Soft Stem On Red Fringed Dracaena - Knowledgebase Question

Adrain, MI
Question by rcreswell
December 5, 1999
I have a Red Fringed Dracaena which was repotted about 10 months ago, and now, after 9 months of prosparity, has dropped almost all of the larger leaves, and bent over. The stem at the top is like a thin rope, I can't make it stand up. The entire rest of the stem feels spongy and squishy under the outer bark.

The other plant in the pot is doing wonderfully.

I fear that trying to cut and replant the first would be in vain because the stem is affected, too. What could have caused this? Can I save it? Will it affect my other one? Please Help!

Answer from NGA
December 5, 1999


It sounds as if your plant is suffering from rot. Rot is actually a symptom, rather than a disease, with tissue becoming soft, black and decayed. It usually sets in when plants are suffering from stress due to cultural needs, such as overwatering or low light. The stressed plant is weakened and bacteria or fungi move in. (Sometimes water can accumulate at the base of pots and roots rot.)

However, it's odd that the other plant in the same pot is doing well (I'm assuming that it's also a dracaena.) Sometimes, one plant is just healthier than another. Also, sometimes in transplanting if there is disease/bacteria on a tool, pot, etc. it can be transmitted. It's a good idea to sterilize pots and tools between work sessions.

If the entire stem of the affected plant is "squishy," I don't think you can save it. You'd be better off getting it out of the pot so it won't transmit to the other. Otherwise you can cut off the affected portion, dust the remainder with sulfur, and see what happens.

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