Advice on Soil & Watering for Yucca & Dracaena Reflexa?

dezzo77(6a-6b)February 28, 2014

Ok here goes...

I recently brought home two new plants, a Yucca and a Dracaena Reflexa and I'm having some trouble deciding how to pot them, the soil to use, etc.

They both came in 10" pots. I have some new "self watering" pots here with the hole in the side that I can use to drain excess water from. I've got 10" and 12" sizes.

Note, I don't water from the bottom when using these pots. I only use the reservoir as a saucer and I drain it out if it fills when watering from the top.

The 10" seems a little too small for either plant, mostly because a little depth is lost due to the reservoir in the bottom taking up some space. though once I get the soil off the roots and maybe trim the roots slightly, I may be able to get it into the 10" pot after all, and I hear Yucca and Dracaena Reflexa don't mind being potbound anyway.

I can't even find anything concrete on what type of soil is best for a Yucca or D. Reflexa. I find that with larger pots, it's harder to control the watering, because if you water them thoroughly until it drains from the bottom, as you would with smaller plants, then the soil stays too moist for weeks, which causes me to worry about root rot.

Case in point, I have a Cordyline in a 12" planter that I watered a week and a half ago, and the moisture meter still says it's wet 10/10 on the scale, a little less than halfway down. When I watered I gave it a fair drink, but certainly not enough that excess came out of the drainage holes. This was planted with a mixture of potting soil and cactus mix since I wanted it to have good drainage. I avoided the perlite as Cordyline apparently don't like it.

Apparently Dracaena don't like perlite either, so that would seem to rule that out as a way to help the soil drain more quickly. Not sure if the Yucca can tolerate it or not.

If I go with the 12", it seems to me there will be too much excess soil and it will be hard for it to dry out and since I apparently can't add perlite to the mix, I'm not sure what to do.

Would it be best to use a mix of cactus soil and regular potting soil for these two plants? It didn't seem to help the Cordyline.

I really don't know where to begin. As you can see my thoughts are all over the place here :)

And since we all love pictures of plants, I've included one of the Yucca and Dracaena Reflexa.

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Did you rinse the perlite before using it? I've read that it has a lot of fluoride on it and it is necessary to rinse it before use to remove the excess fluoride. I've rinsed mine before and used with with a 'Spider Plant' with no problems. They are known to have sensitivity to fluoride. I rinse mine about two or three times and you won't believe the stuff that comes out into the bowl underneath. It's murky looking. *Gah*


    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 8:25AM
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Funny that you should mention rinsing it. Last night after posting this topic I did read that you can rinse it a few times and strain out the smaller pieces to remove most of the fluoride.

I haven't potted them yet, still waiting for opinions before proceeding.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:26PM
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I was curious if you had rinsed your perlite before repotting your Cordyline (I wasn't very clear in my last post). Perhaps if you didn't rinse it beforehand, your plant is having a reaction to the excess fluoride?


    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:41PM
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Oh, actually I didn't use any perlite in the Cordyline.
I mixed 1 scoop of cactus mix per 2 scoops of regular potting mix just to try in some small way to aid in the drainage.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:46PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, sounds OK, but actually it's not a good idea.

Likely the C&S mix just reinforces the bad aspects of the reg potting mix. That's usually that both are too peaty, holding too much water & not draining well. The perlite or something like it (pumice in my case) will help make faster draining, that's what's needed, what you've done won't improve that situation & might actually make it worse.

Sorry, better you know now that later.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:13PM
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It never occurred to me that the cactus soil might have peat in it. I always associated peat with water retention, which is the opposite of what you want in a cactus mix.

*sigh* Looks like I'll be repotting the Cordyline then and probably adding a small bit of perlite, which I shall rinse first.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:53AM
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Hi everyone, once again I can't sleep so I'm doing plant stuff :)

I potted the Dracaena reflexa in Pro-Mix (not sure which version since there are many) standard potting soil. There isn't as much perlite in that mix as I've seen in some others, so hopefully it won't cause the plant any harm.

The Yucca has been potted in the same soil, however I added a fair bit of perlite, which I rinsed beforehand.

Now, as for the Cordyline, I dug a hole in the soil so I could feel the soil all the way down at the bottom, and even though the moisture meters (three of them) read "wet" or very close to it, the soil only feels mildly damp down there (and at other levels too).

In fact, I took a small handful from the very bottom and squeezed it in my hand and when I released it, it fell apart and didn't remain clumped up at all. This should mean the soil isn't too wet, right?

I also noted as I was using my hand to dig down to the bottom, that the soil wasn't tightly compacted at all and felt fluffy and easy to dig through.... So, these should be good signs that the soil isn't too wet for the plant, no?
In fact, it might even be time to water it again... hmmm.

I appreciate very much everyone who responds to my postings on here. :) I realize I'm likely obsessing a bit about things regarding the plants, but after losing all of my plants for undetermined reasons a number of years ago, I want to make sure I do it right this time 'round.

I'm still hesitant to water these large plants to the point where water drains from the bottom, though on one hand I really want to try it so I can see how well it does (or doesn't drain).

If I do saturate them and they remain wet for a while, how long before root rot will set in? Some say that it's only an issue if you do it repeatedly, while others claim leaving them too wet even for a single watering cycle can be deadly.

Also, here's a picture of the three of them, just because plant pics are fun.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 1:06AM
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