Houseplants forum→Droopy Dracena Marginata Leaves

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jackles
Apr 18, 2020 3:55 AM CST
Hello - I need some help with my dragon tree plant and it's drooping leaves (and brown tips).

Background:
Bought the plant at a flower market in June last year where it's leaves were spikey. After a few months it was in desparate need of a repotting so I repotted it in January 2020 with soil recommended by the shopowner where I bought it (along with the larger pot).

Since then, it's leaves have begun to droop and also some of the leaves get brown tips. I am following a watering schedule (every 18th day during this time of year), and am making sure the roots aren't sitting in water. I don't get many yellow leaves and everything else about the plant seems healthy. As for light, it receives indirect light most of the day.

I have read that these plants are very stubborn and once their leaves droop it is hard to bring them back, but thought I would ask you experts before giving up as I am very much a plant novice.


Thumb of 2020-04-18/jackles/dbef36

[Last edited by jackles - Apr 18, 2020 5:02 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Apr 18, 2020 10:02 AM CST
When Dracaena marginatas are grown in strong sunlight especially if the sunlight comes from overhead as in a greenhouse then leaves will be much thicker and much more upright. When a Marginata is moved to reduced light, such as where you have it, the leaves will adapt by becoming softer, thinner and more arching. Yours looks fine and it has adapted to the light available to it in that location.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
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jackles
Apr 19, 2020 6:18 AM CST
Ok thanks for the help Will

Rookieplantguy
Apr 22, 2020 10:46 AM CST
I have overwatered my dragon tree. Anyway to save it??

Thumb of 2020-04-22/Rookieplantguy/bddd62

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
Apr 22, 2020 12:20 PM CST
@Rookieplantguy - Please post a photo that shows the entire plant and its pot.

Why do you say you overwatered it?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 22, 2020 12:27 PM CST
Rookieplantguy said:I have overwatered my dragon tree. Anyway to save it??

Thumb of 2020-04-22/Rookieplantguy/bddd62



I would just trim off the rotted part till you see good uninfected part. Apply lightly some cinnamon as fungicide on the exposed cut part. It will eventually heal and will grow new leaves below the cut off point.

Thumb of 2020-04-22/tarev/4df063

Just remember Dracaena marginata, prefers to be on the dry side. So practice better watering intervals in the future. It is also normal for the plant to shed off lower older, leaves, so never be tempted to overwater. No fertilizers, just let the plant recover on its own pace. Good luck! Crossing Fingers!


Rookieplantguy
Apr 22, 2020 12:31 PM CST
WillC said:@Rookieplantguy - Please post a photo that shows the entire plant and its pot.

Why do you say you overwatered it?


It was watered mistakenly heavily a couple times in a row, and have multiple brown ends which from what I have read is a sign of overwatering. Soil is definitely still damp and has been about a week since the last watering.

Would say only the smallest plant in the pot is not doing well. The two larger plants seem healthy.

Thumb of 2020-04-22/Rookieplantguy/07e842
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[Last edited by Rookieplantguy - Apr 22, 2020 12:32 PM (+)]
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Rookieplantguy
Apr 22, 2020 12:42 PM CST
tarev said:

I would just trim off the rotted part till you see good uninfected part. Apply lightly some cinnamon as fungicide on the exposed cut part. It will eventually heal and will grow new leaves below the cut off point.

Would you consider this to be uninflected? Cut off where it began to feel firm again

Thumb of 2020-04-22/tarev/4df063



[Last edited by Rookieplantguy - Apr 22, 2020 12:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Apr 22, 2020 12:43 PM CST
Thanks for the photo; it is instructive. For sure, the shortest stem has died and can be cut off at the soil line. Check the bottom of the other stems to make sure that they are not soft.

Your plant is in a very large pot with heavy potting soil. That makes inadvertent overwatering much more likely so your diagnosis is correct. Moving it to a smaller pot would do even more damage to the roots so I advise against doing that.

Do remove any excess soil from the top that is not in immediate contact with the roots below. That will allow oxygen to penetrate into the root zone more readily as the soil dries out. I suggest letting the top inch of the remaining soil to get dry to the touch before adding just enough water that it reaches that same level of dryness again in about a week.

It may take a while and some continued decline for your plant to slowly stabilize and recover from the root suffocation it has already experienced.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

Rookieplantguy
Apr 22, 2020 12:46 PM CST
Sorry here is where I cut it off too. Should it be further?

Thumb of 2020-04-22/Rookieplantguy/470058
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 22, 2020 12:59 PM CST
Hello rookieplant guy

The other rightmost stem still looks it has some infection, so cut further down a bit more, you have to see how far along that rotting is running. Then once cut off apply some light cinnamon, and let it heal. Give it time.
Thumb of 2020-04-22/Rookieplantguy/aa9ef0

Also you said your media is still damp, so leave it alone. Check back after a couple of days, use bamboo skewers to check if media below is still staying too wet. Delay watering a few more days again if it still stays too damp wet.

