My dad gave me this plant years ago. I think he said it was a dracaena. It that true? If not, and I remember incorrectly, what is it?

I live in New Jersey, in the Northeast United States, at the shore. I put the plant outside during the summer and bring it in in the fall.

enter image description here


Yes, its Dracaena marginata to be exact,and it needs some remedial work by the look of it. Although it tolerates low light conditions quite well, yours isn't looking too great, so if its in a really dark area, it could do with some more light.

If you're in the northern hemisphere, I'd wait till spring, then cut it down to about 6-8 inches, so you've just got the remains of two stems branching off a single one at the base. Pot up into a clean, new pot with fresh potting soil, and stand it somewhere it gets reasonable light, but not direct sunlight, water it in, and wait - it should send out new shoots from both stems. If you like, you can use the tops to start new plants; cut about 4 to 5 inches below the green topgrowth, pop the stems in a bottle of water, so the stems are immersed but the topgrowth is not, stand the bottle on a windowsill, keep it topped up,and when roots appear, pot them up separately, or choose one good one and pot that up and bin the rest if you don't want them all.

There's an image in this link of what it should look like - it's the second one down (the first image is Dracaena marginata variegata, same plant, different cultivar) http://www.myhouseplants.com/house-plant-list/dracaena-marginata/

  • 1
    WOW! Thank you so much! This is great. My dad is in Heaven now and I've wanted to maintain this plant he gave me. I live in New Jersey at the shore (08753). I put the plant outside during the summer and bring it in in the fall. I think it at first got too much sun, hence the leaves falling off. Now I guess not enough light. I will follow your instructions in the spring. :) Thank you again.
    – Karen
    Nov 9 '17 at 19:02
  • Best to keep it indoors year round really, in a reasonable light situation, away from heat sources like radiators or electrical equipment. They grow outdoors in tropical countries, but it won't like the transition from low light indoors to very bright light outdoors... its a houseplant where you live.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 9 '17 at 20:03
  • Can I prune it now? or must I wait until spring?
    – Karen
    Nov 9 '17 at 20:35
  • You can do it now, but the reason I said wait till spring is because everything wants to grow in spring, but is slowing down now, even indoors, because the daylight hours are shorter and the uv light is weaker, so you'd get a better response in spring. What you could do is cut off one or two of the long stems and try rooting the tops of those now, and leave the rest till spring. That way, you'd know if you'd managed to raise a couple of replacement plants before chopping back the main plant, and as it was your father's its important, isn't it.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 9 '17 at 20:44
  • 1
    Make sure your plant has only potting soil in that pot. A big drain hole at the bottom. Steady environment is best. No going from inside to outside in the direct sun unless you know how to acclimate. No need to do that but house plants do well to be taken outside all summer on a covered porch. They get more light there than indoors. They are able to make more food to last the dark winter months indoors. Water roots aren't roots for soil, best to make clones in potting soil. Rooting hormone would help...use sterilized potting soil first, do the cloning later.
    – stormy
    Nov 10 '17 at 2:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.