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Dracaena Marginata Dying

Posted by black_thumb_2010 Ontario (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 28, 10 at 22:12

I bought a potted Dracaena - it had 3 stalks. I probably over watered coz I found mold growing on the pot. I re-potted and cut back on watering. In the new pot initially the plant did well. A couple of days ago I noticed that one of the stalks got a little puffy. I felt the roots of the stalk and on one side the root seemed a lil puffy too. The leaves of that stalk are now drooping, turned yellow and falling off. The other stalks are doing fine. I give it 3/4 cup of water every week and fertilize it once a month with fertilizer sticks (that one has stick into the pot). I also found out that my son had given the drooping stalk a big shake up thinking it was already dead. I dont think the poor stalk will survive that :( Should I repot the healthy stalks? Does anyone have any advice for me?


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RE: Dracaena Marginata Dying

BT. First, what size was the old and now, new pot?

Stop using fertilizer sticks. In fact, stop feeding altogether until, 1. the Marginata resumes health and 2. it sends out new growth.
When you resume fertilizing, use a powder or liquid form.
Those sticks are useless..they basically fertilize the area their placed in..in other words, the entire rootball isn't getting fertilized.
Also, you're giving your plant more fertilizer than water. That's a no-no.

What do you mean, puffy stalks and puffy roots?
Also, why do you water using 3/4 cups? Depending on pot size, 3/4 cups isn't enough water. When plants get a drink, it's best watering in a circular motion so soil is evenly watered. If your pot is larger than 4", and I'd bet it is, your plant isn't getting adequate moisture.
Don't bother measuring or choosing certain days to water. When soil is a dry, give it a drink. D. Marginatas dislike wet feet. They rot..It's a good thing you noticed the mold, and even better it hasn't returned.

What did your son do? Gave it a big shake? Do you mean he literally shook the trunk? lol. That surely won't help..
I wouldn't discard the trunk. Marginata leaves wilt when soil is too dry or too wet.
It's possible it has salt build-up from too many fertilzer sticks.

I would first shower/hose soil (leach) until water drains out of drainage holes. Set your plant where it will get at the minimum, medium light. Since it's winter, a south or west window will be fine.
Do not rewater until soil looks and feels crumbly. Stick your finger into soil. If your finger comes out wet, wait a few days, and retest. A probe would be better than your finger, especially if the pot is deep..
When soil feels/looks crumbly, or if you lift pot and it's lighter in weight, 'than usual,' it's time for a drink.

Any sticks you see, remove.
One last thing...check leaves for insects..I don't think this is the reason leaves are wilting, but it's always good to be on the safe side. Look for webbing, dark or light lumps, or white, cottony splotches.

Good luck. Please give it a try, don't toss your plant unless you're positive it's dead. If the trunk is firm, it's alive. Toni


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RE: Dracaena Marginata Dying

Thanks Toni,
The plant originally came in a 6" pot- after a week of seeing roots shoot out through the holes at the bottom and out of the soil through the top I repotted it in a 10" one. Post mold - I repotted in the same pot - after I had cleaned the pot.
I havent fertilized it since a month now - and I'm not going to until my plant recovers (fingers crossed). How much water should I give it? Should water run out of the holes at the bottom? And then rewater once top 2" are dry?
There are no insects - I checked and rechecked.
Puffy stem? Ok - when I touch that stem my fingers touch the outer bark skin and then its like it has an air pocket and then I can feel the inner stem. This phenomenon is extending from the root upwards. The place where the leaves come from - still seems pretty healthy and firm.
My son said "this plant was dying. I thot it wanted to go to God". I think he wanted to uproot it.
I've used the fertilizer sticks - just twice. Should I still leach the plant?
Thanks for all your help Toni. I'm gonna hang onto my DM!!


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RE: Dracaena Marginata Dying

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 29, 10 at 14:43

In most cases, stem and root rot in D marginata plants comes as a result of a bacterial infection (Erwinia carotovora), which doesn't respond to chemical treatments. Warm and wet conditions promote the growth of this organism, so over-watering and heavy soils should always be avoided.

The disease I mentioned, and other soft rot diseases are usually first noticed on the basal (bottom) portion of the plant, most often at or just above the soil line or in roots. The affected part of the lower stem gets wet looking and dark, before it turns dark brown dark brown and turns spongy. The periderm (bark) usually separates from the cambium, which is the 'puffy' symptom you described. It also usually has the same odor as wetwood or slime flux in trees - a sour smell.

If all the stems have a common root system, it's unlikely the plant will maintain viability over the long term. If they are separate plants, started as individual cuttings, I would remove the infected plant and the associated roots, and repot the remaining cuttings in an appropriate soil - one that is durable, well-aerated, and free-draining. In advance, I'll say it's a poor time to be repotting, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Your call.

Fertilizer sticks provide nutrients in a form that is slowly soluble. As soon as the nutrients dissolve in the soil solution, they disperse throughout the container, so it's not true that they only fertilize in the immediate area of the sticks. Think of a sugar cube or teaspoon of salt dropped in a cup of cold water. As soon as the sugar or salt goes into solution, it evenly disperses throughout the water and reaches an equilibrium (isotonicity). The same thing happens with the sticks and the soil solution (water in the soil).

For a number of reasons, though, I don't like fertilizer sticks and would avoid using them if I could, though they are better than nothing if used appropriately.

Did I understand correctly - that you potted up, then returned the plant to the smaller pot it was originally in? Commonly, I suggest that you leach the container to try to ensure the level of soluble salts is as low as it can be, while still maintaining an adequate charge of nutrients in the soil, but how you decide to proceed with regard to what you do about the dying plant and repotting would probably have an impact on what steps are most appropriate .....

Al


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RE: Dracaena Marginata Dying

I'm going to try and repot the DM - removing the affected stem and associated root ball if any. This time the plants going back into the 6" pot.
Fingers crossed.


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RE: Dracaena Marginata Dying

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 30, 10 at 14:35

You do realize that your choice of soil is probably the most critical decision you'll make? A very high % of hobby growers, if they either knew how to or would make the effort to build their own well-aerated soils, could eliminate a large % of the problems that consistently show up on forums related to growing in containers. I can't stress enough, how important a good soil is to your success, and what it can do to increase the satisfaction you can get from your growing endeavors .... not to mention how much a good soil can widen the margin for grower error.

Al


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RE: Dracaena Marginata Dying

Al I've just seen another of your posts - where you have done the BB and pudding analogy to describe soil and its characteristics. That DID make me sit up and think about the soil we use. Would you be able to take me through the basics of making my own potting soil. Perhaps you've done this before, if yes, could you send me the link? I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks
BT


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