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Avatar for Monai
Nov 9, 2021 8:40 PM CST
PA (Zone 6b)
Hi All, I have had this mass cane for 4+ years now, and it has grown so much. It always had a nice bushy appearance. Last October it bloomed beautifully, and looked lush and green it looked even after the blooms were gone. But in the last few months I have seen lots of yellowing leaves on the lower parts of the stalk. Each week I trim away 10-12 yellowed leaves. As a result, the plant looks leggy with leaves just at the top of each stalk and has lost its once-bushy appearance, yet the yellowing hasn't stopped (see photos). It's getting worse every week! This is unusual, it always had green leaves all along the stalk, except in the last few months.
What can I do to fix this?
Do I need to cut off the barren long stalks?
I water it about every 7-9 days once the top inch of soil is dry. I have been pretty regular about watering it.
I have never repotted the plant. Does it need to be repotted?
Some roots have become visible over the surface of the soil so I added some Miracle Gro potting mix on the top just to cover the roots.
I added indoor fertilizer sticks back in summer, do I need to replenish them?
This year too it sent out flowering stalks few weeks ago, but already concerned about the health of the plant I cut them off at an early stage. I didn't want the flowering process to suck up nutrition and deteriorate the rest of the plant.
Please help!!
Thank you so much!


Thumb of 2021-11-10/Monai/c10d67
Thumb of 2021-11-10/Monai/9ddefa

Thank You!
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Nov 9, 2021 9:33 PM CST
Name: Gigi Adenium
Florida (Zone 9b)
Adeniums Roses Plumerias Orchids Miniature Gardening Hibiscus
Region: Florida Container Gardener Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents Butterflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
@Monai, yellowing of leaves is oftentimes a sign of root rot. Is it possible that the pot is not draining well?

If it is mine, I would check the roots and clean up/cutt off any root rot. Then spray the roots with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide. Give it a fresh new dirt (miracle gro moisture control and maybe add a little perlite). If you have organic liquid fertilizer that might help encourage the roots to take nutrients faster. I've had great results reviving plants using general purpose agro-thrive.
©by Gigi Plumeria "Gardening is my favorite pastime. I grow whatever plant that catches my attention."
Avatar for CPPgardener
Nov 9, 2021 11:08 PM CST
Name: John
Pomona/Riverside CA (Zone 9a)
It desperately needs to be repotted. After 4 years in that pot there probably are more roots than soil. Unfortunately you will probably have to break the pot to get the plant out, since it is narrower at the top than the middle. Then, without disturbing the roots AT ALL, put it in a slightly wider and deeper pot with fresh soil around and underneath. New roots will grow out of the old root mass and into the fresh soil. Ripping old soil off and drenching with peroxide (great for disinfecting wounds, terrible for roots) is a great way to stress an already stressed plant into the compost heap.
“That which is, is.That which happens, happens.” Douglas Adams
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Nov 9, 2021 11:16 PM CST

CPPgardener said:It desperately needs to be repotted. After 4 years in that pot there probably are more roots than soil. Unfortunately you will probably have to break the pot to get the plant out, since it is narrower at the top than the middle. Then, without disturbing the roots AT ALL, put it in a slightly wider and deeper pot with fresh soil around and underneath. New roots will grow out of the old root mass and into the fresh soil. Ripping old soil off and drenching with peroxide (great for disinfecting wounds, terrible for roots) is a great way to stress an already stressed plant into the compost heap.


Agreed, short of I'm not that protective of roots.

I can be and typically am, but if a plant is seriously root-bound I'll cut off the bottom inch if it's just roots and no soil.

At least score a big + across the bottom with a razor.

For me at least, it promotes new growth and removes root mass that has no soil and is already packed too densely.
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Nov 10, 2021 12:03 AM CST

As far as breaking the pot...I'd go for the challenge.

CPPgardener made the excellent point that roots are fragile, and they're crucial to the plant's well-being.

It's a tough call by those photos (awesome time lapse by the way).

