Dracaena Plant Care

Overview

Dracaena plants grace homes and offices across the country. Often called the corn plant, the dracaena family of plants features over 40 different varieties. The common houseplant dracaena features wide blade leaves arching outward from a center stem. Different cultivars features both variegated or solid color leaves. This hardy plant has an upright growing habit and can reach heights up to 10 feet.

Light Requirements

Find a spot in your home featuring low to medium light for the dracaena. A low-light location has no direct sunlight. If you position a low-light dracaena in the sun you'll soon see a yellowing of leaves. Dracaenas prefer indirect light and tolerate a location with north-facing windows. Check the planting label with your cultivar to determine light requirements (see Resources for more information on houseplant lighting).

Soil

Rootings from the dracaena plant should be placed in fresh potting soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, based on recommendations from the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. Transfer nursery plants to a larger container and add new potting soil mixture around the plant. Potting soil contains a very limited amount of fertilizer and essential nutrients for houseplants. As a result, the beneficial ingredients eventually leach out the bottom of the pot. Reusing old potting soil gets your new dracaena off a bad start. When repotting, rinse old potting soil off the roots and give the plant a fresh supply in a larger pot.

Watering

Most dracaenas prefer consistently moist soil that dries slightly between watering. Don't allow water to sit in the drainage tray of the pot---this causes root rot. This plant loves humidity so misting once a week with lukewarm water produces brighter and healthier foliage. Dracaena cannot tolerate excessive levels of fluoride, so using fluoride-free bottled water may benefit a troubled plant. Check the plant label provided from the nursery for the best information on the water needs of a particular cultivar.

Fertilizer

Apply an all-purpose plant food monthly during the warm months of the year. Avoid using fertilizers high in superphosphate since this product may cause plant death due to increased levels of fluoride. The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service recommends careful use of fertilizer to limit leaf burn. Begin fertilizing at two-month intervals to determine the response of the plant, and gradually increase frequency to once a month during the spring and summer.

Problems

All houseplants struggle at times even with the best care. Gardeners often see changes in plant health with the change of seasons. The introduction of heat into the home causes soil to dry quickly and sucks the humidity out of the air. Cool drafts from windows wreak havoc on a tender tropical plant since dracaena prefer 60- to 70-degree temperatures. Maintain the best growing conditions for the plant year round: Watch the light availability in the room to determine if repositioning the plant will keep it healthy. Move dracaena away from drafts and heat registers. Leaf tips will turn brown with decreased humidity, so accommodate the need for increased humidity with regular misting.

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About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.