Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Cut Back Cornstalk House Plants

Corn-stalk plants (also called corn plants) offer indoor plant enthusiasts a tolerant hardy tall houseplant for use as a dramatic decorative accent inside the home. The corn-stalk plant, also called Dracaena fragrans Massangeana, originated in Hawaii and grows on cane-like stumps that look like tree trunks. Corn-stalk plants can grow 15 to 20 feet tall and get their nickname from their resemblance to corn crops. This houseplant has variegated dark green and yellow leaves. Learning how to cut back corn-stalk plants involves assessing how much growth you need to remove for the health of the plant.

Evaluate the condition of the plant. Pruning back a house plant can be motivated by a number of factors such as dead or dying foliage, space or simply wanting to propagate the plant for additional use throughout the house. Look for areas on the plant with diminished leaf color, wilted leaves or thinning growth.

Decide if you prefer to simply top off the plant and face cutting back the corn-stalk plant a year later. A more severe pruning will increase the health of the plant and give the opportunity to root the stalks to create another plant. This decision is simply a matter of preference based on how the grower wants the plant to look.

Clip off the top part of the plant at the selected measurement site. This portion of the plant can be rooted in water for a few weeks and then transferred to another pot once roots appear. New growth on the pruned plant will appear below the cutting points. This type of pruning promotes growth right at the site of the cut so expect a bushier plant after topping it off.

Perform a major cutting back of the corn-stalk plant by making the pruning cut at some point along the canes. Cut cleanly using a sharp knife to a level 1 to 2 feet above the potting soil. New shoots will form below the cutting point.

Trim back damaged leaves using pruning clippers. Remove small portions of foliage for slight damage and clip back the entire lead to the stem for major leaf damage. Trimming encourages the plant to direct energy to living growth areas of the plant instead of stressed areas.


Water the corn-stalk plant when the soil appears lighter in color and dry to the touch. Do not over water. Corn-stalk plants prefer bright light but can tolerate moderate indoor lighting. Corn stalks don't require regular fertilizer so omit this addition to the plant except one or time times per year.

Remember these plants can grow very tall and can be very top heavy as a result. Secure the plant to prevent damage to your flooring and the foliage on the plant.

Garden Guides