Ailing Dracena 'Lemon Lime'

tyfloydJune 15, 2013

Hello! I need your expert advice... I have had my dracena 'lemon lime' for approx 10 years. It has grown to a height of about 3ft but at least 2ft of it (the bottom 2ft) is just completely brown, wilted and dry leaves on the stalk. I now know (after reading this forum) that I need to mist it daily, don't overwater it and keep it out of the sunlight to avoid this happening. However, regarding the damage already done, is there anything I can do? i think I read somewhere once that the entire top (green part) of the plant can simply be cut off and the stalk put into a bucket of water until it forms new roots. Is this correct? Can anyone please advise me on this - I don't want to kill the poor thing, but it looks so forlorn right now I want to do something. Or should I strip the brown leaves off the stalk? Thanks, in advance.

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grrr4200(z3 MI)

many draceanas leaves die back on the lower portion of the plant. If yours are brown and try you can remove them all the way up to the green leaves. Then you'll have a stalk:)

you can propagate them the way you said. You can even root and grow stalks so you could technically cut your plant into many different lengths of stalks (depending on how much of the plant you wish to cut is) also if you decide to propagate it you can keep the original stem roots and all in the same pot and it will resprout (usually with more heads then one) and it will regrow.

Unlike many people with these plants i dont mist mine. Once a month he gets a shower to remove any dust that may have accumulated on its leaves.

it may also help if you can post a picture just to eliminate a couple probabilities (if the trunk is actually dying etc)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 2:19AM
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Hi and thanks for helping me and my 'old friend' the dracena. Here is the photo as requested. So, if I understand you correctly:
(a) I can cut off the entire top, put it in water and it will grow new roots and I can then transplant it into a new pot; and
(b) the bottom of the stalk that is left in the original pot will grow a new head?
Please let me know if I've got that right. Do you know how long it takes for the new roots to form? Is it best to use water or some kind of hormone formulation, or both? (As you can tell I am a gardening novice!)
(BTW I think I overestimated the size in my original posting - it is more like 2ft tall, not 3ft.)
Many thanks, again.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:53AM
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grrr4200(z3 MI)

you can remove all those dead leaves :) You may like the look of it and not cut off the top.

1. Yes you can cut the top off and root it in water. You could actually put it right back into the pot in soil and it will root just fine as well.

2. Yes the stalk will regrow. If you p,lace the cutting in the pot you'd eventually have a much bushier plant since the growing tip would cover some of the stalk while it re-grows.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Misting can cause more problems than it's worth... Dracaenas are all quite sensitive to tap water chemicals.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Huge (and belated) thanks again for all your advice. I am going to try re-rooting it this weekend. I did once trim all the dead leaves off, years ago when it was much smaller, but it looked very odd, sort of 'wounded'. I have a water filter that removes all the chemicals from the tap water so it will hopefully tolerate a weekly misting in its new pot.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 5:04PM
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TyF. Root the top, but don't toss the bottom. 'Unless you don't want duplicates.'
The bottom trunk will grow new leaves. Toni

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Agreed. Here's a stump growing 3 new tops.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Morning All,

Ty...I see new growth halfway down the trunk.
Soil, in pic 1, looks a little too dry.
Lower Dracaena leaves brown, not only from age, but when soil dries for prolonged periods.

Purp, you are too funny. How many TC do you have? Do each have different color flowers?

Was it you who said you couldn't get TC's to bloom? Toni

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Thanks for the tips! I will definitely keep the 'stump' in its pot and see if it grows a new head (or heads!). That would be nice. I think the one bit of new growth you can see halfway down the stalk is just one half-green leaf that escaped turning brown somehow. I will water the plant more frequently in future, too - I thought the instructions had said not to water it until the top was dry to the touch, but perhaps that's incorrect and possibly the reason why it's been half brown all these years. A lot to learn - thankfully my 'old friend' seems to be very forgiving!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 7:47PM
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grrr4200(z3 MI)

my draceana doesn't like to stay moist at all. i do wait between waterings, letting it dry out completely between. they dont like to stay wet. :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:28PM
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see below

This post was edited by TyFloyd on Tue, Jun 10, 14 at 19:23

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 7:15PM
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see below

