It happens twice or thrice a week. A customer walks into the store with a look of determination on his or her face and asks if we actually sell just bamboo. Now, I have complete appreciation for a customer who knows what they want, but since this is an all-bamboo store, and virtually every item in here is bamboo, I usually just raise my eyebrows in expectation, waiting for a more specific request.
As often as not, when someone says they’re just looking for actual bamboo, it’s actually the plant commonly called Lucky Bamboo that they’re seeking. As it happens, however, this “lucky bamboo” is really a species of dracaena, and entirely unrelated to the vast sub-family of true bamboos. (see photo above for contrast)
Dracaena sanderiana resembles bamboo in appearance, but is actually a hardy houseplant that thrives in water (no soil needed) and requires little or no natural sunlight (making it perfect for offices, bathrooms, and other indoor settings). Its appearance and ultra low-maintenance attributes are probably what earned it the name lucky bamboo.
In the Orient, Dracaena sanderiana has long been revered as a great remedy for feng shui. It is, in fact, quite lucky, but bamboo it’s not. The 1200+ varieties of true bamboo technically belong to the grass family. They require full or at least partial sun exposure, some type of soil medium, and should most certainly be grown outdoors.
Because Bambu Batu is located indoors, with one large, east-facing window, it’s fairly difficult to keep a true bamboo plant happy and healthy. We generally keep one specimen by the front door, where it gets good sun and plenty of fresh air, but I also rotate it with other potted bamboo specimens from my yard at home, so they are never stuck indoors for too long a stretch.
As for the Lucky Bamboo, yes, we do sell it. It is one of the 5 or 6 items at Bambu Batu not actually made from bamboo : )
…along with the Sparx soy candles, Mama Ganache fair trade chocolate, and No Enemy organic cotton t-shirts.