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Dracaena Fragrans

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  • Dracaena Fragrans

    I recently purchased a Dracaena Fragrans. At first, I kept it near the
    window where it was getting plenty of sunlight. Then some of the leaves
    started getting brown in them. I did some research and saw that they
    require medium to low light. So, I moved it about 15-20 feet away from
    the two windows in my living room. I water it about once a week (usually
    when it is dried about one inch deep). However, more of the leaves are
    turning brown--it starts from the tip and is working its way up the
    leaves. I'm not sure what I"m doing wrong...maybe somebody can help

  • #2
    Well, I can't offer much solution, but I can tell you I have the exact same problem. My Dracaena Fragrans came with two stalks (basically, 2 plants in one pot), as they usually do, and one of the stalk, the shortest one, did exactly what you described. The leaves turned brown and eventually died, and I'm left with one leaf on it as I write to you.

    I have found very little info on the web about it, and plan to go see the store that sold it as soon as I get the chance to see if they have any ideas. I tried repotting it, which changed nothing (I did, however, notice that the roots of the plan in trouble looked different, they were more brownish, than the roots of the healthy stalk), and I doubt it's a bug of some sort cause it would have infected the other stalk. Same reasoning with too much or too little lighting, or too cold or too warm a room.

    The only thing I read recently is to avoid watering it with chlorinated water. Apparently Dracaenas are very sensitive to chlorine, and it has the effect of browning it's leaves. About 2 wks ago, I changed from tap water to bottled water, and I can't say I've seen a change yet... But it may just bee too soon to tell. Hopefully this will be it...

    Please let me know if you find a solution, and good luck!


    • #3
      'medium to low light' depends on where you are.
      Ours grow outside in the tropics, some in full sun.
      Sunlight through a window in the (northern?) temperate
      zone may not even be enough for a dracaena.
      They may be tro[pical rainforest understory plants
      to some extent, but in most places they'll still get more
      sunlight than in most (again, northern) temperate sone
      places in November.

      It sound like your dracaenas my suffer from overwatering/waterlogging.
      Watering with non-chlorinated water is probably a good idea, but you
      don't have to buy it bottled. Put some water into an open watering
      can for a day or so and the chlorine will have evaporated.

      Maren, Hilo, HI.


      • #4
        I don't know how your dracaena is going, but I thought I'd let you know of how my situation evolved :

        The shortest of the two stalks of my dracaena finally died completely, despite my efforts to save it. All the leaves turned brown and then fell, and the roots are all dead. I went to a flowershop/garden center in my area and talked about the problem. They told me that if the plants had no live roots left, there was one option that could possibly save it.

        I made a small (about 1/4 of an inch, maybe ba bit more) incision in the trunk. I applied a tiny bit of root stimulating powder (sorry, I don't have the name with me, but I can get back to you on that if you wish) on the incision and covered it up with very moist moss. I covered the whole thing with plastic cellophane wrap and I check to see it is still moist everyday. The person I spoke to said this may help the plant grow new roots, wich I could then plant in the soil. I really hope it works. This is, obvioulsy, a last resort solution, to consider when all esle failed and there are no live roots left on the plant.

        I hope your situation isn't as critical as mine, your plant may even have recovered. If so, great! If not, I hope this helps.


        • #5
          Aloha Julie,

          this is a good idea, and it may very well work.
          Dracaenas (like cordylines too) grow quite well from cuttings.
          - I sometimes just lay them on the ground, we usually get a lot of rain
          here, and wait for them to grow out the sides. Quite often vegetative
          growth first, but roots too. -
          It may work, if you cut off all the dead parts, to just either stick it into
          the ground or lay it flat on the ground, but if you have rooting powder I'm sure
          it will work better. In addition to checking that it stays moist, also make sure
          that it isn't too wet.



