The cornstalk plant, also known as corn plant, or botanically as Dracaena fragrans, is a tall, robust houseplant. A well-cared for cornstalk plant can live for years and reach heights of up to 20 feet. Cornstalk plants make a great focal point or accent to a room's decor, but they are poisonous so care around pets is important. Cornstalk plants do not require much light as an indoor plant, and while they are tall, they are not a wide plant so they do not take up much floor space in smaller rooms.
The biggest challenge in caring for the cornstalk plant is watering. The plant grows in soil surrounding volcanoes in Hawaii or South America made by lava flow. Lava soil is a hard, baked soil that does not absorb well, and it is not easy to tell when it is too dry. With that type of soil, color is the best way to judge when your plant needs more water. When lava soil gets light, water your cornstalk plant until the soil gets dark. Do not over-water cornstalk plants; they are used to dry conditions in their native habitat. The cornstalk plant's roots are very small and close to the stalk so water directly around the plant base.
To keep the height of a cornstalk plant controlled you must cut off new center growth. Do not cut the outer, older stalks. When you cut outer stalks, it leaves only the rod-like stalks and a ragged appearance. Cuttings placed in the soil often take root and grow into new plants.
Cornstalk plants are very easy to keep indoors and normal house temperatures are fine. They have no special humidity needs and thrive in average home conditions.
Because the cornstalk plant has shallow, small roots, it may get unstable as it grows taller. Insert a brace between the bottom of the plant and the pot, or stake the plant with a loose tie to keep it standing straight.
Cornstalk plants do not have many enemies. The main pests to watch out for are mealybugs and spider mites. While bugs are not a big problem with these plants, they are prone to leaf spot disease and root rot. They do not tolerate excessive water in the soil well, and the shade created by top leaves kills off lower leaves, robs lower leaves of their color, and causes other wilting problems. Proper pruning helps alleviate leaf spot problems, and proper watering solves root rot problems.
Very few areas in the United States are compatible with cornstalk plant propagation. The southernmost regions of Florida, California and all of Hawaii are the only areas where it is possible to plant cornstalk plants outdoors.