Please Help me save my heirloom Dracaena Marginata!! - Knowledgebase Question

Austin, TX
Question by EllenFB
September 11, 2017
Hi there, 2 weeks ago I took in a 30 year old beautiful Dracaena Marginata that has been in my husband's family. They had it living outside in warm months (zone 8a-Dallas,TX). I decided to keep it indoors. Haven't repotted it and didn't water it for few days after moving it home. I think it's in serious trouble and in shock. Everyday it has more yellow leaves. Really would like to keep it inside but don't want to kill it. It's next to a west facing window with lots of light & room is kept 70 degrees. Should I move it outside since that's what it is used to? (I live in zone 8b-Austin, TX) or should I give it more time inside? And if I give it more time inside-- how long should it take to stop dropping leaves? Would really appreciate any tips as I really want it to be happy. See attached pic of plant & me holding the yellow leaves I just pulled off.
Thumb of 2017-09-11/visitor/1bcdc5

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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Answer from WillC
September 15, 2017

1

Hi Ellen - In nature, plants put down roots and stay in that same location for life. Plants are able to adapt to some degree to changes in their environment. However, the greater the change - especially in light intensity - the harder the adjustment is. Outdoor light is many more times intense than even the brightest indoor light.

Keep your Marginata as close to and in front of your sunniest window and keep the window completely uncovered. The more light you provide, the easier the adjustment. The older lower leaves are the ones most affected and you can expect many of them to yellow and drop off for several months or more. New growth is always at the tips of the stems and that new growth will be adapted to the reduced indoor light levels and should remain healthy

Watering becomes trickier in reduced light. Your Marginata will gradually use less water as it adapts so you will have to monitor the moisture level carefully.

In the photo, it appears that the tallest stems are very close to the top of the window. As they continue to grow taller, they will not get enough light. The solution is to cut those tall stems back by several feet. New growth will then emerge on those cut stems just below the pruning cuts and grow upward from there.

You could move the plant outside while temps are still above 50 degrees F., but you will still have to move it inside after that.

Austin, TX
A comment from EllenFB
September 15, 2017
Thank you! You are so knowledgeable & helpful! Completely makes sense!

Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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Answer from purpleinopp
September 11, 2017

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If the soil becomes too dry, and stays that way, older foliage could be prematurely discarded. Whenever conditions change, plants will respond to it. As a normal part of growing taller, the oldest (lowest) leaves are always in the process of being discarded at about the same pace as new ones are growing at the top, as the part of the trunk to which they are attached lignifies (becomes hard and woody.)

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