Please help - Dracaena has broken off!

ginamarina(z4/5 WI)April 30, 2009

I swear I posted this yesterday in this forum, but I can't find it. (was wondering why nobody responded!) I'm just sick over this. My fiance's corn plant took a rough ride in my truck last fall to move here, and it seemed to be doing fairly well through the winter. It started to bloom (I cut the flower stalk off and put that in water). I rolled the plant outside for a while on tuesday to get some fresh air and sun. Yesterday morning I came downstairs to find it broken off about 3' below the top. :-(

I've currently got the top, with it's 12" long leaves, balancing in a 5 gallon water jug waiting for instruction. I sealed the stump with the stuff I seal tree grafts with. There are 3 tiny buds on another branch of the stump, but the one that broke was the big tall one with all the leaves :( I'm hoping that since the root system is there that it will kick into gear and grow.

Is there hope for the top? I cut it clean and immediately put it in water for now. I've read that they will root in water or in a bag of soil wrapped around the base. I have no idea how large of one the website was talking about. This stalk is between 1/2 and 3/4" in diameter. And nearly a third of the stalk is leaves.

This poor plant has taken so much abuse from me :-( My fiance is gonna think I've got a vendetta against his poor plant!

Of the two plants that were in the pot, this was the one that was doing good... the other plant is just barely alive, and the 2 stalks continues to shrivel. I was able to pot up a sport when I moved it here last winter, but his health is still iffy at best.

Please help me if there is any chance at all in saving the top of this tree. It sounds like people have had decent luck keeping them alive - but so far I'm not scoring very well. :(

Gina

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hort_lvr_4life

Gina,

Not to worry - you're on the right track. By dipping an inch or two of the "stalk" in rooting hormone and putting it in evenly moist (not drenched) soil it should root fine. Place it in indirect sunlight and keep fairly humid and warm (so it roots faster). Dracenas are resilient plants. Maybe your fiance's other one will begin to do better now and he'll have more plants! As for the bottom portion that remains it might put out a new shoot so don't give up on that either.

Putting it in water will root it too, but it will have a slightly harder time acclimating to the soil once you plant it. Starting out with the soil makes it much easier - don't let the soil dry out though. Do what you're most comfortable with (water or soil).

Accidental propagation! Yay!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 2:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

That's a bit large for something to root easily, especially when the over all health of the 'mother plant' seems compromised. I'm not saying that it won't work, just that the odds are against it.

Propagation of cane plants is pretty easy if you concentrate on the CANE portion of the plants and not the foliage. Remove all of the leaves, cut the cane into several segments, and lay them down SIDEWAYS into a porous, fast-draining potting medium, burying them partially. You can also insert each segment vertically into the medium, as long as you are CERTAIN that you know which end of the segment is up.

This might be a good time to examine why much of the mother plant seemed to be doing so poorly. Are you using a good potting mix?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 2:41PM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

Part of the reason it wasn't doing so well is the rough 45 minute ride where it got whipped around a bit and the other trunk lost its top :-( I think I'll take this opportunity to re-pot things in new soil though.

If I bag the base in soil/starter mix, how do I prop it up? It's almost 3' tall. And you think just 2 or 3 inches to put in the dirt?

I have one little cane cutting that I took when I made the cuts straight, put it in a pot already with the rooting hormone and some sealer on the top.

I'm scared to cut the beautiful leaves off! But I realize the plant probably can't sustain a head of foot long leaves. The blooming stalk in the vase sure smells good!

Gina

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 3:58PM
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hort_lvr_4life

May we see a picture please?

I think I'd cut it down again and try to root up more than one cutting since it's so big. I'd suggest only cutting the leaves off by half so they can still photosynthesize.

Do you have a mini greenhouse or a large clear plastic bag to preserve humidity? It'll help root faster.

It's not in distress (or at least wasn't) - a bloom is a sure fire sign it's happy.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 4:20PM
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birdsnblooms

Gina, you poor, frightened soul.
Are you talking about a Corn plant? Does it have a woody cane/s trunk?
How in the world did it break? From the 45 min trip?

