Ask a Question forum: Sunburned Dracaena Deremenis (Janet Craig)

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May 25, 2017 6:51 AM CST
Hey guys - I have an issue with my plant that I just wanted to check with you all. Although I am leaning toward it being maybe a sunburn or fluoride issue. We brought our Dracaenus Deremensis home on Sunday, repotted it into a larger pot with a bed of potting compost, gave it some water (from the garden spray) and placed it in the corner of the conservatory by the window). Sprayed the leaves too to remove any dust from the store. It was fine a couple days, however I came home from work on the Wednesday to discover that most of the leaves had withered, I have attached a picture, most of the leaves have entirely gone a dark colour, particularly at the top of the plant...not exactly brown but very dark green and withered looking, almost like 'crinkley'. I am assuming it's sunburn, so I have moved the plant into the lounge which is away from any direct light and is a lot cooler than our conservatory. Do you guys agree that this is most likely a sunburn issue? Or will fluoride manifest from the very first watering? How can I deflourinate the plant's water? Is it ok to remove the sunburnt leaves and will they grow back ok? How do I go about this the best way?

Thumb of 2017-05-25/brandos/9971ef

Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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May 25, 2017 7:03 AM CST
My first thought, could it have been something in the compost and did you fertilize it? It doesnt look like sunburn to me, other members will give you more advice.. Welcome!

May 25, 2017 7:34 AM CST
I used 2 layers of compost, the bottom layer below the plant is a 'vegetable growers compost' and the 2nd layer which surrounds the actual plant to stabilise it in the pot is an 'indoor plant compost'. Both composts were from the bag and moist. I have not used fertiliser as yet believing the new compost to be nutrient rich already. Could this be the problem?
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
Charter ATP Member Region: United States of America Deer Region: New York Birds Cat Lover
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May 25, 2017 9:08 AM CST
Did you add any perlite to the compost? Maybe the compost is to heavy for the roots. I always add alot of perlite to my potting mix, just a thought Smiling
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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May 25, 2017 10:34 AM CST
It could be a mix of getting too much sun and then adjusting from any temperature change during tranport as it tries to acclimate in your new growing area.

You can also try adding more pumice or perlite to your soil so it does not stay too wet for long time, allowing more airflow around root zone. And I do hope that container has drainage holes.

It is good, you did not apply any fertilizer. Just allow the soil to dry up a bit for now. Away from too much sun is good, it prefers bright light and sun passing through the windows maybe too hot for it. Use bamboo skewers, stick it into the soil. If it comes out wet, delay watering. Or put a big rock, if you lift it and still see dampness below, delay watering.
[Last edited by tarev - May 25, 2017 10:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
May 26, 2017 3:42 PM CST
The damage done to the leaves can be caused by either exposure to cold temps or direct sunlight. You didn't mention cold, so it is safe to assume that the damage was caused by the sun. Dracaena deremensis is a tropical species plant that grows in deep shade in the understory of rain forests. That means they cannot tolerate direct sunlight, but they do very well indoors in relatively low light.

The damaged leaves will not recover and should be removed. With proper care, healthy new foliage will emerge, but only at the tops of each stem, not down below. To eliminate bare lower stems, you would have to prune the stems back to the desired height.

Of bigger concern is the repotting that was done unnecessarily. This plant has a relatively small root system. It should be in a small pot with a good potting mix that drains quickly. That mix would be primarily peat moss or coir with perlite mixed in throughout. If you have access to volcanic cinders, that would be even better. The large pot and heavy compost you used will retain moisture around the roots for long periods of time and deprive the roots of the oxygen they need to avoid root rot. You may want to consider undoing the potting you did and get it back into its original pot. Otherwise, you are going to have to be very careful to allow the soil to dry at least a quarter to a third of the way deep into the pot before adding a small quantity of water.

This plant is a bit more sensitive to fluoride than some other species. However, unless your local tap or well water has a naturally high fluoride content, fluoride damage will not be a poblem. The fluoride added to municipal water supplies is not concentrated enough to be a problem. Fluoride cannot be removed from your water. If you really have a high concentration of fluoride, then use distilled or filtered water for this plant.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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May 30, 2017 4:31 AM CST
Thanks - for this info - I am now considering taking it to one of my local garden centres to be repotted as they don't stock peat moss, perlite or volcanic cinders in Homebase. Appreciate the advice.

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