Dracaena Deremensis, more widely known as the corn plant, belongs to the Dracaena genus of tropical plants. Resilient and quite easy to care for, this corn plant is quite popular amongst beginner gardeners.
This genus of corn plants can be easily recognized by a rosette of green, sword-shaped leaves. Tiny, yellow flowers will occasionally bloom on its leaves, (albeit more rarely if planted indoors). Potting this popular houseplant can be done during any season, but spring is the best. Once potted, the dracaena plant requires little care, usually nothing more but regular watering and some houseplant fertilizer.
Sunlight: Where to put your corn plant
Choosing the correct place for your Dracaena plant is an essential part of proper care for it.
These plants aren’t very demanding in terms of sunlight, but too much direct sunlight can permanently damage their leaves, causing them to turn yellow. To avoid this, it is recommended that indoor plants be placed near a source of indirect light, such as a sunny window.
In the case of garden plants, filtered light is the best. Too little light can also have negative consequences, mostly due to a lack of photosynthesis. Such conditions result in the corn plant’s leaves losing their color. A prolonged lack of sunlight can also stunt the plant’s growth.
Watering your dracaena plants
Firstly, Dracaena deremensis needs water just like any other plant. This, however, doesn’t mean that you will need to water it daily. On average, as long as the soil is somewhat humid, you are in a good spot.
Checking if your corn plant needs watering is pretty straightforward: if the soil feels dry and dusty when touched, especially underneath the surface, you should water the plant.
Failing to provide your dracaena with enough water will result in the leaf tips drying and turning brown. Likewise, giving the plant too much water can be detrimental to its growth.
Observing the leaves is the best way to check for excess watering as well: The leaves might turn brown, yellow, or simply look sickly in this case.
You should never use tap water when caring for your dracaena deremensis. The plant is very sensitive to the fluoride added to tap water and can experience various issues. To avoid this, use distilled water as it contains no fluoride. Rainwater is also an option, provided that you have access to it.
Cold water is not an issue, but room temperature water is the best. More importantly, this plant needs good drainage to remain healthy, as soggy soil from overwatering can result in the plant developing root rot. Ultimately, managing soil moist is a very important part of dracaena plant care.
Air Humidity and Temperature
Another important aspect of dracaena plant care is the humidity and temperature you place it in. Fortunately, the plant likes the conditions of the average household or office just fine, making it very easy to care for in this aspect. Still, you should avoid leaving the plant near a source of heat, such as a radiator or an air conditioner: too much heat and too little surrounding humidity will cause the plant to dry, starting from the leaf tips, which will rapidly turn brown.
Likewise, the plant does not tolerate temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and prolonged exposure to temperatures this low can kill this tropical plant. Therefore, room conditions are ideal.
Growth and Fertilizer
This plant can grow up as tall as 50 feet tall, or 10 feet wide outdoors, but such massive sizes do not occur in potted specimens. Instead, the plant remains much smaller, ranging from 4 to 6 feet in height, and from 1 to 3 feet in width.
The plant grows seasonally, with not much growth occurring during the winter months when the plant doesn’t require fertilization. The same is true for the fall season.
Using liquid fertilizers is recommended, as these specialized houseplant foods have the best composition of nutrients for your dracaena plants. When feeding your plant make sure to water it first, otherwise the concentration of certain minerals in the fertilizer can cause serious damage to its roots.
Repoting your dracaena plant
Eventually, you will need to replant your dracaena plant, especially if it was grown in a nursery pot, in which case it will need a bigger pot.
When doing so, provide the plant with ample watering a day before doing so. This will drastically reduce the risk of transplant shock, allowing the plant to adapt to the soil in the new pot more quickly and naturally.
Choosing the right season, as well as the correct potting mix for your Dracaena deremensis will also go a long way to ensure its continued growth in the now pot.
The potting mix should be slightly acidic, as well as contain organic material that the plant can use, such as tree bark.
Using regular garden soil as the basis of your potting mix is not recommended as it can contain various pests that the corn plants might be vulnerable to.
