Growing Dracaena Fragrans – How to Grow Corn Plants

Large, showy indoor plants are a delight in the home. Growing dracaena fragrans gives the feeling of being in a corn field. The striped yellow and green leaves bring a lot of softness to any corner of a room.Lithograph of dracaena fragrans plant from 1880

The image above is a lithography from 1880 showing the plant in all its glory. 

It is not too hard to figure out why Dracaena Fragrans is called The Corn Plant.  The whole plant makes me think of corn growing in my garden, especially when it is grown on one stalk.

Many dracaena plants are known for their variegated foliage. Another great house plant is dracaena surculosa, also known as gold dust dracaena.

Growing Dracaena Fragrans

More interest comes from the plant when the growing tip is chopped off and it sprouts into many stems.

The leaves are long and glossy with yellow and white stripes on them.   The plant is great indoors, since it is fine with filtered light conditions. 

Try to locate the plant somewhere near a window. Too low light will result in the plant losing its stripes and become more of a plain green plant.

Leaves of the corn plant houseplant

Dracaena fragrans is fairly easy to grow indoors.   They make good houseplants because they are tall and narrow, so they fit will into most indoor settings. 

And they also have growth that can be controlled fairly easy.  If you don’t have a green thumb, this plant is also easy to grow, since it can withstand a fairly significant amount of abuse from casual indoor gardeners.

Tips for Growing Corn Plants

Growing dracaena fragrans is easy, even for beginners. Corn plant makes a great and showy indoor plant

Sunlight and Soil Conditions:

Corn plants like bright filtered light. They can get by on less, but will get very leggy if not given enough light.

Plant in well draining, all purpose potting soil. 

Watering and fertilizer needs:

Depending on the location of the plant, I find that dracaena fragrans needs to be watered about once or twice a week. Avoid over-watering as this can lead to root rot.

Fertilize once a month when the plant is growing actively in the spring and summer months.  Hold off on fertilizer during the cooler months.

Temperature and humidity

Corn plants do best when they get temperatures of 60 to 90 degrees F.   They do like a reasonable amount of humidity. 40% is idea.

A humidifier or misting the plant will help with the humidity.  In the summer months, it is beneficial to bring the plant out doors to a relatively shady location that is sheltered.

Propagating corn plants:

Dracaena fragrans grows from tip and stem cuttings.  A rooting hormone powder will increase chances of success with both types of cuttings. 

Plant Maintenance:

Clean the leaves of indoor plants regularly from dust that accumulates.  A cloth and warm water is fine to do this job. The leaves are quite wide and easy to clean.

Growth of the plant is slow, but the eventual size indoors is about 6 feet tall.

If the plant starts to get tall and spindly, chop off the top. This will result in the plant sprouting more growing tips as shown below.  I actually prefer this look to a straight stem. This also keeps the plant to a manageable size.

The plant will even develop what are called “aerial roots.” If you take off a section like this and plant it in soil, you will end up with a new houseplant for free.

Aerial roots of a corn plant

Corn plants are popular house plants because they can be grown by inexperienced gardeners.  Perhaps a friend of yours might like one as a housewarming gift!

Toxicity of corn plant

Dracaena fragrans is listed by the ASPCA as being toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Ingestion an cause vomiting, depression and excess salivation due to the toxins saponins.

Pin these tips for growing dracaena fragrans

Would you like a reminder of these growing tips? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.  You can also print out the instructions for care in the project card below.These tips for growing dracaena fragrans show how easy this house plant is to manage. #dracaenafragrans #cornplants

Yield: Great plant for indoor living

Growing Dracaena Fragrans - How to Grow Corn Plants

Dracaena Fragrans

The look of dracaena fragrans reminds one of a corn field. It is easy to see where the common name "corn plant" comes from.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty easy


  • Dracaena Fragrans plant
  • Well draining potting soil
  • All purpose plant food
  • Rooting powder


  1. Grow the plant in a pot large enough to hold the roots and give them room to get larger.
  2. Use well draining potting soil.
  3. Place the window near a sunny window, but don't give too much sunlight or the leaves will scorch.
  4. Water once or twice a week in the growing season.
  5. Fertilize once a month.
  6. Mature height is about 6 feet tall.
  7. Propagate by tip and stem cuttings. Rooting powder helps.
  8. Maintain the plant by wiping the leaves with warm water and a soft cloth.
  9. Mist for extra humidity or use a humidifier.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Share on Social Media

  26 comments for “Growing Dracaena Fragrans – How to Grow Corn Plants

  1. Jan
    01/11/2018 at 3:18 pm

    What causes rust on my Dracaena?

    • Carol
      01/11/2018 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Jan, Rust is a disease that is caused by a parasite that live on some plants. It’s a fungus. Rust is most likely to occur in warm moist conditions. It is spread by spores and can be transferred to healthy plants. It is treated with a fungicide. Carol

  2. Rhonda L Stuckey
    04/26/2018 at 10:44 pm

    What is wrong with my plant? It was healthy days ago I was watering it weekly Saturday evenings last time it was 4/14/18. I since have moved it from the window and my husband repotted it to a bigger pot. I purchased plant food but haven’t used since the look has changed. Is it a lost cause? New to plants trying to learn. Please advice. Thank you.

