Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Dracaena | Search the catalog for: Dracaena

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: House plants, Dracaena

I recently repotted my Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana.' Some of the leaves have turned brown. Can you tell me what might be causing this?


We cannot diagnose plant problems via email. However, we may be able to give you some ideas of what might be happening. The browning leaves could be the result of too much or too little water. The soil should be kept lightly moist, but avoid overwatering. Avoid giving fluoridated water, as this link from University of Vermont suggests this plant is sensitive to fluoride. It is also sensitive to temperature changes (up or down) and should not be near heating or air-conditioning vents. Repotting may have caused some stress to the roots. According to The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant (Storey Publishing, 2005), brown spots on leaves can be the result of sun scorch. This plant prefers moderate to bright indirect light.

Here is a link to discussions from a gardening forum sponsored by the University of British Columbia. Here is another from the same site.

Here is a link to information about diagnosing problems with houseplants from Penn State Extension.

Date 2019-11-14
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Dracaena

I inherited a Dracaena from a co-worker. She had it for 4 years and it stayed nice and dark green the whole time, but it never grew. I've had it a little over 6 months and it has almost doubled in size. The trouble is that all the new leaves have lighter green streaks and imperfections in them. I water the plant once a week, following my co-worker's instructions, letting the soil dry out on top. The plant is about 7 feet from a window that is covered with blinds, so it gets its light mainly from the ceiling fixtures which are 12-15 feet up. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?


The most common problem with Dracaena is usually over- or under-watering. Also, this plant is very sensitive to fluoride. Some varieties naturally have variegated leaves, but if your plant used to be dark green and now is not, that can't be the reason. Dracaena needs moderate to bright indirect light, temperatures of 65-75 degrees, and fertilizing every 2 weeks in spring and summer (balanced fertilizer), monthly feeds in the fall. Keep lightly moist but do not over-water. According to The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant (Storey Publishing, 2005), pale leaves with faded variegation patterns signify too little light or not enough fertilizer. In some office situations, plants may need fertilizer every 2 weeks year-round. You may need a brighter site, as well. If, however, you would describe the leaves as droopy and yellow, that could be a sign of root rot from excess water (although I doubt that's it, since you have been letting it dry out between waterings. Check anyway that the plant never has standing water at its base). Mature plants can be re-potted every 2-3 years, and it sounds like your plant might need a larger pot. The fact that it grew so tall so quickly almost makes me think it's striving for the light.

Clemson University Extension has a guide with general information on the care of this plant. To be certain of what the problem is, you might want to take pictures and bring sample leaves to a Master Gardener Clinic.

Date 2019-05-18
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Pruning, Plant cuttings, Dracaena

My indoor Dracaena is getting too tall. I'd like to prune it, and maybe use the cuttings to start new plants. How do I do this?


You should be able to do both tasks. The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant (Storey, 2005) says "when plants become too tall, cut off the cane at any height. New leaf clusters will grow from just below where the cane was cut. You can cut sections into 6-inch pieces and root them like stem cuttings."

You might also find this discussion from University of British Columbia Botanical Garden's online forum useful.

Here is more information, from University of Florida, which describes how pruning will result in two or more branches forming where the pruning cut was made: "Cut one or two of the stems to a point where new foliage is needed."

Date 2019-11-07
Link to this record only (permalink)

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords

Search Again: