Dracena Marginata stems collapsed

mikey256June 6, 2013

Hello all,

I have two Dracena marginata plants. One is just a single stem, and I have had it for 8 years and reported it 3 times, it is now in an 8" pot. It slowly keeps growing, though it is still under 1 foot tall. It always seems to do well.

The newer one is another small one, but the single steam breaks into three separate stems with leaves. It has been that way for the two years I have had it. It came in a 4" pot and I just moved it into an 6" pot. I used the same soil for both of them.

The newer one with three stems started have its leaves turn yellow a few weeks after re-planting, then all three stems started to wilt and eventually fell over. When they fell, the outer bark ripped, and the inner stalk in all three is thick, black, and rubbery. Sort of looks like licorice rope. Any idea what happened to it, and is there a way to recover it?


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Can you take some pictures?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:12PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Pictures of the plant and potting medium would be helpful.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:13PM
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I will post pictures tonight. It is in Miracle Grow potting soil, as is the other one that is doing fine. Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Sounds like some sort of rot in the stems which doesn't bode well for the root system. You'll need to unearth it and check the roots. They may have rotted, in which case the plant will be gone. There could still be a bit of the underground stem and root system that is still okay. If you were able to isolate something like that you could possibly get regeneration from it. Also the tops of the plant, if they're still alive they could be done as cuttings. Dracaenas grow well from cuttings.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 7:25PM
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The roots are in the same condition as the branches. They have a dry papery outer layer, and the inside has shrunken away. The main trunk is even shrinking inside the bark. Its as if the whole plant is drying up and shrinking inside its skin. My other one is doing just fine with the same soil and same watering schedule.

Ive had root rot in other plants in the past due to over watering where the roots disintegrate or mold take over them. But in this case the whole system looks to be intact, just shriveling up in its own skin. I have never seen anything like it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I hardly ever tell anybody this, but I think I would throw that plant out, and the soil in that pot. Doesn't sound exactly like one of the diseases listed here, but it sounds/looks like some kind of terminal plant illness.

If I was determined to save it, I'd put it outside to bake in a lot of sun. The UV rays might help sanitize things, and drying out seems critical at this point. There are no sun-shy existing leaves to acclimate, and these trees do well with quite a bit of direct sun.

In general, if your plants are always in moist potting soil, you can expect some root rot, maybe a lot. Letting the soil dry more before watering is a way to combat that, as well as not letting water sit in drip saucers. As you can also see from the link above, Dracs are sensitive to tap water chemicals. Taking plants to a sink so a lot of water can be applied so that it flows through the drain holes can help prevent those chemicals from building up to such toxic levels. Using rain, distilled, condensate from a dehumidifier or A/C can also be very helpful for Dracs and other plants sensitive to tap water chemicals.

Many growers get frustrated with the store-bought soil and enhance/alter it, or mix up something completely different. There's a ton of helpful info about this stuff in this discussion.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 8:32AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

I have never seen this before

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:04AM
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Sad to say, the plant is doomed, in fact dead. The same thing happened to mine this winter. No rescue possible!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:00PM
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IâÂÂm so sad. Well, thank you everyone. Poor plant. Could it have been transplant shock? The other one has been so durable, even survived an animal attack where the dog chewed off most of the leaves and chewed off some bark. It sprung right back. I put it outside just to see if anything gets better.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:09PM
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