Houseplants forum: Dracaena Help!

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DM3MD157
May 27, 2017 10:01 PM CST
I am in great need of assistance with my old (14+ years) Dracaena. I have posted some pictures to show the situation. There are two stalks on top that stopped growing leaves and years ago I cut the tips of it thinking that it would grow more leaves. Over a period of 6 months or so the stalks started to dry out and then eventually the main large stalk dried out also. If you squeeze the bark it has a gap between the bark and the inside indicating it is completely dried out.

Prior to all of this there were two small stalks that sprung out from the base of the main stalk. It has been at this small size for a couple years without really getting any bigger. Even the bark around the base near the shoots is dry. At this point, I'm not sure what I should do, I have seen many videos of people propagating Dracaenas, however they usually have long stems to start from. As shown in the last picture, you can see how small the stem of the shoots are.

This plant belonged to my late father, it means so much to me. I just want to do what I can to save it and make it healthy. Your help is MUCH appreciated!

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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
May 28, 2017 9:01 AM CST
This is a common problem with Dracaena massangeanas that have been over potted and/or improperly watered. The loosening of the outer bark layer along the cane is a clear indication that the roots are dead or dying. The main cane will never recover nor will the top stems. When these plants are dying, they often put out a new shoot near the base in the hopes that it will survive. However, to survive long term, that baby plant will have to develop its own healthy root system.

I suggest that you carefully slice off a thin section of the cane where the baby is attached. Then pot that cutting in a very small pot filled with a porous peat-based potting mix. It will take a while for a new root system to develop, so be patient.

The original plant has no future so you may as well discard it, I am sorry to say.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

DM3MD157
May 28, 2017 10:32 PM CST
Will

Thank you so much for your response. Just want to say that I am an extreme noobie at plants. When you say slice off a thin section, do you mean cut off the baby, or cut some of the original cane with the baby? Can you perhaps notate one of my posted pictures to show what you mean? Is porus peat-based potting mix the kind you can get at the local Homedepot like the Miracle Gro Potting Mix?

What do you think the likelyhood of the baby shoots living after doing this procedure? I'm OK with discarding the rest so long as I can retain some life out of this plant. I just don't want to mess this up!
Name: Christine
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Christine
May 29, 2017 7:08 AM CST
DM3MD157, since this plant means so much to you why not check your local nursery and see if they will help you with it, I know my local nursery would do it probably for free, just another thought Welcome!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
May 29, 2017 1:53 PM CST
Yes, take a small slice of the cane when you sever it. A peat-based potting mix is preferred. If you use a bagged potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro, add some perlite to increase the porosity. More importantly, use a very small pot. The key to success depends on your ability to maintain the soil at a slightly damp level until roots develop. I appreciate that that is not obvious to a self-described newbie, but do your best and be satisfied with that regardless of the results.

If your local garden center is a big box store, I would not trust them to know what to do. Even many quality garden centers are not well informed on dealing with this situation.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

DM3MD157
May 29, 2017 8:28 PM CST
My apologies for asking so many questions, I just want to be detail oriented to best do it right! Can you suggest a particular brand of potting mix (a link would be great). Do I need any fertilizer? I have read that many people put rooting hormone to the severed bottom, could that help? Regarding the pot, when you say small, do you suggest something like a coffee mug size? Should it have the drain with saucer at the bottom? (a web like to a suitable one would be great as well)

Also, when I stick the plant into the potting mix, how far should I stick it down? Should I give it a good watering initially and perhaps water it every week? I take it I should probably keep it near a window for sunlight.

Lastly, it appears that I have three of these baby shoots on the bottom of the dead cane, should I sever all three of them and plant them all, or can I leave some just in case? I have attached a picture of what I think you mean taking a sliver.

Thank you again Will for all your help.

-Chris

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DM3MD157
Jun 3, 2017 12:50 AM CST
WillC, could you kindly give me a hand with the questions I have in my previous post? Thank you in advance.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 5, 2017 5:22 AM CST
Chris - For the baby plants use a 4-inch pot with drain holes. Mix together 4 parts of peat moss and 1 part Perlite and use that as your potting mix. Insert each cutting up to the lowest leaves. Tamp the mix down gently to hold it in place. Rooting hormone is of minimal value, at best. Likewise fertizer.

Move it to a moderately bright location but out of the direct sun rays. The key is keeping the potting mix damp, but not wet. There is no rule about how much or how often that would be.

How many of the baby plants you remove is your choice, but their survival as they are is unlikely.

You can contact me directly at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com, via my website, or at 917-887-8601.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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