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I’ve had this Dracaena marginata for over 8 years now (so I’ve got quite attached to it). It has always been fine no matter how I’ve treated it. I’ve forgotten to water it and overwatered it over the years.

Then in November, it started shedding leaves. At first, I thought it’s normal because it has done that before when it was growing but the shedding didn’t stop and increased. I thought I’ve overwatered it so stopped watering it and moved it to a sunnier spot in the house.

Then I’ve discovered one of the other plants in the house has fungus gnats and the gnats have infected this plant too. I sprayed with neem oil and eventually also repotted it, cleaning all the old soil around the roots and cutting off some roots that were soft and/or hollow. None of this helped. It shed 70% of its leaves now. The new leaves on the top have some discolouration too.

I am now thinking of propagating it to try and save the plant. (It did stop shedding leaves in the last week - there is not much left anyway). Has anyone had similar experiences with Dracaenas? Should I go ahead and propagate the old plant into new plants?

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  • Fungus gnats are harmless to the plant, they are annoying to us. The plant in the image looks fine to me? Has it dropped more leaves since this picture was taken? Feb 1 at 18:02
  • I can't add another photo but this is post leaf-shedding, it had 3 times more leaves than what's in the photo here Feb 1 at 18:43
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It does look very sad indeed with hardly any leaves - I'd be inclined to cut it down to between two and 4 inches on different stems, then reduce the cut off stems down to about 5 or 6 inches below the leaves and try rooting them in water to make a new plant or two, leaving the original plant to see if it puts out new growth.

If you repotted this plant, I'm wondering what the knobbly bit sitting just above soil level is - are all the roots buried properly? Also not sure about the outer basket it is sitting in in respect of what happens to excess water when you do water it - is there a tray or something in the bottom to catch that which you empty after 30 minutes? Or do you only water a little bit so that nothing runs out the bottom of the pot? If the latter is the case, that is not a good idea; while it's appropriate to wait until the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch to water, when you do give it some, it should be plenty, with excess allowed to drain away freely.

In terms of light,these plants prefer bright daylight without direct sun, though they will tolerate lower light levels quite well.

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  • Hi Bamboo, Thanks for your answer. The roots are buried properly, I removed a bit of the soil on the top recently to check for root damage and rot. Forgot to add that I added some pebbles on the bottom of the pot for better drainage - not sure if this was a good idea in retrospective? There is a tray on the bottom of the basket for the excess water. I must say that I might not water excessively for the water to get down to the tray. Feb 13 at 18:06
  • Change your watering method to the one I described - probably best to remove the pot from the outer basket to do it until its finished draining properly. Pebbles in the bottom are not thought to assist with drainage, so if you create a new plant or two from cuttings, don't bother with pebbles when you pot them up.
    – Bamboo
    Feb 14 at 12:46

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