Ask a Question forum: Dragon Tree - disease or bug?

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Name: Erin
San Francisco, CA (Zone 8b)
faeriedragon
Jan 20, 2018 11:55 AM CST
Hi. Has anyone had this issue (seen in the attached photo)? Some of my dragon tree's younger leaves look white or grey (the first spot I noticed a while ago - not sure how long ago exactly - but I didn't think much of it and now it looks like it's spread). I have had him since around the end of last August, water him with filtered water (whenever his dirt is dry) and spray him every 3-4 days with plain filtered water (I learned soapy water just caused brown spots on his leaves). He was recently repotted about 2-3 weeks ago because he had literally broken through the smaller plastic pot he was in.

Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.
Thumb of 2018-01-20/faeriedragon/f24848

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 20, 2018 3:35 PM CST
It is neither a bug or a disease. It is probably a result of misting and having water accumulate around new growth when it is first emerging and perhaps having the sun shine directly on the water droplets.

Marginatas do not need misting, which doesn't really raise humidity anyway. There is no reason to think that soapy water will cause brown spots.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
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Name: Erin
San Francisco, CA (Zone 8b)
faeriedragon
Jan 20, 2018 4:39 PM CST
Thank you for your response. I did some research after I misted with the soapy water & I learned from various resources that soap can cause damage to a plant's leaves. The brown spots are in the exact spots I sprayed. Also I've researched and learned months ago that the dragon tree prefers humidity and misting can help however I will give it a rest for a few weeks and see what happens.

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 20, 2018 6:41 PM CST
Unless the soap is a detergent or is very concentrated it will not damage the foliage of most plants, including Marginatas. However, spraying the plant with any liquid with the sun shining directly on the plant will cause damage, regardless of whether it has soap in it.

Conventional wisdom says Marginatas need high humidity because they are native to humid environments. However, I have many years of experience with dozens of Marginatas in very low humidity environments and they do just fine as long as the soil is properly hydrated. Likewise, I have sprayed them many times with a dilute dish soap spray without any ill effects.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Greece (Zone 10b)
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Faridat
Jan 21, 2018 3:11 PM CST
Hello! What time of the day do you usually spray your plant?
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: Erin
San Francisco, CA (Zone 8b)
faeriedragon
Jan 21, 2018 3:13 PM CST
It varies. Usually mid afternoon or evening. He's inside. Would the time of day matter?

Greece (Zone 10b)
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Faridat
Jan 21, 2018 3:25 PM CST
It does, spraying in the evening or night is a no no. I prefer to spray my plants in the morning, that way they have many hours for their leaves to dry before the night falls. For some plants spraying does make a lot of difference. Also, spraying does not mean soaking, it is misting that I prefer, so I adjust my water sprayer so that it only leaves a light mist on the leaves of the plant. Pockets of the plant can hold water, as well as tops, and that is where there is a great vulnerability to cause problems. I use cotton swamps to remove water from these areas from plants that are vulnerable to water remaining there and susceptible to rot, like my Phalaenopsis.
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: Erin
San Francisco, CA (Zone 8b)
faeriedragon
Jan 21, 2018 3:29 PM CST
Faridat said:It does, spraying in the evening or night is a no no. I prefer to spray my plants in the morning, that way they have many hours for their leaves to dry before the night falls. For some plants spraying does make a lot of difference. Also, spraying does not mean soaking, it is misting that I prefer, so I adjust my water sprayer so that it only leaves a light mist on the leaves of the plant. Pockets of the plant can hold water, as well as tops, and that is where there is a great vulnerability to cause problems. I use cotton swamps to remove water from these areas from plants that are vulnerable to water remaining there and susceptible to rot, like my Phalaenopsis.


Thank you. I'll keep that in mind if I decide to start misting my dragon plant again.

Greece (Zone 10b)
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Faridat
Jan 21, 2018 3:34 PM CST
You are welcome. I spray my two Marginatas nearly every day. But I never leave them to sleep wet. They seem to like being sprayed. I'd be careful with this top, and suspend spraying for now. I don't like the discoloration it shows in your image.
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: Erin
San Francisco, CA (Zone 8b)
faeriedragon
Jan 21, 2018 5:03 PM CST
I don't like it either. I've read they're low maintenance but I feel like I chose the one that decides to be high maintenance. 🙄

[Last edited by faeriedragon - Jan 21, 2018 5:04 PM (+)]
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Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
Orchids Region: Europe Garden Art Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Faridat
Jan 21, 2018 5:08 PM CST
Also, be careful with the watering. I prefer to err on the dry side with my Marginatas. They can take a little dryness, but not being overwatered. Good drainage and non retentive soil and a place with bright indirect light.
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jan 22, 2018 11:13 AM CST
Hello Erin, in your location, you are by the bay, so you have already better humidity levels compared to my location. I would not recommend misting of your marginata either. It does not need it With the cooler temperature, it will just distress the plant. I would surmise ballpark temps on your side is around 55F to 60F. Even with heaters running, it will fluctuate to make conditions much cooler being winter time. The cooler it gets, the lower watering needs for the plant, but try to make them comfortable, keep them warm with bright light access.

It is a totally different situation if it is growing in a very hot and high humidity area, where temperatures are sustained everyday never going below 70F. In my homeland, they freely grow around the house, our humidity levels there is like you are walking on spa everyday, that is how sticky humid it can endure, provided the temps are sustainably warm. Evaporation is fast enough with the constant tropical heat there too.

I don't do misting of my marginata either. Even during our dry and hot months here in my location, I just have it indoors, being protected from the excessive dry heat conditions here inland.

It took me awhile to understand this aspect of growing tropical plants indoors. I grew up in a tropical country, and later on living here with pronounced 4 seasons. So you got to adjust your watering habits depending on your individual micro climate. The general information we find online, is at most a ball park suggestion of ideal growing conditions for plants. You have to understand your locations unique growing conditions and adjust accordingly.

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