Common Dracaena Problems – What’s Wrong With My Dracaena Plant
By: Teo Spengler
Dracaenas are palm-like trees and shrubs that are often grown as houseplants. They come in many shapes, heights and varieties, but many have strappy sword-shaped leaves and are evergreens. Read on for common dracaena problems and how to help.
What’s Wrong with my Dracaena?
Problems with dracaena houseplants usually involve inappropriate cultural care rather than something more serious. Plant diseases are very rarely a problem.
Dracaena cultural care is not difficult, but you need to pay attention to their requirements to keep them healthy. These plants need bright but indirect sunlight. They also need to be irrigated with tepid water on a regular basis when they dry out.
So what’s wrong with my dracaena houseplant, you ask? Dracaena plant issues in the home are usually water or pest related.
Common Dracaena Plant Issues
Too little water or very low humidity can cause the plant to get dry tips and edges. Too much water can result in dracaena plant issues like a sudden loss of leaves or root rot. Leaf loss and root rot can also be caused by poor drainage.
If you put these plants in direct sun, your dracaena problems can include round dry patches and streaks on the leaves. Yellowing tips can mean excess fertilization. This can also result from too much fluoride in the water.
Scale insects and mites are the most common insect pests of dracaena. You’ll see them on the leaves or else notice yellowing. Wash them off with soapy water or buy a treatment at the garden store.
More Serious Problems with Dracaena
Those growing dracaena plants outdoors will have to face more serious dracaena problems. These can include fusarium leaf spot and soft rot. Leaf blight may also occur on these plants but is less common.
If your dracaena plant issues show up as reddish or tan spots with yellow halos, the plant may have fusarium leaf spot, a fungus issue. The spotting will be on young leaves and usually near the leaf base. The way to prevent fusarium leaf spot is to cease overhead watering. The way to fix existing leaf spot is to apply a fungicide according to label directions.
If your problems with dracaena involve soft rot, the plant will look and smell like it is rotting. Lower leaves collapse. This is not a problem that can be cured, so dispose of the plant.
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Read more about Dracaena Plants
How to Grow Dragon Tree Indoors
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle
Dracaena marginata, more commonly known as a dragon tree, is an attractive plant with green sword-like, red-edged leaves. Native to Madagascar, the eye-catching spiky tree is known as a great entry plant for household gardeners—it's easy to care for, drought-tolerant, and nearly indestructible.
The slow-growing plant can be planted year-round and boasts tiny white flowers in the spring (though it rarely flowers indoors). This small tree will grow to about 20 feet in warm outdoor climates, but it is generally grown as a potted houseplant and kept pruned to 6 feet or less.
|Botanical Name||Dracaena marginata|
|Common Names||Dragon tree, dragon plant, Madagascar dragon tree|
|Plant Type||Broadleaf evergreen|
|Mature Size||15–20 ft. tall, 3–10 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil Type||Loamy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Neutral to acidic|
|Bloom Time||Spring (rarely flowers indoors)|
|Hardiness Zones||10–12 (USDA)|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Dracaena (Dragon Tree)
Lucky Bamboo Care
The best way to care for them is up for debate: some gardeners prefer to keep them in water and others plant them in soil for best results.
The choice is pretty much a personal preference as lucky bamboo seems to do well in either medium. It’s usually sold in a clear or decorative container with just rocks and water.
If you removed your bamboo from the container you purchased it in, you’ll most likely find that it’s been bound with a string or wrapped wire.
While the wire will hold your bamboo together, it will eventually damage the plant. As the bamboo grows, the string will cut into the stalks and can result in disease. Remove it so your plant can grow safely.
Bamboo will thrive in almost any area of the home where many other plants could not survive. In nature, bamboo grows in the shade of rainforest trees, so they prefer indirect, but bright sunlight.
If the plant receives too much direct sunlight, the leaves will burn and turn brown. But, if it gets too little sun, it will cause hamper the plants growth.
Lucky bamboo is a tropical plant, so it prefers warm temperatures. The temperature should always be at least 60°F, but the plant will thrive better in warmer temperatures.
Since the plant lives in water, there’s no guess work when it comes to watering lucky bamboo! All you need to do is to make sure that there’s always water in the container. Some people suggest that you change the water on a regular basis, but as long as clean water is used, it’s not necessary to keep changing it.
However, if the water begins to look as if it’s stagnating, it should be changed and the container washed thoroughly.
The chlorine found in tap water can cause damage to the plants leaves. You should either purchase spring water or place the tap water in an open container overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
When grown in potting soil, it should be kept just slightly moist and never soaking wet. And, you shouldn’t let the soil dry completely between waterings. Even thought the top of the soil may be dry, it can still be moist down in the soil. Always stick your finger into the soil to check it. When the soil is dry a full inch below the surface, it’s time to water it.
Bamboo only needs to be fertilized about every two months with a very weak solution of fertilizer. You can use a good quality plant food and mix it to one tenth of the recommended amount, or use a few drops of food that is made for aquarium plants.
After the first year of growth, it’s common for your lucky bamboo plant to have a knotted ball of container-shaped roots. While you do not have to re-pot it at this point, you may want to anyways.
All you need to do is pick a larger container than the existing one and place the plant back in a mixture of rocks and water. When adding water, make sure it’s a room temperature spring water to avoid shocking the root system.
If your lucky bamboo is growing out of control, do not fear! You can top it and bring it back down to size.
To top, use a sharp, sterilized cutting tool and choose an area of the stem that is around 1″ above a growth node. Slice it off and your bamboo will respond by growing bushier rather than taller.
Of course, you don’t have to throw away your cuttings — you can create little lucky bamboo plants!
Here’s a a quick guide to propagating lucky bamboo:
- Make sure the cutting you are going to propagate is around 4-6″ long
- Let the cutting dry overnight, then place in a container of distilled water
- Leave for 2-3 days.
- After 2-3 days, start to mist the cuttings to encourage new growth.