          • #6

            I'm still having dracaena problems...! Here's what happened since my last entry: I did the incision to try and get my plant to grow new roots... but then, a few weeks later, I had to leave for a few months. I left my beloved plant under my father's care (I live with him) but he didn't water it... so it died. Because he felt bad, he bought me a bran new dracaena, just like the other when it was new:). I was quite happy, right up until I saw it doing the exact same thing as the other one! The tips started to brown, then the whole leafs, and... well, now it's in a pittiful shape, just like the other one. It's not dead, but if it keeps loosing leafs at this rate, it will probably be soon. So I must be doing something wrong!

            Trying to figure it all out, I searched possible answers. I tried watering it less (every other week, letting the soil dry really well in between waterings) and watering it more (a few times a week)... I tried less sunlight (it's by a window so it should be getting enough...) and I let the water sit before watering so it would get rid of the chlorine. The plant seemed to keep getting worse at the same rate, no matter what I did. The plant does seem to have some odd fibers in between the leafs, I don't know if it's normal. At first, I though "spider mites", but it doesn't look like a web so much as seeds from a dandelion...(and, obviously, that's not what it is... it's winter here in Canada and there isn't any pollen around :))

            I decided to really investigate pests, in case that was to blame. After actually looking at about 10 leaves with a microscope-like magnifiying glass, I found 2 insects that looked quite alike. They are really, really tiny (the size of a small grain of sand), but under the microscope-like glass, I could see they were brown, had 6 legs and something that looked like wings (and, I think, antenas...). When searching on google, I found nothing that really fit that bug's description, so really, I don't know what it is. I can't give a picture either, because of its size... I also found one worm today, in the soil (only one, though). It was small (about half an inch), off-white, and kind of crunchy (ish!)...

            Any thoughts on what this may be? Does it look like a pest problem? Any other ideas?

            Thank you so much for any suggestions! I really like my plant and would love to save it!!!


            • #7
              Hi Julie,

              Gosh, you sure have had your hands full with dracaenas.**:?** It sounds like you have spider mites and possibly fungal gnat larvae in the soil.* Let's start with the spider mites.* Is this what you saw?

              Fungal gnats larvae could be what you saw in soil.* Any tiny flies around the plant?* Click on the pic on the right for the adult and the larvae.



              • #8
                Hi Newt,

                Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, it didn't really look like spider mites or fungal gnat larvae. When I looked at the bug again, I saw the "wings" better and now I'm not sure that's what they were... if it is, they would be more of a hard shell wing, like you would see on a beatle... only, the rest of the bug didn't look like a beatle at all... sorry, it's so hard to describe...:?.

                I did try to find more bugs eversince I gound the 2 I wrote about, and had no success... so, at least, if it's a pest problem, it doesn't look like it's very bad... I'm suspecting some form of sucking insect, though, because my plant has a few brown spots on it, which I know are a sign, and I even found some of the sticky stuff they leave behind on some of the leaves. I know it's not an aphid, cause I've seen those before in my garden, and it doesn't look like other insects I found online either...(mealy bugs and the like)...

                I was thinking about maybe spraying the plant with soapy water to see if it helps... I heard it could be used against some pests. Any idea if this could make matters worse, or is it something I can try even without identifying the tiny buggers?

                Other than that, my plan is to let the plant dry out a bit more than usual, in case it's overwatering (I really doubt it, since, with all my dracaena problems, I've changed watering frequency before and it just kept deteriorating... but you never know) and actually add a bit of plant food to the water next time I water it... I've never used artificial fertilizer in my whole life... but I'm getting desperate...


                • #9
                  Hi Julie,

                  I'm not Newt, but I'll reply anyway [img]images/emoticons/big_grin.gif[/img]

                  If these things are in the soil you may consider putting the whole planter
                  into a bucket with soapy water for a while (hours, not days). Soapy
                  water works well with e.g. aphids, and on most plants. The only one
                  I have problems with is my apple tree, but apple trees aren't very happy in
                  the tropics anyway. Use a mild dish detergent or liquid soap, I usually
                  use Ivory or Palmolive. For dilution see e.g.
                  (I tend to use more soap, but I usually only spray plants with the

                  Any kind of fertilization will make the plant stronger and more resistant
                  to damage.

