Help Identify Dracaena(?)

LunaraWolf(6)August 25, 2013

I recently purchased two foliage plants at the grocery store, neither of which were labeled or tagged with what they are.

One I have figured to be a Red-edged Dracaena (the one on the right). The other (left) I have been unable to figure out. It is a light green leaf, with a light yellow edge before meeting a red edge. The one on the right seems to be setting leaves off of a center stem, while the left just seems to be putting them out from the base in the center, with the leaves overlapping as they push further out.

Any information on what it is, and how to care for it, would be much appreciated.

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L: Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor'
R: Dracaena marginata

As to their care, I don't grow Dracaenas, but they're not known to be fussy plants (someone else will answer your question I'm sure).


    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 8:46AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Nice looking specimens! The basics... please remove the foil wrapper. Both are baby trees, and will get taller, developing a woody trunk over time. Do not keep soggy, changing to a soil mix that dries much more quickly would be helpful to avoid any risk of rotting roots. If you are able to use rain or distilled water for these, there should be much less risk of yellow tips, and whole leaves yellowing too quickly since they are sensitive to tap water chemicals. However, in general, the loss of the oldest leaves is an ongoing process, like a palm, part of how the trees get taller and form their trunk. So as long as new leaves are growing as fast as, or faster than they are being shed, it's fine.

When you repot, you might see that they could sit a bit higher in the soil. It looks like that would probably be a good idea from this pic, but impossible to say for sure w/o seeing the roots.

What kind of window do you have available?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 10:26AM
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I'm going to repot today since who knows how long they've been in that soil and they need a bigger pot.

I have them in a South facing window that gets indirect light for several hours a day but also direct light for several hours as the suns moves. It's in the same window as my Phal orchids, Ivy, cacti, succulents, and Bromeliads (yes, it's a cramped window lol but they are all very healthy). I use rainwater on all my plants since our groundwater is usually high in Lime.

When I repot, should I clean all the soil away from the roots before putting in fresh medium? Also, unless I go shopping, the only soil I have available is potting soil. Would that be ok to use as long as I keep an eye on the moisture level?

The majority of my plants I only water once a week so can I keep to that schedule or should it be water more/less frequently?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That window sounds great!

"When I repot, should I clean all the soil away from the roots before putting in fresh medium?" Yes, and trim them if they are coiled, ridiculously long, any that are unnecessarily huge. These plants grow new roots very quickly and respond well to aggressive root pruning.

"Also, unless I go shopping, the only soil I have available is potting soil. Would that be ok to use as long as I keep an eye on the moisture level?" Sounds like you know how to deal with the water-retentive properties of this stuff. With no tap water chemicals to affect the plants, they should be OK.

"The majority of my plants I only water once a week so can I keep to that schedule or should it be water more/less frequently?" Plants should be watered before they become droopy with thirst, but that doesn't usually happen on a schedule, especially as the seasons change, plants grow. But if they get a good soaking, preferable at a sink where they can be drenched and drip out, that should be fine as long as nobody gets too thirsty sooner. BUT, with the peaty potting soil, it's more of a concern. If a week is only 1/4 of the time it would take a particular pot to dry, this plan of "plants will just deal with it while I water once a week" is not ideal. I think you should 'do' one or the other. Picking plants up can help know if they are dry, dealing with the potting soil by not watering yet if they are not, or once a week in a more chunky 'safer' soil is fine if nobody is getting thirsty in between. The combination of peat + schedule so often = death. Does that make sense?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 12:24PM
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I repotted into the two pots below, leaving an inch at the top for new growth. all roots were healthy so I didn't trim any, only broke them up. The one on the left had more shallow roots and fewer than the one on the right.

The potting soil I used is the one I hate for the rest of our plants since it dries out quickly. I figure that was the best way to go to ensure the roots don't rot.

I don't follow a strict schedule with watering, most of the time it's just when I remember. I've never had any start looking droopy between waterings, so I figure I must be doing something right. The Ivy I water when the top inch of soil is dry, my Bromeliad I obviously keep the tank with water in it, and the Orchids I water whenever I water my Cacti and Succulents since they go about the same time span between waterings.

