Dracaena problems - help please

verlowJanuary 28, 2014

I just inherited a Dracaena (fragrans, I think) plant from a friend & it seems to be in a pretty bad shape. I'm not sure what to do...

Virtually all of the leaves on the plant are browning & I plucked off couple dozen completely dried up leaves when I first brought it home couple days ago. Is this fluoride toxicity? Seems pretty extreme. The browning looks like it's starting from the sides of the leaves then spreads towards the center/whole leaf.

The trunks are all very firm & I don't think there is root rot (didn't smell anything and they're not brown & slimy), although it is definitely pot bound with a bunch of roots sticking out of the bottom. Maybe an insect infestation of some sort or a fungus?

The only other thing I'm thinking is it's because of exposure to the cold. It was 15 degrees when the plant was being transported, but it was outside for less than a minute & inside a van for ~half hour, which wasn't that cold (plus, there were already a ton of brown & dried up leaves).

Any thoughts as to what's wrong with it? What should I do? I'd very much like to nurse it back to health, if possible... Should I change the soil & repot it?


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That looks like cold damage to me.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:53PM
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I'm not an expert on dracaenas, but I got one from Lowe's for $1 a couple of months ago in similar condition, maybe just a bit better, and nursed it back to health. There are many factors that might have affected your plant. Where was it located? What plant food was it given? Was it watered properly? Was it exposed to cold, air drafts (hot and/or cold) etc, etcâ¦
The first thing that I would do is repot it to a larger container with good potting mix. This one seems way too small. While you repot you can also examine the roots.
Then just water it once a week and keep checking on it - hopefully it comes back to health from terrible stress it has suffered.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:02PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Ditto on the cold damage.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:40PM
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Thanks for the quick replies!
I'll go ahead with the repotting & inquire about its history of care.
Given that it is cold damage, is there anything to be done about it? Should I prune the leaves or just wait for them to die on their own & hope for new growth?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:01AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

I think the cold damage came in transport, that's a very common problem in the north....

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:15PM
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You know, I would wait cutting down those leaves that are still alive. On some websites they recommend cutting off the brown part. Mine had the same thing - leaves had brown sides, but were still alive. After repotting I just put it into a nice medium light spot in my bedroom, and it is recovering on it's own - the leaves look much greener now. Plants have a lot of self-healing wisdom - so I would just try to give it the best conditions possible without cutting down too much. Just from looking at this plant I would guess that it was probably in too dry air, not watered properly and exposed to cold/hot drafts, which is not the worst thing to happen. That cold damage couldn't appear instantly from just a short trip.
But check for bugs - that might be something you would need to address right away!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:13PM
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This is the damaged plant I got about a 1.5 months ago - look, almost all the brown is gone from the leaves and they turned nice green color again. So I hope yours is gonna be fine. (dunno why the image is upside down) :(

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Yeah, the cold is pretty bad here. I just didn't expect a relatively brief exposure to make for so much trouble.

Thanks veimar, that's pretty encouraging (and the pic looks right side up once you click the image :) ). I've nursed back a peace lily & a rubber plant back to good health after significant cold damage, and hopefully this guy will recover too. I'll give an update in a while once there is considerable change in its state.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:51AM
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