At times either the plant will make new shoots below the cut off point, or it may just decide to do a new basal shoot. So just be patient and wait. Run your ceiling fans a few minutes or open up a window weather permitting to increase better airflow all over your plant especially when you water that day. Root level always takes time, and if soil is too heavy and dense even more.

You can also try to mix into the soil some perlite or pumice. I am not asking you to repot, just mix in some of those gritty material to help the root area find better air flow. Roots also need to breathe properly. That is why containers with drain holes, media that is well draining, good discipline in watering, no fertilizers when plant is in visible stress. Those things you have to keep in mind for your plant's better growth later on. Again, good luck!



Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Apr 22, 2020 2:20 PM CST
The stem is dying from the roots up. It cannot be salvaged.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

DMG00
Aug 5, 2020 1:44 PM CST
I need some help assessing if this dracena plant is healthy. My concern is that the leave, specifically the bottom ones, are dropping. Based on what I read online, the leave should (?) be pointing upwards more so than mine. When we water it, we give it a good soak (a couple of minutes) and make sure everything drains through the bottom holes - is that an effective way to water?

Light comes in at an angle.

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pacita
Apr 2, 2021 3:58 AM CST
Following the topic of dracena plants with droopy leaves. This plant came with the flat and has been in the same spot for eight years now. Would it be a good idea to move it to a brighter area, or since it has adapted to the light conditions of her spot, just leave it there?

Thanks!

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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Apr 2, 2021 6:08 AM CST
@pacita - I suggest that you leave it where it has been because it is doing so well there. In stronger light, many of the older, lower leaves will drop off as new, thicker, more rigid, less arching leaves come in at the top. The intensity of light has a strong impact on the overall size and thickness of leaves as they first emerge.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

yangodango
May 3, 2021 11:35 PM CST
Dear Will,

Thank you for your informative and prompt replies to the other dracaena owners here.

I also seem to have a droopy dracaena with some pale leaves.

This is a pic of when I first got it. All the leaves are pretty firm and upright:
Thumb of 2021-05-04/yangodango/396a8c

Now almost all the 'heads' of my dracaena (except for one) looks like this. You can see that they look a bit softer and droopier than before:

Thumb of 2021-05-04/yangodango/e1e275

Here are closeups:

Thumb of 2021-05-04/yangodango/55561f

Thumb of 2021-05-04/yangodango/c4620e

What do you think could be happening to it? How can I help?

Thank you so much.

[Last edited by yangodango - May 3, 2021 11:36 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 4, 2021 8:02 AM CST
@yangodango - Welcome! Your plant is a Dracaena draco. It requires more light and drier soil than some other Dracaena species, such as Marginata.

How is yours potted? What are the pebbles on the surface and how deep are they?

How have you determined the soil was dry enough to be watered and how much do you then give it?

What direction does that window face?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

yangodango
May 5, 2021 10:55 PM CST
Hi Will,

Thanks so much for replying!

I bought it already potted by the nursery and it looked fine when I got it. It looked fine for a few months before starting this drooping!

The brown balls at the surface are only about half an inch thick. They act as a kind of mulch. The pebbles you see along the perimeter of the surface are only aesthetic and are only around the border.

Oh...for the soil I actually followed a schedule of 15 - 20 days. Never really checked how dry it was before giving it water. The few times I've actually checked, the soil did not seem very dry but I assumed it was because of the fact that I had a layer of compost soil at the top.

When I water, I water it until water drips out the bottom.

That window is South facing.

Going by the answers to my own questions...could I have overwatered it? I never really thought that could be the issue because I was watering it like once a month! Surely that can't be enough for a huge plant like this?

Thank you for replying!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 7, 2021 3:53 PM CST
The "droopy" leaves that concern you are a response to the reduced light it now gets. When grown in the greenhouse it got much more light from all sides and also overhead. In reduced light, new leaves are thinner, softer and mare naturally droopy. It doesn't mean the plant is ailing; just adapting to the change in its environment.

Rather than watering by the calendar, I suggest that you use a soil probe, such as Soil Sleuth, to determine when the soil is dry about halfway to the bottom of the pot. Under watering can be just as much a problem as overwatering.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

yangodango
May 9, 2021 9:59 PM CST
WillC said:The "droopy" leaves that concern you are a response to the reduced light it now gets. When grown in the greenhouse it got much more light from all sides and also overhead. In reduced light, new leaves are thinner, softer and mare naturally droopy. It doesn't mean the plant is ailing; just adapting to the change in its environment.

Rather than watering by the calendar, I suggest that you use a soil probe, such as Soil Sleuth, to determine when the soil is dry about halfway to the bottom of the pot. Under watering can be just as much a problem as overwatering.


Dear Will,

I thank you for your informative reply. Thank You!

I am glad to hear the plant seems okay. I have rotated it gradually to an outdoors location receiving plenty of sun. I hope it gets better soon.

I will definitely look for some soil moisture meters to take the guesswork out of watering huge plants like Draco.

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