Help with ID and General Health of House Plant

ZQGardens(6)March 19, 2014

My wife bought this house plant last year and put under my charge. Unfortunately, I've misplaced the name tag that came with it. If anyone knows the name, thank you!

Also, I'm wondering if I need to be concerned for its health. When I repotted it, the roots did not have much of a root ball, so I planted it into soil wet almost to the point of being muddy. Of course this resulted in an infestation of fungus gnats feasting on and reproducing in the wet dirt. I have not watered in more than two weeks to allow it to dry out, and that, along with some carefully placed bowls of apple cider vinegar, have nearly eradicated the gnat problem. However, while the top most leaves of the shoots are green, the lower leaves have browned and curled. Is this a natural renewal process or cause for concern? The plant is in a south-facing window and receives abundant light. Any input appreciated; I'd really like to keep this one alive.

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This is a close up of the leaves of the tallest trunk showing the healthy leaves on top and the brown ones on bottom.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 1:18PM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

Your plant is a Dracaena massangeana.
In this plant's case either overwatering or sun can cause the browning of leaves. (Dry air also)
Try to establish humidity in soil -Dracaenas don't need much water- and protect it from direct sunlight.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:08PM
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I know these symptoms all too well. Your plant is suffering from pythium rot in the trunk. I guarantee that if you feel around the base of the trunk (within a foot and a half from the soil line) you will find a patch where the trunk bark peels away like paper. You might have to feel very hard, it could be the size of a quarter or as large as the palm of your hand. The trunk is supposed to be solid. You're looking/feeling for areas where the bark has a little give.

The sad news is that of the thousand or so of these plants I have grown none of them survive this. How fast they decline varies.

Take heart though it likely wasn't anything you did. MANY of these plants come from the growers with minimally established roots (it was a real problem at a previous employer of mine). That's how the trunk begins to rot: no roots to soak up moisture sitting right on the trunk.

Feel around for the soft spots.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 11:47PM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

You may try to save the top of the plant.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 8:25AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Is the top pic before or after the repot?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback! I have taken steps to halt what seems to be a downward spiral, including trimming away the brown and curled foliage, protecting the plant from direct sunlight, and a more aggressive approach to drying out the soil.

@terpguy: I inspected the trunk as you instructed, but could not find the symptoms you described. As I'm not ready to sound the death knell yet, I will continue to explore possible rejuvenation.

@purpleinopp: The pictures are after the repot. Now that I know the name of the plant, I've been able to do some research, both on these forums and via Google. I've found my choice of pot and soil mixture are not ideal. Another repot will have to be done, as soon as the weather cooperates. The sphagnum layer on top was partly for moisture retention but mostly decorative; I have already removed it since it seemed counter productive to my goal of drying out the soil.

Thanks again for helping a newbie! I will post updates.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 2:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Sending good vibes!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 3:16PM
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