Dracaena Fragrans care

lstickdoMarch 16, 2009

Hi, I have a Dracaena Fragrans that was originally overwatered. The leaves started yellowing and then browning and then dying completely. I used a water meter on it and sure enough, although most of the soil seemed dry, the root ball was way too wet. I repotted it; (the roots looked OK, no rot) and then carefully withheld water from it. The water I did use was distilled water, no tap water. Now the remaining leaves are not yellowing or browning, but they look a bit droopy, and there has been no new growth. It has sat in that condition, (no further deterioration, but no new growth) for almost a year! Any suggestions?



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For as long as you say, perhaps the plant reached that point when it couldn't be brought back.
Even when plants are given sufficient, or too much water, they might wilt.
Plants can take some wilting without eventual harm, but if not corrected in time, wilting can cause damage associationed with other causes such as too much or too little water; too much heat or light or too little of same.

Try movining the plant to a different location still giving it bright light. The sun is improving day by day and should help whatever the problem is.
The 'fragrans' appreciates moisture...not so much by watering, but by a moisture tray. Misting is another possibility.
You sure cant blame the distilled water--we often speak of dracaena being affected by salts in the water we give.

If wilting was or is a cause, giving water should perk it up within a reasonable time. If the plant though has gone on for a time under this problem, it may never get back to normal.

In repotting, the plant should drain within a reasonable time, the water in the saucer not staying put for longer than 10 or so minutes. As far as drainage, the soil should not be so wetted that it sits at drainage holes but be separated by something between the holes and the roots. Clay shards or stones of size work well.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 7:05PM
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johnh_or(Portland OR Z8)

Jusr curious Lisa....you say you have carefully withheld water. For how long? If you have been withholding water for the whole year, I am certain your plant would benefit from a thorough soaking. How big is the pot?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:28AM
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I have a Dracaena Fragrans I recently bought from a yard sale. The plant is leaning to one side in the potter and leaves are turning yellow and brown with bite holes in it as if something is eating on it. Should I repot and what can I do about the leaves color and holes? what type of temperture should I keep it in? does it require a lot of sun light?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 4:02AM
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Lisa, when you repotted, how many sizes larger a container did you jump to?
In other words, was size pot was your D. fragrant in originally, and what size container is it in now?

Even though you said its roots looked fine, if potted in too large a container, roots have to fill a pot, 'not root bound,' before growth renews.

Brighter light might help. 'If there's any sun in your location.' Artificial light helps, too..including a lamp.

Come spring, fertilize. I prfer using balanced ferts, like 10-10-10, but any house plant fertilizer will do. Maybe one with a little more Nitrogen will help your Dracaena.

Lord, I just realized this post is a year old!! Sorry. lol.

Regina...let's hope the original poster didn't check the box to receive emails when a new post was added. lol

If your leaves have holes, most likely, something is nibbling away..probably insects.

Don't know your zone, but if it's not too cold outside, take the entire plant out, rid the old soil, clean or get a new pot, and repot so your plant is standing straight.

You also need to ID the culprit chewing leaves. Check on top, bottom and the vase of your Dracaena. Look for white, cottony smudges, brown bumps and webbing.
Also, check soil for insects. Ants, gnats, etc.

After you're finished repotting, hose the entire plant with warm water. If you find a plant insect, you'll need to rid it, but it needs to be Id'd...there's many different house plant bugs. It'll be easier ridding these bugs one they're Id'd. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 8:58PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Regina - sorry to learn your plant is struggling. It's hard to tell whether your plant needs repotting or not, especially without knowing if it is severely root bound or there are other issues associated with a poor soil. The most likely would be excess water retention, leaving your soil saturated for too long a period so roots are rotting or lack of oxygen is affecting root function or metabolism. This can easily be a problem made worse if you happen to be watering too frequently. Plant roots need air as much as they need water, and they need it in abundance to be healthy. They cannot get enough air if the soil is soggy and you water to often.

The other possibility is if you are already aware that too much water is a bad thing and are trying to avoid that by watering in little sips so the soil doesn't get soggy. This solves one problem, but creates another in its place. When you water a little at a time so no water exits the drain hole (your pot does have a drain hole - yes?) all the salts from fertilizer and tap water accumulate in the soil. This salt has the same effect on plants as curing salt has on bacon or ham. It can literally PULL water out of plant cells, so no matter how much you water, plants cannot take it up.

