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I ordered a "misfits" box of plants recently and after a week of traveling at freezing temperatures (around -6 °C, or 20 °F), it arrived today. One of the plants in there is a Dracaena according the EU Plant Passport on the pot; it has comparatively long, wide leaves with yellow stripes and no stem. When it arrived, the earth in the pot was completely frozen, however the leaves appear to be structurally okay.

My main issue with it is that all the leaves either have long brown stripes within them or contain a lot of small brown dots. These spots are entirely within the leave, not "on" them. It seems to be worse closer to the tip of the leaves, i.e. might be older; however, the smaller leaves do carry it as well. (The game with the "misfits" box is that these plants may have been mistreated and aren't "fit" for selling.)

Can someone help me figure out what that is and - given that the pot was frozen - what my best shots are at saving this one?

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When I was dealing with these plants on a regular basis they were called Dracaena demerensis cultivar Janet Craig. Botanists have been busy and this is now classified as Dracaena massangea.

This plant is native to tropical Africa and will not stand below zero temperatures. The leaves are dead and should be removed. The stems and roots may be dead but it's worth setting it aside in a well lit warm and dry area and waiting.

These plants bud readily from older growth so if there is any live material you may see buds in a few months.

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  • Thanks! Do you think repotting them now could be useful (or required even)?
    – sunside
    Feb 12 at 10:44
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    @sunside Repotting is not advised until it has grown new leaves and is potbound. Could be a couple of years from now...
    – kevinskio
    Feb 12 at 12:33
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Shortly after I asked the question, the state of the plant quickly deteriorated. I cut a couple of the obviously dead leaves and then tried to keep the plant moist and somewhat in light. I did notice that the soil started to smell moldy so did some inspection of the roots - well the patient is dead.

So from what I learned in the meantime:

  • Freezing a plant crispy can/will freeze the water in its cells, which destroys them.
  • Apparently unfreezing a plant too quickly makes it even worse, so taking time probably isn't a bad idea if the damage is already done.

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