Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'
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Perfecting the amount of light a Corn Plant receives is crucial for a long-lasting specimen. During the spring and summer, be sure to provide a brightly lit spot away from any direct light. Excessive exposure during this time will negatively affect the plant in the likes of sun-scorch and dehydration. Once the autumn kicks in, be sure to include an hour or two of direct light per day to get it through the dormancy period.
During the spring and summer, allow the half of the soil to dry out in between irrigations, reducing this further in the colder months. Those situated in darker locations must be watered far less than those located in brighter ones for the prevention of root rot. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, dry spots appearing on the leaves and yellowing older leaves; these issues are either down to an over-crowded pot, too little light, or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, brown mushy patches developing in the stems and mouldy soil. For cases of root rot, take the plant out of its pot and investigate the health below the soil line. If there are visible signs of decay, click on this link to learn about the recommended steps to eradicate this problem. It's always better to under-water Corn Plants rather than over-do it, purely based on their impressive ability to endure periods of droughts.
Create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding saturation is too low or the heat too high, its foliage may start to brown over and curl, especially in direct sunlight. Hose the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and keep the dust levels down.
Feed every four waters during the growing period and every six in the autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'Ready to Use’ product into the soil without a pre-water first, as it may burn the roots and lead to yellowed leaves.
Yellowing lower leaves are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light (see image below). Although Corn Plants can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it.
When arranged in a 'trio' of different sizes, the death of the smaller trunk is a common issue among indoor gardeners. The obvious cause could be over-watering. If the soil has been rather heavy for a long time, consider relocating it to a drier, brighter environment with an inspection for root rot. In some cases, it may be to do with too little light and not enough water. As Dracaena tend to have smaller root systems (similar to the Yucca), their root systems won't penetrate the soil enough, thus leading to dehydration and death. If this has happened to you, be sure to remove the trunk once it fully dies off, as leaving it may cause a spread of disease over time. Fill the hole with a fresh batch of 'Houseplant' compost or gently resurface the soil to improve its appearance. Book a 1-to-1 Call with Joe if you're stuck with what to do next!
Spider Mites are small, near-transparent critters, that'll slowly extract the chlorophyll from of its leaves. Have a check under the leaves, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about the eradicating Spider Mites, along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!
A further pest to look out for is Whitefly. Although these small airborne critters shouldn't produce too much damage, an infestation must be destroyed quickly to reduce the chance of them spreading. Click on this link to learn more about addressing these issues.
Too low humidity can cause browning tips with yellow halos on juvenile leaves. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray while the heaters are active to create a stable environment. The browning of leaf-tips on older leaves is wholly natural and is the product of extensive photosynthesis during its life.
Yellowing leaf-tips are the product of cold water or too much fluoride in the soil. This issue is caused by using tap water which hasn’t sat for 24hrs to alleviate the chemicals via evaporation. We’d recommend switching it for collected rainwater or fresh bottled water to improve its health, along with the reduction of its fluoride-count. The older leaves will always bear the scars of the past, but the new foliage should be as good as new within the next month.
Small, brown spots are typical traits of under-watering. Only allow half of the soil to dry out in summer, and liberally in winter - commonly caused by positions that are too bright or hot. If, however, the spots are deeper with yellow halos, it could be leaf-spot disease - often accompanied by a dark location and yellowing lower leaves. This disease is commonly caused by over-watering and could even kill the specimen over time. Click on this link to learn about how to address these issues.
If the bark feels 'loose' or can be easily pulled from the stem, this may be an issue of root rot where the disease has travelled up the stem. Although there's nothing that can be done to save the mother plant, you'll still be able to take stem cuttings to keep the plant's 'legacy' alive. Scroll down to 'Propagation' below to learn more.
Finally, failed propagated stem cuttings - There are several reasons why the cuttings haven't rooted well, including: the time of year (spring or summer is best), its size (Dracaena stem cuttings should be at least 12cm (5 inches) in length), poor growing conditions (replace water weekly for water-propagated cuttings, and avoid over-watering for soil-grown plants), and its growing environment (a bright sunless windowsill and warmth is important).
Dracaena fragrans is a flowering species native to tropical Africa, in regions such as South Sudan, Mozambique and Tanzania. The genus, Dracaena, belongs to the Asparagaceæ family that holds specimens such as Hyacinths, Asparagus Ferns, Chlorophytum (Spider Plants), Sansevieria and Yuccas. The name derives from the Greek word for a female dragon 'Drakaina' that refers to its red sap and green foliage. The species' epithet, 'fragrans', refers to the fragrant blooms that was first coined by John Bellenden Ker Gawler. It was initially placed in the Aloe genus, before being transferred into Pleomele, Sansevieria, Cordyline, Draco, before finding its resting placed in Dracaena in 1808.
12° - 32°C (54° - 90°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
The ultimate height is around 2.5m in height & 0.5m in width that can take up to 10 years.
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed & Stem Cuttings.
Stem Cuttings (Easy)
Small, globular white or pink flowers are arranged along a thick flower shaft that'll appear horizontally towards the top half of the stem, lasting several weeks. It's rather unlikely that a domestically grown specimen will bloom indoors due to the unfavored growing conditions of too low humidity and consistent temperature levels throughout the year.
Repot every three years in the spring, using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. If your specimen lives in a shady area of the home, you can use a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix to increase drainage and reduce the risk of over-watering. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. Add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base and the lower portion of the new compost to improve drainage & downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!
Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, scale, thrips & whitefly that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Common diseases are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.
This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly - acquire medical assistance for further information.
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