How to Care For Dracaena Fragrans

Dracaena Fragrans, also known as corn plants, is native to West Africa and tropical Africa. It has been a popular house plant in Europe since the 19th century, and it has also become quite popular in the United States.

It has many advantages as a house plant. Its foliage helps clear the air, thus making the house more habitable. The vegetation, which is usually variegated, improves the appearance of your home. Dracaena Fragrans has many things to offer, and that’s why you should take good care of this plant.

Physical Characteristics

The plant is characterized by a cane that looks like a thick cane. The stem can grow to a height of up to seven feet in uncontrolled conditions. However, since it is a house plant, it is unlikely you will allow it to reach its total height inside your home.

There are a few varieties of Dracaena Fragrans with slightly varying physical characteristics. They are as follows.

Dracaena Fragrans

This is the original dracaena plant. It has solid green foliage that is thin and maize-plant-like. This appears to be the plant from which all other varieties could have proceeded. Some gardeners prefer it for its green color, but most would rather have the more colorful variants.

Dracaena Fragrans Massangeana

This is the most popular Dracaena Fragrans variety. Its leaves have a solid green color but a bold yellow line running at its center. The plant has a lot of foliage when you have taken good care of it, and these leaves give it a lovely appearance.

dracaena massangeana plant
Photo by Pinterest

Dracaena Fragrans Lindenii

This variety has leaves shaped like the original and Massangeana, but the yellow stripes on leaves are found on the edges of the leaf. The solid green color remains at the center of the leaf. The yellow lines are not as thick as in other varieties. In many instances, it is just a whiff of the color, but they vary in thickness from plant to plant and sometimes from leaf to leaf.

dracaena lindenii
Photo by Pinterest

Dracaena Fragrans Victoriae

Like Massangeana, this variety’s yellow line runs through the midriff. However, this plant’s leaves are different in appearance. They are broader on the rear and tapering towards the front. The shorter, triangular leaves and the beautiful stripe running from the back to the show are reasons some people consider this variety to be more attractive than others.

While Dracaena Fragrans varieties have some physical differences, their husbandry is precisely the same, so the care guide below applies to them.

Dracaena Fragrans Care

Toxicity

The plant is toxic to pets but not harmful to humans. ASPCA says that ingesting the plant causes hypersalivation, dilated pupils, vomiting, and the puke sometimes contains blood. It can also cause anorexia and depression in cats.

Lighting

Dracaena fragrans don’t do well under direct sunlight. If you put it under the sun’s full glare, the leaves get scorched, eliminating the plant’s best feature, its leaves. It would help if you kept it under indirect sunlight to protect the fragile leaves from getting scorched. It is important to note that the plant doesn’t do well in darkness. If you keep it under dim light, it will produce little foliage, and you don’t want that either.

Therefore, the correct placement of the plant is under medium or bright indirect sunlight. This means keeping them next to a window but further inside where direct rays can’t reach. If the orientation of your windows allows direct rays into the house, you can put the plants behind sheer curtains. This way, they will be safe from the sun’s direct rays while remaining under the light.

Leaf Care

Dracaena leaves have an affinity for dust. When exposed to dust for a while, the dust attaches to it and progressively covers the leaf’s surface. Being covered this way inhibits photosynthesis. It would help to wipe the leaf gently with a soft cloth and clean water. Avoid tap water when doing this due to its fluoride and chlorine content. If you have to use tap water, draw it on the tap and keep it in an open container overnight. The fluoride in the water will dissipate overnight.

You should also look beneath the leaves to see if they have a pest infestation. Spider mites are the most common pests affecting the plant, but Dracaena is still less susceptible to pests than other house plants. If you find some of them underneath the leaves, spray the leaves with a mild mix of pest control soap or neem.

dracaena fragrans leaves
Photo by @beaverbotany via Instagram

Watering

Dracaena Fragrans work best in an environment without too much water. Waterlogging causes the plant’s leaves to brown. You allow the soil to drain substantially before the next watering. Check the soil on top of the pottage. If it is dry up to two inches deep, you can go ahead and water it. If it is still wet, stay the watering until it is drier.

It is vital to ensure the water content is just right because if the soil is too dry, the leaves will also dry and fall off. Dracaena shouldn’t drink tap water because fluoride is poisonous to it. The water should be at room temperature because it affects the plant negatively if it is too cold.

Pruning

The leaves on the lower part of the stem dry up as a natural part of growth. You should remove these leaves that die naturally to make room for others to grow and give the plant a clean look.

Propagating Dracaena Fragrans

There are two primary methods of propagation for Dracaena Fragrans. Beheading and stem propagation.

Beheading

As the name suggests, this method requires you to cut off the head of the plant to propagate it. Beheading Dracaena fragrances and other dracaena plants aren’t strange. These plants can grow to up to seven feet which might be too high for a house plant. Beheading, therefore, is one of the routine practices you can undertake to control Dracaena’s height. You can use the cuttings you get during your normal controls for propagation. The following are the steps to take when beheading.