Unless your plant is in such severe decline you're sure death is assured unless you repot now, I would strongly suggest you DO NOT repot at this time. Winter is a poor time to repot because energy levels are so low and low light increases recovery time dramatically. Additionally, we have no real measure of how stressed your plant is, so the suggestion to repot now could easily kill it. It would be better to try to eliminate the possible causes for the decline so you can concentrate on the probables. There are ways to temporarily deal with many issues and help set the plant on the road to recovery, so when summer and the appropriate time to repot rolls around, the plant has enough energy reserves to tolerate the work, and cultural conditions a favorable to a quick recovery.

Before I forget, the very first thing you need to do is eliminate there being a bug infestation. If you can do that, then we can explore other cultural influence like the ones I mentioned and a couple I might not have.

You CAN pot-up at any time (different than repotting), but again, potting up w/o understanding the soil/water relationship can do more harm than good. For instance, if you are already over-watering or the soil is excessively water-retentive and the plant is suffering from impaired root function, potting up when the plant is barely growing is very counterproductive.

I'll also say that it is not so that a plants roots must fill the pot before the plant can grow. If that was the case, we could never plant a seed in a pot and expect it to grow into a plant. When you repot a plant or transplant it, any roots that you damage send chemical messengers to the rest of the plant. These messengers stimulate roots to grow and inhibit top growth somewhat, until the size of the root mass is able to send enough water to the top of the plant to sustain it. This process has nothing to do with the size of the pot or whether it is filled with roots. Further, growth is measured by the increase of plant mass. It doesn't matter if that increase is above or below the ground; root growth is growth just as sure as an increase in the number of leaves a plant has would be, so the statement is in error on multiple fronts.

The plant prefers temperatures around 65-75*. A west window would be nice if you have it. My choice of fertilizer would be something like Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 or Miracle Gro 12-4-8 or 24-8-16. All of these are 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers and supply nutrients in the almost exactly the same ratio in which the plant uses them, which is a big plus. It's getting ahead of ourselves to be discussing fertilizer at this point, though.

There are two ways to approach caring for plants and fixing them when they are broke. One is what we are doing now. Starting a dialog to try to weed out what ISN'T wrong so we can focus on what IS wrong and fix that.

The second approach is to make your best attempt to provide the best cultural conditions you can from the start. This way, the plant remains healthy enough to do its own fighting, leaving you with more time for more plants. This approach starts with your choice of soil, your nutritional supplementation (fertilizer) program, and proper watering technique. If you can get those 3 things right, and offer your plant a spot that is to its liking as far as light/temperature. You've pretty much got it made.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:53PM
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Dear all,

I've read more than ten websites, blogs and forums like this one and all the few people who said something close to my problem seems to have overwatered the plant in the past and also has placed it into a very big pot.

I got two dracaenas at once. The one that is in the small pot is growing even though it had some overwater in the beginning. Now, after a long period with no water at all (two months and it has been very warm here since then), it has recovered and is growing beautiful.

The plant number 2 is almost dead. It has now no more than ten leaves left, the leaves are yellow and wilt, it has already lost two branches and will lose another one soon. I've tried to let it with no water (like plant 1), I switched places with plant 1 (afraid that plant 1 could die, but apparently it's a rock star that will go well anywhere), then I decided water plant 2 a little bit as it seems to be underwatered due to the wilting. The two times I watered it a little bit, with more than 15 days between each time, the plant 2 seemed die a little more.

Nothing seems to recover the plant.

I read that we need to clean the leaves with a wet paper. So I did it yesterday morning and this morning the plant seems completely dead. All the leaves are down.

The trunk seems ok. So I don't know if I should give up and buy a new one or try something different.

I would really appreciate if someone has something to tell me.


This post was edited by Marina_11 on Tue, Dec 30, 14 at 6:47

    Bookmark   December 30, 2014 at 6:44AM
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I have got a pic!!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2014 at 7:47AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Marina, does that pot have a drain hole in the bottom? Both of the plants look chlorotic. I'm not sure the Drac is still alive. The other one is an Anthurium.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2014 at 12:08PM
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Yes! It has a hole in the bottom, but the saucer is never wet.

The other is an Anthurium. I water it once a week with 100ml of water, only exactly over its place. The Anthurium is there for two months and it seems to have new flowers growing (very small, they can't be seen in the pic).

So... should I drop the Drac away? Can I use this pot and soil for other plant (maybe another Anthurium)?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2014 at 12:24PM
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