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House Plants/Cold Wilted Dracaena


My 3 year old, 4 foot Dracaena marginata has experienced the trauma of 2 days of sudden cold temperatures on my covered porch. Leaves are hanging straight down, lifelessly. It has now been a week (indoors w/ partial light thru window) with no noticeable difference. The leaves are still green and the outer skin of the stalks have a slight softness to the touch. Last time I repotted was in the fall of 2012 in a square 14x14x 10" deep pot. It has been very healthy its whole life, always allowing top or ⅓u of soil to dry before watering. I just waited too long to bring inside this year. I would very much hate to lose this beautiful plant. Should I remove some or all of the leaves? Or is there any other advice? I would greatly appreciate ur expert advice!

Hi Jason,

Your Marginata is exhibiting classic symptoms of cold damage. The foliage is affected the most because, unlike the roots, the leaves are not insulated by the pot or soil. The leaves will not recover and probably will gradually die back and fall off. It makes no difference whether you leave them or remove them. Whatever looks better (or less disturbing!) to you.

I am more concerned about the softness of the stems. That may be an indication that the roots have also been cold damaged and are no longer supplying water and nutrients to the stems. If the roots are cold damaged, then your Marginata will slowly die and there is no way to prevent that. Only time will tell.

Provide as much light and warmth as you can. Remember that your plant is ailing and using very little water at this point so allow the soil to become dry deeper into the pot than usual. Avoid fertilizing. If the stems go from soft to more shriveled, then you can assume the roots are permanently damaged. Otherwise, look for signs of healthy new growth as a sign of recovery. At best it will be many months before your Margainata will regain a healthy overall appearance

Good luck!

I have written detailed articles on cold damage and on Dracaena marginata care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

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.

BA, Amherst College

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