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House Plants/dracaena marginata wilted overnight


My dracaena marginata has totally wilted.  I had no problems at all with this 8 month old plant purchased from a big box store. It's still planted in it's original 9" plastic pot, which sits in a decorative pot with drainage holes. I had it on my porch in summer, and then in several places indoors.  It's been watered once a week, and was getting new growth on top.  But I'm assuming it suffered shock after I realized it was left in a very cold, unheated & uninsulated room for a night or two when it also had water sitting in the bottom of the pot. I moved the plant to a warmer spot, removed the excess water in the bottom,then just let it alone hoping it would dry out. After days, it was still very damp on the very bottom, so I removed it from the pot and laid it out flat in order to dry the root ball.  Once dry, I placed it back in it's original plastic pot (but first poked more holes into the bottom), then into the decorative container, in which I placed rocks in the bottom to avoid having it sit in water.  I then gave it a good watering (as I had read I should do), but it didn't perk up one bit. The leaves are still green (it's been a week now), the stalks are firm and not at all soft, and the roots look good.  But the plant has stayed folded up like an umbrella.  Anything I can do?

Hi Megan,

Your Dracaena marginata has suffered from some significant trauma recently. The wilting was probably caused by the cold temperatures. If the leaves have not perked up by now, they will not in the future. It is good that they are still green, but they may gradually turn yellow/brown and fall off. There is nothing you can do about previous cold damage to foliage.

It is more important to prevent root rot, which is usually fatal to Marginatas. I am a bit confused about what you wrote about the decorative planter. In the second sentence you wrote that it had drainage holes, but you later wrote about putting stones in the bottom of that planter so the plant would not sit in water. If the decorative planter has drain holes, then the excess will drain out and stones in the bottom are unnecessary.

If the decorative planter does not have drainage holes, putting stones in the bottom is a good idea but only if you regularly pull the plastic pot up to make sure the water level in the bottom has not reached the top of the stones.

You seem to be on the right track in what you have done so far. As long as the roots and stems remain firm and healthy, then your plant should slowly recover. New foliage will emerge at the top of the stem and should be healthy even as older leaves damaged by cold gradually die back.

Make sure your Marginata is located as close as possible to a sunny indoor window and avoid moving it around so that it can adapt to its location. Allow the top quarter of the soil to dry in between waterings.

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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