This post was edited by LunaraWolf on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 13:08

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 12:47PM
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Since mine are obviously babies, are there any ways to tell how long it will be before I start to see a trunk?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

The one on the right is starting to have some trunk below its' leaves, and looks like it's either been separated from its' mama longer, or just had a longer piece of stem to stick up out of the soil when propagated. When you repotted the left one, was there space between the roots and where the leaves are sprouting? If so, it could be a little more exposed, so no part of any leaf has soil on it.

Good to hear the roots weren't a spiral, tangled mess, sounds like pretty new cuttings. That's preferable, IMO, it hasn't learned any bad habits.

I might imagine that peaty soil is becoming so dry it's hydrophobic, rather than actually drying quickly. When it's watered, the moisture may not be penetrating. If you think that is happening, give it a little sip, then a larger drink a few minutes later. Like a really dry sponge, the moisture may just mostly run off the edges at first, until it gets a little soaked in, then it can accept much more moisture. After doing that, it may take a really long time to dry out, so feel how heavy it is so you can gauge later, how much lighter it has become.

I sure would like to see the mama tree that cutting on the left came from. I bet it's some big ol' mama, somewhere like Puerto Rico. I think it's the 'fattest' cutting I've ever seen of this plant.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 3:42PM
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There was some room between the roots and the first leaf joint on the left one. I've pulled it further up out of the soil to the first leaf joint.

When I watered, the water sat on top for a few seconds before absorbing down. Feeling it now, it's spongy, so it's holding the water.

What kind of fertilizer do you use?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I don't usually use fertilizer regularly on house plants, but that's a whole 'nother story that would bore you to tears. I would refer you to this discussion for that. The fertilizer part:

"Nutrition is an area that is very misunderstood when it comes to container culture, but it is actually very easy. It is also very easy to become confused because there are so many numbers that represent different fertilizer NPK percentages and so many different kinds of fertilizers. I will need to use some numbers, but I think an understanding of NPK percentages as opposed to fertilizer RATIOS is important. NPK %s tell us how much (N)itrogen, (P)hosphorous pentoxide, and (K) potassium oxide (the symbol for potassium is 'K') are in a fertilizer by weight. So a fertilizer that is labeled "All Purpose 24-8-16" is 24% nitrogen, 8% phosphorous, and 16% potassium. 12-4-8 is also a common "all-purpose" fertilizer. It has exactly half the nutrients of 24-8-16, but both are 3:1:2 RATIO fertilizers. Ratios are a way of describing the amount of nutrients in a fertilizer as they relate to each other. Why is this important? It is important because we know that on average, plants use about 6 times as much N as P, and they use about 3/5 as much K as N, and now I will tell you how we can use this information to our plant's advantage.

The ideal way to fertilize is to supply fertilizer at the same ratio in which plants use the nutrients. The reason is because optimal growth and vitality can be had only when nutrients are in the soil at overall levels low enough that it does not become difficult for plants to take up water and nutrients dissolved in that water. Remember what we said above about a high level of soluble in the soil making it difficult for roots to absorb water and nutrients? Nutrients also need to be present at levels high enough to prevent deficiencies. If we think about it for a second, we can see that the best way to achieve this end is to supply nutrients at the same ratio in which they are used.

I noted that the NPK percentages actually tell us how much phosphorous pentoxide and potassium oxide are in a fertilizer so I can show you how fertilizer manufacturers arrived at a 3:1:2 ratio as their "all-purpose" blend. Only 43% of the P reported on a fertilizer label is actually P, and only 83% of the K reported is actually K. Once you apply these factors to any of the 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers (24-8-16, 12-4-8, and 9-3-6 are all popular 3:1:2 ratios), you will see they supply nutrients in almost exactly the same ratios as the average that plants actually use, and these fertilizers are excellent at keeping the overall level of solubles as low as they can be without creating nutritional deficiencies.

There is no need to use 'specialty' fertilizers; and many specialty fertilizers, like the advertised "bloom boosters" with up to 30 times more phosphorous than a plant could ever use (in relation to the amount of N used), can be (almost always are)...

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Yup :) Thanks

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:14AM
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