                  Good luck,



                  • #10
                    Julie, you may have scales.* They have a hard shell like a beetle but arean't shaped like a beetle.* They come in different colors such as tan, brown, creme, pink and black.* Is this what you see?

                    Usually Neem oil will work well on these if insecticidal soap doesn't.*

                    Maren's idea of soaking the soil with soapy water is a good one, but I wouldn't recommend detergent as it can be too strong for the plants and has more phosphate residue then soap.* You can make your own insecticidal soap.

                    Hi Maren!!



                    • #11
                      Hi to you too, Newt!

                      I use up this dish detergent because I don't use it for
                      dishes. What I really prefer to use is Simple Green (after
                      reading Material Safety Data Sheets for a few dish detergents
                      and for Simple Green - that stuff is just about safe enough
                      to drink, and, I believe, even acceptable in organic

                      My suggestion for soaking the soil would only apply to
                      the soil borne pests and not work for the above ground
                      ones. I have scales on occasion, mostly on bananas and
                      palms (and a bad case of plumeria scale), and spraying
                      with a soap/water solution works well for them, but you
                      may have to repeat the exercise several times. - My
                      plumeria takes offense to that, but the bananas and
                      palms as well as my Sago Palm (which is really a cycad,
                      not a palm) don't mind.



                      • #12
                        Aloha, Maren!!* That's great to know about Simple Green.* I was given some by a contractor but didn't like the smell so I haven't used it.* Now I know how to use it up!* :)**

                        Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


                        • #13
                          yes, the smell takes some getting used to [img]images/emoticons/big_grin.gif[/img], but at some point my
                          bottle made it inside the house and hasn't come back out yet.

                          We had a dry spell, but I don't think I have lost too many of my potted
                          plants (outside, I don't have any inside the house), and absolutely no time
                          to water.

                          Getting back to the subject of scales, if it is scales that Julie has on her
                          dracaena: unlike ants, aphids, and other things that move around quite
                          a bit, with scales it is important to actually hit the scales with whatever
                          you spray them with, undersides of leaves and all, and recheck after a
                          few days. I believe they do actually move, but I have never seen one

                          (Newt: what are you doing up at these somewhat ungodly hours, or
                          are you currently in a different time zome?)


                          • #14
                            Maren, the scales do move, but only when they are young.* Once they latch on to a plant as an adult they stay put and that's when the shell hardens.* Nasty little things!* :shock:

                            I'm in the Eastern time zone so I'm 6 hours ahead of you right now as we also went to daylight savings last weekend!* You don't do that where you are.* Your time zone is GMT minus 10 and we're GMT minus 5 until spring when we do the clock dance!* ;)*



                            • #15
                              Hi Newt & Maren! Thanks so much :D

                              Well, I don't think it's scales either... the bugs I saw didn't look like them... I really have no idea what it is or if it means much. My plant is still deteriorating, but I haven't seen any more bugs on it.

                              I'll probably be watering it in a few days (still waiting for the soil to dry just a bit more), which will give me the chance to fertilize it. Hopefully this will help. I haven't had the chance to do the soapy water mix yet, but I'll definetly get working on that soon... I have bought a spray bottle, so it's a start :)

                              I was thinking of spraying the leaves first, and if I see no change, then try the whole planter in soapy water... The idea is that, because my plant is so week, I'm afraid that taking it out of it's pot will be hard on it... and since the soil doesn't seem to be badly infested... (I found 1 worm, ever, and I looked quite a bit), I'm thinking of trying less "invasive" interventions first. What do you guys think?

                              Also, as many of it's leaves are turning brown, should I be cutting them when they do or leaving them on the plant? I vaguely remember my parents telling me it was better to cut dying leaves to give strenght back to plants when I was little, but I have no idea if this was true or if it applies to my dracaena... any thoughts?

                              Thanks so much!