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Lucky Bamboo – Why Is It a Lucky Symbol?

The lucky bamboo has invaded thousands of homes as a popular house plant, but do you know what exactly makes this plant special? In this article, we’ll trace the roots of how the lucky bamboo became a symbol of luck not just in Asia but also in the rest of the world.

What Exactly Is Lucky Bamboo?

lucky bamboo vs bamboo

Lucky bamboos are not exactly a type of bamboo. These are actually stalks of Dracaena sanderiana or Dracaena braunii which are native to the West African region. In fact, they are more related to asparagus than bamboo.

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Ancient Chinese people mistook the Dracaena plants for bamboo because their stalks pretty much look alike. In China, the lucky bamboo is called Fu Gwey Zhu which literally means ‘lucky and powerful bamboo.’ This could be because of the plant’s reputation for resilience and overcoming adversity. In other words, the lucky bamboo doesn’t die easily and can overcome many punishing conditions, from being twisted into shapes to surviving without water or bouncing back from fungal infections.

It’s also a beautiful plant and many find it relaxing and calming to have lucky bamboo in their homes. The plant’s gentle movements, beautiful color, and strong growth are all plus points for a house plant.

History of the Lucky Bamboo

While almost any house plant can bring good health benefits to humans living near it, the lucky bamboo is believed to be an actual cure in Ancient China. Its history dates back over 5,000 years with the practice of Feng Shui.

Feng Shui is a traditional practice in China that believes in the harmony of energy forces present in our surroundings. It deals with how these energies, known as ‘chi’, travel around a particular area. Feng Shui obsesses over how certain items and fixtures should be placed in order to attract more luck. The better the feng shui, the better the luck it brings to an individual, a family, or an entire community.

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Meaning and Symbolism

Lucky bamboo in a natural bamboo cube
Lucky bamboo plant surrounded by river rocks. Check the price on Teleflora.

The lucky bamboo is one of the most popular feng shui items. Why? Because if planted correctly, it could represent all 5 elements of feng shui which are as follows:

  • Wood – The lucky bamboo plant itself represents the wood element.
  • Earth – A lucky bamboo plant does not use regular loam soil. Instead, it uses rocks to represent the earth.
  • Water – The water used to nourish the lucky bamboo plant itself obviously represents this element.
  • Fire – To represent fire, a lucky bamboo must be tied with a red ribbon or something of a similar color. 
  • Metal – Most of the time, lucky bamboo is planted in glass pots to symbolize the metal element. However, if the house plant is placed in a ceramic pot, it should be planted either with a coin or a metal statue of the laughing Buddha.
lucky bamboo meaning

As stated earlier, the number of stalks present in a lucky bamboo plant bears importance because it is believed that each additional bamboo stalk brings a specific feng shui energy into your life. 

  • 1 stalk – This represents the lucky log, which symbolizes simplicity and truth.
  • 2 stalks – This represents love and marriage because the Chinese believe that all good things come in pairs. That’s why lucky bamboo with two stalks is generally given to newlywed couples.
  • 3 stalks – The Chinese believe that the number three represents happiness. It can also bring three kinds of luck including happiness, long life, and wealth. 
  • 5 stalks – When it has five stalks, the lucky bamboo can attract good fortune to five areas of your life. These include emotional, mental, and physical well-being, intuition, and spirituality. It also represents the 5 elements of Feng Shui.
  • 6 stalks – Six is a good number because it has a similar sound to the Chinese word for luck. Therefore, six lucky bamboo stalks attract wealth.
  • 7 stalks – This number of lucky bamboo stalks bestows good health to whoever uses it. 
  • 8 stalks – This symbolizes growth and fertility.
  • 9 stalks – A 9-stalked lucky bamboo plant grants good luck. 
  • 10 stalks – Anyone who receives a lucky bamboo with 10 stalks should know that the sender wants him/her to feel complete and whole.
  • 21 stalks – This blesses you and your entire family’s enduring health. 
  • 88 stalks – The double eight counts for double blessings and joy. 
  • 99 stalks – This is believed to help relationships among couples last longer. 
  • 289 stalks – Maximizes the power of attraction of the plant to bring good fortune.
  • 888 stalks – Three eights, triple the wealth and good luck that a person could achieve in a lifetime. 
Lucky bamboo in a ceramic container
Lucky bamboo by Proflowers. Check the price here.

The number of stalks present in a lucky bamboo plant isn’t the only thing you must consider. The layers or shapes of bamboo also have different meanings.

  • Tower – Lucky bamboo towers are popular pieces at home because it symbolizes a brighter future. 
  • Braided – This brings good news in terms of life and career. 
  • Woven Trellis – This type of lucky bamboo shape helps ward off negativity.

Now, keep in mind that you must not buy a lucky bamboo that has four stalks or four layers. In Chinese culture, the number four is considered unlucky because it symbolizes death.

No matter how it is planted and arranged or how many stalks it has, lucky bamboo still symbolizes these important values:

  • Good Health – A lucky bamboo plant kept in the Eastern part of a home or building attracts good health.
  • Prosperity and Wealth – If the lucky bamboo is placed in the southeast direction, it attracts prosperity and wealth for the family
  • Harmony – The lucky bamboo itself brings harmony because it has all five elements of Feng Shui. 
  • Strength and Resilience – The Chinese associate these qualities with bamboo because of the way it can adapt to changing times.

Lucky Bamboo in Jewelry

Since the lucky bamboo is an item believed to attract various kinds of luck and good fortune, it is used quite frequently as a pendant and amulet for necklaces and bracelets. Designs featuring the texture and leaves of lucky bamboo make for stylish bohemian jewelry. Whether or not you believe in the symbolism of the plant, lucky bamboo jewelry can be appreciated by anyone. Lucky bamboo is also a popular tattoo design, as it can be incorporated in many ways.

In Brief

The Lucky Bamboo is one special charm originating from Chinese Feng Shui that can be used to attract all kinds of luck, from love and prosperity, all the way to harmony and good health. Although it is more popular as a house plant, some people use lucky bamboo as pendants and amulets to bring luck everywhere they go. Whether or not you subscribe to the beliefs surrounding the lucky bamboo, the plant itself is beautiful and relaxing to have in your home.

To learn more about other lucky symbols, check out our articles on lucky goldfish, acorns, dreamcatchers, and horseshoes.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.