Knowing the plant could be lost if I'm wrong, I'd wait until you had a few hours to work on it.

Water the day before to soften the soil and hydrate the roots for what's coming.

Work the soil with your fingers, loosen it, remove it.
You'll hit surface roots, can't be helped, be gentle.
Run a gentle stream over garden hose over it to remove soil as you work.

Take your time.

I bet you could remove enough soil to work the root mass out with enough time and water, and save that nice planter.

If you actually try this and it's not working, smash the pot.
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Nov 10, 2021 12:08 AM CST

Whatever you choose, good luck!
Last edited by Humboldt Nov 10, 2021 12:19 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for Monai
Nov 10, 2021 9:55 PM CST
PA (Zone 6b)
Humboldt said:As far as breaking the pot...I'd go for the challenge.

CPPgardener made the excellent point that roots are fragile, and they're crucial to the plant's well-being.

It's a tough call by those photos (awesome time lapse by the way).

Knowing the plant could be lost if I'm wrong, I'd wait until you had a few hours to work on it.

Water the day before to soften the soil and hydrate the roots for what's coming.

Work the soil with your fingers, loosen it, remove it.
You'll hit surface roots, can't be helped, be gentle.

Run a gentle stream over garden hose over it to remove soil as you work.

Take your time.

I bet you could remove enough soil to work the root mass out with enough time and water, and save that nice planter.

If you actually try this and it's not working, smash the pot.



@Humboldt and CPPGardender - does it matter if I repot now? I read all these articles about repotting in the spring?
I am nervous about repotting as I have never repotted a plant anywhere close to this size.. also, read stuff about how mass cane roots take a big hit when repotting. I don't want to lose the plant!!
Alternatively, do I just dig out as much of the exisiting soil from the pot as I can and add new potting mix?
Finally, if I repot, what growing mix should I use?
Not concerned about smashing the ceramic pot, the plant is actually in a plastic pot that snuggly fits inside the ceramic but can be pulled out (my husband will be recruited for that).
Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!
Avatar for Monai
Nov 10, 2021 9:57 PM CST
PA (Zone 6b)
CPPgardener said:It desperately needs to be repotted. After 4 years in that pot there probably are more roots than soil. Unfortunately you will probably have to break the pot to get the plant out, since it is narrower at the top than the middle. Then, without disturbing the roots AT ALL, put it in a slightly wider and deeper pot with fresh soil around and underneath. New roots will grow out of the old root mass and into the fresh soil. Ripping old soil off and drenching with peroxide (great for disinfecting wounds, terrible for roots) is a great way to stress an already stressed plant into the compost heap.


Thank you. @CPPgardener : I posted some questions right above. Somehow missed these posts earlier today. Thank You!
Avatar for Monai
Nov 10, 2021 10:00 PM CST
PA (Zone 6b)
Also, even after I repot it, the leggy stalks will remain, right? it won't sprout leaves from where they have already been shed. So, do I need to cut off those stalks? otherwise it will continue to look barren. Thanks!!
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Nov 10, 2021 11:31 PM CST

Monai said:

@Humboldt and CPPGardender - does it matter if I repot now? I read all these articles about repotting in the spring?
I am nervous about repotting as I have never repotted a plant anywhere close to this size.. also, read stuff about how mass cane roots take a big hit when repotting. I don't want to lose the plant!!
Alternatively, do I just dig out as much of the exisiting soil from the pot as I can and add new potting mix?
Finally, if I repot, what growing mix should I use?
Not concerned about smashing the ceramic pot, the plant is actually in a plastic pot that snuggly fits inside the ceramic but can be pulled out (my husband will be recruited for that).
Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!


If it's in a plastic pot within that planter, please disregard everything I said about soaking and removing soil.

I wouldn't recommend replacing top level soil, the issue is more what's going on with the roots.

I like to see them, remove the dead or mushy ones. Re-potting gives them additional vertical space to grow down into.

