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Lucky Bamboo Turning Brown (Causes and Treatment)

Even though lucky bamboos are nearly indestructible, they can still become ill. Lucky bamboo turning brown is a common occurrence, significantly if it’s growing in water or if you’ve neglected it.

While this is entirely natural, various factors can cause your lucky bamboo to turn brown.

When lucky bamboo turns brown, it frequently indicates a problem with the water supply. If your lucky bamboo grows in water, prune out the affected leaves before changing the water. Watering should be adjusted accordingly, and chemicals should be flushed out to grow in soil. Other possible causes include insufficient lighting, low humidity, pest infestation, and heat stress.

Keep reading to find out how to identify each problem and fix it.

Can Lucky Bamboo Leaves Turn Brown Naturally?

Yes, as they grow older, lucky bamboo leaves begin to brown and eventually die.

It’s important to remember that lucky bamboos aren’t actually bamboos. But, as with other dracaena plants, they have a similar growth pattern and life cycle.

Since your lucky bamboo has a natural life cycle, its leaves are more likely to die and fall off as a result. In the same way as other dracaena plants, older lucky bamboo leaves first turn a pale yellow, then turn brown from the tips down, and eventually fall off. After about two years, this usually occurs.

Lower-leaf browning is a sure sign that this is the case. But, lucky for you, it’s scarce for all the leaves on your plant to turn brown simultaneously. Why? Because new leaves will spring up to replace the ones that are dying.

Note that lucky bamboos grown in water will experience before browning and death of leaves. So for the first year or two, your lucky bamboo will flourish without soil, but after that, it will start to dwindle.

It isn’t much you can do to prevent the natural browning of old leaves. First, remove them and cut them off before they fall into the water and become a source of bacterial growth.

Is Brown Lucky Bamboo Dead?

Lucky Bamboo Turning Brown

Not always. As long as you act quickly, a lucky bamboo with brown leaves will likely survive.

Solve the issue as quickly as possible, whether it’s low humidity, poor lighting, sunburn, fertilizer burn, or excessive levels of harsh chemicals in the water.

But if the stems of the lucky bamboo are brown or yellow, they’re a goner. Despite your best efforts, it is likely to succumb to death.

Take it out of an arrangement if it is there, so it doesn’t spread to other shoots. If you want to save it, you must cut the affected stems as far back as possible.

Can You Revive Brown Lucky Bamboo?

Yes and no — while you won’t be able to resurrect a dead lucky bamboo, you might be able to save a struggling brown plant. For one thing, restoring a lucky bamboo with brown leaves is more likely than one with brown stems.

Here’s how to save it:

  1. Remove the brown or yellow sections of the leaves because they are dead and will not regenerate. Using a sharp, sterile knife, pruning shears, or scissors, snip them off.
  2. Remove and dispose of any leaves and plant debris on the soil surface or in the water, as they can introduce harmful fungi and bacteria.
  3. If you’re growing your lucky bamboo in water, change the water and thoroughly clean the container. After that, every 7-10 days, change the water in the container. Instead of tap water, use bottled, filtered, or distilled water.
  4. Remove your brown lucky bamboo, thoroughly rinse the roots, and grow your plant in water instead of repotting with a new potting mix if it is growing in soil.
  5. Consider moving your lucky bamboo to a bright, out-of-the-way location where the temperature stays between 65-85°F (18-29°C).
  6. Fertilize a brown lucky bamboo sparingly because additional fertilizer salts may cause more leaf tip burn.

Poor Water Quality Causing Leaf Burn and Browning

Lucky bamboo appreciates water, but not all types of water. Fluoride, chlorine, and other tap water chemicals are toxic to all dracaena plants.

These chemicals are phytotoxic to lucky bamboos, which means they kill leaf tissue, causing the leaves to brown and eventually killing your plant.


First, remove any affected leaves with a sharp, sterilized pruner or knife. These brown leaves won’t grow back.

To combat tooth decay among their residents, most city municipalities in the United States fluoridate their water supply. As a result, bottled, filtered, or distilled water should be used to water your lucky bamboo instead of tap water.

Growing your lucky bamboo with the help of rainwater can be helpful. (Source: University of Arkansas System)

Low Humidity Causes Lucky Bamboo Leaves To Dry Out And Brown

Lucky Bamboo Leaves Drying Out Due to Low Humidity
Lucky Bamboo Leaves Drying Out Due to Low Humidity

Your lucky bamboo will suffer from leaf tip burn and turn brown if your home’s humidity level is too low. A drafty window, heating vent, AC unit, or another cold/hot draft will make this more of an issue.

