Re: Corn plant (Dracaena Massangeana) problems

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Posted by Newt on August 07, 2003 at 18:49:41:

In Reply to: Re: Corn plant (Dracaena Massangeana) problems posted by Erin on August 06, 2003 at 14:35:04:

: : : Hello all! My name is Irith (Eereet) Bloom, and I found this board through a web search while trying to figure out how to save my Dracaena Massangeana, which is suddenly unhappy. Apologies for the long message; I want to make sure I give any relevant information, and I know so little about plants that I just have to give ALL the information.

: : : The plant was part of a gift basket given to my husband, and I only just figured out what it's called. I once managed to kill a similar plant by overwatering, so I am definitely not overwatering this plant -- though I may be UNDERwatering it.

: : : Here's the problem. When we first got the plant, it had two healthy stems (canes?). One appears to have died, but is still in the pot, since it died after I repotted the plant. I repotted this plant from the original basket about six months ago. The pot is about a foot in diameter (and nearly a foot tall). The living stem is about a foot and a half tall. The living stem has three "branches." One is a rudimentary bud that has remained a bud for at least a month now. The other two were leafy branches that were getting taller and heavier, and two nights ago, they both began wilting (leaning to one side). I trimmed the older leaves thinking that perhaps the sheer weight of the branches was a problem, but that doesn't seem to have helped. I also watered the plant (for the first time in a few weeks).

: : : What's going on? Should I cut off the two leafy branches entirely and hope the bud grows in? Should I repot the plant (without the dead stem)? Or will the leaves straighten themselves out given the right kind of fertilizer?

: : : I look forward to your advice. Thank you!

:
: : Hi Irith,

: : You've given great descriptive info here. It sounds to me that you are underwatering. Water your plant when the top inch of soil is dry. You can put your finger in up to the first knuckle and if it's dry, then water it. Don't allow water to sit in the saucer for more than an hour. You should probably have to water this plant once a week or once every two weeks.

: : I wouldn't fertilize the plant now as it's been very stressed. You could add a tablespoon of milk to the watering can. Yup, the stuff you put in coffee. Or just add water to the milk container when it's empty and use to water your houseplants. The calcium and minerals in the milk with help with root growth and general health.

: : Try watering more often as I suggested and see if the plant perks up before you remove any more leaves. You can either cut the dead stem to the top level of the soil or repot.

: : The plant should be in a pot that is about one third the height of the plant. It sounds like you have a 12" pot. To know for sure, measure from the top rim to the bottom of the pot. When the plant is root bound and the roots fill the entire pot, repot in a pot that is 2" larger. It sounds like the pot may also be too large for the plant. Do you know what size pot it came out of?

: : Hope this helped,
: : Newt

: I do plants for a living, and the info you gave is good, but I feel that I must warn about watering too often with milk water. It might be good about once a year but I have gone into many offices where they constantly poured their old coffee into the plant and it smelled like somone puked in it, so be careful. Even if it is diluted if you put enough into it it smells-bad. You should just go buy some houseplant fertilizer.
: Erin

Hi Erin,
That is very interesting information and I agree that pouring coffee with cream and/or sugar into a plant OR using a tablespoon of milk diluted in a gallon or two of water to water your plants are two VERY different situations. Coffee and sugar are NOT recommended by me under any circumstances, unless the coffee is in the form of used grounds.

I have been using this method of adding milk to my watering can to water my houseplants (about 39 plants) and my outdoor potted annuals for about 10 years now, and none of my plants or their soil smells.

Glad you mentioned the coffee! That truly would be awful! :-)

I don't remember if I said that the milk would be a substitute for fertilizer, but I don't think I did. Anyway, I recommend using either fish emulsion or sea kelp as well as the milk.

Regards,
Newt

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