Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) help?

Hi, I have a dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) and I fear that I might have mistreated it. I've had it about 5 years now and never had any trouble with it. I've re-potted it twice with no problems (the last time I think was last spring/summer). The new pot has three small drainage holes, but I worry it is too big and the compost at the roots it too wet......

Recently its started to lose a lot of leaves, most of which had turned brown, though one of the smaller trunks has now lost all its leaves, including the healthy looking ones.

I read that maybe this could be caused by the air not being humid enough, so I put it in a pebble trey....but its not made much difference, should I take it out of the trey?

Can anybody offer advice?



Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) help?
The presence of brown leaves and trunks dying, sounds like It may have been staying too damp.

the bulk of the root mass is usually in the bottom half of the pot.

If the bottom stays too wet the roots rot.

The best thing that you can do is dump it out of the existing pot and look at the roots, they should be whitish or yellow and firm. If they are black, brown or wiry they are dead. A very healthy plant will have some very thick roots-as thick as your finger.

Remove all the dead roots and any soil that is funky smelling ( it is no good to the plant). Replant the tree into a smaller pot with new soil. If you can get Superthrive- treat it with that to help it reestablish its roots.

they can handle being very root bound. When they are repotted never go more than 1-2 inches larger pot size.

It is possible to just cut excess roots off and leave in the same size pot for a long time, if the plant is healthy. You can also just remove worn out soil and topdress draceanas.

Sometimes draceanas get mealy bugs in the soil but that usually leads to leaves yellowing.

I grew draceanas commercially bought, sold, rented, and maintained them in homes and offices.
Reply:Make sure the plante doesn't have an "infection". Look for damaged areas.

Then check for pests, you could have an issue their, as the dragon plant can suffer from mealy bugs and scale.

Check the soil for rotting. Does the water that drains out smell foul? Is water draining at all?
Reply:Could the fact that the leaves are turning brown. be that you may be overwatering. I am not too sure i don't have plants in the house, but try watering a little less.
Reply:When you replanted the plant did you use a plastic pot? Dracaenas don't like a lot of water at the roots. You should have a clay pot as this allows the roots to dry out and the exchange of air through the pot. Plastic pots tend to keep the soil wet as clay or porous pot let it breathe. It is also normal for them to drop their bottom leaves as they get older and taller. Put some small pebbles in the bottom to help with the drainage. wait til the soil in the pot feels really dry. People buy bamboo plants in water vases. Which are actually dracaenas. The roots grown in water are different than roots grown in soil. You can cut the dead part off the plant and this will force more shoots out the side.
Reply:You may be drowning it by over watering it. Tip it gently out of its pot and check if the roots are sodden. If so leave it out of the pot to dry out some of the soil. Make a few more holes for better drainage and put some broken crocks in the end to help it to drain. Dracaena needs to be in a humid atmosphere but not drowned. Spray it with a fine mister and and it should help, that's if you have not killed it already.

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