Houseplants forum: Why is my dracena unhappy? :(

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Aug 28, 2017 7:48 AM CST
I found this plant a few months ago - it was in very soggy soil, and it originally had four canes. One cane had complete root rot, one was not looking too good, but the shortest two canes seemed pretty healthy. I re-potted the healthiest two canes in a properly draining pot, and moved the plant into my apartment. My living room is quite bright; I have a west-facing bay window, and originally I had the dracena near the window, but its leaves started to turn brown and yellow, so I moved it into the corner of the room. It seemed happy here for a couple months, and though it didn't sprout new leaves, it no longer had leaves turning brown and yellow.

Since the plant had previously suffered from root rot, I have been very sparing with waterings. I gave it a little water after moving in, and then didn't water again for a month and a half or so. After the last watering, some leaves started to turn again, and sadly they haven't stopped. I'm wondering if now that the days are getting shorter, it's no longer getting enough light in the corner of the room?

Please advise - the taller cane is in danger of losing all it's leaves! :(

The pictures show the plant, it's pot, and the corner of my living room where it's been living (tucked behind the lamp)

Thumb of 2017-08-28/isabelg/ca2c9c
Thumb of 2017-08-28/isabelg/c2c87b
Thumb of 2017-08-28/isabelg/d7fdcd

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Aug 28, 2017 9:23 PM CST
Hello isabelg, I think it is a combination of things, getting too much light from the west facing window, it does not like that. Good you moved it further away, so it is again acclimating.

This plant, though low light and drought tolerant will not like to be kept too dry. I would suggest water it thoroughly, and allow water to drain. Then to gauge if media is still wet, stick in a bamboo skewer, if it comes out wet delay watering.

The wilting leaves seems to be the older leaves, so just let them wilt away. New growth comes from the center, just be patient, it takes awhile for plants to acclimate. No fertilizers at this point, till plant recovers.

Don't know your location, usually when day length shortens, the houseplants do slow down in growth too. That happens to my indoor plants around late Fall to winter.

Aug 29, 2017 8:34 AM CST
Thanks so much for your input, tarev! Sounds like I haven't been giving it enough water, so I'll try that.

I'm located in Toronto, so our summer days are fairly long, but they are starting to get shorter.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
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Aug 31, 2017 4:41 AM CST
A plant that size in an unglazed pot could need water every few days unless it is very humid in your house. Agree about adding enough water so that some comes out of the drain hole. The pot should turn a darker color when the soil is saturated with moisture.

At your latitude, some direct sun is probably necessary. Where I am, I put Dracaenas on the east side of the house for summer, where the sun shines on them for several hours in the morning. When they come inside for winter, the variegation fades and the leaves start to become more droopy.

If the roots have run out of room to grow, the amount of foliage that can be sustained will not be able to increase.
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Aug 31, 2017 12:08 PM CST
Thanks, purpleinopp - I think you're right, I don't think it was getting quite enough light in the corner - it was also partially blocked by a large lampshade, so now I've switch the two, so the plant is closer to the window and not blocked at all.

I did try giving the plant a good soak, and a complete drain. That was two days ago, and the outside of the pot is still a darker colour, so I believe the soil is still fairly saturated, even though it's not draining any more.

Fingers crossed! Crossing Fingers!
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
Aug 31, 2017 12:36 PM CST
isabelg, I would position that plant a bit closer to the window towards end of Sept to early Oct. Right now it is still okay further away. I did that before when we lived in Winnipeg, I even have to draw the curtains during daytime while summer is around, since light duration is quite long. But towards Fall and as conditions cool down, a bit closer to the window since light levels are shorter and weaker, conditions cooler and eventually in winter the heaters are running nearer the window.
[Last edited by tarev - Aug 31, 2017 12:37 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Sep 2, 2017 2:31 PM CST
Ideally, your Corn Plant should be as close to the window as possible but without letting the direct rays of the sun fell directly on the leaves at any point during the day. As others have noted, that will vary with latitude and also with the season as the angle of the sun's rays changes.

The top 1-2 inches of the soil should dry before you add water. It is often easier if you alter the volume of water you give it so that it reaches that level of dryness again in a week.

Trim off any leaves as they start to discolor because they will only get more yellow, not green.
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