You should also take care to select an appropriate container: it must have good drainage, preferably at the bottom. Otherwise, the plant might suffer from excessively humid soil and develop yellow leaves or even roo trot.
The pot should also be slightly bigger than the plant’s root system: your dracaena will keep growing after repoting, and the root system will reflect the corn plant’s visible growth. Because of this, the roots will need space to expand.
Repoting dracaena deremensis should be done once every year or two, depending on the speed of its growth.
Pruning and Regrowth
If you take proper care of your dracaena deremensis, it will eventually grow to the size where it needs to be pruned.
Whether the reason for this is its size, or just the natural cycle of a portion of leaves yellowing and falling off, there are certain rules you will need to follow when pruning your corn plants.
Ideally, you should prune your dracaena in the springtime, as this will give it a lot of time to regrow the now missing parts until the fall. However, there are situations that might require you to do some pruning outside of the spring season.
If the reason behind pruning is the plant’s size, cut off the stem at a height you consider appropriate. Doing this will cause the plant to start regrowing from its new tip, as well as encourage the growth of new leaves.
You can also cut the stem if the plant loses too many leaves to sustain itself properly.
Alternatively, you can decide to use the stem cuttings to propagate new plants, instead of regrowing the old ones.
The second common reason for pruning your dracaena deremensis is brown or yellow dry leaves. These leaves serve no purpose and are essentially plant debris, whether they are dead or simply sickly, and should be removed to encourage new growth.
Always use clean, sharp scissors to prune your dracaena. Garden shears are a good choice as well, but they too will need to be cleaned.
If you have more than one dracaena, clean your cutting tools before moving to the next one to avoid spreading any diseases from one pot to another.
Avoid cutting through yellow or sickly plant tissue: these parts of the plant are especially vulnerable to damage and might cause the disease to spread further, permanently damaging it.
Propagation of Corn Plants
If you want, you can propagate dracaena deremensis at home. This can be through stem cuttings, parts of stem that are cut off from the leading growth and then put into nursery pots.
To successfully propagate your corn plant, you should make sure that the equipment used in making the cuts is as clean as possible: this is even more important than it is in case of pruning, as the new cuttings will be very vulnerable to disease or pests found in the dirt.
Use only healthy plants for stem cuttings, otherwise, the cutting might fail to take root. Take care to make clean incisions to reduce the chance of introducing pathogens to the interior of the cutting.
Likewise, you should make sure that you have removed all the pests from the stem before making an incision: they can kill the cutting by preventing it from taking root. Use pesticides if necessary.
The cutting should be potted in lukewarm water full of nutrients at first. Then, after it starts to grow roots, you can put it in a pot filled with well-aerated compost. Make sure that the nursery pot has adequate drainage holes, as the young dracaena will be even more susceptible to overwatering than the old one.
Pests and Diseases
As hardy as Dracaena deremensis is, there are still a few pests that can threaten this tropical plant.
One of the most common pests that can threaten your dracaena plant is spider mites.
Small in size and arachnidian in nature, these mites usually attack plants already affected by drought. Keeping the plant well watered and spraying its leaves will prevent the mites from feeding on the dracaena, as well as destroy any webs that might be present.
This pest can be annoying to deal with in the case of indoor plants: dracaena growing outdoors are usually protected by the presence of the bug’s natural enemies such as birds.
The damage these pests cause is twofold: they feed on the foliage, slowing down new growth. Furthermore, the honeydew that is a byproduct of their metabolism will attract other insects to the dracaena, further endangering the plant.
Spray your dracaena with water and insecticides will wash away the honeydew and kill the crawling bugs, preventing them from spreading too much.
Several types of fungi can attack a dracaena deremensis. The most common one causes root rot in cases of soggy soil, but fungi infection can also manifest in leaf spot disease.
The first is treated by providing ample drainage to the plants: the second by pruning the affected leaves.
The Dracaena deremensis species can be further divided into several subspecies.
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Lemon Lime’
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Limelight’
Furthermore, there are a few other members of the dracaena genus that are just as popular houseplants. You can check out these plants, as well as their respective care guides on our website.
I hope you have found this Dracaena deremensis care guide useful, and best of luck in your gardening efforts.