Dracaena Warneckii Leaves Browning and Falling off-help!!

rotipomSeptember 29, 2009

Hi there folks,

I recently bought a bunch of healthy-looking plants on craigslist from a couple that was moving out of state. There is a Dracaena Magenta, two philodendrons (one split leaf and a heart shape), a Raphis Palm and a Dracaena Warneckii.

The Magenta, split leaf philo and Palm are in medium to bright rooms and are doing pretty good. The heart shape philo and Dracaena Warneckii are in the darker living room which has a large window but doesn't get much light.

The heart shaped philo and Warneckii were both in darker rooms at the previous owner's house so I thought they would do fine in mine. The one I am most worried about is the Dracaena Warneckii because it was/is such a beautiful plant. Three branches and about 6' plus tall. It does sit in the darkest corner in the living room but gets a very faint shadow in the day time (so SOME but not a lot of natural light). I have pendant lamp hung nearby that offers some light but I don't know if that helps.

I have been careful not to overwater or underwater and treat it like the owners told me to. But since I got it (a few weeks) the medium to lower leaves have started browning at the edges, near the stem, and falling off eventually! They do not feel too crispy even when turned complete dark brown. I have been trimming those off and now my plant looks increasingly bare :( There are some new leaves coming up but it will be a long while before they become bushy.

I have attached some pics of how it's looking (also see end of message for a clickable link called Pictures of Plants):


There are a couple of brown tips too but the worst problem is the browning at the sides near the stem. I can't cut these off because I would lose the whole leaf. Eventually they brown completely and droop and I am forced to snip it.

I water about once weekly and check with a moisture meter or my fingers. I use Oxygen plus in my filtered water , as recommended by previous owners. I also mist it occasionally to get some humidity around it.

What is going on and how can I remedy this?

Would really really appreciate some guidance, I really want to learn to take care of them. Thanks ever so much.



Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of Plant

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Can anyone help me at all? Not even a smallest suggestion? I haven't received any follow ups at all...

Thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 4:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What kind of filtered water?

If I go only by odds and reasoning, the first thing that comes to mind is that you are over-nurturing - which translates to over-watering, even though you say this is not an issue.

Salt accumulation in the soil (from fertilizers and irrigation water) is another strong possibility, as is natural abscission (losing leaves) due to a reduction in already low light levels.

The moisture meter doesn't work. It measures electrical conductivity - not actual moisture content, so it's actually closer to reliable as an indicator of fertility levels than of moisture levels, although it's really not a reliable tool for measuring either. Test your plants by checking the soil at the drain hole & only water when it feels dry there.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 6:09PM
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karen715(z5 IL)

I agree with Al, it looks like watering issue. Once weekly is probably too much for a plant in a dark corner. Plants in low light areas use water quite slowly.

I don't mean to offend, but this is a pet peeve of mine: Plants really don't belong in dark corners. Plants use light to make their food (photosynthesize.) Keeping even low light tolerant plants area that is too dark to read a newspaper during daylight hours is the equivalent of slowly starving them to death. If you can, move it closer to a source of natural light, or use a fluorescent light as your supplemental light source. Regular incandescent bulbs don't give off enough light in the area of the spectrum that plants need.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 12:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Good point, Karen. .... not picking on the OP, rather carrying on Karen's thought with a musing:

With plants, as in life, we would do well to keep separate the concepts of toleration and appreciation. Just as there are with people and pets, there are many indignities a plant will commonly tolerate, but that is no sign it must follow they will appreciate them. Many growers are quite guilty of confusing the two; we shouldn't read "Tolerates low light conditions" to mean "Appreciates low light conditions", because in almost every case the later is not so.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 2:18PM
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