Ask a Question forum: Dragon Tree has no leaves - can it survive?

Views: 5601, Replies: 6 » Jump to the end

Mar 12, 2017 1:37 PM CST
Unfortunately I have been neglecting my small dragon tree plant. The leaves at the bottom were brown and dead, and while trying to remove them I accidentally ripped off all the leaves at once, including the healthy ones (to be fair, there weren't very many). Does my plant have any chance of survival without any leaves?? I suppose it won't be able to do photosynthesis so I don't really see how it could survive, but is there anything at all that can be done to give it a second chance at life???
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Mar 12, 2017 1:49 PM CST

Are you referring to Dracaena marginata? If so, it shouldn't have leaves at the bottom of the stem.

The plant will grow new leaves - it will be living off stored energy in the roots and stem until it does. Any green part of a plant is capable of photosynthesizing. Does your plant have a green stem?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Mar 12, 2017 2:32 PM CST
You say you "neglected" your Dracaena marginata, so I assume that means the soil got very dried out and that is the cause of the leaf drop. If the leaf loss is due to over-watering, then the prognosis is not good because Marginatas rarely recover from root rot.

As long as there are some healthy roots remaining, then your plant should recover if given proper light and water. However, because yours has lost so many lower leaves, I recommend that you prune back the bare stem(s) to a height of 6-12 inches. That will eliminate most of the bare lower stem and new growth will emerge starting just below the pruning cut and grow upward from there.

Marginatas need to be very close and in front of a moderately sunny window. Allow the top quarter of the soil to dry before watering.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
Mar 14, 2017 11:35 AM CST
Hello CluelessaboutPlants! If it is Dracaena marginata, as long as the stems are not too brittle looking dead and still feels firm to your touch, then there is still a chance for new growth at the tips. Typically the growing part is at a few inches at the tip, so at times, with my plant, if it is getting too tall, I chop off some of the stem and new leaf growth will emerge at a node below cut-off point.

Thumb of 2017-03-14/tarev/75df8c

So you can try chopping off a portion, and see how it reacts. No need for fertilizer at this point, just let the plant recover. Don't overwater either, it is a drought tolerant plant.

It would be nice to see actual photos of your plant first though, before you do any chopping, just to be sure it is indeed what we are talking about.
[Last edited by tarev - Mar 14, 2017 11:36 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1389663 (4)
Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Mar 14, 2017 12:30 PM CST
Chances are there is still life in your Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) as long as the roots haven't died. I'd slowly cut back the remaining stem/branch to see if there is viable wood. Given proper care ... and time, the bare stem will begin to grow new branches and leaves.

Photos from our database showing new "shoots" coming off the cut stem:
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~

Wheeling, IL 60090
Sep 14, 2018 9:24 PM CST
I'm new to plants. Are these roots on a dracena marginata dead?
Thumb of 2018-09-15/Awilson1309/787e99

Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Sep 15, 2018 5:58 AM CST
There are still some healthy roots there, but removing the roots from the pot, removing much of the soil and exposing the roots to the open air are all very stressful to the plant.

Replant it into the SMALLEST pot that the roots will fit into. Use a porous potting mix with just enough to barely cover the roots. Try to keep the soil slightly damp while it attempts to recover. It will be a slow process at best and you can expect some leaf loss during recovery.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

« Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:



[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "Cedrus atlantica"