Dracaena marginata (Dragon Palm)

KellojelloApril 5, 2013

I am a total novice when it comes to plants and gardening, so please forgive me if I am posting this in the wrong place or not giving enough information. I repotted my dragon palm for the first time about 3 weeks ago (I have had it for almost 4 years at my office). Half of the plant is not doing well at all - I am attaching pictures in hopes that some of you with more knowledge can give me some advice.

Thank you in advance!

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close up of yellow drooping half

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Hello & Welcome, Kello,

Nope, you're in the right forum. We pretty much discuss all plants here.

Your Dracaena isn't getting enough light.
Is it before a window? If so, which direction and distance?
Or under artificial bulbs as its main light source?


    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Well the main source of light would be the fluorescent overhead lights in my office. There is a small window that faces east, I guess about 10 feet away. But my plant has been in the same place for the past 4 years and has never had this problem.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 4:23PM
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Kello, how much water did you give this plant since repotting?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Kello..is the youngest stalk hollow?
If squeezed, does it feel firm?

10' from an eastern exposure isn't enough light, especially during winter months.
Can your Dracaena be set closer to the window?

Your Draceana is nicely-shaped, but leaves and stems are a tad thin.

Additional light will thicken both.

There are quite a few new Dracaena species sold these days.
D. marginatas have red edges, and in sun, green has a reddish hue.
I don't see red on your plant.

It's possible, your Dracaena isn't marginta.

I bought a different D. variety a few years ago. It gets the same amount of light, same direction as my marginata, yet leaves remain green.
It's shaped similar to marginata.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:13PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

I would try to put it near that window. Mine is in a N.N.W facing window in a hallway. It is of course right up against it. I just put it there and I am experimenting to see if it will be okay there. It probably won't so if I see signs of light deficiency I'll put it right back where I had it.

The problem with your fluorescent lights is that they 1) aren't bright enough and 2) even if they were, they don't have the proper nutrients to keep a large growing plant healthy. My Chamaedorea Elegans is about 10 feet from a NNW facing window and it loves it's location. It's under my living room lamp. But of course that's all the light a Parlor Palm needs because it is native to areas in Central America where it hardly gets light. As long as a shadow forms, a parlor palm is happy with it's lighting. This isn't so with a Dracaena Marginata as these plants love high light locations (and especially full sunlight)


If your Dragon Tree really has been there for 4 years, move it to the window for an hour a day for about 3 days, then after that for 3 more, increase it to 2 hours. Then 3, then 4 5 + 6 and then over the course of a month, you can just leave it there and it will be fine. These plants love drought and are tough to kill. If you cut them down, they will grow back which makes them perfect indoor plants for life. Just like Sumac here in the north (although after a few years of lack of dormancy for a sumac, they may weaken and die).

I hope I can be of great help. Let me know how it goes.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:18PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Kello, take a sharp instrument...like a clean pair of pruners...and cut the yellowing stems all the way back to the main trunk. They are dead or nearly so.

What is the one thing that's different: Three weeks ago, you repotted this plant. Did you change the container? If so, does it have a drainage hole so that excess water can evacuate? Is the potting medium a porous, fast draining one....or does it hold water?

That's the direction I would look for your answers, if I were you.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Thank you all for your responses. I have watered it twice (sparingly) since repotting. I know this plant doesn't like a lot of water, so I always check the soil a few inches below the top to make sure it really needs water before giving it a drink. Yes, it has been in this same exact spot for 4 years - that is why the idea of it not getting enough light has been so puzzled. And it very well may not be a marginata - that is definitely a possibility. The edges of the leaves are outlined in a dark red - I attached a close-up picture of that. The container does have a drainage hole, and I am using soil that is supposed to be fast draining....I will trim back the drooping yellow stems for sure. Thank you all so much for your help and advice!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 6:28PM
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Here is an update - I cut the two yellowing stems off on Friday. Now it seems that the leaves on the third (and only stem left) on this half of the plant are turning yellow. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:13PM
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could be a root problem, maybe rot. Keep a close eye on it and if it keeps getting worse you may need to get that stock out, root and all.

During winter, plants need a lot less water, epically one that isn't getting enough light.

Any chance anyone did you a "favor" and water this plant a few times without you knowing?

Hopefully others here can offer you some advice as well.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

It's normal for some leaves to be discarded after a repot, but entire trunks dying is not. Wondering if the new soil in the pot is much too water-retentive. Did it say "moisture control" on the package? Could something be blocking the drain hole? If you have a fan you could run on low, a gentle breeze could help your plant dry more quickly.

What did the roots look like when you repotted? Did you trim them? When placed back in the pot, is the soil at about the same level on the crown/trunks as it was before?

If there's a spot closer to a window for this plant, that could help a lot. The red stripes on the leaf edges should be much more distinct and visible. The lack of red edges, and thinness/droop of the leaves makes me think it could use more light also.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Thanks Tuckamore and purpleinopp...I am using fast draining potting soil, and have moved the plant closer to the window to get more light. The soil is at about the same level on the crowns/trunks as it was before. I think the leaves are even more yellow today than they were in the picture I posted yesterday, but I may be over-analyzing. I will keep my eye on it for now - thank you to all for your advice!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Well you're at least in the right place for over-analyzing. Sending good vibes!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:22PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

Cant offer more tips that everyone did but wish your plant good luck

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 2:08PM
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