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House Plants/question about my corn plant. . .


Corn Plant?
Corn Plant?  

Closer.  . .
Closer. . .  
My Husband's mother died 9 months ago and we inherited her tree. I just now learned what kind of tree it is and am desperately trying to keep it alive. We repotted it back in April to a bigger pot since the old pot was filled 60% with roots. Its grown all the way to the ceiling and the leaves mainly occupy one side of the tree. So I've tied it with twine to keep it somewhat straight. Our apartment is pretty dark. I try to open the curtain enough to let it get some sun. The leaves are yellowing anf dying. I've snipped the ends trying to save the leaves. But there are spots on the leaves as well. Since moving to this apartment, the tree has been attacked by mushrooms in the dirt because I had christmas light in the tree. Got rid of them. Then this summer a gazillion gnats swarmed on the soil, the wall and up the trunk. I smothered the gnats with Seven spray from Atwoods. Killed 90%. Took awhile to get the rest gone. I water it, maybe once a week depending on how cold it is and dry the soil is. I'm allergic to dirt in the house so ive covered the soil with river rocks. As crazy as it sounds, the soil stopped molding and my allergies aren't as bad. My question, are there any instructions on how to care for this tree? And we will be moving from Oklahoma to Washington in mid February. How do we care for this tree during the move and when we get there. Thank You So Much! :-)

Hi Crystal,

It looks like your Corn Plant has done quite well under adverse conditions.

It is getting just barely enough light to survive, but not enough to thrive. It requires lots of very bright indirect sunlight all day long. The very tall growth is due to inadequate light. Growth on one side only is because you have not rotated the plant so that the other side also gets light.

The tall stems can be cut back by about half to shorten them. This pruning will not harm the plant and new growth will emerge on the cut stems just below the pruning cuts and grow upward from there. Pruning will allow you to get rid of the twine and any other supports.

Trimming off brown tips will have no effect on the plant's health, but it will make the plant look nicer.

The mushrooms, allergens and fungus gnats are both a result of using soil contaminated with fungus spores and gnat larvae. With indoor plants you should only use a sterile soilless potting mix composed of peat moss and perlite. The mushrooms and gnats thrive in soil that is kept constantly moist on the surface. The stones may be helping your allergies, but they are also keeping the surface soil moist which is bad for the plant while promoting gnats and mushrooms.

I suggest that you remove the stones and all of the loose soil on the surface that is not in immediate contact with the roots. This top layer of soil is extraneous and harbors most of the fungus and gnat larvae and allergens. After doing that, do not water until the top 2 inches of soil feels very dry. Allowing this drying out to occur will solve most of your problems.

I also see that you have a water globe in the soil. Do NOT use that because it keeps the soil constantly wet and that is not good.

Corn plants are easy to care for as long as they receive proper light and are allowed to dry out deep into the soil.

I have written articles on plant pests, pruning and 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.

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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.

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