Dracaena Cane's or Corn Plants Popular Houseplants

These popular houseplant's commonly exibit symptoms that can lead to confusion when troubleshooting.

Dracaena Canes like; Mass Cane, Lisa, Compacta, Rikki, Warnekii, and Janet Craig have earned their spot as one of the most commonly used interior plants around. This slow growing, easy care, and light tolerant bunch harbor a secret beneath their soil that can be highly beneficial to understanding their reactions to watering which can often confuse a caregiver. This confusion can lead to overcorrection, and further damage to the plant.

When a Dracaena shows symptom's of over watering or under watering, it important to notice which cane is displaying the issue, and what type of symptom it is displaying. Taking notice of these items is important since each cane is an individual plant, and each is oriented differently under the soil surface with it's own individual root system, so each cane is capable of  producing a different reaction even  being watered in the same pot.  

Explore Dracaena Cane Potting & Root Structure.

Looking at a Dracaena note it's Canes that are oriented in height in a Tapered step like fashion. Potted in a typical 12" diameter grow pot there may be a very short Cane approximately 1' in height cane, then a 2', a 3', 4', and 5' cane all potted together creating one nice full interior plant. These steps in height by cane above the soil are mirrored in depth under the soil; with the shortest cane being potted the the most shallow beneath the soil and the tallest being potted the deepest under the soil surface.

Picturing this orientation of the canes bases and roots you can begin to understand that the taller or tallest canes are going to exhibit symptoms according to issues occurring deep withing the pot, and the shorter canes are going to exhibit symptoms according to conditions that are closer to the soil surface.

The following are some Troubleshooting examples for Dracaena Canes.

  • The easy scenarios are all of the canes showing symptoms of over watering, or under watering. This clearly indicates that you are either neglecting to water your dracaena, or loving it way too much.  
  • The Shortest cane or canes exhibit under watering symptoms, and the tall or tallest canes are fine. This indicates that the shallow roots are not receiving enough water but the deep roots are adequately hydrated. This usually means that the frequency of watering needs to be increased and the amount of water slightly decreased, thus increasing the soil moisture consistency near the soil surface yet maintaining the healthy moisture balance deep in the pot.
  • The tallest cane or canes is exhibiting symptoms of over watering but the short canes appear to be fine. This usually points to the amount of water needing adjustment, over watering on the tall canes indicates standing water or overabundance of moisture deep in the pot. overwhelming the deep roots. The watering frequency is most likely accurate n such a situation but the amount may be excessive.
  •  Tall canes exhibiting symptoms of under watering,  and short canes symptoms of over watering. Watering too frequently (possibly in one area) with an inadequate amount. Correction for this would simply be to increase the amount of water given less often. Also be mindful to evenly distribute water across the soil surface so that each cane is allotted some  moisture.  
  •  Tall canes exhibiting symptoms of over watering, and short canes symptoms of under watering. This can indicate an issue of excessive watering amount and infrequent watering. This is called the feast or famine scenario, since Dracaena are not desert plants this does not bode well for overall health. Proper correction would be using less water more frequently.    

Dracaena Root & Cane Structure Diagram

Success with Dracaena

For over all watering success a few other Dracaena characteristic's should be added to the equasion.

Root and potting structure can shed a great deal of light on what Dracaena cane's are trying to tell us. On top of this Dracaena generally have a few other traits that should be remembered for good decision making.

  • Draceana are slow growing, this causes them to be slow to react to. When a symptoms is displayed by a Dracaena be mindful that it may be telling you about something that happened two weeks ago that you have already made adjustments for. Remembering changes in environment and changes in care patterns can be very helpful in making sure that you don't react today to a past issue that has appeared as a delayed reaction.
  • Environment impacts the speed of productivity of all plants. As a caregiver in an interior environment you must make adjustments according to changes in lighting, heat, temperature, and airflow. A Dracaena in high direct light & heat will have different water requirements from one who's primary light is artificial.
  • Soil can vary from plant to plant, and makes a big difference in how frequently any plant needs water and how to detect moisture. Most typically Dracaena are potted in either soil or lava rock. Lava rock holds, and distributes moisture very differently from regular potting soil.   

Having a well rounded understanding of Dracaena composition and environment are the keys to providing great care, and keeping a vibrant healthy plant.