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 Spathiphyllum from Floral Park, NY
December 03, 2010 - I have a medium to large size friendship lily indoor plant that was once magnificent when first purchased it. I lost plenty of lush green leaves to brown spots. The health has improved( I moved locat...
view the full question and answer

Heirloom plants for Gault Homestead in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The Gault Homestead at 2106 Klattenhoff in the middle of Wells Branch Subdivision is to be planted with heirloom or heritage plants soon. There is some sun for the planter bo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Oleanders
June 11, 2005 - I have 3 Nerium Oleanders. In the winter they come indoors, and are under grow lights. They are in big pots. We just put them outside on patio, and they don't look good. They still have green tips ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with acanthus in Vancouver BC
May 16, 2010 - My girlfriend's Mom just planted an Acanthus in her garden. In the morning, it apparently stands up tall, but in the evening it bends over until the the leaves are lying in the dirt. She's concerned...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native citrus trees from Mesa AZ
January 13, 2014 - We have one valencia orange tree and one naval orange tree in our Mesa, AZ yard. Just noticed some oranges on both trees have a 1/4 inch diameter hole through the skin and the orange fruit and skin a...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center