The Q&A Archives: Massangeana Cane - need help !!!!

Question: My Massangeana Cane is in bad shape. Over the summer it was on the sun porch, it was great until I started noticing that the leaves were turning brown. So four weeks ago, as it got cold, I brought the plant inside. Daily, it looks worse. Initially I thought that it needed more water. But from several sites, I may be overwatering it. Also, that this plant does not react well to fluoride in water. In my area in St.Louis, MO, our water is rich with fluoride. So I'll switch to distilled water or leave the water in a bucket for about 48-72 hours so that the fluoride can dissipate. But at the point the plant looks so sad and all of the leaves are drooping, even the green ones. Is there anything that I can do to save it. (I've taken pictues of the plant and can email it to you if you'd like).

Answer: Browning leaves usually indicate overwatering but if the plant was on your sun porch during the summer months the browning could have been caused by sunscald rather than overwatering. It's difficult for me to say for certain without actually seeing the plant. It's normal for plants to go through an adjustment period when they are moved from outdoors in or vice-versa. Light levels are different, as are humidity and temperature. This may be why your plant looks bad at the moment. Overwatering, however, can really cause problems because the roots can suffocate from lack of oxygen. This might account for both the green and the brown leaves that are drooping. Some dracaena varieties are more prone to tip burn than others and it is possible you have a variety that is most sensitive. If only the leaf tips were brown and the rest of the leaf looked healthy, the cause is usually from a buildup of salts in the soil, or a reaction to fluoride in the water. You can flush the potting soil to leach the excess salts out and/or switch to distilled water. To leach the salts out, immerse the pot in a sinkful of water until no more air bubbles arise to the top. Drain the excess water (in a separate sink if possible or into a bowl), then set the pot back into the sinkful of clean water and let it set for a few minutes. Then drain the excess water (and the excess salts). There's not much else I can offer in terms of hope. With any luck the plant will recover and you can prune off the dead or browning parts as you see new growth appearing. Hope it recovers! Best wishes with your dracaena!

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