Office Plant Dying! Please help.

jess_karenOctober 2, 2012

I have this plant in my office at work, but I'm not quite sure what type of plant it is, so I'm having trouble researching how to help it.

It used to have lots of nice, green leaves on it, but recently its leaves have started turning brown/yellow and falling off. I have tried watering it more frequently, and less frequently, but neither seems to help.

I also found on the internet that it might be too dry in the office, so I spritzed it with water, which also did not help. The plant guy that occasionally stops by the office suggested it might have mites, so I bought and tried Insecticidal Soap.

Some of the ends of the branches have seemed soggy, so I've been breaking them off. Now only a couple of the branches have leaves on them, they're falling off quite quickly.

Can someone please help me decipher what type of plant this is so I can research it better online, or give me some suggestions on how to save it?

Thanks for your help!!! :)

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Here is a close up of one of the branches.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Your plant is a Dracaena marginata. I'm attaching a link which includes some background info and care advice.

Here is a link that might be useful: D. marginata plant profile

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:28PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

My father in law has one that I am also tryingto save. From what I have read, they dont like to be moist and would rather dry out etween waterigs. They also dont like sunlight. Perhaps a shadier home would suit him better?

I went through a phase where I was having issues with my house plants and I thought all of them had mited of some sort. From what I know WILL kow if it has mites. The only thing I know right now is soil plays a big key in the plant. I was using a miracle grow soil and the plants were WAY too moist. They were 2 and a half weeks between waterings and it was still damp. I changed the soil recently and hoping it will make a difference.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:53PM
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The Ficus Wrangler

You've got a dracaena marginata. Bad news is that, if the ends of the branches are soft, it's got rot, and even though there are a few green leaves, it's actually dead. No cure. Best to toss it. If you ever get another one, they like to get almost dry, all the way to the bottom of the pot, before watering again. And never treat for bugs or disease without being sure of what the plant has got. If the plant guy did not actually look at the plant to see if it had mites, he had no business telling you it did. And you can tell him The Ficus Wrangler said so.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hold a white piece of paper under the foliage & rap the stem smartly with your knuckles to shake loose any mites that might be on the plant. They'll be visible as fine moving specks about the size of fine pepper on the paper if you have them. If you find the little beggars, we'll figure out how to treat them - it won't be hard.

If you're a person who puts much stock in the odds, odds are that the plant has very serious issues afflicting its roots. The ACTUAL cause can be parsed in much the same way as the question about the chicken and the egg. Some will say it's from over-watering and others might suggest it's ultimately the fault of an overly water-retentive soil. I hold firmly to the later as being the real cause because eliminating an overly water-retentive soil makes it somewhere between very difficult and virtually impossible to over-water. It also ALLOWS the grower to water correctly, which is to say it allows you to water beyond the saturation point. This ensures that you are flushing salts from the soil that accumulate from fertilizers and tap water and provide the third unwanted leg of the triangle you get free of charge with water-retentive soils. The excess water retention rots roots and/or inhibits root function, and the excess level of soluble salts in the soil makes it increasingly difficult for the plant to take up water (Think of how curing salt actually pulls moisture from the cells of pork as ham or bacon cures, and you have the picture). Fix the soil and all of this goes away and the degree of difficulty it takes to bring along healthy plants is slashed dramatically. Honest. ;-)

I'll leave you a link (below) that goes over some of the things that can help you to avoid the pitfalls that bring most growers here in search of remediation. If it makes sense to you, and you feel even mildly inspired, I'll provide another link that goes into quite a bit of detail in an effort to provide you with a good understanding of how to make your soil choice work FOR you, instead of against you. In my estimation, that second link would represent the largest forward step a container gardener can take at any one time, but you can judge that if we get that far. I'll help as long as you have interest ....

If you want to try to save this plant, you should be looking at depotting & inspecting the condition of the roots. My guess is they will need remedial pruning and the plant will need repotting, but even that might not be intervention enough to ensure the plant's turn-around. ;-( More on that if you want to explore that option.

Best luck, JK (KJ?).


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

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Thank you everyone, this information has been very helpful.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:52AM
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