Gung Hay Fat Choi, Chinese New Year is here!

Typical "Lucky Bamboo" plants for sale in Hawaii. Photo: Ken Starr
Typical "Lucky Bamboo" plants for sale in Hawaii. Photo: Ken Starr

“Lucky Bamboo” plants for sale in Hawaii. Photo: Ken Starr

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese observe a lunar calendar, meaning each month begins when the night sky is darkest, on the new moon. The New Year starts with the first new moon and ends with the full moon 15 days later. This year, Chinese New Year falls on Thursday, February 19. We begin the year 4713.

We love holidays at Good Earth Plants and Greenscaped Buildings. Who doesn’t? And being plantscaping professionals, we always associate holidays with the plants that represent the occasion.

The plant associated with Chinese and Chinese New Year is something most people know as “Lucky Bamboo.” You see it sold everywhere this way, but it’s not really a bamboo plant at all. It’s Dracaena sanderiana, related to the common Dracaena houseplant, including the one usually called a Corn Plant.

We know bringing any plants into the home or workplace is a health benefit. Chinese culture is way ahead of us on this. The lucky bamboo is one of the most popular feng shui cures. In traditional feng shui, the lucky bamboo is used to attract health, happiness, love and abundance. The feng shui lucky bamboo is commonly used in both home and office feng shui design.

These lucky little beauties are easy to grow and take care of, but although fairly tolerant they do need minimum light and attention to thrive. Dracaena sanderiana can be grown on soil or in water. When growing in water (hydroponically) to flush the water regularly and have proper drainage. Doing this will prevent algae growth. Try to avoid using tap water; if you must, let it stand overnight before adding it to your plant.

Your indoor lucky bamboo is considered most lucky when it includes all five feng shui elements:

  • Wood: the bamboo itself
  • Earth: the rocks the Bamboo grows in
  • Water: the water the Bamboo grows with
  • Fire: most pots have a red ribbon tied to them to symbolize fire
  • Metal: glass pots belong to the feng shui Metal element. If your plant is in a clay or ceramic pot, it will usually have either a metal coin or a metal figurine with it.

The number of bamboo stalks all have a meaning depending on what positive energy you want to attract:

  • Two for Love and Marriage
  • Three for Happiness
  • Five for Health
  • Eight for Wealth and Abundance
  • Nine for Good Fortune
Lucky Bamboo display at a spa with five stalks signifying Health. Photo: Uwe Aranas

Lucky Bamboo display at a spa with five stalks signifying Health. Photo: Uwe Aranas

Don’t ever use four bamboo stalks. In the Chinese language, the word used as four sounds very similar to the word used for death. You will never find a four-stalked bamboo plant in the Chinese culture. Be sure never to give four bamboo stalks as a gift. It is considered rude and means you’re giving the recipient a death wish.

Be careful when having these plants around your pets, no matter the number. According to the ASPCA, Dracaena sanderiana is toxic to dogs and cats, not so lucky for them.

When your Lucky Bamboo/Dracaena gets too tall and looks leggy, don’t fret. The canes can be cut off and new leaves will grow. Your cuttings can be used to establish new plants. After the stalks have been cut, plant them in soil or water and voila, you have a new Dracaena.

We are entering the Year of the Goat. According to the blog FengShuiPolice, if you were born in the Year of the Rat, you are in for a great Year of the Goat, especially if you introduce potted plants into your living room.