Dracaena at the Doctor
When some friends of mine asked me what was wrong with one of their houseplants, I said to bring it by and I’d take a look. I had no idea they’d be showing up in a truck. They unloaded a tree that’s taller than me. As you can see, it’s in a bad way.
Based on the look of the stems and an old photo, I think our patient is a Dracaena marginata, which Mr. Subjunctive wrote a thorough profile of a few years ago.
When I grabbed the plant to move it, the trunk was soft. Soft is bad. You can also see that some of the upper stems have just bent right over. The plant’s owners told me they’d moved it into a sunnier spot a while back. There may have been some overwatering, and then some underwatering. I tried to break the news gently.
My friends, this tree is dead. Dead as a doorknob. Dead as disco. Really, really dead.
But there’s hope! Because as my Dracaena fragrans proved, Dracaena can be rooted from cane cuttings. And some of this patient’s tips were still green inside.
In the bottom, left photo, you can see the obvious difference between a dead cane and a live one.
After a little exploratory surgery, I was able to take six mostly healthy-looking cuttings. My previous attempts to root Dracaena cuttings in water have been pretty successful, so I placed them all in water. I’ll be able to see if roots develop.
We may have lost the patient, but if the cuttings root, the plant will live on.