First of all, the lucky bamboo is not a bamboo. Despite its name and appearance, this plant that you see being sold during Chinese New Year actually belongs to the Asparagaceae family, the same family as the asparagus.
Its scientific name Dracaena sanderiana is named after the German-English gardener Henry Frederick Conrad Sander (1847-1920).
Scientifically, this plant is more closely related to African lilies than the actual bamboo.
It is also known by its other names such as ribbon plant, Chinese water bamboo and Belgian evergreen.
The symbol of bamboo in Chinese culture
Even though lucky bamboo is not exactly a real bamboo, let us look at the meaning of the bamboo itself in Chinese culture.
You might notice bamboo is a common theme to see in Chinese painting and calligraphy.
This is because it is a symbol of Oriental beauty. It represents the character of resistance, moral integrity as well as modesty and loyalty.
A famous Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi (772-846) once summarised what the bamboo represented, according to its plant characteristics.
While its deep root represents resoluteness, a straight stem denotes honourability, while its hollow interior signifies modesty and clean exterior exemplifies chastity.
Overall, the bamboo is a positive symbol to encourage people to persevere and hang in there especially throughout a difficult situation.
The significance and symbolism of lucky bamboo during Chinese New Year
Coming back to the lucky bamboo, there are five elements surrounding the plant which makes it auspicious especially during Chinese New Year.
Before that, the plant must be decorated. First of all, there must be stones or pebbles surrounding it.
It is best to put it in a metal pot or hang some decorative coins on it. Then, tie a red ribbon around the plant or pot.
By doing so, you will have all the five elements to make your lucky bamboo plant to be auspicious.
The stones or pebbles represent the earth element while the metal pot or coin is the metal element.
While the fire element is represented by the red ribbon, the water element is the water used to nourish the plant and the wood element is the bamboo itself.
Moreover, the significance of the lucky bamboo depends on the number of stalks you put together.
Two stalks represent love and three stalks for wealth, happiness and longevity.
If you are doing business, put together five stalks because it represents wealth for businessmen.
Six stalks are for prosperity and seven stalks are supposed to bring you good health.
Let say you are looking for luck and motivation this year, put together eight stalks of lucky bamboo.
Nine stalks is for good fortune, ten for perfection and finally 21 stalks for abundance and blessings.
Even if you don’t believe in the symbol of the lucky bamboo and its significance, this indoor plant is actually beautiful and easy to care for, hence, making it a perfect decorative plant to brighten your home.