Dracaena Massangeana - need advice

soygataJune 22, 2007

Hi everyone! I need some advice for my Dracaena Massangeana. I have a three issues with the plant:

1. First of all, my plant has three canes in the same pot. I would like to repot the plant into a larter, sturdier pot that has a saucer to catch water, but I'm not sure how to do so without harming the plant. How much of the can should be "buried" in the soil?

2. Second, the canes are supported by a sturdy, cardboard tube. How can I plant the canes without needing the cardboard for support? The cardboard is starting to mold.

3. Finally, am I overwatering the plant? I go about three weeks between watering, but I noticed that some new growth has recently turned soggy and white. I ended up lopping off the growth because it was obviously dying (or dead). Today I removed the moss that was covering the soil (decorative), as I think it was holding in too much moisture (hence the moldy cardboard and white leaves). Can anyone confirm that overwatering causes white, soggy leaves?

Here's a picture of my plant.... I hope you can view it!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Soy..Corn Plants/D.massangeana's, are top heavy, and sometimes difficult keeping them upward w/o tipping over. Look for a taller pot, not necessarily wider, but taller.

Yep, you can plant further up the cane as long as there isn't leaf growth.,.it won't make a difference w/this plant..the cane will NOT rot.

If the cardboard has mold, rid it..Unfortunetly, every tall corn plant I've seen was held together with something in the middle, then taped together.

I notice your plant isn't near a window..though corn plants can adapt to low light, they do best in medium sun. Yes, leaves will fade w/o proper light, especially if overwatered.
Also, just to be sure, check foliage for signs of pests..especially mealy..Look for white cottony patches..there are other pests to consider.
Otherwise your plant looks healthy..Tall, nice foliage.

If it was my plant, I'd place in a brighter location. Only repot if plant is rootbound. Use a taller container. Perhaps a heavier pot will help. Check for pests. Fertilize once a month, during growing season with an all purpose fertilizer. Mist leaves.
You have other options like cutting back, but I too prefer taller plants. Oh and please rid the ornamental mulch..there's no need for it..as far as I'm concerned, it holds way too much moisture, which can attract fungus gnats. This includes the beautiful Spanish Moss..Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 3:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Toni!

I'm confused because I keep reading conflicting information about how much light the corn plant needs. Most horticulture web sites say not to give the plant direct light. The plant has been living next to a West-facing window that gets plenty of indirect light, but no direct light. The foilage has doubled in size (with several new shoots as well) since I bought the plant a few months ago.

What kind of fertilizer should I use, Toni? I am really clueless when it comes to caring for plants. I have acquired a lot of beautiful plants recently and I'm doing my best not to kill them! I have: several cacti, a madasgar palm, an aloe plant, five baskets of trailing jade, a spider plant, a fuzzy jew (thought it was a wandering jew at first), a catnip plant (for the kitties!) and the corn plant. I have a small bottle of liquid fertilizer for the succulents. Should I use a liquid fertilizer for the corn plant? Can I use the same fertilizer for the corn plant, the spider plant, and the fuzzy jew (or is the jew considered a succulent as well)?

Thanks for your advice! I'll try giving the corn plant more light and see how it does.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 8:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Soy..I wouldn't apply any fertilizer on cat nip, especially chemical types..maybe a dose of Fish Emulsion would work, especially if kittys like fishys..LOL

What type of fertilizer are you using on succulents? If you're feeding w/an all purpose/foliage plant fertilizer, then you can also use it on all the plants mentioned (except cat nip) If you're using a C&S type, then I'd buy a foliage type plant food, liquid or powdered..heck they even sell pellets, (Osmocote.) You sprinkle pellets on soil then water..Nope, WJ is a tropical not a succulent. Good luck w/your corn plant..
Yep, everyone has different views on care of plants..Let me know how your Corn Plant does is more sun..Toni

