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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.

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

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Monday - February 04, 2008

From: Royal Palm Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native dracaena potted plant
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last summer I was given a corn plant that stands about 6ft tall. About 2 weeks ago it began to flower. Over time I've had maybe 3 or 4 of these plants and never had any of them bloomed. Is this normal - merely suggesting that it's happy where I've got it? The smell is quite overpowering and a bit on the obnoxious side (for me anyway.) The flowers have lasted about 2 weeks and are finally falling off the plant now (and with them the smell, thank god.) In the books I have on houseplants I can't find any mention of them flowering. What can you tell me about this? Thank you,

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is focused on the care and propagation of plants native to North America. We realize, however, that most indoor pot plants are non-native tropicals or sub-tropicals and are always happy to help out with plant care. Dracaena fragrans is a native of West Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

We found this website that addresses your exact problem, "Dracaena fragrans, That's How It Got Its Name". It would appear that fragrance is in the nose of the beholder. Since you also live in South Florida, as does the writer of the article, you might choose to put the plant out in the ground and away from the house if you don't find the "fragrance" all that pleasant.

 

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