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HELP: Advice needed to help save my dying Dracaena (root rot?)
#81142 February 20th, 2007 at 07:53 PM
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Hi,

I have a Dracaena (marginata I think) which is dying on me. When I originally got it about a year ago I had some trouble with all the leaves falling off a couple of the stalks, which felt soft and waterlogged. After some research on the web and talking to the nursery, I cut back my weekly watering to a monthly watering, but began drenching it thoroughly when I did water it.

After a while I got some new growth at the end of the stalks, but recently that died and one of the stalks became dried out, and fibrous, such that I could break it apart with my hand. The bark looked wrinkled too.

Now, several more stalks have lost the majority of their lower leaves (they're soft, not dried-out, some turning yellowish), and two of those stalks feel soft and waterlogged near the top, with the remaining leaves all dropping over and dying.

The top of the soil is dry a few days after watering, but at the end of the month there is still some moisture 8" or so down. From what I've read, it sounds like my plant is suffering from root rot, most likely because the pot is too large and not draining well. My questions are:

Do you think this is an accurate assessment of what is happening to my dracaena?

Should I chop off the dead and dying stalks? The main trunk splits into three branches, each of which split into about three more (approximately). I'm considering cutting off the 2 already dead stalks and the two that appear to be dying. Is this the correct thing to do?

Should I repot the plant into a smaller pot, and if so, what size? The current pot has a 14" diameter interior at the top (tapering down to about 10" at the bottom) and is about 14" deep. The dracaena is about 5 feet tall, with about a 3 1/2" trunk diameter at the bottom. If I repot, should I cut off roots that looked rotted? What sort of soil should I repot it in?

Is monthly a good watering schedule? Should I soak it all the way through when I do water it?

Thanks for any help!
Tai

Re: HELP: Advice needed to help save my dying Dracaena (root rot?)
#81143 February 21st, 2007 at 02:03 AM
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When I had mine, it would get watered enough so it came out the bottom and any that came out would be spilled out. That would be maybe once a week, sometimes every 8-10, it all depended on if the soil was dry first.
It's best to use a pot that's only about an inch larger than the plants roots, or root-ball with fast or good draining soil.Even the right size pot is no good if the soil is heavy.

If your plant looks like it's dieing and the roots are like brown mush, I would try cutting some 5"-7" pieces of healthy green stalk (no roots) from your plant, even though this would be better to do in the spring, and planting them all into one small pot with something like perlite mixed into the soil for added drainage.

plant them down far enough so they stand up, maybe a half inch down, about a half inch, or less between them.
Put the pot in bright indirect light and only water when the soil dry.
I hope it's not too late and rot didn't go into the stems. All you can do is just hope for some new growth.

Re: HELP: Advice needed to help save my dying Dracaena (root rot?)
#81144 February 21st, 2007 at 04:19 AM
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i agree with down to earth, but, honestly, it is close enough to spring, you should be fine

Re: HELP: Advice needed to help save my dying Dracaena (root rot?)
#81145 February 21st, 2007 at 06:14 PM
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I'm hopeful that the plant came make a good comeback if the conditions are right - when a couple of the stalks looked like they were dying before, they ended up sprouting new growths, so that could happen, and if it doesn't, there are still many healthy stalks left. Anyway, since I don't know how big the roots are, if I want to repot it, I guess I should take it out of the current pot, take a look, then run down to the nursery and pick up a new pot/soil of the correct size? Does it sound like the pot it likely to be too big based on the size of the plant?

Re: HELP: Advice needed to help save my dying Dracaena (root rot?)
#81146 February 22nd, 2007 at 10:06 PM
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I took it to the nursery and had it repotted today in a pot about 1/4 of the original size (the root ball was essentially still in the shape and size of the approx. 8x10 plastic pot it came in a year ago) with some pumice mixed into the soil, and had the dead/dying branches cut off/down. Hopefully it will like that much better and come back strongly smile


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