I prefer Fox Farm Ocean Forest and Happy Frog, but anything similar should work ( have used them for 20+ years with great results, and it's made less than 10 miles away so it's cheap).

I also am very liberal with coarse pumice.

Time of year is something I've never paid attention to with re-potting indoor plants.
Someone else might have some advice on that, but I've never had an issue short of how long afterwards you see results (good or bad).

Propagation, yes, time of year can make a noticeable difference. But don't let it stop you.
Many plants go dormant during the winter, triggered by light duration and intensity, and temperature.

New leaves on the bare stalks, no clue, hopefully someone will chime in. You can always force new growth by topping or air-layering, but I'm not sure about healthy wooden stem that's lost leaves to an (assumed) watering issue. I doubt it but I'm not familiar with this plant and could be wrong.

Reading more about them now to try to help, but I've had dracenas do some funny stuff before.
Last edited by Humboldt Nov 10, 2021 11:44 PM Icon for preview
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Nov 10, 2021 11:48 PM CST

Once the leggy stalks aren't working for you, move on.

Top cuttings, stem cuttings, and air-layering should all work fine for you.

Try it, it's fun.
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Nov 11, 2021 12:22 AM CST
Name: Gigi Adenium
Florida (Zone 9b)
Adeniums Roses Plumerias Orchids Miniature Gardening Hibiscus
Region: Florida Container Gardener Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents Butterflies Garden Ideas: Level 1
Mine is a variegated one that has bare stalks. It has grown quite tall since I bought it. It is now growing outside and I have attached vanda's and phals on it. The Vanda are taller so you can hardly see the phals except when they are in bloom.

My mom has a few of these and she attached dendrobium and cattleya orchids on them. But then again she also has them growing outdoors.
©by Gigi Plumeria "Gardening is my favorite pastime. I grow whatever plant that catches my attention."
Last edited by GigiPlumeria Nov 11, 2021 12:27 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for CPPgardener
Nov 11, 2021 12:25 AM CST
Name: John
Pomona/Riverside CA (Zone 9a)
Being in a plastic pot makes things SOOOOOOO much easier! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up
Pop it out, put it in something bigger, soak it and enjoy! Any good houseplant potting soil is fine; I've never used Fox Farm, but friends have and like it a lot (it's too pricey here for me). I would use another grow pot, put into a nice pot like you have now and in the same window; it obviously likes it there!
Since it is indoors it doesn't really matter about the season, especially if you don't disturb the roots.
Dracaenas are monocots so their roots are different from plants like Ficus, Schefflera and Oaks. They don't get thicker as time goes on, they just get longer and more branched, so being 'root-bound' has different effects on them.
New leaves won't grow out of the bare stems, but as the plant reacts to more root space and increased nutrients it will grow and keep more leaves which will cover most of the bare stems. Just as you couldn't see much of the stems before, you won't see them under all the new leaves. You can cut the stems anywhere you want, but I'd avoid trying to cut through the thickest woody parts.
Now you just have to find another big pretty pot for it to sit in and another plant to put in that pot!
“That which is, is.That which happens, happens.” Douglas Adams
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Nov 11, 2021 1:06 AM CST

GigiPlumeria said:Mine is a variegated one that has bare stalks. It has grown quite tall since I bought it. It is now growing outside and I have attached vanda's and phals on it. The Vanda are taller so you can hardly see the phals except when they are in bloom.

My mom has a few of these and she attached dendrobium and cattleya orchids on them. But then again she also has them growing outdoors.


That's a great idea!
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Nov 11, 2021 4:56 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ✌️👍☼🌷⚘ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
I feel like I have seen this plant before.
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
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Nov 11, 2021 6:55 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ✌️👍☼🌷⚘ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
Avatar for Monai
Nov 12, 2021 12:54 PM CST
PA (Zone 6b)
purpleinopp said:I did see it.
https://garden.org/thread/go/1...


