Dracaena fragrans (corn plant) - new leaves look GREAT, but...

sarahjiJune 26, 2011

So I have this corn plant that, three years ago, I horribly neglected, and I had to cut away many dead parts on the leaves (I'd read online that this was ok). Three years later, the plant has sprouted a new set of beautiful leaves - bright, healthy and perky - from the center of one of the old leaf clusters.

The problem is that the edges of all the leaves I cut back turned brown. It looks bad.

Is there a way to cut back Dracaena leaves and not have the cut edges turn brown? Can I take the worst of them and cut all the way back to the stem or just remove âÂÂem entirely? I was hoping this might make the plant focus its energy on the beautiful new leaves.

THANKS - you guys are always so knowledgeable!

See *pics* behind the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of my corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) with dead leaf edges

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The picture on the right is mechanical injury, but the picture on the left that shows the marginal necrosis is probably due to over-watering and/or a high level of soluble salts in the soil. Plants aren't like animals, in that they cannot restore injured/infected cells to the same spatial position (animals can). Where animals are regenerating systems, plants are generating systems, so your only option is to remove the offending leaves if you find them too unsightly.

BTW - it IS possible that something nutritional is affecting the foliage. Have you been fertilizing regularly? With what?


    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 8:59PM
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Thanks, Al!

Yeah, I fertilize every time I water (once a week) with a diluted 18-18-18 all purpose fertilizer.

Just to be clear, though, those brown edges in the picture on the left are only along the edges that I previously cut. Basically, three years ago, I took scissors and cut out the dying parts of each leaf, and wherever I cut, those dry brown edges emerged after a few days or weeks.

The new leaves that the plant has recently grown (in the last couple of months) look fantastic.

Does that help?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 11:21PM
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That dracaena species is particularly susceptible to overwatering, and also sensitive to fluoride in tap water. Since replanting into the gritty mix and flushing at every watering, margin necrosis hasn't returned on my plant.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 2:36AM
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Huh. What does it mean to flush at every watering? Is watering once a week too much? Or is it the volume of water each time that's the culprit?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 8:43AM
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Flushing just means watering a LOT, to the point that water is freely draining out of the bottom of the pot. This flushes out salts, anaerobic/anoxic decomposition products, and returns new air to the root system. Most of us are used to watering a small amount at a time only because our soils collapse, drain slowly and have a perched water table... so we've been conditioned to only put in as much water as the plant can quickly use up. If you use a freely draining mix and thus don't have a perched water table, you essentially cannot overwater. This lets you "flush" the pot from time to time (or even at every watering). It also greatly decreases the amount of salts that are left behind by evaporating water.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Okay, thanks. Free draining potting mix it is, then. Any recommendations for good brands or types?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:34PM
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We've had our cornplant for about 27 years. (It was a gift when my daughter was born). This year it has bloomed the most fragrant flowers i have ever smelled. The whole house smells wonderful. The only thing that we had recently done was put a fertizer tablet in the soil and nothing else. We've never pruned it, we water very infrequently and it sits in corner of a very bright room between two windows(not in direct sunlight) Magnificent!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:10PM
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This is a close up of my 6', 10 year old corn plant. This is the first bloom and it is very beautiful. I've never seen anything quite like this.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 1:34PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Sandi, I believe that is a Yucca. Quite a bloom!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 12:33PM
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I thought so too..A Yucca..


    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 8:51PM
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sarahji, indoor plant technicians regularly trim away the brown edges and tips of plant leaves. They try to maintain the shape and proportions of the species with considerable success. Browning was minimal and almost invisible.
They take considerable care with their scissors - always cleaning and sharpening...
The Wilkinson Sword ⢠with sharpening case was the best choice in the opinion of the finest techs.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 6:33AM
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Thanks for identifying my plant as a Yucca. I am an Anglo living in south Florida and associate yucca with potato. Is the trunk the edible potato?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:31AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

YW, Sandi. Good question, one I can't answer. Edible tropicals aren't my area at all, except for growing a few for the foliage. Usually the edible part, if called a potato or tuber, is under the ground. If you post your pic on "name that plant," they'll probably know more specifically what it is, what species of Yucca, if you haven't decided yet.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:48AM
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sarahji, Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. Yucca gloriosa - Spanish dagger - is an example.
Yuca is also the common name given to an edible root crop, Manihot esculenta.
Cassava is probably the most popular of its many common names

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:02AM
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