The Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’, or Dracaena Corn plant as it is usually called, is native to the tropical areas of Africa and a close relative of the Dracaena Warnekii (Striped Dracaena), Dracaena Janet Craig, Dracaena marginata, and Dracaena Compacta. It got its nickname “Corn Plant” dracaena, because the main, tall, unbranched stem of the plant resembles the main stalk of a corn plant. This slow growing, easy to care for plant, is a member of the Asparagaceae family. Although it’s hard to believe, because they look so different, some other members of this family include the Yucca and the Spider plant.
Dracaena Corn Plant Description
The tall, stately Dracaena Corn plant is a very popular houseplant, often growing taller than 6ft. (1.8 metres). Its long, green, graceful, lance shaped leaves have a one or two yellow or pale green stripes running down the center. The 1”-2” wide leaves grow in a spiral cluster at the top of a thick, central stem. Because of the plants appearance, it, and the Dracaena warnekii and marginata are often mistaken for a type of palm. A mature plant may produce large white flowers atop stalks that drape downwards. The very strong fragrance of the flowers is sometimes overwhelming, especially for people with allergies. Fortunately, the flowers only last about a week. Because of the sticky nectar and abundance of messy pollen the flowers produce, I always cut them off as soon as they appear.
Dracaena Corn Plant Varieties
D. fragrans “Tornada” has curled green leaves with a wide lime-coloured edge
D. fragrans “Malakai” has dark green, light green, and white leaves
D. fragrans “Limelight” leaves are bright yellow/green at first, but, as the plants matures, the leaves turn a light lime-green.
D. Limelight D Malakai D. Tornada
Quick Care Tips
Medium to bright, indirect light encourages larger leaves
When in doubt, do not water.
Fluoride in the water can damage the leaves
Never fertilize in the winter
Do not rush to repot; dracaenas like to be root-bound.
Dracaenas are stalk plants. It is natural for bottom leaves to die as new ones develop at the top of the plant.
A Dracaena Corn plant, like all dracaenas, is a very forgiving plant and is tolerant of lower light, missed waterings, and general neglect. Be careful not to kill it with kindness. When small, a Dracaena Corn plant can sit on a table, but its claim to fame is as an impressive 6ft-10ft tree. When purchasing this plant, be sure there are at least three canes in the pot, ideally at staggered heights; this insures that as the dracaena matures, it looks full and lush. Dracaena plants are considered slightly toxic, especially to dogs and cats. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
A dracaena massangeana, also called a dracaena corn plant, can tolerate low light but grows faster and produces larger leaves in medium to bright indirect light. Unlike the low-light dracaena janet craig with its dark green leaves, the corn plant dracaena requires better light to maintain the pale yellow center stripe in the leaves.
Like all dracaenas, allow the top 50-75% of the soil to dry out before watering. A corn plant dracaena survives under-watering, but quickly dies from over-watering. If your water contains fluoride or chlorine, allow it to sit out over-night before using it so the chemicals can dissipate. High concentrations of fluoride damage the leaves and cause brown leaf tips. Never use water that has passed through a softener; it is too salty and causes leaf damage.
Fertilize monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never feed a dracaena during the winter and fertilize only once during the fall.
Corn plant dracaenas do well in temperatures between 65°-80°F (18°-26.5°C).
These plants prefer high humidity, but still grow well in regular household humidity.
A corn plant dracaena may develop large, heavily scented flowers. I recommend cutting the flowers off as soon as they appear. As long as the flowers remain, new leaves do not develop and the elegant shape of the plant is altered. The flowers also drip messy sap on floors and furniture.
Mealy bugs and spider mites can be a problem. Keeping the large leaves clean and dust free helps prevent insect infestations.
Fusarium leaf spot and root rot due to over-watering are the main problems.
Use a loose, fast-draining, well-aerated soil. A dracaena can even be grown in lava rock mixed with soil.
All varieties of dracaena plants like to be root-bound in small pots. When the roots have filled the existing pot, move your dracaena to the NEXT size pot and nothing larger. Be sure there are drip holes in the bottom so excess water can escape.
Trim the leaves with a clean, wet scissors. Using a wet scissors prevents unsightly yellowing in the cut areas.
Propagate by stem cuttings or air layering. You can read about both of these propagation techniques in the Glossary of the website.
Clean Air Plant
NASA lists dracaenas as plants that can clean the air of harmful chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and xylene.
Poisonous Plant Info
Corn plant dracaenas are slightly poisonous with a #1 toxicity leval.
Corn plant dracaenas do not bloom easily or often. These are some of the conditions that need to be met and even then your dracaena may not flower. A dracaena corn plant plant needs to be mature, at least 5-7ft. tall, and situated in very bright (no direct sun) humid area. The flower has a strong scent that many find offensive and severely stresses the plant, so you may not want to encourage your plant to flower.
It sounds like your corn plant dracaena has been over- watered. Cut off the bent dracaena stalks below the rotten areas and don’t water until the soil has thoroughly dried out.
The new leaves gets muddy brown tips when the plant is being under-watered.
Yes, you can put a corn plant dracaena out side for the summer, but be sure to keep it out of the direct sun. It takes just a few minutes in the direct sun for the leaves to burn. Also, be sure to bring a dracaena inside before the temperatures go below 60°f (15.6° C). A dracaena massangeana is very sensitive to the cold.
Dracaena plants like to be root – bound and should never be re-potted until the roots fill the existing pot. Once the roots of your plant have filled the pot, move it to the next size container but nothing larger. Many times, if you don’t water deeply and only sprinkle water on the surface, the roots do not develop properly and the plant is not anchored well in the container. This causes the plant to tip over even though it has not out grown the pot it is in.
There are several reasons why a dracaena massangeana, corn plant dracaena, gets yellow and brown leaves: too much plant food, using water has passed through a softener and is too salty, using water that has too much fluorine and chlorine in it. This is a stalk plant so it is normal for a dracaena massangeana to lose bottom leaves as long as it is getting new leaves at the top.