Low humidity likely is to blame for your lucky bamboo’s browning leaf tips if the margins of its leaves are still green but drying out. Even though it is infrequent, a lack of humidity can cause leaf spots to turn black or brown.

How to Fix Lucky Bamboo Turning Brown from Low Humidity

The area around your brown lucky bamboo is too dry and crispy if the leaves are drying out. You can increase your plant’s humidity levels in a variety of ways:

  • Mist your lucky bamboo occasionally with water
  • Set your lucky bamboo in a shallow humidity tray of water and small pebbles
  • Group your houseplants together
  • Set up a houseplant-friendly humidifier (Check the latest price on Amazon here).
  • Don’t place your lucky bamboo near drafty areas.

Improper Watering is Causing Leaf Damage and Browning

Lucky Bamboo Root Rot Due to Overwatering
Lucky Bamboo Root Rot Due to Overwatering

An underwatered or overwatered lucky bamboo will often show brown leaf tips. As a result, leaf damage can be caused by too little or too much water.

Your lucky bamboo will suffer root rot and oxygen deprivation (aka drowning) if you give it too much water. Thus, if the plant’s roots are damaged or diseased, nutrients will not reach the leaves, causing them to be brown and die down the tips.

Due to a lack of nutrients and water, an underwatered lucky bamboo will exhibit the same symptoms. The leaves will wilt, dry out, curl up, and turn brown from the bottom up.

How to Fix Brown Lucky Bamboo with Watering Problems

Your lucky bamboo will thrive if you establish a regular watering schedule. You should keep the soil of lucky bamboo moist but not soggy so that it succeeds.

  • If the pot is getting too thirsty, try soaking it in the sink or bathtub.
  • Before re-watering, you should wait for the soil to dry out.

Lucky Bamboo Leaf Tips Turning Brown due to Heat Stress

Lucky Bamboo Leaf Tips Turning Brown
Lucky Bamboo Leaf Tips Turning Brown

In the summer, lucky bamboos should be kept away from heat sources like heating vents, hot windowsills, and the outdoors. For the simple reason that hot, dry air and general heat stress cause leaves to brown, particularly at the tip of the leaf.

Low humidity, too much sunlight, or a lack of water are common causes. In addition, leaves can wrinkle, crunch, and eventually fall off when exposed to high temperatures or temperature stress.


  • Your lucky bamboo should be in a place where the temperature stays between 65-85°F (18-29°C).
  • Remove it from direct sunlight and drafty areas, such as fireplaces, heating vents, or hot windowsills.
  • Consider increasing watering if it is also wilting.
  • Use a grow fan (check Amazon for the latest price here) to introduce airflow around your lucky bamboo and keep it cool during the hottest days of the year.

Fertilizer Overdose

High fertilizer salts in the soil or water, like those found in chlorine or fluoride, can cause leaf tip burn. Salts in this situation will first damage roots via reverse osmosis. Foliage that is deprived of nutrients and water eventually turns brown.

Other signs of fertilizer overdose include:

  • Fertilizer scum on the water surface
  • Fertilizer salt crust on the soil surface
  • Leaf yellowing
  • Dark, burnt roots
  • Stunted growth


If your lucky bamboo was grown in water, simply replace the water and thoroughly rinse the container.

If grown in soil, soak the pot in a sink full of water or water deeply to help flush out the excess fertilizer salts.

Lucky Bamboo Leaves Drying Out Due to Sunburn

Lucky Bamboo Sunburned
Lucky Bamboo Sunburned

Lucky bamboo leaves that turn brown and dry out due to sunburn are the most common cause. There may be crinkles, crunchy texture, and brown margins on affected leaves.

Seasonal shifts in sunlight can cause brown patches to appear on the leaves in early spring or summer.

How to Fix

Unless they become wet, the sunburned leaves pose little danger. However, remove them at all costs if you want an eye-catching appearance.

Ideally, you should place your lucky bamboo in an area that receives some filtered sunlight.

Pest Infestation

A pest infestation may also be to blame for Lucky bamboo turning brown.

Insects, particularly spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs, can suck so many vital fluids from the juicy lucky bamboo leaves that they dehydrate and turn brown or yellow along the edges or tips.

How to Get Rid of Lucky Bamboo Pests

Cleaning leaves with a powerful water jet is a great way to rid spider mites, mealybugs, and other pests.

Consider using an appropriate insecticide, neem oil, or insecticidal soap spray if you have a lot of pests.

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