How to Grow and Care for Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) Indoors


Corn Palm, Dracaena fragrans

Photo Credit: PlantVine

Botanical name: Dracaena fragrans
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Common names: Corn Palm, Striped Dracaena, Compact Dracaena, Corn Plant

Description

Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) also called Striped Dracaena, Compact Dracaena or Corn Plant is an easy to grow plant whose glossy, large, yellow-striped leaves will brighten up any space.

As it grows, the Striped Dracaena sheds the lower leaves, leaving a bare stem with a cluster of leaves at the top which makes it look like a palm and hence the common name.

Corn Plant also requires to be protected from draughts as they can lead to dry, brown scorch marks on the leaves. The leaves may die if exposed to excessive sunlight.

Size

Striped Dracaena is a slow grower but it can reach a height of 6 ft and a diameter of about 2 ft.

Origin

Dracaena fragrans has its origins throughout tropical Africa, from Sudan south to Mozambique, west to Côte d'Ivoire and southwest to Angola.

Air Cleaning

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) was found to be a good indoor air cleaner and gets rid of common VOCs like xylene, toulene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloethylene from indoor air.

Varieties

Several varieties of Compact Dracaena are available. Dracaena fragrans massangeana with its corn-color central band outsells all the others.

Other common varieties are Dracaena fragrans lindenii and Dracaena fragrans victoria among others.

Where to Buy

Corn Palm is an excellent addition to any houseplant collection. Beautiful and healthy Striped Dracaena are readily available online at Etsy. Buy spectacular Dracaena Plants online from Etsy.

Corn Palm, Dracaena fragrans

Photo Credit: InteriorPlants.ca

Dracaena fragrans Care Indoors

Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, average warmth and consistently moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding.

Corn Plant has no need for high humidity but does well in average room humidity. Repotting is only necessary when the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes. Frequent pruning is necessary to keep the plant neat as well as rejuvenate growth. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Corn Palm grows best in bright, indirect light; an east- or west-facing window is ideal. It can also grow in shade but the growth will be much slower. Where natural lighting is not adequate Striped Dracaena can grow under a grow light.

Avoid direct sunlight as it can burn the leaves causing the plant to wilt. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

Water Corn Plant thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moist at all times. Reduce watering in the cold season but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Avoid soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Striped Dracaena is a tropical plant, therefore, use water at room temperature to water the plant to avoid shocking it.

Ensure that the water is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature

The best temperature for Corn Palm is average warmth with a minumum of 120C. Protect it from cold draughts. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Compact Dracaena has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for the plant.

However, if the air is too dry especially where temperature is too high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Corn Plant every 4 weeks during the growing period with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.

Regularly flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow it to run for a few minutes and repeat several times. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Dracaena fragrans at the beginning of the growing season when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes as it prefers to be slightly root-bound.

Use a pot at least 2 in. wider than the tree-trunk. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil. Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot.

Soil

The best soil for Corn Plant should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal. Buy quality Potting Mix for Corn Palm from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Corn Palm involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy; as it ages, the lower leaves naturally turn yellow.

The Compact Dracaena is a slow grower and does not require regular pruning. To encourage bushy growth (branching), cut the stem at the desired height.

A new sprout of stems will emerge below the cut. This will result in the plant producing several stems instead of having just one stem.

The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new Corn Plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Propagation

Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) can be propagated in three ways: by air layering, from stem cuttings or from the top crown of leaves.

Corn Palm, Dracaena fragrans

Photo Credit: Amazon

Dracaena fragrans Problems Indoors

Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) problems indoors are mainly caused by issues in temperature, watering, humidity and lighting. They include plant death, brown leaf tips, yellow leaves, leaf spots, pests and diseases among others. Read on for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown leaf tips and yellow edges

Corn Palm brown leaf tips and yellow edges are caused by four possible reasons. One possible reason is dry air (low humidity) especially where the temperatures are very high.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a humidifier to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second possible reason brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Compact Dracaena is underwatering. Maintain the soil moist at all times and do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third possible reason for brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Corn Plant is chemical accumulation in the soil.

Use only chemical free water like rainwater and regularly flush out salts from the soil by running a stream of water thorough the soil.

The fourth possible reason for brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Corn Palm is cold draughts. Protect the plant from cold draughts or place it away from cold draughts.

Plant death

Corn Palm is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid soggy soil.

Reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Another possible cause of the death in Corn Plant is keeping it too cold. Maintain an average room temperature and protect the plant from cold draughts to prevent sudden drop in temperature.

Compact Dracaena could also be dying from accumulation of salts in the soil. Regularly flush out accumulated salts in the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow it to run for a few minutes and repeat several times.

Brown leaf spots

Corn Palm brown leaf spots are due to underwatering. Water Compact Dracaena thoroughly to maintain the soil moist at all times during the growing season and reduce watering in the cold season but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Bleached dry leaf patches

Corn Plant bleached dry leaf patches are sunscorch marks due to exposure of the plant to direct sunlight. Move the plant to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunlight.

Yellowing lower leaves

Yellowing lower leaves is a natural process in Corn Palm. As the plant matures it sheds the lower leaves. Each lower leaf turns yellow and dries leaving a crown of leaves on top of the cane-like stem which causes gives the plant a false palm appearance, hence the common name, 'Corn Palm'.

Leaves soft, curled and have brown edges

Corn Palm leaves soft, curled and brown edges are caused by too low temperature. Maintain an average room temperature and protect the plant from cold draughts (drafts) to prevent sudden changes in temperature.

Pests

Common pests in Dracaena fragrans pests are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Corn Palm toxic?

Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans) is toxic to both humans and pets according to ASPCA. The leaves contain alkyds which if ingested they may cause vomiting and excessive salivation.

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