I've never had luck rooting dracaenas in soil..broken tops were kept in water..After roots developed, 7" and longer, the cutting was placed in soil.
Whichever way works, go for it.

Of course, if your fiance doesn't know it broke, slipping the cutting in soil won't give your 'surprise' away..not that much anyway.. :)
Does he measure? Know its exact height?
I agree, a pic would help..Toni

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 4:39PM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

he knows, the trunk broke at about the 1/2 way point, so there was no hiding that. It was almost up to the ceiling. I hope I can make it right with this poor corn plant. Oh gawd he's talking to it again. I think it possibly had some wind when I rolled it outside for an afternoon a couple days ago. Not sure, but it's the only thing I can think of. I should have staked it. :-( The other one in the same pot broke off during the trip last fall... and although the two "trunks" that are from the one big one are trying to grow leaves, their trunks are shrivelling, and the new leaves keep dying and then another set of tiny green leaves try again.

I will take a picture of it. (I'm not sure if it's a "he" or "she") :-/

Gina

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 6:44PM
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Mentha(9 CA)

First off if the plant is shriveling, the roots should also be checked, shrivieling usually doesn't happen unless there are watering problems. I would repot the whole plant and check roots now, then plant in a porous soil with good drainage. Cut the shriveling trunks back to healthy white flesh.
I would also take rhizo's advise and lay the broken top on it's side in some moist perlite. Put it on a propagation heating mat to jump start the rooting process.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 2:04PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The stems on this plant are full of photosynthesizing cells. Commercially, long canes are cut into segments (many of them) as illustrated in the earlier link. Again, you should really focus on the cane (stem) and not the top with all of the foliage.

I agree that perlite is a good propagation medium for this purpose, but if you are not used to it, use a good potting medium and add perlite to it for extra porosity.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 9:41AM
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breenthumb

Just one more thought, in addition to all the good advice already here. Don't be tempted to make the top too tall in proportion to the rooting part in the soil. You'll want plenty of roots to nourish and prevent top-heaviness as it grows.

When I cut mine, the base sprouted three--can't remember the name for clusters--from around the sides, so it looks like a small tree. Very cute. Good luck with this. They're nice plants.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 10:17AM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

ok, well the top 2 1/2 feet w/leaves is still in the water jug, no roots, but the leaves show no sign of anything bad. I had cut off a 3" piece of the cane before putting it in the water, put it bottom side down in rooting hormone and then in starter mix.... and the bottom turned brown and shriveled. The top shrunk and got "holey". So if I hack the stem all up, do I treat the cut end on top with wax or something? Since my 1 cutting failed so miserably, I'm nervous about the next step. The part of the stem that's in the water (about 4" of it) is approx 5/8" in diameter. Am I safe in assuming this is too big to just root? (no signs yet).

I know I need to do something soon. Thankfully the plant that's left does have 3 little sprouts coming off the trunk. But the other side of the planter looks very lonely.

I'm so nervous I'll screw this up. I have starter mix and also a bag of perlite from hypertufa projects. I've never tried to root anything in it.

Is the consensus that I should just cut the stem up in pieces and lay them on their sides? and throw out the leaf top?

Gina

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 2:19AM
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jajm4(z5 w. mass, usa)

My dracaena Janet Craig got its top lopped off during a move, too. I was devastated!

I put the cut-off part in water and left it there no matter how sad it looked. I just kept changing the water when it looked murky. It took almost a year, but now it's not only putting out roots, but even growing some leaves! I still have it in the water, because I'm so happy I don't want to mess with success. But it does need to go into a pot soon.

Anyway, what I'm saying is: don't give up, even if it takes a really long time and looks pathetic for a while.

The main plant also took a long while to grow again off the cut area, but now it is putting out multiple shoots. I don't know what I'll do about it because it's very tall and I'm afraid the multiple branches coming out the top will look funny, or topple the trunk when they get heavy. But the main thing is: my baby is alive!

When I got this plant, it was 6" tall. Now it's near to the ceiling. I didn't know they could grow that tall! I may HAVE TO cut it soon, when the leaves press against the ceiling. What then?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 1:14PM
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