En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - July 09, 2007

From: Sacramento, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of Dracaena fragrans, cultivar
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I just recently purchased a tree which I was told was called a Dracaena or also corn plant. I can not seem to find a site that will inform me on how to take care of this tree. If you can please let me know how or where I can find how to care for this plant I would really appreciate that.

ANSWER:

The focus and expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is limited to plant species native to North America. While we are, therefore, not experts on your plant - an African native, we grow tropical and subtropical house plants in our own homes, too, so perhaps we can pass along a couple tips.

The plant you've referred to as the "corn plant" is probably Dracaena fragrans, likely the cultivar D. fragrans 'Massangeana'. It is called that because the upright stalk and leaves resemble a corn plant, Zea mays. The wide leaves make it adaptable to the low light of indoors, and would burn if exposed to sunlight in an outdoor planting. One of the biggest problems in indoor plants is too much moisture or humidity, causing mildew. Symptoms of that are the pesky little fungus gnats that will show up. Make sure your pot is in a good house plant soil and a pot that permits adequate drainage. At the same time, if the tips of the leaves start to turn brown or curl, the plant is probably not getting enough water. Decide which mistake you're making, and then cut it out.

Another problem you will need to make provisions for (and you may already be aware of this) is the size this tree-like plant can grow into. I'm sure you have seen examples of them in shopping malls and large office building lobbies. They can grow to 15' tall and more. That's going to require a big pot, a tall ceiling and a very strong man (or front-end loader) to accommodate the mature plant.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Care for non-native Plumeria from Concord NC
August 01, 2012 - I have had my plumeria plant for the past 5 to 7 years. It is a pot plant and I live in North Carolina, I take the pot inside in he winter time. The leaves fall off, in the spring after the last fro...
view the full question and answer

Clover Among the Bluebonnets in Round Mountain, Texas
April 13, 2012 - I have a beautiful yard of bluebonnets, but mixed in with them are a tall clover that is hiding the flower's beauty and a shorter plant with clover-like leaves that produces burrs. Pulling is not an...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Merremia tuberosa
August 07, 2006 - Respected Sir, I have been trying to find the scientific name and a sapling of a plant which had "flowers that look like rose flowers but are brown in color and have a paper like...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Boulevard Cypress Pom Pom trees in Princeton NJ
October 29, 2011 - I just had some landscaping done near my front door and front yard. I have two Boulevard Cypress B&B (4-5') Pom Pom. The pom poms are turning brown. What should I have been doing? I am watering them ...
view the full question and answer

Preventing seed production in non-native chinaberry in Yucaipa CA
July 04, 2009 - You were just asked about "keeping almonds from producing" I actually found your site to ask how to keep a chinaberry tree from producing its berries. I am considering renting a commercial property ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center