Cutting down a Dracaena Janet Craig (14' tall, 50 years old)

scotthuddlestonMay 17, 2008

Hello everyone,

My wife has a Dracaena Janet Craig houseplant which is almost 50 years old. She has owned it for her entire life. The problem is, this plant has grown to be almost 14 feet tall, with a thin trunk that must be supported by a sturdy pole. Furthermore, we have recently moved from Chicago to Seattle. The plant is presently living in my brother's house (luckily he had a tall ceiling). But we need to move it to Seattle. And to make matters worse, we are finding that housing in this part of the country is very expensive, and homes that have 2-story space in them tend to be even more expensive new construction. We are faced with either having a very very limited choice of homes to buy, or figuring out a way to solve our plant problem. My wife has wanted to cut the plant back for years. Both to enjoy it more, as well as to propagate it. But she is naturally afraid to hurt it. We really don't want to lose this plant. Please help us!

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Scott, if it was my tree, especailly a 50 yr old plant, I'd air-layer. Do it in sections..Since it's 14', do so in a little over 3' sections..After each section roots, add to the pot..instead of one cane, she'll have three at 3' heights.
Some people just cut the trunk, root, then add to soil. This will also work.
Because of its age, and time spent w/you and your wife, I'd not rid it, be it sell or discard. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 6:40PM
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I was reading about air layering at this website:
And the document they wrote seems to imply that dracaena plants *require* this type of treatment. But information I've seen elsewhere on this site implies that you don't need to go to all that trouble. Some owners say they are very hardy plants, and you can just cut them down and stick them in the dirt. I'm confused about all this information. One consideration is that my brother and his wife are being very kind to care for the plant while we are relocating to Seattle from Chicago, but eventually we need to ship this plant to Seattle. Maybe we just cut it down when the time comes and stick it in our carry on luggage? Air layering requires alot of work, and creates an unsightly plant for a period of time. I am hesitant to put that burden on my brother's family as they care for our plant. And I'm not sure they would feel comfortable doing plant surgery. Oh boy... What is the consensus opinion? Is air layering really our only viable option?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 9:00PM
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Someone posted this site a while back.

A 50 year old treasure would be hard to simply "wack off". I think there are smaller devices like this one that might be more attractive.

Good Luck Diane

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 11:45AM
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i used to have a Janet Craig & still have a corn plant. the cane's look identical!

so i don't see why you can't just whack it into lengths, apply rooting horomones to the bottoms of the pieces, & stick it into dirt.

granted it's current height is daunting, BUT! this just means longer pieces or more short pieces.

i'd decide the number & height of the pieces i wanted. assemble pots & dirt & rooting horomone is very cheap.

whack it & stick the bottom ends of each piece into water then the rooting horomone, then into dirt, mounding up the dirt around it to support itself while growning new roots.

in a few weeks you'll have new growth at the cut edges & roots holding it up.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 12:24PM
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