BrenJL
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Location: Kansas

Desperate for help with my Corn Plant

Hi, I hate posting a question as my first post in a new forum but I am very desperate. :oops: I have never been one to try and deal with plants, I can't even keep a boyfriend for very long but I got this plant for my office about 4 years ago and it was great, then we downsized so I brought it home and it still did well and then my dog died and once she passed the other 2 plants I had died almost instantly but this guy is trying to hold on, but in the past 7 months it has just lost all it had it seems. I don't know if there is any correlation but I seem to think there is. I don't know what to trim or if I should water more, water less? I have near my back sliding glass doors that face South so it gets a fair amount of sunshine.
Any help will be so appreciated, thanks.
Bren

[img]https://www.onlinetshirtgallery.com/images/Bre/CornPlant1.JPG[/img]
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[img]https://www.onlinetshirtgallery.com/images/Bre/CornPlant3.JPG[/img]
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Kisal
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Location: Oregon

You can rejuvenate the stem with all the dead leaves by cutting the cane off about 4 or 5 inches above the soil level.

Remove the leaves from the top part of the section of cane that you removed, and set it aside in a dry place, out of direct sun, until the cut ends have dried. (Allowing the ends to dry like that is called "callousing".) Then, plant the section, lying on its side, so the soil comes about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the cutting. Just be sure a strip of bare cane about 1/2" wide is left showing above the soil level. Moisten the soil and place the container out of direct light. Within 2 or 3 weeks, it should sprout new roots, and soon thereafter, it should sprout a new stem. You'll have a whole new plant.

The air in most homes is too dry for corn plants (Dracaena fragrans). They need high humidity, so the container should be placed on a humidity tray, or else the leaves should be misted a few times during the day.

You might also want to examine the plant to be sure it isn't infested with something like scale insects, or some other pest. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

BrenJL
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:10 pm
Location: Kansas

Kisal,
Thanks for your tips. I just want to make sure I understand. You are telling me to cut it (the part that is dying so bad) near the soil? So, cut it thru the thick stalk? What do most people use to cut like that? And on the part that isn't as sad as the other, when the tips of the leaves turn brown, what should I do? I have read a lot of 'caring for your Dracaena fragrans' articles but they seem to focus on healthy plants so I am not sure what do do with the parts that aren't as bad but are still unhealthy.
Also, the one stalk is leaning and I had tied it to the other with string about 2 years ago, should I stand it more upright? It is the part that you told me to cut.
thanks
Bren

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Kisal
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First of all, if you feel that you can wait a couple more months until spring arrives, I think you should do that. There are some green leaves, even on the stem that is doing so poorly, so I think you can safely wait that length of time. The whole process will go much more smoothly if you wait until spring.

Then, take a clean, sharp knife and cut completely through the cane, so that there is just a stub about 5" long sticking up out of the soil. (Yes, cut the one that's leaning off to the side, the one with all the brown/dried leaves.) I would use a kitchen knife, probably just a paring knife, but you can use any knife you're comfortable with. Wipe it with rubbing alcohol before you cut, so the wound won't be accidentally contaminated.

Brown leaf tips can be the result of fluoride in the water. Dracaenas are especially sensitive to it. It doesn't have to be added to the water, it can be a naturally occurring mineral. The plant will still be sensitive to it, and it will cause the leaves to look brown and burned. Sometimes, just the tips and edges of the leaves turn brown, but if the amount of fluorine in the water is high, the damage can be more extensive. Fluorine is not very stable, and it will escape from the water if you leave the water sit for 24 to 48 hours in an uncovered container. (I just let water sit in wide-mouth jugs on my kitchen counter until I need it for my plants.) This technique also rids water of excess chlorine.

Another thing that can cause browning of leaves is inadequate humidity, as I mentioned in my previous post.

I would stake the leaning stalk, using a thin length of dowel, or something similar. Don't use anything too thick, as it would disturb the roots too much. Tie the stalk to the stake. Then, add about an inch of fresh potting mix to the container. That amount of new soil won't harm either stalk, but will allow the plant to form more roots, giving it a sturdier base to hold its stems erect. When the stub sends out new top growth, you can tie it to the stake as needed. In their natural setting, the stalks of these plants flop onto the ground and form roots and send up new shoots. It's one of the ways they propagate themselves. Since big plants like these look awkward and ungainly when they flop over the edges of their containers, however, they are usually staked to hold them upright.

To maintain the plant, raise the humidity, either by placing the container on a humidity tray -- usually a shallow tray filled with pebbles. The tray should be the same diameter as the widest part of the plant. Another method is to mist the leafy part of the plant with water several times a day. Allow any water intended for the plant to sit long enough to remove any fluorine and chlorine, as described above. That should resolve most of the problems I can see that the plant has.

We haven't discussed how much or how often you water the plant. We can talk about that if you like, but I am under the impression that the plant did well while in your office. That leads me to believe your watering technique is fine. Is that correct?

Check the plant for insect infestations, especially spider mites and scale insects. Spider mites like warm dry conditions. They don't like high humidity. You can usually tell they're present by the telltale strands of webbing they create. If they've infested your plant, though, you'll need to get rid of them. They suck the sap from the plant, and can cause dead and drying leaves. Scale looks like little round bumps on the stems and undersides of the leaves. They suck the sap, too, and are a bit more difficult to get rid of, but it's important to help the plant in every way you can. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

BrenJL
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:10 pm
Location: Kansas

Kisal,

I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much your posts have meant to me. I have done most of what you have mentioned (misting and putting the stones under the planter so it hydrates, etc) and am waiting until the first of spring to cut it down some so it can start new.
Luckily there were no bugs or pests so I am glad I don't have to deal with that.
I peeled away all the dead leaves and in the last two days it has already sprouted 2 little leaves on the 2 parts I thought were pretty much goners. The one cane that has the most good leaves is showing some improvement as well as they are perking up more. I will keep it up and I hope it can live a long and healthy life. Thanks so much, I know it took time for you to make such informative and lengthy posts and I don't want you to think they were for naught.
Good luck with your plants as well!
Bren



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