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I bought my corn plant 3 years ago for very little money cuz it didn't look too healthy. I stuck it behind a chair where it didn't get any light except for the light in the room, it just sat there, not dying but not growing either. Since I moved into this house 1 1/2 years ago, it sits in front of a east facing window getting 3-4 hours of direct sunlight everyday (morning sun) and has made great strides. It is taller than my end table now and if it keeps growing like it has been it will be as tall as my T.V. by fall. When I water it, I make sure to pool some water in the "cup" where the leaves form, I figured if it were in the wild it would have rain water pooling in there so I do the same. I let it get pretty dry between waterings and then give it a big drink. Mine hs foliage all the way down the stem tho, I would like it to have more of a trunk like yours. Maybe once it gets taller I will remove some of the bottom leaves. PS I didn't know they were in the dracaena family LOL.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gosh... I don't know what to do. If I want to give all of my plants direct light, I'll have to place them all in front of the same window, which will look pretty silly. I guess I'll have to rotate them from time to time!

The corn plant is sitting right in front of a window that receives bright, yet indirect light (there's an overhang that blocks the direct light - the picture above doesn't reflect where the plant usually lives.) I have my fuzzy jew, aloe plant (along with an unidentified succulent that resembles some sort of a jade), trailing jades, and cacti near an east-facing window that gets plenty of direct light throughout the day. I also have a spider plant hanging there as well, but it is too high to receive direct light).

The fertilizer I have used on the cacti and trailing jade plants is specifically for cacti and succulents. I'll pick up some sort of fertilizer for the other plants when I can.

Can anybody recommend a good book so I can learn more about different types of houseplants? I love plants but I clearly do not know how to care for them. I would like to learn more about container growing since that's what I'm limited to right now.

One day I will have a yard with a garden... just as soon as I finish school and pay off all of those loans! :) Ah... to dream....

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 7:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Soy, The HousePlant Expert is pretty good..shows lots of pics and general care.
The first plant book I bought was Hyponex..got it back in the 70's..On each page is a picture of plant, care, and on bottom of page is pronounciation. I wore the first two books out, so found a third on Ebay for 1.00 plus shipping.
Going to the library is always helpful, though the problem is you can't underline or highlight special tips.
Used bookstores are great for finding books too..
Amazon.com sells some interesting books including A-Z American Horticulture Society but it's expensive.
If you decide to buy from Amazon, read ppgs before purchasing. Some books show pics w/o info or discuss origin/history of plants w/o care instructions..Toni

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Toni!

I have to say... I have posted on some other forums on this site, looking for advice about some of my other plants. Some of the responders have been pretty condescending or even downright insulting (one even called me neglectful for not giving my cacti enough sun!!), but you have been very helpful and friendly. I really appreciate that, since I'm just learning how to be a plant lady!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 12:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnh_or(Portland OR Z8)

Hi Sarah! Sorry if my advice on the C&S forum seemed condescending. I didn't mean it to sound that way. I don't think we called you neglecful though! We were just trying to give you the facts and some of us aren't as tactful as others at giving advice. My apologies if you felt offended. A couple of great cacti and succ. books you may want to check out!

The Complete Book of Cacti and Succulents by Terry Hewitt
DK Publishing, Inc.

Simon and Schusters Guide to Cacti and Succulents by Mariella Pizzetti

101 Essential tips for Cacti and Succulents
DK Publishing, Inc.

These are my favorite C&S books with great advice and beautiful pictures. HTH!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 6:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sarah, here is my own contribution; three books that I own, love and have read over and over again. Hope it helps. (P.S - check your library first!)

(And I do take the first one - Simon and Schuster's Guide to House Plants with me sometimes to the local garden center. It's a quick reference...and it fits nicely in my purse...LOL)

Simon & Schuster's Guide to House Plants
Author: Allessandro B. Chiulosi
ISBN: 0671631314

This book is the dictionary of houseplant books. Details for each of the 243 plant species include: full colour photo, the family it belongs to, origin, description, care, propagation and possible pests and diseases. Perfect for the novice or expert, this compact, pocket-sized handbook is perfect for taking along when you are shopping for houseplants. This is a very informative and practical guide that is fun to flip through and easy to reference.