  1. Get a sharp knife or other cutting tool and sterilize it. It is critical to sterilize lest you infect the plant and the cutting with diseases or get harmful substances into them.
  2. Snip the plant just below the leaf line and ensure that you cut it below a node. Having a node as part of the cutting is necessary because rooting happens on the node.
  3. Put the cutting in soil or in a clean water bottle to facilitate rooting. Avoid using tap water for rooting because it usually contains salts that make rooting difficult. Tap water may also contain fluoride and chlorine, which are poisonous to Dracaena. Get some distilled water for this purpose. Also, it is better to use distilled water to water your pottage if you decide to propagate Dracaena Fragrans using soil.
  4. Put the bottle or pot where you have placed the cutting at a warn spot under indirect sunlight. Please note that Dracaena doesn’t do well under direct sunlight, and your cuttings will not survive it either.
  5. The time within which rooting occurs depends on the season. They appear faster during Summer and Spring than they do during Winter. It is always better to propagate these plants in summer because they grow. Even the mother plant will recover faster this season than it would if you beheaded it in Winter.

Just in case you are wondering: Beheading dracaena doesn’t ruin it. There will be leaves growing on the nearby nodes within a short time of cutting it, especially if you are propagating in warmer seasons.

Propagating from Stem Cuttings

Beheading enables you to get a single new dracaena plant, but maybe you want more. You can get more plants by using this other propagation method to create many dracaena plants at home or for a nursery. Take the following steps.

  1. Sterilize your cutting tool and cut off the head as you would do if you were propagating by beheading.
  2. Remove as many cuttings as you can. Each cutting should be eight inches long and have several nodes; remember, rooting occurs at the nodes.
  3. Place the cuttings in soil or distilled water and wait for rooting. Like beheading, rooting will be quick in Winter, but the cuttings have no leaves. It will take longer for these to be formed into complete plants. The leafy beheaded section will grow faster than the stem cuttings.

The lower nodes of the cutting will produce roots, while the ones above the surface will bud and produce leaves. The best stem for propagation has been allowed to grow without being beheaded. It will have the space to produce several suitable stems.

Air Layering

This propagation method lets the daughter produce roots before cutting them off the mother plant. To propagate this way, you need the following;

  1. A sterilized knife
  2. Plastic wrap
  3. Sphagnum moss
  4. Rooting hormone

The following are the steps to take.

  1. Determine the position where you want roots to appear in the new plant.
  2. Use the knife to scrape off the bark where you want the rooting to occur. It is best to strip on a nose. The width of the deprived area should be about half an inch.
  3. Dust the rooting hormone on the stripped section of the bark. You can still propagate Dracaena fragrans without using the rooting hormone, but it will allow the stem to produce roots faster.
  4. Dip your sphagnum moss in water, position it around the stripped part of the bark, and secure it with the plastic wrap.
  5. You can cut off the head below the roots and transplant it to a pot when you see roots growing on the wounded section.

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Repotting

If you are growing the plant in a pot, you will need to repot it occasionally. Repotting is mainly necessitated by the plant outgrowing its previous. It is necessary; thus, you will need to repot the plant every two years. It may also be necessary to repot the plant if your pottage loses its porosity, putting your plant in danger of waterlogging and root rot. The best time to repot is at the beginning of spring since that is the season of the plant’s growth, and it will get established faster.

Ensure the substrate is dry before you start repotting and get another bigger pot. The new pot in which you will plant the repotted plant should be four inches wider than the previous one. Move a flat blunt piece of metal or wooden solid spatula between the pottage and the old pot (from where you are removing the plant).

 Using the spatula or metal bar to loosen the root, you could also use an appropriately sized trowel. After removing the roots, you should turn the pot upside down, carefully getting the substrate on your hand and protecting the plant. Dracaena Fragrans can grow quite big, and holding the substrate in one hand may be impossible. If this is the case with your plant, get the pot to lay on the side and pull the plant gently from the pot after loosening the soil.

Gently remove the soil while taking care of the roots not to injure them. You can carefully trim the leaves to make sure they easily fit in the new pot. Proceed to replant the plant in the new pot, and ensure it has sufficient drainage holes. The next step is to water the plant appropriately and keep it in a cool place away from direct sunlight until it is established in the new pot. You can move the plant to its permanent position after the roots are well established.

Fertilizer

Dracaena Fragrans don’t need too much fertilizer. Most commercially sold pottage contains some fertilizer, and it may be enough. If you need to apply fertilizer to the plant, you should go for a water-soluble variety. Dilute the water-soluble fertilizer to half of its strength. It is also essential to use the fertilizer during summer because Dracaena grows. You shouldn’t apply the fertilizer too frequently; once every two months is enough. Avoid superphosphate fertilizers because they contain fluoride.

Temperature

Dracaena performs best in temperatures between 60 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit humidity should be between 40% and 60%. Higher humidity levels help keep the plant healthy and protect it from spider mites.

Conclusion

Dracaena Fragrans is a beautiful plant that is relatively easy to manage, a plant for the novice or busy plant parents. Toxicity is one area you should keep in mind because it can affect your pets; position it accordingly. It is also a great plant because you can grow it indoors and outdoors. Be careful with watering, the plant is most vulnerable to too much water. Overwatering is likely to cause your plant the most harm.

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