Glory's Garden

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Houseplant dilemma

I get this somewhat desperate note from a facebook friend about a houseplant dilemma complete with a photo (No, it is not this one. I had trouble downloading hers, but I didn't know why so I substituted this photo of a similar plant) :

Hi Glory---Help! I know you're the Garden Lady, and I'm not sure if you can help me with my question, but you're the first expert I thought to ask!

I have a big ol' dracena (indoor house plant) that's grown to about 8' tall. My husband and I are going our separate ways (need material for another book? I've got it). Anyway, I'm moving to a much smaller place, in fact the ceiling height is under 8'.

Hate to give this one up, I've had it for at least 10 years. I'm attaching a you can see it's got one main trunk (about 1 1/4" diameter) that branches off into two. Do you know if I can cut the main trunk and re-root to make a shorter plant? It's got about 18"+ of trunk before it branches into the two smaller shoots.Or maybe you can refer me to someone, being the plant lady? I really don't want to give it away unless I have to.

 Thanks, Glory!
My response:

I have the exact same plant and I had a piece that one of our cats knocked off--at least that's who the boys put the blame on, not too certain on that one!-- So I found you can easily root almost any piece from one of these dumb-cane type plants... there are so many varieties of them! I do wonder why there doesn't seem to be much foliage toward the bottom of your plant. 

When I see that happen-- I know it happens often in not brightly lit houses-- I simply trim it down and it always re-sprouts for me. I also take whatever I trim off the plant and just stick it in water. They form roots in a few weeks and you can plant it as a separate plant or right in the original plant just to make it look fuller. My mom had also kept them as "water-plants" for quite a long time too, sort of like those Lucky bamboo plants which aren't really bamboo at all, but that's another story!

Hope this helps. No need to get rid of something you like so much. These plants are very hardy so no worries. Keep the cut end in water for as long as you can until you have to move. On the moving day simply place the cut end in wet newspaper and stuff that part into a plastic bag. They'll be okay until you get them into water again, even if it's a couple of days. If you think that's too much trouble then plant them along with the main plant. They can and do root in moist soil, too. It just may take longer.

Leave the cut end of the plant as is. It will seal itself. The higher up you cut it that is where it will usually sprout again. My mom always used to cut it down short and if the stem is extra long you can cut that into one foot lengths and replant those too. They usually all re-sprout making a very bushy plant. This move might actually be good not just for you, but also for your plant! Go figure! 

If you have any garden type questions--or any kind really--don't be shy about asking. If I don't know the answer I'll search until I do and some of you learned gardeners can always answer too. We should learn from each other. That's the whole fun of this!


  1. You should have your own gardening column where you answer questions.

  2. I did for over ten years in our local paper the Promisedland Village news. It's pretty much how I started writing.

  3. ... from there to Helium, what a leap lol.

  4. Guess what, she can also just lop off the top (cut off) the Draceana (dracena) at almost any point and it will grow a new top, but not right at the cut.
    It takes a while, but with a powerful root system, if cut off somewhere convenient above the fork, BOTH of the trunks above 18" will grow new sprouts at one of their joints. Also you can take any piece of that type of plant, plant it or even lay it down in soil, keep it moist and it will grow. VERY easily propagated and saved. Some other green-thumbed gardening zeitgeist I happen to know has done that a dozen times successfully. ":)


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