Fast Feng Shui Newsletter
In this issue:
How to Choose and Care for Lucky Bamboo
Bamboo is a symbol of luck and success because of its rapid growth, strength and fortitude. One reason Lucky Bamboo is so popular is its reputation for being low-maintenance and pretty much “idiot-proof”: in other words, it’s the perfect plant for people who know nothing about plants or who don’t have the time or inclination to care for them. Its hardiness also means Lucky Bamboo is well-suited for spaces with little or no natural light. Plus -- although you can spend hundreds of dollars on a large, complex arrangement if you want to -- a small pot with just 3-5 stalks costs as little as $10 and takes up very little space on your desk.
If you plan to use any kind of plant as a feng shui cure, it’s important that it be strong and healthy. And, in spite of its reputation for being virtually care free, Lucky Bamboo is not indestructible. I know this because the first one I had turned “toes up” alarmingly quickly! After my “Unlucky Bamboo” experience, I decided I should learn what I was doing before getting a new plant. I’ve done my homework since then (and haven’t killed any more Lucky Bamboo!), and thought I would share what I’ve learned with you to ensure that your Lucky Bamboo continues to bring you good fortune for a very long time.
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Choosing a Lucky Bamboo Arrangement
If you are shopping at a plant nursery, garden center, or at Walmart, Home Depot, or any of the other zillion retailers carrying Lucky Bamboo these days, be sure to choose an arrangement with a bright green color and healthy leaves. Check to make sure the container is at least half-full of water, and try to see if there are some roots showing. Yellow or brown leaf tips, yellow stalks, bruising, or any sign of insect infestation indicates a less-than-healthy plant. If there’s soil in the pot, it should be moist -- not soaking wet or completely dried out. If you order or receive a Lucky Bamboo arrangement through the mail and it doesn’t look healthy when it arrives, contact the retailer immediately and arrange to exchange it.
Most Lucky Bamboo arrangements are grown hydroponically (in water), with small stones or marbles added to the pot for stability. The multiple stalks are often tied together with gold or red ribbon for additional good fortune. (If you find an arrangement you like that doesn’t have any ribbon, you can easily add some yourself when you get it home. Just be sure not to tie it too tightly, as that may damage the stalks.) Curly stalks are more expensive because they have to be grown into those curves; some people believe them to have stronger luck, probably because they cost more! You can train your straight Lucky Bamboo stalks into curls with proper conditions and a lot of patience. I’ll tell you how a little further on.
Water-grown Lucky Bamboo arrangements come in a ceramic or glass vase. The advantage of glass is you can see the rocks and water (and keep an eye on water level and quality more easily). The disadvantage is that if your arrangement will be getting more than minimal light it may trigger algae growth in the water. Algae need light to grown, so an opaque container is less likely to have this problem.
You may find Lucky Bamboo stalks for sale individually or in packets, unplanted, which means you can pick out your own container and stones (or marbles) and create your own arrangement. It also means you’ll have to root the stalks yourself, so unless you’ve successfully rooted and planted-up cuttings in the past you’re probably better off getting an arrangement already potted up.
Because Lucky Bamboo grows so well in water, you can even grow it in a water fountain! You’ll need a fountain with a not-too-shallow bowl, so the root end of the stalks is in about 2” of water. Use pebbles or marbles to hold the stalks in place.
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How Many Stalks to Get?
Each stalk of Lucky Bamboo grows separately, which allows for lots of flexibility in creating arrangements. More stalks create a larger, lusher, more stunning arrangement, and there’s certainly a “bigger is better” school of thought when it comes to Lucky Bamboo -- but larger groupings also cost more. Some of the more attractive arrangements I’ve seen have fewer stalks, so each one stands out individually. Whether you go for a great big grouping or a few slender stalks artfully arranged is a matter of personal preference and budget.
Different numbers of stalks are
thought to symbolize slightly different kinds of luck, so you can use
this information to help with your selection if you want (or just pick
an arragement that you like):
2 stalks = love
3 or 6 stalks = happiness
5 or 7 stalks = health
8 stalks = wealth
9 stalks = general good fortune
21 stalks = blessings
Bringing Your Lucky Bamboo Home
Moving to a new home can be a little bit stressful, even for resilient Lucky Bamboo. You can help it adjust to its new environment by placing it near a window where it be close to – but not directly in – bright light. Unless the water level is very low (or the soil is dry, if your plant is in soil) don’t water for two to three days. Allow the plant to adjust before giving it fresh water. If you plan to keep the plant somewhere with very little light, move it farther from the window for a couple of days before moving it to it’s final location.
