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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Dracaena Fragrans

    I recently purchased a Dracaena Fragrans. At first, I kept it near the
    window where it was getting plenty of sunlight. Then some of the leaves
    started getting brown in them. I did some research and saw that they
    require medium to low light. So, I moved it about 15-20 feet away from
    the two windows in my living room. I water it about once a week (usually
    when it is dried about one inch deep). However, more of the leaves are
    turning brown--it starts from the tip and is working its way up the
    leaves. I'm not sure what I"m doing wrong...maybe somebody can help

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Well, I can't offer much solution, but I can tell you I have the exact same problem. My Dracaena Fragrans came with two stalks (basically, 2 plants in one pot), as they usually do, and one of the stalk, the shortest one, did exactly what you described. The leaves turned brown and eventually died, and I'm left with one leaf on it as I write to you.

    I have found very little info on the web about it, and plan to go see the store that sold it as soon as I get the chance to see if they have any ideas. I tried repotting it, which changed nothing (I did, however, notice that the roots of the plan in trouble looked different, they were more brownish, than the roots of the healthy stalk), and I doubt it's a bug of some sort cause it would have infected the other stalk. Same reasoning with too much or too little lighting, or too cold or too warm a room.

    The only thing I read recently is to avoid watering it with chlorinated water. Apparently Dracaenas are very sensitive to chlorine, and it has the effect of browning it's leaves. About 2 wks ago, I changed from tap water to bottled water, and I can't say I've seen a change yet... But it may just bee too soon to tell. Hopefully this will be it...

    Please let me know if you find a solution, and good luck!

  3. #3
    'medium to low light' depends on where you are.
    Ours grow outside in the tropics, some in full sun.
    Sunlight through a window in the (northern?) temperate
    zone may not even be enough for a dracaena.
    They may be tro[pical rainforest understory plants
    to some extent, but in most places they'll still get more
    sunlight than in most (again, northern) temperate sone
    places in November.

    It sound like your dracaenas my suffer from overwatering/waterlogging.
    Watering with non-chlorinated water is probably a good idea, but you
    don't have to buy it bottled. Put some water into an open watering
    can for a day or so and the chlorine will have evaporated.

    Maren, Hilo, HI.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    I don't know how your dracaena is going, but I thought I'd let you know of how my situation evolved :

    The shortest of the two stalks of my dracaena finally died completely, despite my efforts to save it. All the leaves turned brown and then fell, and the roots are all dead. I went to a flowershop/garden center in my area and talked about the problem. They told me that if the plants had no live roots left, there was one option that could possibly save it.

    I made a small (about 1/4 of an inch, maybe ba bit more) incision in the trunk. I applied a tiny bit of root stimulating powder (sorry, I don't have the name with me, but I can get back to you on that if you wish) on the incision and covered it up with very moist moss. I covered the whole thing with plastic cellophane wrap and I check to see it is still moist everyday. The person I spoke to said this may help the plant grow new roots, wich I could then plant in the soil. I really hope it works. This is, obvioulsy, a last resort solution, to consider when all esle failed and there are no live roots left on the plant.

    I hope your situation isn't as critical as mine, your plant may even have recovered. If so, great! If not, I hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Aloha Julie,

    this is a good idea, and it may very well work.
    Dracaenas (like cordylines too) grow quite well from cuttings.
    - I sometimes just lay them on the ground, we usually get a lot of rain
    here, and wait for them to grow out the sides. Quite often vegetative
    growth first, but roots too. -
    It may work, if you cut off all the dead parts, to just either stick it into
    the ground or lay it flat on the ground, but if you have rooting powder I'm sure
    it will work better. In addition to checking that it stays moist, also make sure
    that it isn't too wet.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    I'm still having dracaena problems...! Here's what happened since my last entry: I did the incision to try and get my plant to grow new roots... but then, a few weeks later, I had to leave for a few months. I left my beloved plant under my father's care (I live with him) but he didn't water it... so it died. Because he felt bad, he bought me a bran new dracaena, just like the other when it was new:). I was quite happy, right up until I saw it doing the exact same thing as the other one! The tips started to brown, then the whole leafs, and... well, now it's in a pittiful shape, just like the other one. It's not dead, but if it keeps loosing leafs at this rate, it will probably be soon. So I must be doing something wrong!

