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House Plants/Corn plant not doing so well


Hi Will,

After doing lots of Internet research, I kept coming upon your answers to posts, and it seems you are the most knowledgeable! I have what I believe is a  massagenean plant. I got it from lowes and have had it for over 8 years now. It originally had 3 trunks, but the first one dropped its bloom and never had new growth, so I removed it. It has had 2 trunks that have done really well since then. Now for my issue-one is seemingly perfectly healthy. The other, not so much. It had 2 heads, but one died, and where it died it seemed like the entire top of the cane started to rot. I went to remove the rotted part, and the trunk of the can kept peeling. Underneath, it was dead, brown, and smelly. Now I know this is awful, but I kept peeling that part away thinking maybe I could get rid of the rotted part. The other half of the cane is alive and green.
Since I probably have doomed it from peeling of half the cane, is there anyhing I can do? Can I saw off the top part of it and will it produce new growth? What should I do with the top head since its so (seemingly) healthy?

Hi Renee,

You have come to the right person to get professional information about your Corn Plant (Dracaena massangeana cane).

When the bark of a cane separates from the underneath layers of the cane, it is a sure sign that the roots of that cane are no longer functioning and that cane cannot be salvaged. However, if there are one or more stems growing from the top of the ailing cane and those stems are healthy (not dark or shriveled), then those stems can be cut off and rooted in plain water or in a small pot filled with damp potting mix.

All of this begs the question, Why did the cane die? In most cases it is because the soil was not allowed to dry out deep enough into the pot in between waterings. Of course, it could also be because the soil was severely underwatered or the plant has been slowly starving from not getting quite enough light.

Why does this matter? Understanding the cause is important because you don't want to lose the remaining cane. Making sure you have enough light (no more than 6 feet from a sunny, uncovered window) and you water as soon as the top third of the soil feels dry will help ensure many more years for the remaining cane.

I have written an article on Corn Plant care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and nomination for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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