How to grow and care for Corn Palm Indoors

Houseplant, Corn Palm

Botanical name: Dracaena fragrans
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae

Corn Palm is an easy to grow houseplant whose glossy, large, yellow-striped leaves will brighten up any space. It is also a good air cleaner which gets rids of common VOCs like xylene, toulene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloethylene. Corn palm has its origins in Tropical East Africa. It is a slow grower but it can reach a height of 6 ft. The leaves may die if exposed to excessive sunlight. Protect the plant from draughts as they may lead to dry, brown scorch marks on the leaves. As it grows, Corn Plam sheds the lower leaves, leaving a bare stem with a cluster of leaves at the top. A new plant may drop a few leaves as it adjusts to its new home.

Several varieties of Corn Palm 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.

How to Grow Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans)

Light

Corn Palm prefers light shade, an east- or west-facing window is ideal. It can also grow in shade but the growth will be much slower. Avoid direct sunlight as it can burn the leaves causing the plant to wilt. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Keep soil moist at all times for Corn Palm but reduce watering in the cold months. Avoid overwatering as it may lead to root-rot. Use water at room temperature that is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minumum of 120C is ideal for Corn Palm. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Corn Palm. Mist the leaves occasionally and clean them by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust. If the air is too dry especially where temperature is high raise humidity by more frequent misting or set the pot on a wet pebble tray.

Feeding

Feed Corn Palm monthly during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. 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. Find out more on feeding houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Corn Palm at the beginning of the growing season when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes; the plant prefers to be slightly root-bound. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has drainage holes. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in waterlogged soil as it may lead to root-rot.

How to Prune Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans)

Pruning Corn Palm involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage bushy growth (branching), the stem can be cut at the desired height and new stems will sprout below the cut. This will result in the plant producing several stems instead of having just one stem. When the plant becomes too tall, the stem can be cut at the desired height to encourage new growth to sprout just below the cut. The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans)

Propagation of Corn Palm can be done by air layering, from stem cuttings or by use of the crown from old leggy canes.

Corn Palm propagation by Air Layering
Air layering in Corn Palm consists of notching the stem of a healthy plant, coating the notch with a rooting hormone, surrounding the area with damp moss and then covering it with a polythene film or clear plastic wrap. After the roots have formed sever the stem just below the covered part, remove the polythene and carefully pot the rooted cutting. New shoots will sprout from the shortened stem of the old plant.

Corn Palm propagation from the top crown of leaves
Remove the top crown of Corn Palm leaves bearing about 3 in. of stem, apply a rooting hormone and stick it in moist free draining rooting soil. Place the set in a warm shaded place. Rooting will occur in 3-6 weeks. When new growth is observed, the plant can be transplanted.

Corn Palm propagation from stem cuttings
Take 2-3 in. long stem cuttings of Corn Palm cane, dip the lower cut-end of the cutting in a rooting hormone and stick it in moist free draining rooting soil. Place the set up in a warm medium lit place. Roots will develop in about 3-6 weeks. Once there is new growth, the plant can be transplanted.

Common Problems in Growing Corn Palm (Dracaena fragrans)

  • Leaves with brown tips and yellow edges
  • There are four reasons for these in Corn Palm. One is dry air; raise humidity, by more frequent misting or set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Two is underwatering; maintain the soil moist at all times and do not let the soil to dry out. Three is chemical accumulation in the soil; use chemical free water and regularly flush out salts from the soil. Four is cold draughts; place the plant away from draughts.

  • Yellowing of lower leaves
  • This 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.

  • Soft and curled leaves with brown edges
  • If the temperature is too low Corn Palm leaves become soft and curled and the edges turn brown. Maintain an average room temperature and protect the plant from cold draughts.

  • Brown leaf spots
  • Corn Palm will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered. Maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil ball to dry out.

  • Bleached dry patches on the leaves
  • Direct sunlight will cause bleached dry patches on the leaves of Corn Palm. Move the plant to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunlight.

  • Plant death
  • Corn Palm is prone to root-rot which is promoted by waterlogging. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering in the cold season. Keeping Corn Palm too cold will also kill it; maintain average room temperature and protect it from cold draughts. Another reason for the death of Corn Palm is accumulation of salts in the soil; regularly flush out salts from the soil.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Corn Palm are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants.

Toxicity

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

Was this insightful? Feel free to share on social media.


On the Blog



On the Blog


Houseplant, Dracaeana, Corn plant
Dracaena Plants Profile

Dracaena plants are attractive houseplants which add a splash of color in any indoor space. They are easy to grow and propagate. Read more »

Houseplants, Indoor garden
Benefits of houseplants

Apart from adding beauty, live houseplants are beneficial to us in many ways. Some of these are quite interesting. Read more »

Houseplant, Peace Lily
10 Houseplants that clean the air

These ten beautiful houseplants have been found to be effective in removing indoor air pollutants. Select some to improve your indoor air quality. Read more »

Houseplants, Golden Pothos
10 easy houseplants

These houseplants are easy to care for which means they are suitable for you if you are just starting out with growing houseplants. Read more »

Houseplants, Snake Plant, Sanseveria
10 hard to kill houseplants

These houseplants are suitable for the forgetful, a beginner or one who has limited time to take care of their houseplants. Read more »

Houseplant, Nerve plant
16 Houseplants for small spaces

Let not space limit you in greening your living spaces. These small houseplants are perfect to additions for such spaces. Read more »

Houseplant, String of pearls plant
15 Houseplants for hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are one beautiful way of maximizing on the vertical space. These easy to grow houseplants are excellent for hanging. Read more »

Aglaonema modestum
15 Houseplants for low light spaces

Even for the poorly lit spaces, these houseplants will adapt very well to the low light conditions and continue to brighten up such spaces. Read more »

Houseplant, Monstera plant
20 Houseplants for the office

Do not let yourself be surrounded by dull plain walls while you are working. Bring some green in and break the monotony of pale boring walls. Read more »