. It is best to use distilled or rainwater when doing this, as chlorine or fluoride-filled water is not recommended. However, if you only have access to tap water, then fill up a dish and let it rest for a full day which will aid in chlorine evaporation.

Step 3: Accommodate your canes

You can now firmly place your lucky bamboo canes into the rocks, ensuring that they are standing upright. If you don’t get the canes to stand upright, then you can move the rock around to support them. Keep in mind that the canes must be about two inches under the water’s surface.

Step 4: Sunlight

You can now place your lucky bamboo plant in a well-lit area, remembering to shield it from direct sunlight.

Step 5: Water change

Remember that you should change the water in the plant container at least once every week. 

bamboo Water change

What Type of Soil Does Bamboo Need?

It is essential to know what type of soil does bamboo need to ensure that it grows its best. These plants do best in fertile soil that has exceptional drainage properties. Additionally, the soil for bamboo plants should also be neutral to slightly acidic as it is preferred by the plant. If you have deficient soil, then amending it to enhance its structure is highly advised. This gesture will ensure that your bamboo plant reaches its full growth potential.

Here are a few tips for the type of soil that is ideal for bamboo:

  • Sandy and alkaline soils

You can improve this type of soil for bamboo by amending it with the addition of organic materials. These include peat, compost, manure, bark chips, or naturalized sawdust. Adding these materials will aid in improving moisture retention and adding nutrients. To reduce soil acidity to a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, the addition of lime is recommended.

  • Clay soils

Adding sand and organic matter to clay soil will improve drainage so that your bamboo plant will not encounter root damage because of excess water.

  • Potting Mixes

Using a good commercial or nursery potting mix is advised for potted bamboo plants.

Bamboo Root System Depth

When it comes to the bamboo root system depth, you may be surprised to know that it is quite shallow. The bamboo rhizomes only populate the soil in the top six inches. Additionally, all the other bamboo roots reach no further than around 14 inches in depth. However, running bamboo plants produce an excessive amount of runners and, therefore, usually become root bound much quicker than other varieties.

This is why when you are caring for bamboo in pots, allow for additional room for root growth. In other words, the bigger the pot, the better the chances of root development and enhanced growth. Keep in mind that bamboo groves last a long time and can be around for more than a hundred years if well looked after.

While some may see an average can last for about 15 years or so, keep in mind that this will depend on the plant species. Also, in the absence of sunlight, you can expect starter plants to diminish much faster.


So does bamboo need soil? No, it can be grown hydroponically – in which case, make sure to buy a specialized nutrient solution to mix into the water.

Change the water weekly/bi-weekly to avoid it getting depleted in nutrients or overgrown with bacteria and algae. If you get bored feeding and rinsing roots, transplant your lucky bamboo to a pot with soil, and it will grow very well. It will grow better in soil than in the hydroponic setup and will take a lot less of your time to develop.


Does bamboo grow in pots?

Yes. Lucky bamboo is actually not a bamboo, but is sold as lucky bamboo and grows well in pots.

How deep should a bamboo planter be?

For lucky bamboo, which is in fact not bamboo, you can get away with quite small pots. I tend to always like to give my plants a bit of root space, and hence would not suggest a planter of less than 2 gallons for your bamboo plant.

How big does bamboo grow?

Bamboo can get huge - but if you came to this article you are probably researching lucky bamboo that does not get very big - a few feet tall at maximum.

Does bamboo need fertilizer?

If you are growing lucky bamboo in water, it will need a bit of hydroponic nutrient. if you are growing it in soil, a little bit of fertilizer, preferably organic slow release, can help.

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