The Q&A Archives: massangeana cane

Question: I bought a massangeana cane from home depot about 6 years ago. It had 1 stalk about 5 feet tall and another that was about 3 feet tall. When i moved to my new home I mistakingly left it outside and it rained hard and seemed to have died. Miraculously the larger stalk began to regrow but the smaller one did not make it. Now my plant is beautiful and stands about 7 feet tall. But if possible I would like it to become more leafy One of the shoots did not grow any leaves and is just a stub. Is there any way I can make that stub regrow, or make new shoots come out. Since it almost hits my ceiling I also wanted to know what I should do once it gets to the point that it does hit my ceiling.

Answer: You can try air layering. The process is simple and once you've rooted new plants and cut the stem down, you'll have many new stalks to clump together in a container. Here's how:

Air layering is a procedure used to induce roots to formon a plant stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. Partial girdling of the plant stem interrupts the downward translocation of carbohydrates and other compounds. The accumulation of these compounds promotes rooting at the point of injury.

These are the materials you will need to air layer a houseplant
Sharp knife
Toothpick or small piece of wood
Twist ties or cotton cords
sheet of clear plastic
Three to four handfuls of sphagnum mosss
Rooting hormone (optional)

Air layering is done by first wounding the plant with a cut in the stem. Make a slanting cut into the stem. The cut should penetrate the stem to about one-fourth to one-third its diameter. Be careful to not cut entirely through the stem. Hold onto the plant above the cut so that it does not fall over and break at the cut.

Keep the wound open using a small piece of wood such as a toothpick. This is necessary to prevent the wound from healing over without forming roots. A rooting hormone can be applied by pushing it into the opened wound. The rooting hormone is optional, but it does promote more rapid root development. Purchase it from garden suppliers and garden centers.S aturate a couple handfuls of sphagnum moss with water. Squeeze slightly to remove excess water and press the moss into a tighter mass. Wrap the damp sphagnum around the wounded area on the stem. Wrap a sheet of clear plastic tight around the ball of sphagnum. Make sure none of the moss protrudes out the ends of the plastic. Use a large enough sheet of plastic to be able to go around the ball twice.

Use twist ties or cotton cord to secure each end of the plastic snug around the stem, without injuring the stem. Check the sphagnum ball every 7 to 10 days. If it has become light tan in color, it will need to be watered. This can be done by removing the top twist tieand pouring a little water on the sphagnum moss so that it turns dark brown in color. Examine the plant occasionally for root development. There is considerable difference in the amount of time required for roots to form; it will depend on the plant species. Some may form roots within 30 to 60 days, while others may require 6 to 8 months. When the roots have filled the sphagnum moss and are visible throughthe plastic, the newly rooted portion of the plant is ready for potting. Remove the plastic and cut the newly rooted plant off just below the mass of roots.L oosen, but do not entirely remove the sphagnum moss. Pot the plant in a container large enough to accommodate the root system. Use a well-drained potting soil mix. Water the plant thoroughly so that the excess water drains out the hole in the bottom of the container.

After you've removed the rooted top from your dracaena, you can then cut the stem to the desired height (where you want new leaves to grow) and then cut the stem into 4" sections and root them, as well. By the end of the process, you'll have many new dracaena plants.

Best wishes with your dracaena!

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