Sad Dracaena :(

JazzyJuliebean(5)July 28, 2012

I bought a Dracaena marginata at Wal-Mart a few years ago, and she was doing very well. She eventually outgrew her pot, but I wasn't able to put her in a new one for a while. When I finally was able to repot her, she was incredibly rootbound. The schefflera that I repotted at the same time is thriving, but my Dracaena isn't growing at all. Also, the bottom of her trunk used to be very green (which was visible under her thin bark, since she's just a baby), but now it's kind of brown. Is there anything I can do to get her growing again, or is she stuck at her little height until she dies?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can repot (a more extensive procedure that just potting up) and correct the problem in the original root mass if you're up for it. Potting up won't really restore the plant's potential for growth and vitality, but there are some things you can do that will coax a little better health & some growth out of your plant.

Al

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

A picture or 2 would help to know what kind of condition your plant is in, and which Dracaena you have. Generally info though... once a leaf is lost at the bottom it doesn't regrow. The trunk is supposed to become woody and brown but the top should keep growing. There are many types of Dracaena and their care is not identical. I suspect your plant needs more light if it's not growing but there could be something else more serious going on.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:19AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think the most significant clues are "incredibly root bound" and "isn't growing at all". Even plants left in total darkness grow until their carbohydrate reserves are depleted, while being incredibly root bound can inhibit extension to the degree that growth is imperceptible. Plants like this are on the way out unless the condition is corrected - "A plant that is not growing is dying". Perhaps more light and a repot are both on the plants Bucket list, but I think that the underlying cause of the stalled growth is almost certainly root congestion.

Al

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Al, wasn't disagreeing, just trying to expand the scope of the investigation. Jazzy said she just repotted. We have no idea how this repot was done and I was just trying to help start a dialogue so we could talk about it. Until I started reading garden forums, I didn't know people repotted withOUT trimming roots, so I would never assume anything about how they repotted without asking.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 9:29AM
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birdsnblooms

Julie, a pic would be helpful.

Also, what size what your Dracaena's previous pot, and how large is the new container?

Purple, Julie said she had D. Marginata. Toni

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:01AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Toni, you're right, missed that. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:55AM
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birdsnblooms

Purple, no problemo,,,lol. My eyes miss sooo much..need glasses, but don't like going to docs..even eye docs.

No pics yet???

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 3:50PM
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JazzyJuliebean(5)

@tapla - It's possible that she might be growing so slowly I can't see anything, I really can't tell.

@purple - She's in direct light most of the day and used to be doing very well, until she got rootbound. Also, I don't feel comfortable trimming roots, since I'm a total beginner to even changing out pots - I might make her condition worse.

@hope - I'm on vacation until Saturday, so I don't have access to any of my plants or the cable to upload pictures to the computer. When I get home I can take pictures of both her current pot and her old one, since I'm still using the old one.

Also, in response to your question about how I repotted, I rinsed the old soil off of the roots, then put her in a pot at least four times as big with all new soil. Then I put her in the same spot she was in before I changed her pot, where she was/is getting good light.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes, your plant's growth could be imperceptible.

Whether potting up into a pot 4x the volume of the last is an issue depends on 2 things - your soil choice and your watering habits. If you weren't/aren't careful about either of the two - it's a problem. To function, your plant needs air in the root zone just as much as it needs water. If you used a water-retentive soil, a large portion of the soil can remain saturated after a thorough watering for so long it affects root function and possibly root health. If you used a commercially prepared soil from a bag, the odds are extremely high that your pot size is inappropriate, and you should probably consider a smaller pot, or at a minimum, take steps to help counteract the effects of the soil/pot size combination. It might be easier than you think.

I still think your stalled growth is related to root congestion, so I would urge you to consider a complete repot, which includes root pruning. It will almost certainly make a significant difference in how your plant performs for you over the course of the next year or two. If you're up for it and would like instructions, please post a picture so we can get a feel for your plant's vitality level and I'll walk you through it.

You might find the overview at the link I'll leave below to be of some help. I honestly think that if you're willing to read the link and maybe a little more reading, you make some very good progress in a very short while. Let me know - ball's in your court. ;-)

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: A basic overview

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:13AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

In general, dracaena marginata(dragon tree) is a easy plant that tends
To thrive on neglect. basically, you can loosen the football and put it in a bigger pit.