This post was edited by TyFloyd on Tue, Jun 10, 14 at 19:24

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 7:20PM
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Hi all, I wanted to let you know that I followed your advice and my dracena survived the cutting/repotting. And... the stump in the old pot is just starting to grow two new shoots. I'd almost given up on it but I just noticed them today!
Unfortunately with the repotted cutting I have another problem... the potting soil I purchased from the garden centre was infested with fungus gnats! I have tried everything to get rid of them (letting the soil dry out for over a month; sticky yellow tape to catch the gnats; hydrogen peroxide to kill the larvae; covering the top of the soil with gravel; putting the plant outside for the day; sprinkling cinnamon over the soil; mixing dish soap in with the plant water)... and still the poor thing is ridden with them. I've now had to cover it with protective netting just to keep the gnats from flying all over the house and getting into food, other plants etc. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get rid of these I'd be grateful to hear. I have just been reading on the forum about peppermint tea so I might try this next.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 7:21PM
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If you are having a lot of trouble with fungus gnats, you are keeping the soil too consistently moist.

With a cutting, it takes some time to develop an extensive root system. If you watered it the same as the original pot, it would not have enough roots to use the water up. This would encourage root rot, which would in turn encourage the fungus gnat. It is a vicious cycle.

Try switching to a terracotta pot, which will allow the potting soil to dry out more effectively, and then make sure that it dries out before watering.

Another thing you can do is put it in a smaller pot, or switch to a potting mix which is well-draining.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 7:33PM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

Those damn fungus gnats are one of the reasons why I unpotted all my plants and put them to semi-hydro. I couldn't get rid of them, no matter what I tried. My dracaenas actually like the semi-hydro system, there were some brown tips in the first weeks but since then they are flourishing. Weird cause everyone says they don't like wet feet yet they are actually standing in water approximately 1/5 height of their pot.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 6:32AM
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Thanks for the advice. I thought I did let the plant dry out thoroughly - I saturated it with the peroxide solution and then didn't water it again for at least six weeks! - but perhaps I should have waited longer.
I hadn't heard of semi-hydroponics before, but it sounds interesting.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 6:45AM
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6 weeks is a long time. Sounds like the pot is too big for the plant, and/or the soil is too water-retentive. It is important to have well-draining soil, because if you have to go a long time between waterings, oxygen is not being pulled down to the roots, which means they will rot anyway.

I have heard that treatment with hydrogen peroxide can actually backfire in that it can harm the beneficial bacteria in the soil.

Your first step imo is to unpot the plant- note the size of the rootball and the health of the roots. Take steps to improve drainage. I would change out the growing medium entirely to something fast-draining.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 1:16PM
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Thanks. I will try that.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:47AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When it comes to growing in pots, what does more to eliminate a list of problems commonly incurred by a high % of growers is learning how to make or select a soil that allows the grower to water correctly. You'll notice that was frequently mentioned upthread by a number of growers who have a lot of collective and individual experience.

The most common symptoms growers come here seeking remediation for are:

Sickly plants
Plants whose appearance has been spoiled
Off-color foliage
Stalled growth
Abnormal or distorted growth
Insect infestations (including gnats)
Diseases other than root rot
Root rot
High salt levels in the soil solution
Several types of nutritional problems
Issues with pH - usually high pH

An inappropriate soil can and does cause every one of the issues listed, and others I'm sure I forgot to mention. By simply adopting a soil that can be watered correctly, all/any of the listed problem can be taken out of play, so even if you're only looking to solve the spoiled foliage issue, it's a sure bet you're practicing preventive medicine with regard to the other potentialities, even if unwittingly.

Watering more sparingly when you water can help to alleviate some of the listed issues, but there are some on the list that won't be taken out of play, or could even be made worse.

If you'd like to chase this a little further, let me know. It does take some extra effort, but you can also save a few bucks if you make your own soil.

I'll link you to an article I wrote that can go a long way toward eliminating all the common limitations most growers are tolerating or trying to deal with. See link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Click me to see what he was talking about.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 5:12PM
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Hi Al, thanks for the advice. I have decided to cut the top off the dracena once again and put it in new (gnat free) soil and discard the remaining roots/stump/gnat infested soil and pot. I purchased a potting mixture with sand in it this time which the packet claims to help draining. I have filled a smaller terracotta pot with the soil and am going to let it dry out in a sunny window for at least two weeks (covered with netting so no gnats can get in) and then water it and if I don't see any gnats appear under the netting after a further two weeks I'll know the soil is clean and I will take the cutting! Hopefully that should do the trick. I don't have any outdoor space or a garden/yard so am not in a position to make my own soil but I will check out your article. Thanks for the link! (Incidentally, for anyone who is following this thread, the mint tea did not work on the gnats - it had no effect whatsoever.)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 8:35PM
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