Where to Keep It
You should know that the plant we call “Lucky Bamboo” is not bamboo at all; it’s Dracaena Sanderia -- which looks like bamboo -- and it can be poisonous to pets. If you have pets in the house, especially pets who like to chew on plants, you’ll want to keep your Lucky Bamboo where Fido and Fluffy can’t get at it. This may mean getting a smaller plant that will fit on a high shelf, rather than splurging on a large arrangement for your living room coffee table.
Other practical considerations include making sure the plants will not be in direct light, and that they won’t get too dry or too cold. In other words, avoid putting your Lucky Bamboo arrangement right in front of the heating or A/C vent or on your sunniest windowsill. While need to avoid these extremes, Lucky Bamboo will do fine just about anywhere else.
Since Lucky Bamboo can tolerate a wide range of living conditions, you have a lot of flexibility about where to display it. Because it’s a living plant, it makes a wonderful addition to the Wealth area(s) of your home or office, or you can place it on the far left corner of your desk – or anywhere that a wood-type cure or accessory is appropriate. Lucky Bamboo is also a good buffer to place in front of a sharp corner or point to protect you from “secret arrows.” It can be used to add yang energy anywhere you need to activate stagnant chi.
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Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo
Like any other plant, Lucky Bamboo needs light, water, and nutrients to survive. It will do better with little attention than if you fuss over it, however. This plant likes to be admired but not pampered. Here are some guidelines to help you give it the best care:
LIGHT: Lucky Bamboo will do best with moderate levels of indirect light. In the natural world it grows in dense shade under the thick rainforest canopy of equatorial Africa. Direct light -- such as a sunny windowsill -- is too strong for it. Lucky Bamboo will tolerate little light more easily than too much light. You can even keep Lucky Bamboo in rooms with no natural light; just move it to a brighter (but not in direct light!) location for three or four days every few weeks. If you want your Lucky Bamboo to grow, however, it will need to be at the higher end of its light-range. It may survive very low light, but it won’t put out new leaves or get any taller.
WATER: Lucky Bamboo grows very well in water, but it doesn’t like the chemicals – chlorine and fluoride, to name just two – present in most tap water. Filtered water or rain water will keep your Lucky Bamboo healthy longer. If you don’t have a water filtration system, plan ahead and run tap water into a container the day before you water your Lucky Bamboo plants, and let it sit out, uncovered, at least overnight or for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to disperse.
Keep an eye on the water level in your Lucky Bamboo container, and add a little more as it gets down to about half-full; how often will depend on the size of your arrangement and the humidity in your home. Every week or so, pour all the water out and refill the container with fresh water.
If you happen to have an aquarium in your home, save some of the dirty aquarium water when you clean it, and use that to water your Lucky Bamboo. Your fish may be sensitive to all the microscopic stuff that builds up in the water, but your Lucky Bamboo will love it!
Lucky Bamboo grown in soil should be keep slightly moist, not soaking wet. Don’t allow it to dry out completely. And don’t go by whether or not the surface is dry – often the soil will still be damp a half-inch or so below the surface. Stick your finger in the soil: if it feels dry a full inch down, then it’s all right to water.
NUTRIENTS: Lucky Bamboo is pretty hardy, and often grows happily for years just in pure water, but it may need some kind of food eventually. If your plant gets spindly and pale after you’ve had it for a while, try moving it a little closer to a light source and give it some very diluted plant food. However, if it turns yellow shortly after you bring it home that’s usually a sign it was over-fertilized before you purchased it. Change the water immediately, and don’t fertilize at all for several months.
The best time to feed your Lucky Bamboo is when you change the water. Just add a couple of drops of aquarium plant food to the water you use to refill the container. You can also use a very dilute solution of a standard plant food like Miracle Gro. For water-grown plants, that means using 1/10th the recommended strength (i.e., if it says 10 drops per gallon, use only 1 drop per gallon for your Lucky Bamboo). If your Lucky Bamboo is growing in soil, you can use a stronger solution.
Don’t feed every time you change the water! Every 2 months—or longer-- is often enough. Water-grown plants do not need to be fed as frequently as soil-grown plants, and feeding too much or too frequently is more harmful to plants than not feeding enough! Lucky Bamboo is naturally a very slow-growing plant, so don’t assume it needs to be fed just because it doesn’t seem to be growing.
