I bought a small dracaena for my office and it has developed brown tips at the end of the leaves. I looked up several sites and the two most commonly listed reasons were "Over watering" and "Under watering" Since it cannot be both, how can I tell? and how can I save this plant from further damage?
Dracaena with brown tips on the leaves?
If you have the plant in direct sunlight it is possible that the leaves have become scorched. Place it in indirect light, preferably from an east or west facing window.
Check the drainage of your pot to see if the possibility of over-watering is the issue. Always allow 1-2 inches of the soil on top to dry out before watering and never fertilize your plant in the winter
If neither sunlight or watering were the problem check to underside of your leaves to make sure there are no eggs present, because it might be red spider mites, if so rub the leaves off with your fingers in running water to cleanse the plant.
The one other possibility could be from a build-up of salt in the soil. If you have had the plant for quite awhile it just might need to be refreshed by changing the pot and soil, or you can flush the soil by running water through it about 3 times and then letting it dry out. Good Luck
Reply:I have 4-5 dracaenas in my home. They are all in places that receive indirect, filtered light. From time to time, their leaves have gotten the same brown tips that you describe. My experience has been that this is usually the result of underwatering.
I purchased a moisture analyzer - it's a tool about 12 inches long, and you stick the probe down into the soil and it tells you whether or not the soil needs watering. I use that to establish a set "schedule" for watering my plants. Some need water several times per week, some only like water once a week. I adjust my schedule to meet their needs.
Reply:I was always taught that brown tips on Dracaenas is usually from salt burn. It is always best to take a houseplant to the sink to water it. Leave it there for awhile so it can drain. We have a lot of salts in our water. If a plant cannot drain, what shows up from the salt is burning on the tips. I know when you have a large houseplant it is difficult to take it to the sink. Make sure the plant is elevated on rocks or bricks or something in it's saucer. And remember the larger the plant, the less often it will dry out(meaning water less often).
Good luck :-)
Reply:I have read that it is the humidity around the plant, not the water in the soil. If you can raise the humidity in the room, or even just near the plant, it may help. A tray of water under the pot (like a pie tin with rocks and water with the pot kept out of the water by the rocks,) or just a shallow container of watr near the plant might help. I've not tried it though. I usually just put a pan of water on the radiator or something to humidify the entire room.
Reply:The rule of thumb is that if the tips of the leaves are getting dry and brown, then you are not watering enough. If the tips are soggy and brown, then you are over watering.
Dracaena is a nice plant that come in several colors. It is tolerant of much abuse. You should find how much water it wants and the location in the room it likes, then stick to this combination.
I have a dracaena plant that I have had for at least 10 years. When it starts getting too tall, I cut it back and root the pieces I cut off. They make nice gifts to friends.