Easy Care Guide To Houseplants
Author: Jack Kramer
ISBN: 1580110630

This beautifully designed, eye-catching book boasts 500 full-colour photos and illustrations, many of them showing step-by-step procedures. Care instructions are provided for nearly 200 of the most popular houseplants in North America. Concise, informative and written simplistically, this is a good book for beginners. For more experienced growers, I wouldnt recommend it if youÂre looking for in-depth information about individual plants. But if you're searching for a quality reference book thatÂs interesting to read and loaded with beautiful pictures, then look no further.

Complete Guide to Houseplants
Author: Ortho
ISBN: 0897215028

If you know absolutely nothing about houseplants, this is a great book to start with. Step-by-step information & instructions are included throughout the book on everything from choosing houseplants, to basic plant care, to individualized requirements, to special concerns, troubleshooting and more. 275 houseplants are featured in the extensive encyclopedia with quality, detailed care advice. Loaded with beautiful colour photographs, this is truly a complete guide to houseplants.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 8:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Corn plants will live in a wide variety of lighting conditions. If you put them in a REALLY dark corner, the new foliage comes in very pale and it becomes extremely easy to overwater, but anything above dark works just fine. Don't waste a front and center window spot on this one.

You don't need the cardboard or anything else to hold it up. Just pack some more soil in there, and use your hands to pack it very tightly around the canes to hold them straight. They do tend to get top-heavy, so you will have to repack again from time to time. If you can put the thing inside a ceramic pot, the weight will help keep it from falling over. I had an 8 foot tall one fall almost on top of me in a client's office once! I wasn't hurt but it scared the crap out of me!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 7:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sarah, I can't believe someone said that to you..that was uncalled for..I've heard tales about other forums where ppl are rude to newbies who need help..that's the purpose we talk on Gw..sometimes I think ppl forget why we're here..I'm sorry this happened to you.
If John hurt your feelings, hopefully his explanation here will resove issues. John Shame>..(S)
Anyway, how's your dracaena doing now? Have you moved it to a brighter location..Like Watergal stated, don't waste an entire window on the Dracanea. Though to be honest, when I worked at Rentokil, we'd keep huge corn plants outside in direct western sun..since they arrived from Fl, there wasn't any leaf burn or fading..in fact foliage was stunning..So the books you read were correct...but trees have to adapt to blazing light.
I also agree w/Watergal about packing soil to keep canes upright, though it depends on the soil you're using..if it's lopse and peaty, no matter how much packing you do the canes will tip over..
Tall, narrow type pots might work too..of course you'll have to pot the plant lower in the pot than it's accustomed to. And there's no guarantee this will work either..Ceramic pots and heavier soil may work, but don't use too heavy a soil..
As for books, try the library..The books ppl mentioned here are fantastic..The Simon & Schuster book is a great reference book when shopping for plants, as Naturelover wrote..Nice pics and general info.

Nature, I haven't seen or heard Kramer's name mentioned a long time..is he still writing?

Watergal, you're lucky you weren't hurt when that 8' cane fell on you..geesh..Thank God it wasn't an 8' cactus, right? LOL..You lucked out though..what did the client say after the cane fell? Toni

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 3:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnh_or(Portland OR Z8)

Shame? I am really at a loss as to what I said. (see the link) But it doesn't matter. I felt that I gave some good advice. Guess I just need to learn to not be so blunt! *¿*

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 4:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the advice! I'm a college age male who recently bought a Dracaena Massangeana for my dorm room next year. Having killed every plant I've tried to take care of, I was understandably nervous. In researching how to take care of it, I compiled a short care guide, which I will post below. I hope noone minds that I have copied some small snippets from this thread into the 'guide'. Feedback or corrections would be greatly appreciated. Also, I currently have the plant in the plastic container it came in, and am wondering what type of pot would be best to put it in. Thanks!