Fun fact:did you know that lucky bamboo is actually a dracaena(dracaena sanderiana).the stems on dragon tree can root and live in water. Here is a photo of mine

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:20AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

If you believe your plant is dying, it's not possible to worsen the condition. It sounds like there may be a ball of roots now all smushed against each other instead of having some space (filled with soil) between them. After being like that for a while, then put back in the smaller pot, the roots may be rotting (and definitely congested as Al said.) D. marginata grows roots so readily, there's not much risk of harming your plant by removing rotted/mushy roots, and then trimming the rest so they are able to spread out.

This is a palm tree, but the root part would be given the same treatment if it was Dracaena.

After shaking off the excess soil so the roots could be seen:

Trimmed and ready to go back in the pot:

TG, your plant looks like it's not getting enough light. The tips should be full of new leaves standing straight up.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:19AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

What happened is that it fell and the tips fell off and the leaves bent

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:26AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Oh, bummer! Now that you say that, it does look like 2 new tips starting on the trunk at the bottom left. Am I seeing that right?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:34AM
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birdsnblooms

Purple, what type of palm in pic 1?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Toni, Hmm, there were 2 pics of it (palm,) now I only see one. LOL I can totally believe you like it, you asked about it here also before, so I yakked about it over there.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 4:29PM
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birdsnblooms

Yes, I love it!!

In this picture, it looks like a Bottle Palm, Hyophorbe. On the other hand it resembles, a Bamboo Palm Tree.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:10PM
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JazzyJuliebean(5)

I'm back from vacation and was finally able to take and upload pictures of my Dracaena. Here they are:

http://s1190.photobucket.com/albums/z458/ErikaCoeur/My%20Plants/Dracaena/

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 5:32PM
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birdsnblooms

Julie, Welcome back....

At first, I didn't understand what you meant by your trunk being brown. lol

D. Marginata is a tree. When they're grown outdoors, in-ground, they grow quite tall.

A brown trunk is normal. When D. Marginata's are young, 'depending on age,' the trunk has not yet grown, so all you'll see is green.
Once mature, and the trunk gets taller, it changes, like most/any other trees do.

So, your Dracaena isn't dying.

After looking at your photos, 4, I really can't tell a size difference of before and after container pictures.

Your Dracaena looks fine. Do you not have colored photos? Toni

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:53PM
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JazzyJuliebean(5)

@Toni - The pictures were backlit, which explains why the sun appeared to make them black. And it's a relief to hear that the color change is normal, it's obvious I've never grown a tree from an early age before, LOL.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:33PM
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birdsnblooms

Julie..Strange, all 4 pics showed up black and white.

Glad to be of help..

Bark darkens w/age, just like outdoor trees. Unfortunately, Dracaenas are not hardy to z5..But, same concept..Toni

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:47PM
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JazzyJuliebean(5)

When I was younger (still in the same place I am now), my parents had two D. marginatas that shared a pot. They grew to be taller than me with a curved trunk. They died when the cats went to the bathroom in the pot... little buggers!

How fast do Dracaenas grow when they're fully healthy?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:37PM
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birdsnblooms

Hi Julie. Some Dracaena's grow faster than others.

A lot depends on climate....light, temps, etc.

I bought two D. Marginatas at our local grocery store for 1.00 each. They were potted in 4" containers..Both were 6-7" tall. Green was bought, I believe, 2005. Variegated was purchased 2007.

I don't have a pic of the green, but here's a pic of the variegated in 2009.

I eventually potted both in one large container. This photo was taken 2009, need to update

So, in 5-7-years, the green is about 6-foot, variegated approximately 4-feet.

Do you consider D. Marginata slow or fast-growing? Toni

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I agree with Toni, your plant looks OK. I wonder if it's getting enough light behind those curtains though. Now you know to inspect the roots if leaf tips continue to turn yellow/brown or new leaves don't keep showing up. Does it seem like it's perking up from the repot?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:31AM
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JazzyJuliebean(5)

It might be perking up a little bit, but it's growing so slowly that it's really hard to tell.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:33PM
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birdsnblooms

Julie, as Purple suggested, it probably needs more light. A shady spot will slow growth and lose red-edge coloring.
D. Marginata is semi-slow-growing anyway, but needs light.

I reread your thread/posts..noticed you said you potted in a container 4 times the original pot size.

When you repotted, did you happen to notice the amount of space between the root-ball and inner pot?

If the pot is so large roots are surrounded and packed with soil, that is one reason your marginata halted growth.
On the other hand, if the pot is 2-4-inches wider than the root-ball, your Dracaena should be producing new foliage.

What do you think? Toni

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 2:50PM
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