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Corn Plant

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Corn Plant

Postby thegardener » Nov 14, 2008 2:28 pm

Hello everyone. I'm new to the Canadian Gardening forums. I hope to learn and share here. :)

We bought a house in June that had a resident corn plant. This plant is growing around an inside pole. In June the plant was dark green but now the bottom leaves are drying up and the rest of the leaves are a paler green. Is this natural for this plant? Does this plant require a little water or a lot of water?
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby orchidguy » Nov 14, 2008 6:05 pm

Your dracaena fragrans "Massangeana" has the natural tendency to drop its lower leaves. The variegation that you are losing in the leaves is probably due to low light. They like to be kept evenly moist throughout the year, but not sopping wet. Welcome to the forum, and I hope this has answered some of your questions
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby thegardener » Nov 14, 2008 7:00 pm

Thank you Orchidguy! That does answer those questions. I do have a couple more. This plant's leaves are solid green, not variegated. In the pictures I've seen of this plant, it had variegated leaves. Is that just a different variety of draecena fragrans? Also, should I try to get more light onto onto it somehow? Will the lesser light of winter damage it? I can't move it closer to the window because it is twisted around the pole.

Thanks again!
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby bluebird » Jan 13, 2009 11:46 am

Well I'm not orchidguy, but can answer your question methinks.

True Draceana fragrans is olive green with no variegation. (Fragrans is named for the very fragrant blooms stalks.)

The very popular indoor plant and the generally referred to by the common name "Corn Plant" is Draceana fragrans cv. Massangeana. In the biz we just call these plants Mass Cane and they sport the yellow striping on the leaf.

There are two other but less frequently used Dracaena fragrans 'Lindenii' that has a yellowish leaf with green stripes and another called "Victoria" with white and cream stripes. They are also referred to in a general manner as "Corn Plant".

If you plants have always been solid green then you likely have D. fragrans rather than Massangeana and in that case, solid green colour is the norm.

Make sure it is getting some decent light (near a window or curtain filtered sunlight) and good drainage. Keeping it too wet or keeping it too dry can both cause leaf drop. If the lower leaves are turning a mushy soft yellow before dropping then it probably is sitting wet too long. This can cause root rot with resulting leaf drop.

Make sure the container isn't too big for the plant causing it to sit wet too long.

On the other hand, despite the big strong looking canes, they have a delicate root system that can be damaged by letting it get too dry and causing the roots to fizzle. At that point when it is watered the roots then rot also causing leaf drop.

As well noted by Orchidguy, keeping them evenly moist is ideal. Let them dry down part way (check by lifting the pot or poking your fingers in) before giving them a top to bottom soak. Don't allow them to sit in a puddle of water though.

Once you find the right balance of light/ water and fertilizer they should live a long happy life!
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby bluebird » Jan 13, 2009 12:33 pm

I reread your initial description and by that we can't rule out some other species of solid green Dracaena such as Janet Craig or even Lisa Cane...so a photo would be helpful if possible. I can't recall seeing D. fragrans wrapped around a pole...but it could happen if the growth beyond the cane base was tall enough! :)

But the care would be the same for most Dracaena save for a few of the varieties that require higher light levels to maintain the variegation.
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby thegardener » Jan 13, 2009 7:19 pm

Thank you, Carol. From what you said, I may have overwatered it in the beginning. The bottom leaves continue to dry up and drop off. They don't become soft, they dry out. However, since my first post, it has grown new leaves on top and it is sprouting from the root and from the stem in spots!? I can't move it closer to a window because it is wrapped around a post. The room is very light with big windows but it isn't close to any of the windows.

I'm at work now but I'll try to post some pics when I get home tonight if I can figure out how.
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby Smitty » Jan 14, 2009 10:56 am

bluebird..we have the varigated one at work. They positioned it right up close to an uncurtained west facing window. it is in a self watering pot. the new shoots are turning brown as fast almost as they came out and the older leaves are turning brown around the edges. I don't know much but figured in natural habitat they would be at bottom of canopy, light filtered by larger plants. so I moved it back to the east corner of the room..away from the window but still getting lots of indirect light and check it regularly to make sure the self waterer is full. They did just transplant it(about 4 months ago) into this very large pot....maybe it is still shock??? or too big a pot???
personally I don't care for these plants or any other that doesn't bloom but I still wouldn't want it to pass on if I can prevent it unlike when I was a young brat and tried ending the life of my mothers diefenbachia(sp?) with a shot of my dad's whiskey every now nad again.BTW it didn't work :)
""Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
Smitty BBS :-)
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby orchidguy » Jan 14, 2009 12:07 pm

Dracaena are native to Africa and Canary Islands, ranging from open scrublands, dry open slopes and the floor of the forest. Smitty, the plant at work was probably recieving too much sunlight combined with the dry air of most offices, which leads to tip and leaf damage.
When mature, I think Dracaena fragrans is a beautiful plant, with leaves reaching up to 48'' long, and very tree-like in nature. In the wild these can grow to 50' tall and produce heavily scented white flowers.
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby bluebird » Jan 14, 2009 3:25 pm

Hey Smitty...lol..watering your Mom's Deif with the whiskey...you BAD girl-lol I must admit that they aren't one of my most fave plants either, but some of the small hybrids are quite nice these days. I do like most types of draceanas though as they are very good interior landscaping plants and I don't know what we would have done without them.

Interestingly, Draceana fragrans has been enjoyed as indoor plant in Europe since the 1700s (just read that in my fav Lynn Griffith ref. book and didn't know that!) Draceana fragrans is native to the African region of Upper Guinea and it grows there in humid tropical forests, so yes, while young they prefer indirect canopy type light with rich well drained medium.

Today's "Corn Plants" are grown commercially in Central America and the Caribbean where they cut the canes into staggered heights and then ship them to South Florida nurseries where they are potted up anywhere from one to five per container. There they grow roots and sprout new canes from the larger cane. Once I get more unpacked here I have a pic I took at one of the Florida nurseries showing the process.

Seeing the large cane planted gives the impression that this is a very mature well rooted plant, which isn't always the case. The roots can be quite delicate and can easily be damaged when moving or repotting the plant.

They actually do a lot better in a smaller container as this keeps them from sitting wet too long, especially when they are slightly dormant during winter months. It also gives the canes a lot more stability.

So along with Dan's good suggestions of what to consider, I would also consider that your office Corn Plant could be suffering root damage.

In plants that grow from large canes, often they can "live" off of the cane itself for many months despite the fact that the roots are almost non-existent. If the new growth is coming in brown and moist and the leaves look a bit wizened with soft brown at the edges, that could be the reason.
That would be the worse case scenerio, so let's hope it's only because of the dry air and direct sunlight that is causing the problem as that is easily solved.

If you get the plant stabilized and showing healthy growth, you can remove any of the damaged leaves as they are replaced by healthy ones. But not too many at a time and no watering with whiskey! :lol:

tg, It is very positive that you are getting new growth..good news! I hope you can post a photo as I'd love to see it growing on your post...sounds quite neat! 8)
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Re: Corn Plant

Postby Smitty » Jan 15, 2009 12:43 am

thanks for the info Dan and Carol. I'll leave it be now for awhile in it's new spot and see what progresses with it..if it continues to look unhealthy in a couple of months I'll pull it out of the pot and have a look at the root system and put it in a smaller pot ?
Dan...I don't work in an office.I work with the developmentally challenged in an institution(ooops swear word to some). my work area is a newly renovated10 bedroom cottage . When my time comes for a care home I wanna go there not to the nursing home please.
I promise no more watering plants :) with whiskey
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