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Annuals/Dracinea's

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Question
Can I cut Dracaenas' back to winter them in the house?
Thank-you, Ketina

Answer
Dracaenas are grown as annuals in much of the country.  Here on Long Island, however -- zone 7, the northernmost border of hardiness for these plants -- some people find they survive the winter, usually southern exposures.

But these are excellent container plants, easy and prolific, low maintenance, shade-loving, drought and low humidity tolerant and colorful.

Cutting them back is not quite as effective as it would be with a dicot.  Dracaenas are monocots, sort of like the grass in your lawn.  Dicots by contrast grow side shoots from buds with hormones in them that turn into branches and grow thick, bushy plants.  Dracaenas have none of those buds and branches.  They grow up, not out.

What you can do is slice off the top of the plant and root it like you would a cutting from a Geranium or an avocado pit.  Slice 6 inches above the base. The lower plant will sprout new branches from the base.   Root the cut section in a container of water, sand or perlite.  That portion should be about 6 inches long.  Any pieces of stem in between can be sliced, with a node, set in peat moss and misted daily. Bright light is all they need.

By spring, you'll be swimming in Dracaenas.

PS: Do not fertilize.  These plants evolved in dusty, drought stricken latitudes. Provide a light, well draining soil and pour them a glass of diluted juice, tea or coffee every once in a  while for a treat.  Mostly, just add water.

THE LONG ISLAND GARDENER

Annuals

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Expertise

Decisions, decisions... If you can't make up your mind which Annuals to grow, you're not alone. Problem with your new flowering Annuals flats? I`ve been there, done that. Petunias, Sweet Alyssum, Larkspur, Marine Blue Lobelia -- they all grow here at my house on Garden Street on Long Island, N.Y.. Cutting and Cottage Gardens, Sun and Shade Gardens, White Gardens and Night Gardens, I`ve done them all. Annuals are the perfect summer flower, bursting with color June through fall's first frost. I can`t speak on Cactus or tender Tropical Plants -- they don`t grow outside in my Zone 7. I`m no Farmer, so I cannot guide you on Fruits and Vegetables. But whether it`s an Annual you want to start from seed, mail-order or pick up at your local garden center, I can help you grow amazing blooms this Summer. Yes, together, we can turn your neighbors green with envy.

Experience

I have a lifetime of gardening behind me here on the North Shore of Long Island. While I have degrees in related fields, there's nothing like hands-on work to build real knowledge. I stay on top of current science -- there's a boom in research, and Kingdom Plantae is filled with surprises. By the way, I really do live on Garden Street.

Publications
Gannett newspapers, The New York Times, and hundreds of others - but not on Annuals.

Education/Credentials
B.A., botany; graduate credits in European Intellectual History and Political Science; minor coursework in related fields, docent training at our local botanical gardens (required for volunteers). I'm currently working on an advanced biochemistry degree.

Awards and Honors
I could tell you, but then you'd know who I am.

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