Severely leaning Dracaena anita and new growth

hcnd06aSeptember 1, 2013

I have had this Dracaena anita for about 3 years and over the last maybe 6 months it has been leaning increasingly (away from the sun, toward my couch) and now it leaning entirely over my couch. It seems to be very healthy aside from the leaning issue. I've tried adjusting it within its pot but it didn't work, I think it needs a bigger fix. Last week I noticed this new growth in the pot. Any advice?

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Here's a close-up of the new growth. (I don't know how to post two photos in one message.) Also, I don't know if this is relevant but every once in a while (like maybe 3 times in the time I've had it) it sends out a spike that flowers (the flowers are extremely fragrant, almost sickeningly sweet), then the flowers dry up and fall off. The whole process lasts about 2-3 days. Any insight will be much appreciated!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Maybe you should take a closer look at the roots! Some roots may have rotted due to too much watering, though I can see that there is perlite in the potting mix. I would have taken it out of the pot to examine the roots, removed eventual dead roots, and repotted it in new soil/potting mix. It might help to prop it up with a stick, untill it fastens in the pot again.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That new shoot looks fantastic!! And except for the lean, the whole tree does, from what's visible.

Usually there's suspicion of rotting roots when something goes wrong with a house plant, but this one looks so good, very minimal brown tips, tons of healthy foliage, and it's reportedly making flowers occasionally, so I would hesitate to think that. Leaning away from the window is odd, but it seems like it just got so heavy at the top that it couldn't hold itself up. Not really sure what to think, why it leaned that way though. Could it have been bumped? Do you ever rotate it?

Anyway, situated correctly in the pot so it is standing straight again (upon repotting, as mentioned,) could be maintained by using 3-5 fairly large rocks around the soil surface, to hold the root mass down, and the whole thing in place. The new shoot is still pliable, and will grow vertically, well - toward the light (looks like straightening the main trunk would leave that part sticking toward the side.) As you can see from the little branches sticking off at the top, it should all want to lean toward the light (so why I asked if you rotate it periodically.) I might use a rock to push the new growth back in the right direction, as much as possible without snapping it. Then position the pot so that part has to lean toward the light to straighten more. Being young, pliable, still green, it will lean but the trunk will not, just the pliable growth at the top of the old, hard trunk, so rotating is always necessary periodically to keep indoor plants with light on just one side looking even, not leaning. Fortunately, it looks like the top growth needs to lean the same way, assuming you want to straighten the trunk.

More drastic pruning/propagation options are certainly available.

I'd like to see a pic of the whole thing, if you don't mind adding one. Hard to imagine a plan for a plant from only seeing part of it. I really don't like staked plants though, unless the stake is for the aerial roots of a vine-type plant, so would be inclined to trim some of the top mass so it's not so heavy, in lieu of using a stake (if the rocks mentioned above or some other method could not be found to keep it upright otherwise,) assuming you still want to have "a tall tree." But that's just my opinion.

Removed side branches should be able to be propagated, if you have an interest in that.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 4:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's an easy fix, and what we see has nothing to do with light issues. If it was mine, I'd lift it from the pot, bare-root the root mass, prune the root mass to fit the pot, repot it into a good, free-draining soil so the stem is vertical, and forget the little offset at the bottom; or, allow the offset to remain. Geotropism will cause the offset to quickly reorient to vertical growth after the repot.

Alternately, you can simply hack the root system until it fits the pot (literally), reestablish it in the same pot with the main stem vertical, and call it a day. Next summer when you repot you can address the roots.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 12:32PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Geotropism is growing up? I learn the coolest words here. (Inosculation is still my fav though.) Guess I was babbling, thought I said kind of the same thing. I can never get the plant to stay upright without some rocks after an operation like that which has been suggested here, considering my above-mentioned aversion to staking, but I always do this outside. Probably no gusts of wind to worry about inside, in which case all of that hullabaloo about the rocks/plant staying upright is likely not a concern. So yeah, who had to put a few plants back in their pots after a storm completely undid some repotting jobs? Yep, me! Hence the babble...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 9:26AM
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