Lucky Bamboo stalks are naturally straight. If you want curls, you have to encourage them by manipulating the plant’s position relative to its light source. To do this, you’ll need to place your plant where there is not much overall light, but with a strong light source from one side (remember, don’t place your plant in direct sunlight!). Even better, cut the end and one side from a cardboard box larger than your arrangement, and set it over the entire thing so the open side is toward a window and the other three sides and top are shaded. After a while, you’ll notice that the stalk(s) are starting to turn or bend toward the light. Once a definite bend to the stalk can be seen, turn the plant slightly by rotating the pot an inch or so. The plant will keep growing toward the light, and if you keep rotating the pot from time to time eventually you will have a spiraling stalk. Lucky Bamboo is a slow grower (usually only 1”-3” a year), so this will take some time!
After sharing so much advice, this seems like a good time to remind you that – compared to most plants – Lucky Bamboo really is easy to care for. Just give it clean water, indirect light, and little bit of plant food from time to time. In case your plant needs some extra attention, though, here are some signs of trouble and what you should do if you see them:
- Leaf tips turning brown: fluoride in the water, or the air is too dry. Try switching to distilled or filtered water if you’ve been using tap water. If you’ve been using a fertilizer (not too often, I hope!), change the water and skip the plant food for several months. Low humidity can also cause the leaf tips to turn brown; remember that this is a tropical plant, so it likes high humidity. This doesn’t mean you need to water more frequently; it’s the leaf tips that are drying out, not the roots. Fill a plastic squirt-bottle with water and mist the leaves every day to keep them healthy.
- Leaves turning yellow: too much light or too much fertilizer. Change the water immediately, move the container further from the light, and don’t feed at all for several months.
- Stalks turning yellow from the bottom: too much fertilizer. Sadly, there’s probably little you can do at this point. Change the water and don’t feed, and there’s a (slim) chance the plant may recover. You can also cut off the stalks above the yellow part and root the tops. If one stalk turns yellow and the others look fine, just remove that one from the arrangement.
- Stalks turn brown or mushy: the roots have rotted, probably from overfeeding, or from overwatering soil-grown plants. You can’t save the bottom, but you can cut off any healthy tops and regrow them.
- Insects (or larvae in the water, or white sticky-looking stuff on the stalks): remove the stalks from the container and soak them in soapy water (regular dish detergent is fine, a few drops is enough), then wipe each stalk and rinse well. Wash out the container and the rocks or marbles, and then replace the stalks and add fresh water.
- Algae growing in the water: too much light and/or fertilizer. An opaque container is better if you are using plant food. Wash everything (plant stalks, container, rocks) and start over with clean water. Keep glass containers away from bright locations.
If the Stalks Get Too Tall
With proper care, your Lucky bamboo may grow to be three feet tall. Lucky Bamboo likes to be crowded, so don’t be in a hurry to move your arrangement into a bigger pot. Besides, this plant grows up rather than out, so it will get too tall for the container long before it gets too fat for it. When it does get too tall, you can cut off each stalk an inch above one of the nodes (the raised rings that grow around the stalk), and it will regrow from there. Lightly misting the tops of the stalks with water can encourage new growth – but wait a few days before doing this, so the cut surface has a chance to dry out first.
Don’t throw out those stalk-tops that you cut off! You can dip the cut end into rooting hormone powder (careful: rooting hormone is toxic, so be sure to read the instructions carefully and follow the safety precautions!) and let it dry overnight. Then set these sections in water and wait. Change the water from time to time just as you do for the original arrangement. Eventually you will see roots emerge, and you can create a new arrangement from these stalks… or give them to your friends.
Although Lucky Bamboo grows well in water, you may decide you’d like to grow yours in soil. If your Lucky Bamboo has been growing in water for a long time, it may not survive the transition to soil unless you keep it quite moist until the roots have adapted. Use a fast-draining soil mixture, and use lots of stones or crockery pieces in the bottom of a pot with ample drainage holes. If the soil does not drain well, the roots will rot. Lucky Bamboo likes to be crowded, so use a container that’s no more than about 2” larger than the stalk group.
Share the Good Chi!
If you truly believe that you have no luck with plants, and don’t want to risk bringing a Lucky Bamboo arrangement into your home (in fear that it may soon perish), keep in mind that they make excellent gifts for any occasion, and are considered especially fortunate for a house-warming or business grand-opening celebration. You can have the pleasure of picking out an especially lovely arrangement, then give it to your friend who just bought a new house and let some of that “good luck” chi rub off on you. Just be sure to give her a copy of this article so she can keep her Lucky Bamboo arrangement healthy and beautiful!
