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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

Materials

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

Instructions

  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.

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Francine Kanno

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

i have a a striped green and white dracaena plant and it’s getting brown on the leaves does this means it’s getting too much sun? It was doing so well I’m wondering if if should cut off the top and hopefully it’ll come back

Carol Speake

Thursday 4th of March 2021

Hi Francine. I can't diagnose any plant problems without seeing the plant in person.

Taryn Williams

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Hi there!

I recently purchased a 5ft corn plant and it does not want to stay upright without support from my wall. Do you have any suggestions on how to support it (besides the wall)? It was also delivered with styrofoam between the stalks. Can I remove this? Thanks!

Carol Speake

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

If a plant is top heavy and won't stay upright, this can sometimes be because the root ball area is too small for the pot. I've not seen styrofoam between the stalks before, I assume it was to stabilize the stems. Sounds like a rushed cutting that isn't well rooted to me.

Teresa

Tuesday 5th of January 2021

We moved and my plant leaves froze what can i do to bring it back or can I?

Carol Speake

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

If leaves have frozen, they will be dead. You can cut them off and hope for new growth, but the plant itself may also have frozen and would not recover, if so.

Ken Maxfield

Thursday 10th of December 2020

Do I cut the stem coming out the top?

Carol Speake

Thursday 10th of December 2020

I'm not sure what you are asking about Ken. The corn plant grows upward and if the stem is cut, new growth of stem pieces will appear at the top. What are you trying to do?

Carol

Thursday 27th of August 2020

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

Sunday 30th of August 2020

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.

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