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House Plants/too tall palm-like tree


too tall tree
too tall tree  
This "tree" with 4 stems arrived as a seedling in a dish garden 13 years ago.  It lives on our back porch (some sun, mostly shade) in the summer and in the basement in the winter.  It seems quite healthy.  The tallest stem is too tall for the basement ceiling, and the other two tall stems will be soon.

1. What is this plant?
2. Can the tall stems be cut back without killing it?

Hi Marian,

Your plant is a Dracaena marginata, so named because of the reddish margin on its leaves.

The stems definitely can and should be pruned back to a more desirable height. As long as the roots remain healthy, pruning will do no harm. New foliage growth will emerge on the pruned stems just below the pruning cut. So you decide where you want to see new growth come in and prune back to that point.

I have written articles on pruning 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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