How to Save a Dying Dracaena Plant

The beauty of a dracaena plant, like all other plants, lies in how healthy the plant is. If the plant is dying, it loses its natural appearance and beauty. Also, a healthy dracaena plant enables you to propagate the plant when you need to. After all, only the healthy can reproduce.

Maybe you are looking at your dracaena plant and wondering whether it is healthy or dying. Let’s clarify that.

healthy dracaena leaves
Photo by Teona Swift via Pexels

How Does a Healthy Dracaena Plant Look?

Dracaena is a family under which a large variety of plants fall. It is, therefore, not possible to give a singular description of how the plant should appear because they come in various colors and shapes. However, you can tell if your plant is healthy when the leaves appear succulent and a bit glossy.

Some varieties have variegated leaves with yellow stripes on some parts, while others have solid green leaves of different shapes. Whatever the color of the leaves, a glossy, succulent appearance will show you that the plant is healthy. Although they taper downwards, they don’t droop. They have a smooth, natural semicircular shape from the stem heading outwards while the tip eventually points downwards.

An unhealthy dracaena plant mostly shows on the leaves, as we shall see shortly. However, the stem can also show that the plant is not healthy. Some varieties of dracaena can grow to up to seven feet. Their stem has an even thickness from bottom to top, and it should also be firm. A softening stem shows that the plant is unhealthy.

They also typically have a brownish-grey appearance and many nodes where the leaves have grown in the past. The roots of the dracaena plant are healthy and succulent, with an even tone of color.

What Does a Dracaena Plant Need?

It is essential to have a clear understanding of what a dracaena plant needs. So that when we finally look at the symptoms of a dying plant, it will be easy to understand the possible reason why your dracaena plant may be dying and what you can do to save it. The following are the ideal conditions for dracaena.


The temperature should be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Dracaena is a native of West Africa and the rest of tropical Africa, where temperatures are relatively high. The plant, therefore, doesn’t do very well in very cold temperatures.

The water you use to water your dracaena is a factor in the plant’s temperature. Water directly from the tap is usually too cold because the plant prefers its drink to be at room temperature. Drawing the water from the tap and allowing it to get to room temperature overnight helps solve this problem, among others.

While temperature is a factor for proper growth, its greatest impact is reducing dracaena’s growth. When planted in western countries, dracaena only grows in spring and summer when relatively high temperatures.

Therefore, the lack of significant growth in your dracaena plant in winter and autumn doesn’t mean that the plant is dying. It is part of its natural process.


Humidity should be 40-50%. As we are shall see with watering, dracaena thrives in a moderate amount of water. Too much of it causes problems, and so does too little of it. Keep it within the recommended range. It is necessary to mist it from time to time when humidity is too low in the environment.


The soil where you plant the dracaena should be well-draining because waterlogging can cause your soil to die. Your watering frequency is also determining whether the soils will be saturated.


Dracaena doesn’t do well under direct sunlight; you should always ensure the light it encounters is indirect. Though it doesn’t like direct sunlight, it is best in well-lighted areas. It doesn’t do very well if you keep it in a dimly lit environment.


The quality of the water you use to water your dracaena is vital. Tap water can be hazardous because it often contains fluoride and chlorine. These two chemicals are poisonous to dracaena.


You should only apply mild, house plant fertilizers to your dracaena plants. You should never apply superphosphate fertilizers that contain fluoride. Whatever fertilizer you use should be water-soluble, and you should only apply it during summer and spring when the plant is growing. Applying any other time can cause is wastage, and if it doesn’t drain well, the fertilizer can destroy the plant because it will remain in the soil for too long.

dracaena plant white thick leaves
Photo by Lidia Bekenova via Pexels

Common Dracaena Problems and Solutions for Them

Below are some of the most common dracaena problems that you should know in order to save your plant from dying.

Yellowing/Browning, Droopy Leaves

The leaves of your dracaena will assume an unnatural yellow color. Some varieties of dracaena, such as Dracaena fragrans, have the color yellow as part of their variegation, but in no case does the color appear on the whole leaf or as patches on it. When you see a leaf with an unnatural yellowing appearance, it may indicate that your plant is sick.

When the yellow color is combined with a drooping leaf, you are certain that the leaf is sick. Remember, in our discussion on the appearance of a healthy dracaena plant. We said that the leaf curves naturally from the stem, and eventually, the tip points to the ground. The drooping indicates a problem.

This appearance shows that either the plant is dehydrated or suffering from root rot. If the plant is dehydrated, you should water it more regularly. These two problems are caused by the volumes of water you put in the plant. If the water is too little, the plant is dehydrated, and if it is too much, it can lead to root rot.

How Do You Know When To water?

The best way to know how to water your dracaena is by checking your soil’s moisture from the top. You don’t need to water the plant if there is still moisture two inches into the soil. On the other hand, if you find the top two inches of the soil dry, it is time to water your plant.

Watering only when you need it will help you avoid root rot. Also, keep the plant’s roots from rotting by planting them in a well-draining pot.

You can water your dehydrated dracaena rapidly by getting its water directly to the roots. You can achieve this in the following steps.

  1. Take your dracaena plant in a well-draining, semi-pervious pot.
  2. Take a tab and fill it with distilled, rain, or filtered water until it reaches half the pot.
  3. Let the plant remain in the water for about 30 minutes. The water will go directly to the roots and revive the plant fast.
dracaena leaves with water drops
Photo by Teona Swift via Pexels

Scorch Marks on the Leaves

Scorch marks are brownish. They usually indicate that the plant is exposed to too direct sunlight. If you find your plant’s leaves growing inwards, it may also indicate that the sunlight is too much as the plant is then trying to protect the upper side of the leaves from exposure.

The best solution for this is to move the plant from direct sunlight. You can put a sheer curtain between the sunrays and the plants if it is impossible to dracaena without compromising its need for light. The leaves will get back their natural texture this way.

dracaena leaves with scorch marks
Photo by Sarah Bronske via Unsplash

Brown Leaf Tips

There can be many causes of this, including direct sunlight and low humidity. You deal with the problem of direct sunlight as above, but you handle low humidity by spraying the plant. It might also help move the plant if recently installed appliances, such as dehumidifiers, have changed its environment.

Uneven, Soft Stem

If you find uneven thickness on parts of the stem, it may indicate that the plant is unhealthy. Also, if the stem is getting soft on the lower part, it indicates that your plant is suffering root rot. Root rot is often caused by too much water in the roots. There are two ways you can deal with it.

You can allow the soil to drain and water at appropriate times if the problem is not too severe and the roots will grow again. Repot the plant if the pot you are currently using isn’t draining well. There may be instances when the root is too far gone to repair. In this case, you can cut off the rotten part of the stem and re-root the plant by placing it in water or soil like you would when propagating dracaena.


Saving a dying dracaena is easier than propagating a new one. Also, if you have been parenting a plant for a long time, it may gut you emotionally to see it die, and saving it would give you a much-needed boost. The guide above is pretty comprehensive, and following it will give your plant a fresh lease on life. Follow it for the best results!


Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

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