Dragon Tree. Corn plant. Dracaena fragrans. These all refer to the same species that goes by the more common name of Mass Cane plant. If you are a first-time owner, you might be glad to learn that this plant is not difficult to keep. But without a few necessary care requirements, it can just as easily go downhill.
You can follow our care sheet below to learn more about this striped potplant’s needs. Get them right and you’ll soon be able to show off a healthy and handsome plant in your home!
Table of Contents
Origins and Appearance
This plant has wide leaves that sprout from a thick stem. The leaves grow outward in a star-like formation. The leaves also boast beautiful stripes that run from the base to the tip and can vary in color. The most common colors are white and yellow.
Mass Cane plants are native to West Africa, Zambia, and Tanzania where they grow in conditions that can be described as tropical and high humidity regions.
Temperature and Humidity
These plants do well when you place them in indirect sunlight. As we just mentioned, these leafy wonders evolved in high humidity countries so they are quite tolerant of such conditions – but do make sure that things don’t get too stuffy or hot around your plant.
A greater concern, however, is low humidity. Anything under 40 percent is considered as “low” and can be corrected by a misting regime.
The ideal temperature is between 60°F (15°C) to 75°F (24°C). When things drop below 55°F (12°C), your pot plant will not be a happy chappy. Cane plants respond to the lower temperature range by browning their leaves. This not only looks bad but also indicates that your plant is unhealthy due to incorrect temperature.
This plant will also not do well in windy conditions so make sure that it’s not stationed next to an open window or where there is a really bad draft.
When it comes to giving your Mass Cane plant a drink, you need to be careful. Water is the one care requirement that might be more dangerous than incorrect temperatures. When given too much water or when the plant is allowed to stand in soil that stays moist, the risk of death is high.
There are a few simple tips to ensure that you water your Mass Cane plant correctly.
- Only use soil that has good drainage.
- Don’t allow your plant to stand in water.
- Only water when you feel the soil is dry.
- A good rule is to water once a week.
- You can water more often if the weather is hot and the soil is dry.
Many novice owners give their Mass Cane plants frequent fertilizer in the hope that this will increase the chance of flowering. This species does produce tiny white flowers but not very often. However, giving this plant too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. In particular, a Mass Cane can develop problems if it absorbs too much fluoride and boron, two common ingredients in commercial fertilizers.
But we all know that fertilizing has its benefits. So, how can you safely feed your plant? The answer is an organic product. One of the best options is fish emulsion specifically formulated for plant growth. Usually, these fertilizers can be applied as often as you want without harming the plant.
A Mass Cane plant that is carefully and well-fed might not produce more flowers but it will have better-looking and healthier leaves.
Soil and Repotting
The quality of the soil is exceptionally important. If the potting mixture cannot drain water effectively, the soil is hazardous to your plant. Luckily, this species is not picky so you don’t have to create complex layers that involve certain percentages of clay, pebbles and whatnot. Any potting soil that allows water to run through in a minute (or two) will keep your striped friend in shipshape condition.
Generally, a Mass Cane needs to be repotted once a year. When you notice the plant starts rising or the drainage holes show roots trying to escape, it’s time. Follow these basic steps to guarantee a safe transfer.
- Gather fresh potting soil and a pot that has a diameter of 2 or 3 inches bigger than the pot that is currently holding your plant.
- Gently place the pot holding your plant on its side and softly tap on the sides to loosen the soil.
- Tip the pot slightly forward to slide the plant out.
- Gently remove some of the soil from the roots.
- Remove any roots that look sick, mouldy or dried.
- Half-fill the new pot with potting soil.
- Place the plant on top of the soil in the new pot.
- Fill the remaining space around the plant with potting soil.
- Gently press the soil into place.
- Water thoroughly.
Since Mass Cane plants are slow growers pruning is not a necessary aspect but you can choose to snip your potplant for aesthetic reasons. You can use a sharp pair of scissors or garden shears to remove dead or yellowing leaves at the node (where the leaf attaches to the stem of the plant). In the same way, you can also remove any side shoots.
Pests and Diseases
The good news is that pests are not commonly associated with this plant. But let’s have a look at the signs of bugs that are known to attack Mass Cane plants.
- A white waxy or cotton-like substance – soft scale or mealybugs.
- Swarms of green tiny insects – aphids.
- Leaves have brown or yellow specks – spider mites.
The best way to avoid these problems is through prevention. Always inspect a new plant before you bring it home from the nursery and even then, isolate it from your other plants for a few weeks. If you see signs of an infestation, you can either remove the insects with a strong water stream or apply an organic insecticide.
The most common problem with Mass Cane plants is a fungal disease. This can be caused by overwatering or close proximity to another infected plant. Promptly remove any yellowing or rotting leaves and strictly adhere to this species’ watering conditions to avoid a devastating fungal episode.
Fluoride toxicity can also make your plant sick. You have already learned that commercial fertilizers contain fluoride but we often forget that in some areas, our tap water also has high levels of fluoride. To avoid a deadly build-up of this compound, regularly leach the soil by running distilled water through the soil.
The name comes from the plant’s stem which has a cane-like appearance.
In low light conditions, a plant might survive up to 3 years. However, depending on the conditions a Mass Cane can perish young or live considerably longer than 3 years.
Yes, a Mass Cane plant can be successfully propagated via cuttings.
Incredibly, in the wild, these plants can grow up to 15 feet tall. However, you can expect your potplant to reach an average height of 3 feet.