Hi @Purpleinopp you did see it, you responded to my other thread. I didn't know which thread if either would get a response and I am desperate to help my plant, so posted in both. Both got responses from wonderful folks like yourselves!! Thank You! Thank You!
Avatar for Monai
Nov 12, 2021 12:59 PM CST
PA (Zone 6b)
CPPgardener said:Being in a plastic pot makes things SOOOOOOO much easier! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up
Pop it out, put it in something bigger, soak it and enjoy! Any good houseplant potting soil is fine; I've never used Fox Farm, but friends have and like it a lot (it's too pricey here for me). I would use another grow pot, put into a nice pot like you have now and in the same window; it obviously likes it there!
Since it is indoors it doesn't really matter about the season, especially if you don't disturb the roots.
Dracaenas are monocots so their roots are different from plants like Ficus, Schefflera and Oaks. They don't get thicker as time goes on, they just get longer and more branched, so being 'root-bound' has different effects on them.
New leaves won't grow out of the bare stems, but as the plant reacts to more root space and increased nutrients it will grow and keep more leaves which will cover most of the bare stems. Just as you couldn't see much of the stems before, you won't see them under all the new leaves. You can cut the stems anywhere you want, but I'd avoid trying to cut through the thickest woody parts.
Now you just have to find another big pretty pot for it to sit in and another plant to put in that pot!



Thanks so much for all the useful info. I am getting ready to repot this weekend. How much should I size up the pot? the current one is 11.5", I got a 13" and a 16"... Crossing my fingers that it goes well! Will post pictures! thank you all!
Mandrita
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Nov 12, 2021 1:48 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ✌️👍☼🌷⚘ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
My pleasure!

If you see something similar to this:


I would lay it down sideways and use a shovel to chop off the "root pie" that has formed at the bottom. Usually it just takes one quick stomp to go through the whole thing. Once removed, that should enable the rest of the soil to fall off easily. Trim any remaining roots that would need to bend to fit into the new pot, then put it in the new pot with the soil level hitting the same spot on the trunk as it was before. I usually hold the plant in the air with 1 hand where I want it to be while filling with the other, so it doesn't end up too high or too low. Then water gently the first few times so that the force of gushing water doesn't cause soil to compact. This usually takes about 3-5 mins.

Because it's in plastic, it should slide right out so you can get a peek before you look for a new pot. Using the example pictured, a bigger pot isn't necessary. After removing the root pie and old soil, the root mass should be small enough to fit well back into the same pot with a new batch of soil. Once a plant reaches 5-gallon bucket size @ my house, that's it. It's never getting a bigger pot, just periodic pruning & root trimming. One of my Dracaenas must be well over half a century in age because people remember my gramma having it around her house for many decades before she gave it to me. It's been with me for about 25 yrs but it has never gotten more than about 6 feet tall because it gets trimmed. These are the methods by which bonsai masters keep otherwise full size trees in little pots for centuries.

If you do find a root pie and encase it in new soil, (potting up, vs. repotting) bad things can happen. Those roots aren't used to being surrounded by moist soil. Usually a lot of these roots are partially dead from having gotten too dry. Surrounding them with moist soil causes the dead parts to rot. If this kills the plant, which it can, it will manifest and be interpreted as overwatering, even though it wasn't caused by someone adding too much water, watering too often, or from using a pot without a drain hole.

It has been my observation that Dracaena roots do enlarge as they age, but I don't know the upper limits of that expansion. This pic is of a cutting that had rooted exuberantly.
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
Last edited by purpleinopp Nov 12, 2021 1:49 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for CPPgardener
Nov 12, 2021 2:43 PM CST
Name: John
Pomona/Riverside CA (Zone 9a)
I would go up to the 13" pot.Unless you keep the soil really wet you won't need to worry about rotting. If you had a greenhouse to put it into after repotting, the root cutting wouldn't be a problem. But since it's fall, it would be better to just move it up. There won't be much soil under those roots to cause a problem.
“That which is, is.That which happens, happens.” Douglas Adams

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