Dracaena ID and Problem

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Hopefully you can help me, because my poor plant is not doing well. My dracaena has been healthy until last month when one of the stems slowly started to turn brown until that section of the plant had died and I had to remove it. It was the shortest of all the stalks, but now the new shortest stalk ate has also started to discolor and the tips of the leaves on that stalk are also turning brown and slightly drooping. I have had the plant nearly a year and never had a problem until recently…

I water it a little less than once a week, water never pools at the bottom, and I have a small cork plate beneath the first pot to absorb any drips. Should I have repotted it, does it need to be fertilized??  I really  don’t want to lose my plant, as it was a gift and I enjoy it so much in my home.

Thank you for your help.


The symptoms in the photos of your Dracaena ‘Lisa’ are a pretty clear indication of serious root damage, most likely due to over watering, but possibly under watering. When roots are damaged by improper watering, they die back unnoticed and can no longer absorb water properly from the potting mix. You didn’t include a photo that shows the entire plant, so it is hard for me to say just how far the root problem has progressed.

Let’s start with light. Your Lisa does not want direct sunlight falling on its leaves, but it does need to be within 6 feet of a sunny, uncovered window or just off to the side of a window. If it is more than 6 feet away or the window is partially covered, it may bot be getting enough light and then it would be very easy to inadvertently over water it.

Assuming it is getting proper light, let’s discuss proper watering. It is good that you have kept it in its original nursery pot with its original potting mix. Are you absolutely sure that no water is collecting in the space between the two pots at the bottom. That is something that needs to be checked after each watering. If the inner pot is allowed to sit in water for more than a few days, even just once, root rot may set in.

In proper light, Lisa’s should be watered about once per week, adding just enough all around until a bit runs through the drain holes. If you go much longer than a week, even just occasionally, then some of the roots will dry out and die.

Fertilizer will not help and should actually be avoided. Likewise, repotting will actually do more harm than good. Make sure the light is appropriate and pay close attention to the watering. Also, make sure to avoid any temps below 60 and above 80 degrees F.

Finally, any stems that have bent over at the top will not recover, so you may as well cut them back and hope that no others follow suit. If any of the four canes have no healthy leaves remaining, then they can be cut off entirely as they will not recover.