CORN PLANT (dracaena massangeana)

WATERING: water every 7-10 days. Water when soil is dry to touch one inch down into soil. 1. Add water slowly to the pot so that it soaks into the soil. 2. Keep doing this until all the soil is moist and a little water comes out at the bottom. 3. Leave the plant alone until you can tell the soil is a little dry when you stick your finger an inch or so into it. 4. Repeat #1.
It is important to wait until soil is dry in between waterings or it is possible to overwater; this is often indicated by the leaves beginning to drop or yellow. When you are watching for the water to come out of the bottom of the pot to show that all the soil is moist, be sure that it is not running down a space between the soil and the pot. If so, water a little, then wait for the soil to swell back to fill the pot.
Brown spots on the leaves are caused by fluoride in the water. Make sure you water it with water that has no chlorine or flouride. If that is impossible leave the water you use sit in an open bucket for 3 days before using it and the chlorine and fluoride will dissipate and not hurt your plants. Also never leave the plants to sit with water in their drain trays for more than 2 hours after watering them. They do not like swamps.

SUNLIGHT: They require low sunlight, making them perfect for corners and hallways. Though corn plants can adapt to low light, they do best in medium sun. Anything above dark works just fine. Don't waste a front and center window spot on this one.

PESTS: If the corn plant becomes infected with bugs or mites, spraying a soapy mixture of water and dish soap over the plant should take care of the problem.

SOIL: re-fertilize every second month.

PROPAGATING (by 'Air-Layering'): http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h100airlayer.html
ROOTBOUND (Def.): A rootbound condition occurs with very healthy plants that are growing vigorously and their root systems get so large compared to the soil in the pot that the soil dries out and needs water every couple of days. If a plant is in a small pot, the roots can get bound up in a ball and prevent the plant from reaching its true potential. Then, and only then, should a plant be moved to a larger pot.As plants grow tall, their roots get long as well. Transferring a root-bound plant to a new pot will bring new life and growth to your houseplants.
- http://www.ehow.com/how_2038234_transfer-rootbound-plant-new-pot.html
PLANT FOOD: plant food is not medicine and should be used only with healthy, vigorously growing plants.
STRUCTURE - KEEPING UPRIGHT: You don't need the cardboard or anything else to hold it up. Just pack some more soil in there, and use your hands to pack it very tightly around the canes to hold them straight. They do tend to get top-heavy, so you will have to repack again from time to time. If you can put the thing inside a ceramic pot, the weight will help keep it from falling over.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My plant has only one stalk and is about 10 feet. Can it be topped and how do I create another stalk?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It can be topped at whatever ht you prefer, but this should only be undertaken when the plant is at high energy levels. You don't include where you live in the user info that shows in your post(s), but for most parts of the country that would be Jun or Jul, when the plant is in the part of the growth cycle where energy levels are high and there is potential in the weeks ahead for fast recovery. Now is a decidedly bad time to do any significant work on houseplants, unless they are growing well under very good supplemental lighting.

If the timing is right, when you cut the plant back, new growth will appear - usually from adventitious buds immediately above old leaf scars.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 3:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Please help. I am new to houseplants. Some of my plants smaller leaves are turning yellow then brown. The larger ones seem to be doing fine. Its not in direct light but is in a room with several windows. What am i doing wrong? I really like this plant and want it to be healthy...

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 9:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lindsay - browning leaves at the top of the bunch or the bottom of the bunch?

If new leaves at the top are browning & becoming limp (not crispy) you may be overwatering a little... let the soil get drier inbetween waterings - use a sharpened dowel or a chopstick to check down in the dirt to see if it's still damp; if so, wait.

If older leaves at the bottom are browning & getting crispy, don't worry; they've gotta go sometime!

If new leaves at the top are crisping, you might have an issue with too much fertilizer or softened water or some such...

PS - I'm assuming you're talking Dracaena here....

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 9:48PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
P. erubescens: smaller and ever smaller
Hello, all. I posted this in the Aroid Forum but the...
Do you like Cineraria with larger flowers?
I love spring Cineraria. I love this too -
Need Help with the Id of This plant
I need to know the name of this plant and if its a...
umbrella plant care
I recently bought an indoor umbrella plant just like...
Is bud blast of big-box store Phalaenopsis genetic?
I love houseplants. Phals make great houseplants. I...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™