Help me save my Dracaena Marginata!

organic_amosMay 23, 2009

I'm a beginner to plants. I bought a sickly dracaena marginata from a grocery chain a few months ago, with the hopes of healing it. It's doing much better now in springtime, but is still suffering from the following problems:

bent or partially torn leaves

spotted brown dry spots on leaves

one stalk that is really in bad shape.

The stalk concerns me the most. Its leaves are now all dried and yellow, and when I squeezed the stalk, I found it was all hollow at the bottom, like paper! (The other two healthy stalks are solid and firm). The top of the bad stalk is moist, which is why it appears darker in the photo. However, you can also see it appears by some miracle that there is a new growth growing in the middle of the dead leaves on this bad stalk. What do I do, cut the stalk? Cut the dead leaves? If so, how?:

This is a closeup of what appears to be new growth in the bad stalk:

I have just pruned the leaves on the two healthy stalks that were bent back too much, or split in the center, or had brown spots. I usually cut the bad leaf in a pointy shape at the end, but I am not sure if I pruned correctly:

This is the entire plant in full size:

This is the top of one of the good stalks, but it had bad leaves, which had to be cut very short. Will these ever grow back normally?:

There are still some brown spots on the leaves. I wasn't sure if I should prune these leaves also to remove the brown spots, or if it is better to let them be and accept the unsightly spotting?:

Now that the weather is nice and fair outside (not raining much either here in Montreal Canada), should I put this plant on my balcony and let it get natural sun and rainwater, to heal it well, or will this make things worse for the plant?

If kept indoors, is it best to keep it right near a window or a few feet away from one?

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I'm almost tempted to say just chop it all off below the lowest branch and let it backbud. You'd be rid of all damaged and spotted leaves. I'd remove the dead stalk as well. If there's a possibility that it's rotted, we wouldn't want it to spread to the rest of the plant.

If you do put it outside, make sure it's shaded from any direct sun. Mine is grown under lights, but as far as how far from a window, that would depend on what direction the window is facing and if you have a sheer curtain in front of it or not. And the time of year as well.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 4:20AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Word to the wise, especially for beginner growers:

don't buy diseased plants, one will do much better with healthy ones & have better results all around.

I just don't understand this need to rescure dead or dying plants; kind of a losing battle. Yes, some plants can be turned back from the dead, but by & large I wouldn't bother.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 9:15AM
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You want me to chop of all 3 of my stalks?? That seems a bit radical. If it any of it grows back, it'll take 2 1/2 years! Why chop off the good stalks? Won't the bad leaves that I cut grow back in better shape? Like I say, the plant is pretty happy at the moment, now that were springtime.

And if you look at the photo of the dead stalk, I'm not sure it is "dead", because there appears to be new growth in the centre of the dead leaves. If I remove the dead stalk, I'll be killing 1/3 of my plant permanently!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 3:06PM
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You don't have to chop it all off by any means. That was just my personal opinion 'cause I'm lazy, which is why I don't buy almost dead plants either. But if you do decide to cut, leave about 4 or so inches of stem from the soil surface. It'll backbud making each stem branch 2-4 branches.

It wouldn't take that long to grow back (and it would) and it would be fuller and brighter. And those leaves that you cut really short, if they are adult leaves, chances are good that they'll be short for ever more.

Now, if the plant seems pretty happy right now, you can just leave it as is, and keep a close eye on it. For all I know it could bounce right back. Some plants can have a crazy will to live.

Whichever you choose, I wish you the best of luck with this plant. Perhaps your thumb is greener than anyone knows.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 8:55PM
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