The Q&A Archives: Dracaena Too Tall

Question: We have 2 Corn Plants (Dracaena). Both are getting way too tall for the house. They are also naked (ie no leaves) on the bottom halves of the main trunks. We would like to know A) how to re-pott the top half (do we just lop it off and root it in water and replant?) and B) how to encourage new growth on what is left of the trunks after the tops are removed. We have to do something quickly--summer is coming to an end and they are too big to come back into the house!

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Answer: There are a couple of things you can do with your overgrown dracaena. First, the growth habit you describe is perfectly natural for the plants. They generally grow a tall, skinny stem with just tufts of leaves on top. You can cut the stem of the plant back to where you'd like new foliage to begin. Doing so will leave you with a bare stem, but a new stem will grow from the old stem, within a few inches of the cut. This offshoot will develop leaves over time, which will disguise the cut until the new stem grows taller and the lower leaves fall off. This is best done in the spring when plant growth is most vigorous. Or, you can try air layering the top. The process is simple but can take up to a year for roots to develop. I'd start about 12" below the foliage (this will be the bottom stem of your new plant). Wound the stem by cutting about 1/3 through and propping the wound open with a small stone. Wrap the injury with moistened spaghnum moss (that's where the new roots will develop), and cover the moss with plastic wrap to keep it moist. You can gently tape the top and bottom of this moss package to keep moisture inside. New roots will develop at the site of the injury and then you can cut your new plant away from the parent plant. Again, this is best done in spring. You can certainly try one or both procedures now, but it may take longer for you to see results. Good luck with your propagation project!

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