The Q&A Archives: Cornstalk Plant

Question: I have a cornstalk plant that is about 19 years old. It is very healthy and has recently sprouted a baby plant at the base of the soil. I think it needs to be transplanted, but it is about 8ft. tall and I'm not sure what size pot I should use? Also is there any way I can trim this plant without killing it? It came in a dish garden when my son was born and it is very special to the family.

Answer: Dracaena fragrans, or corn plant is a rugged individual and if the light is just right, it will flower when it's mature. Your corn plant will have a small root system and can easily go into the next sized pot. The roots will be very close to the surface of the soil and after you unpot the plant you will be able to remove the baby plant, roots and all, and pot it up on its own.

If your corn plant is too big you can propagate by 1) Air Layering - see for more details on this.
2) Taking cane cuttings. Pieces of stem 2" or 3" in length are laid horizontally on a seed compost with the lower half buried. The cutting should have at least one node (point where a leaf or bud would be attached and any leaf bud pointing upwards. Alternatively place the cutting upright with the lower end buried.

3) Remove the crown of leaves from the leggy stem and plant in a potting compost using a rooting hormone powder and providing bottom heat.

Once you have a plant of just the right height, you can maintain its appearance by pulling out the very center of the new growth it develops.

Dracaena fragrans is a native of Tropical Africa where it can reach 50 feet in the wild where it also produces fragrant yellow flowers followed by orange-red fruits. The name Dracaena comes from the Greek 'drakaina' a dragon.

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