    Trying to figure it all out, I searched possible answers. I tried watering it less (every other week, letting the soil dry really well in between waterings) and watering it more (a few times a week)... I tried less sunlight (it's by a window so it should be getting enough...) and I let the water sit before watering so it would get rid of the chlorine. The plant seemed to keep getting worse at the same rate, no matter what I did. The plant does seem to have some odd fibers in between the leafs, I don't know if it's normal. At first, I though "spider mites", but it doesn't look like a web so much as seeds from a dandelion...(and, obviously, that's not what it is... it's winter here in Canada and there isn't any pollen around :))

    I decided to really investigate pests, in case that was to blame. After actually looking at about 10 leaves with a microscope-like magnifiying glass, I found 2 insects that looked quite alike. They are really, really tiny (the size of a small grain of sand), but under the microscope-like glass, I could see they were brown, had 6 legs and something that looked like wings (and, I think, antenas...). When searching on google, I found nothing that really fit that bug's description, so really, I don't know what it is. I can't give a picture either, because of its size... I also found one worm today, in the soil (only one, though). It was small (about half an inch), off-white, and kind of crunchy (ish!)...

    Any thoughts on what this may be? Does it look like a pest problem? Any other ideas?

    Thank you so much for any suggestions! I really like my plant and would love to save it!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Maryland zone 7
    Hi Julie,

    Gosh, you sure have had your hands full with dracaenas.**:?** It sounds like you have spider mites and possibly fungal gnat larvae in the soil.* Let's start with the spider mites.* Is this what you saw?

    Fungal gnats larvae could be what you saw in soil.* Any tiny flies around the plant?* Click on the pic on the right for the adult and the larvae.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Hi Newt,

    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, it didn't really look like spider mites or fungal gnat larvae. When I looked at the bug again, I saw the "wings" better and now I'm not sure that's what they were... if it is, they would be more of a hard shell wing, like you would see on a beatle... only, the rest of the bug didn't look like a beatle at all... sorry, it's so hard to describe...:?.

    I did try to find more bugs eversince I gound the 2 I wrote about, and had no success... so, at least, if it's a pest problem, it doesn't look like it's very bad... I'm suspecting some form of sucking insect, though, because my plant has a few brown spots on it, which I know are a sign, and I even found some of the sticky stuff they leave behind on some of the leaves. I know it's not an aphid, cause I've seen those before in my garden, and it doesn't look like other insects I found online either...(mealy bugs and the like)...

    I was thinking about maybe spraying the plant with soapy water to see if it helps... I heard it could be used against some pests. Any idea if this could make matters worse, or is it something I can try even without identifying the tiny buggers?

    Other than that, my plan is to let the plant dry out a bit more than usual, in case it's overwatering (I really doubt it, since, with all my dracaena problems, I've changed watering frequency before and it just kept deteriorating... but you never know) and actually add a bit of plant food to the water next time I water it... I've never used artificial fertilizer in my whole life... but I'm getting desperate...

  9. #9
    Hi Julie,

    I'm not Newt, but I'll reply anyway [img]images/emoticons/big_grin.gif[/img]

    If these things are in the soil you may consider putting the whole planter
    into a bucket with soapy water for a while (hours, not days). Soapy
    water works well with e.g. aphids, and on most plants. The only one
    I have problems with is my apple tree, but apple trees aren't very happy in
    the tropics anyway. Use a mild dish detergent or liquid soap, I usually
    use Ivory or Palmolive. For dilution see e.g. or
    (I tend to use more soap, but I usually only spray plants with the

    Any kind of fertilization will make the plant stronger and more resistant
    to damage.

    Good luck,


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Maryland zone 7
    Julie, you may have scales.* They have a hard shell like a beetle but arean't shaped like a beetle.* They come in different colors such as tan, brown, creme, pink and black.* Is this what you see?

    Usually Neem oil will work well on these if insecticidal soap doesn't.*

    Maren's idea of soaking the soil with soapy water is a good one, but I wouldn't recommend detergent as it can be too strong for the plants and has more phosphate residue then soap.* You can make your own insecticidal soap.

    Hi Maren!!


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