Why Is My Bamboo Stalk Turning Yellow?

The bamboo plant, also known as lucky bamboo, is commonly grown indoors to improve the décor and add a rustic feel to the home.

The popular belief is that it brings good luck and fortune making it a great gift for friends and family.

When the stalk and leaves start turning yellow, there is certainly nothing lucky about the situation.

As a matter of fact, in most cases, yellowing bamboo stalks signify bad luck and a downturn in fortunes to the plant.

And logical questions like, ‘Why is my bamboo stalk turning yellow?’ shows an appropriate level of concern that demands answers to something that could be fatal.

In this article, we would look at all the likely reasons why bamboo stalks turn yellow. The article also includes some preventive measures and solutions to the problem.

Why Is My Bamboo Stalk Turning Yellow

Bamboo, like most houseplants, can be kept healthy by sticking to a simple care and maintenance routine.

Hardy in agricultural zones 9 -12, they are frequently grown directly in water or standard well-draining potting soil.

Your bamboo stalks would turn yellow due to several factors.

When it happens and the stalk is completely yellow from the top to the base, you can pretty much write it off; at this point, there is literary nothing you can do to revive the plant.

However, there is still a route to reviving the bamboo if parts of the stalk are still green.

This is a form of lucky bamboo regeneration that should produce new, healthy plants.

We would discuss how this can be done later. First, let’s look at the reasons your bamboo stalks are turning yellow.

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Reason Your Bamboo Stalk is Turning Yellow


Over-watering is frequently the cause of serious problems like root rot. When bamboo roots are affected by rot, one of the symptoms includes yellowing of the leaves and stalks.

Bamboo grown in soil should only be watered when the soil is relatively dry.

How often you water bamboo depends on the weather conditions and the season. In the growing season, the plants need more water especially when the weather is hot and dry.

That said, to avoid over-watering, it is best to test the soil moisture using your fingers or a soil moisture probe.

If the test indicates that the soil is dry or low in moisture, simply water the soil until the excess drains out of the holes at the bottom.

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Type of water used

Treated tap water typically contains fluorides or chlorides.

Bamboos are very sensitive to these salts; the bamboo stalks turning yellow is a reaction to the concentrator of these salts in the soil.

Before the problem gets out of hand, there are a couple of things you can do to save the plant.

First, you want to flush the salts out of the soil.

Simply drench the soil with distilled water until the excess starts coming out of the drainage holes.

The water-soluble salts would be diluted by the water and hopefully would leave the soil via the drainage holes.

Flush the soil about two or three more times to be sure. But you have to wait about a week between each flushing session.

This allows the soil to dry out; you don’t want the roots to sit in soggy soil for too long which can lead to root rot.

Secondly, quit using tap water and switch to safer alternatives. Safe water for bamboo includes distilled water, spring water, and rainwater.

If you have a huge storage drum/tank, you can harvest and store rainwater when it rains.

This way, you’d have a cheap supply of the right type of water that you could use for a long time.

Then consider switching to either distilled or spring water when you’ve exhausted the rainwater in the storage tank.

If your only option is using tap water, try out this easy DIY water treatment that has worked for many folks.

Before using the water to irrigate your bamboo, allow it to sit in a container for at least a day. Hopefully, most of these chemicals would evaporate.

If the bamboo is grown in water, some remedial or preventive actions to take include:

  • Changing the water every week or couple of weeks
  • Clean the container and pebbles frequently (at least every two months) to prevent the buildup of harmful microorganisms such as algae

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Too much fertilizer

Over-fertilizing is another factor that would stress the bamboo. Bamboo doesn’t require nutrient supplements to thrive.

If you have been fertilizing more than once a year, too much fertilization is most likely the reason the stalks are turning yellow.

Basically, excess fertilizer burns the roots impairing normal root functions. The stalks and leaves turn yellow as a result.

If you are guilty of over-fertilizing your bamboo, The first thing to do is to quit doing it. Bamboo can survive for years with fertilizer in good soil. Also, you might to transplant it into fresh soil.

Keep in mind that replanting to fresh soil can be a hit or miss if the entire stalk is yellow. This fix just gives the plant a shot at surviving.

Lighting problem

Bamboos are happiest when exposed to bright indirect light. When the stalks become yellow, you might want to check the plant’s level of exposure to light in its current location.

This problem cuts both ways. The bamboo would turn yellow when it is exposed to too much direct sunlight or left in a low-light area.

Moving the plant to a different location is the best solution while sheltering the plant from direct sunlight is another option if it can’t be moved.

However, this would only prevent the problem from getting worse and the bamboo stalk would not turn yellow again.

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Bamboo thrives best in environments with comparatively high relative humidity.

Humidity levels lower than 40% can hinder growth and one of the first symptoms would be the yellowing of the leaves.

Ultimately, if the problem isn’t taken care of, the stalks also turn yellow.

In terms of temperature, the ideal range for optimal growth is between 65 – 95°F.

Outside this range, the leaves and later the stalks would begin to turn yellow.

If you suspect that the air around your bamboo is too dry, consider placing the pot in a tray filled with water.

However, ensure the pot does not sit directly on the water. You can place the pot on large pebbles or stones to make sure of that.

You could also get and use a humidifier or even mist the plant every couple of days to rectify the low-humidity situation.

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How To Save Bamboo With Yellowing Stalk

To be clear, there is probably nothing you can do if the stalk is completely yellow.

In such instances, you need to uproot the plant and dispose of it immediately because it is already dead.

Saving the plant depends on what part of the stalk is turning yellow, the extent of the problem, and the condition of the roots.

The first thing to do when it comes to saving bamboo with yellowing stalk is to examine the stalk. The aim is to determine if the yellowing is starting from the top or the bottom of the stalk.

If the yellowing stalk shows a bottom-up progression, the causative factor could either be contaminated water or contaminated rock, or both for bamboo grown in water.

You can mitigate the problem by simply changing the water; then disinfect the container and rocks by washing them with dishwashing soap solution or any mild soap.

Dry the rocks and container before replanting the bamboo using distilled water.

For bamboo grown in soil, you want to check if the roots are healthy or not by carefully uprooting the plant and examining the root system.

Healthy roots are typically reddish or yellowish while diseased roots tend to be very dark with a bad smell.

Cut out the roots that are bad and repot the plant in fresh potting soil in a new pot. Or you could wash the old pot with mild disinfectant before using it to repot the bamboo.

However, if all parts of the root system are bad, the only solution is to dispose of the bamboo and soil.

On the other hand, if you have a top-down bamboo stalk yellowing (yellowing starts from the top), simply cut off the top part.

The bottom green part might sprout new growth if you water and take care of the bamboo correctly.

After cutting out the top yellow part,  seal the top of the healthy stalk with candle wax to prevent infection.

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Wrapping up

Bamboo, commonly called lucky bamboo, is a tropical plant that can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

Young bamboo requires very little in terms of care to grow into a healthy plant with fleshy green stalks and leaves. Problems are usually rare.

The stalk turning yellow is a problem that could occur as a result of serious deviation from the proper care routine.

Whether or not the problem ultimately proves fatal depends on the severity and whether the right solutions are applied.

The remedies, in most cases, are simply about ensuring the right growing conditions are restored. That said, the yellow bamboo stalk can never become green again.