    • Carol
      04/27/2018 at 10:28 am

      Hi Rhonda. It is hard to say from the photo. It could be overwatering, or underwatering. Both make a plant droopy. I don’t water on a schedule. I water based on the soil. if it is dry down to about my first knuckle, I water it. When you replant, it is usually done because it is root bound. The pot may now be too big, which would make watering more difficult. Sorry to be vague, but it could be a lot of different things. Corn plants don’t like too much sunlight, either. Carol

  3. Erica
    10/21/2018 at 11:04 am

    My corn plant was beautiful but i left out in the sun too long. Now the leaves are brown and yellow and drooping I have cut the ugly pieces off but some I left. Should I cut the entire leaf off if it’s fully brown and yellow? What am I doing wrong?
    The new plant at the lower branch is growing fine. I don’t water it much because I tend to over water plants and want to keep this one alive as long as possible! It brings me so much joy when I walk in the house!

    Thanks for your help!

    • Carol
      10/21/2018 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Erica. Once the leaves have burned from the sunlight like yours have, those particular leaves won’t recover. They will keep going brown near the cut that you made in the leaf.

      I had this happen to a corn plant a few years ago. Many of the leaves were burned. I cut the whole STEM off and it sprouted new leaves. You can cut off the single leaves but the plant will get more and more spindly if not chopped off.

      At the point where it’s chopped off, two new shoots will grow and they’ll become new stems. Your bottom stem has had this done to it. Carol

      • Sheree Roberson
        04/04/2020 at 10:40 am

        Hello the ends of the flowers are turning brown what do I do

        • Carol Speake
          04/06/2020 at 3:38 pm

          Flowers will only last for a while and then die off and go brown. This is normal. If it is the leaves that are going brown, you can just trim them off.

  4. Joanna Teo
    02/20/2019 at 11:41 pm

    I am interested to grow my corn plants in water instead of soil indoor. Is it a good idea?

    • Carol
      02/22/2019 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Joanna. I don’t have experience with growing whole plants in water. It is possible to root cuttings in water, but my experience is that the plants are not as strong as those that are rooted in soil.

  5. Steve L Herman
    05/22/2019 at 1:36 pm

    Hey there,

    Just wondering. I have had my corn plant for around 2 months or so. It is in moderate/low light but surprisedly it is growing at a very rapid pace. However, the leaves are very long and are spreading out, getting very wide. Is this normal? Is this because of the lower light? I prefer it to grow more vertically and less ‘bushy’ but it is doing exceptionally well.

    • Carol
      05/23/2019 at 11:57 am

      Hi Steve. Low light conditions will make the plant “stretch” a bit to reach the light. Bushiness is generally a positive thing with this plant. (I often cut out growing tips to get it to send out growth below the cut. The only thing I can think to get it to grow more upright is to lower the light but then the plant may lose the bottom leaves and look spindly.

  6. 08/27/2019 at 12:50 am

    Hello, I have had my corn plants for at least 10 years. It is getting tall and looks beautiful! The only issue is that the “stem” seems very thin. I don’t think this is normal? What have I done wrong? Can I fix this?

    • Carol
      08/27/2019 at 11:56 pm

      Hi Sophia. Normally the stalks of corn plants will grow thicker as the plant ages. If the stem is getting thinner, it could be lack of enough moisture.

      • Sophia
        08/31/2019 at 9:16 pm

        Thanks so much for getting back to me! It looks so healthy and I use a moisture meter. I do have rocks on the outer edge of the pot, could that be causing problems?

        • Carol
          09/07/2019 at 3:59 pm

          The only way I can think of rocks being a problem is if they reflect sun back into the plant and make them too hot. But a moisture meter would alert you to this.

          • Sophia
            09/10/2019 at 5:36 pm

            Well I am going to have to support it cuz it’s getting too tall. Can I wrap it with plant Velcro tape and stakes?

          • Carol
            09/15/2019 at 1:12 pm

            I would use twist ties or pieces of twine rather than Velcro tape.

  7. Marina
    12/10/2019 at 4:48 pm

    I recently topped my corn plant. I’ve had it in water only and it now is showing healthy roots. Should I cut the lower leaves off before I plant it in soil or leave them on?

    • Carol Speake
      12/11/2019 at 1:02 pm

      when I take a cutting and root it and then plant, I leave healthy leaves on the plant so that it will be bushy.

  8. 01/25/2020 at 4:40 pm

    When potting the plant should the stalk be showing above the soil?

    • Carol Speake
      01/27/2020 at 2:38 pm

      Yes. Only the end needs to be low in the soil to develop roots. More growth will come from the top of the stalk.

  9. Moona
    07/14/2020 at 10:33 am

    Hi I have my happy plant but the leaves are turning yellow what can I do to fix it

    • Carol Speake
      07/14/2020 at 10:38 am

      It is impossible to diagnose plant problems without seeing the plant in person. Common reasons for yellow leaves are over and under watering and lack of nutrients.

  10. Carol
    08/27/2020 at 5:01 pm

    My corn plant is very old. It was hitting the ceiling, and now tilting sideways at the top for space. I want to top it and repot. I don’t know how far down I can top it. The lower part has a lot of lost leaves. Can the stem be salvaged into several other plants in sections or is the leafless part of the stem useless?

    • Carol Speake
      08/30/2020 at 11:07 am

      If you are using the part with the leaves, the bottom area will not grow more leaves. It will root and continue growing taller. The old plant that has been lopped off will sprout from the top. You can also take cuttings of the stem at least 3 inches long and they will root and grow, but it does take some time for roots to form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *