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Is this Dracaena sick?

Posted by purpleinopp 8b AL (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 6, 12 at 9:11

I have 2 questions about this plant I bought about a year ago. First is a leaf issue that looks like some kind of critter inside the leaves. It's either on the top or bottom and not really visible from the unaffected side. What is this?

The other thing is on the stem. I thought it was just an "old wound" when I brought it home and I wish I had a picture of it then because I'm probably just making things up in my mind but it may be getting bigger. It is not soft or mushy.

It seems to be healthy and since I've had it, you can see the difference in the size and color of the leaves.

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RE: Is this Dracaena sick?

Morning Purple,

The top mar looks like a worm. lol.. Does it stick out or embedded in the leaf?

Purple, a couple of my older Dracaenas with thicker trunks have the this problem???...
Don't know if it's normal, but like your beautiful striped Dracaena, my D. draco, 'now w/a trunk,' has the same thing.
First, I thought an animal had gnawed the trunk, then I assumed rot.

Wish I had an answer. I am curious what and if someone knows the cause in certain Dracaena trunks. Toni

RE: Is this Dracaena sick?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 6, 12 at 10:50

I think the first issue could easily be a residual symptom of oedema, which can result from over-watering at any point, but especially during periods of cool conditions and low light. An unscientific way to think about oedema is like this: The roots are pushing water upward. If the plant can't use all the water being sent, some of it causes cells to burst and die. During low light and cool temperatures, photosynthesis (uses water) and respiration are slowed, which compounds the problem to the degree that over-watering may not even be a necessary component for oedema to become an issue.

When herbaceous plants are wounded, the cambium often dies back (from dessication) a considerable distance from the wound site. In order for the plant to close the wound, new callus tissue needs to form a collar and roll over the old, dead cambium. This can cause an unsightly swelling. It's a common problem for bonsai practitioners because of how critical they are about appearances (bulges & reverse taper of branches/trunk are shunned), but the problem is actually more pronounced on the softer plants as opposed to those that are woody.

To minimize the scarring, you can hollow out the wound with a very sharp knife so the wound is concave, & make sure the cambium is trimmed so it forms as close to an even oval surrounding the wound as possible. Then, paint the wound with waterproof wood glue right to the edge of the wound so all surfaces that could lose moisture are covered. Alternately, you could smear Vaseline or Preparation-H on the wound to keep it moist and facilitate "healing".


RE: Is this Dracaena sick?

Toni, thanks. The spots are slightly raised, uneven feeling, and hollow inside. I ripped one open looking for a critter but didn't find anything critter-like inside.

Thanks for the info, Al. When TS Debby came through I made sure all of the pots were as wet as they would get for the added weight, and it did get a lot cooler. It was also very cloudy for a few days. So that sounds like a likely explanation. I also saw 2 of those spots on china doll tree. A few little spots don't bug me (pun intended!,) just wanted to take action ASAP if folks thought it was some kind of critter.

In lay terms, I'm going to think of it as plant zits, a growing pain.

As long as the spot on the trunk really isn't spreading, I think I'll just leave it alone but have mentally stored the info for future reference if needed. It's more of a hollow than a bump. Where the stem gets fatter above that is where it started to grow much longer, wider, more colorful leaves.

RE: Is this Dracaena sick?

Purple, no critter...well, that's a relief.

I think Al suggested glue/Vaseline on the trunk.

Sprinkle a little Cinnamon inside the area. Can't hurt, right?

RE: Is this Dracaena sick?

I wouldn't use vaseline on it. Some years ago I put some on the trunk of a coffee tree, Coffea arabica. It ring-barked the tree killing it.

Cinnamom powder is a good (and safe) fungicide, so it would help for that type of issue.

Dracaenas are pretty much 'cast iron' plants, and yours does look quite healthy. I have a few of those variegated ones, they look great when they get bushy. And the fragrance of their flowers is phenomenal. It fills the air for quite a distance around.

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