Copyright © 2005 Stephanie
All rights reserved
Perfect as a gift for yourself or others. Here's a site that has a unique selection of lucky bamboos (click on the 'Bonsai, bamboos, etc.' link at the navigation column on th left). They offer same-day shipping. More
Photo #1 - FTD.com; Photo #2 - redenvelope.com
AUGUST GIVE-AWAY WINNERS
Congratulations to Breanah S., Maritza K., and Victoria W., who each received a f'r'e'e copy of our Peach Blossom Luck ebook! Watch for a new give-away in our next issue.
For more information on "Peach Blossom Luck" visit our Peach Blossom Luck web page.
Feng Shui Q+A
(Most questions will have been edited for clarity and length, and any identifying details have been changed. Please note that due to the high volume of email I receive, it is no longer possible for me to respond to every question personally. I still welcome your questions, and if I cannot provide a personal response I will try to address your issue in a future Q+A column.)
Q: : "I read your "Peach Blossom
Luck" ebook and placed my vase of flowers on Friday. It's now Monday
and no men have presented themselves to me. No phone ringing, no man
showing me extra attention. I haven't been on a date since February,
and that was a blind date that went nowhere. I don't mean to sound
desperate here, but I sure would like more men in my life. How long
does this start to get things moving?"
A: Well, I have to say you do sound a little desperate -- or at least impatient!
What I hear you asking is, "Why isn't this working for me yet? When will it happen? How can I make it happen faster? When will I see results?"
The universe is friendly and cooperative, but it does not respond well to nagging!
You must understand that you and your emotions are the single strongest influence on your space and on your experience - stronger than any feng shui cure. If you choose to use the Peach Blossom method you have to trust that it will work for you, then get out of the way! That means: NOT pushing and wanting and wondering and worrying. All of those feelings will just slow things down, and may interfere completely. Diana Ross was right when she sang, "You can't hurry love/ No, you just have to wait / You got to trust, give it time / No matter how long it takes."
How well this method works for you depends greatly on how well you work WITH it. Wishing, wanting, worrying, niggling, wondering, and pushing for it to happen NOW all work AGAINST the method, not with it.
How quickly this method works for you is not something you can control. Do the cure, trust that it will work, then go on about your life without obsessing about it. At the same time, do what you can to create opportunities. The cure may be working, but if you're just sitting home alone -- instead of getting out there and socializing, or going for a walk in the park, or browsing in a bookstore, or going to a cafe for a coffee -- how do you expect to connect with anyone? How can anyone call you if they don't have your phone number? How can anyone ask you out if you're not out there first where they can meet you?
I also wonder if you are doing any other feng shui to assist with relationships. The Peach Blossom Method is effective, but it's just one strategy. If you are serious about using feng shui to help turn your love life around, there's a lot more you can be doing. The more methods you employ, the more likely it is that something will work for you, right?
Remember, feng shui isn't just about adding cures; it's also about removing or correcting any feng shui problems with your space, so your cures and enhancements can do their work.
Clutter Clearing Tip
When the clutter-clearing bug bites, you'll probably start off at high speed with lots of enthusiasm and, more likely than not, with some unrealistic goals about how much you can accomplish in a short period of time. Inevitably, the day will come when suddenly you feel exhausted. That's normal, so don't feel you have to keep going at top speed until it's all done. Take a break when you need to, and be alert to exhaustion that's a sign of emotional resistance, not just physical fatigue. Clutter-clearing often brings buried emotions to the surface. Slow down when you have to, and use a journal or notebook to explore any issues that come up for you. Don't give up!
"I've had my money's worth already
even though I've only tried a little bit of Lesson 1, because the
empathy helped me face the discomfort and confusion of sorting and
throwing away rather than doing something else that seemed more
important all the time."
~ Clutter-Free Forever! support group member
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We're heading to the mainland at the end of August for vacation and to visit with family. This means we will not be publishing an early-September newsletter. The next issue will go out sometime in mid- or late- September, depending on how long it takes us to catch up on everything that piles up while we're away. "A hui ho!"
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND EDITIONS NOW AVAILABLE!!!
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This newsletter is published approximately twice a month. If you missed our previous issues, you can read them here.
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(c) 2005 Stephanie Roberts. All rights reserved.
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