Identifying Unknown Plants/Identification & Maintenance
QUESTION: Hello Rick,
I have a house plant that I bought about 20 years ago and I am very much attached to it, so I even had the movers move it when I moved 8 years ago to a new house.
It keeps growing taller and I have moved it to a bigger vase couple times already. I have also pruned it from top several times so far each time it touched the ceiling (9 feet in my old house, and 18 feet in my new house) and either replanted the top pruned pieces in to a new vase OR offered those to friends. One of those replanted top piece in to a diff vase has already grown about 10+ feet tall in my dining area. The original plant is at present touching my 18 feet foyer ceiling, indicating that I need to prune again. Also it is in a vase that is 26 inch tall & 30 inch diameter. From the top of the soil in the vase, a total of 6 feet of the plant has lost all it's leaves and so also looks unsightly at our eye level until someone looks up and sees the top 12 feet of plant with fresh green leaves.
Question 1) I do not even know the exact name of this plant.
Question 2) Since it is losing it's leaves from the bottom and growing new fresh leaves at the top, I have this silly thought in mind whether I can get rid of it's bottom with it's roots completely and replant the top 10~12 feet in the same vase with new top soil? Will this kill the plant, OR will it re-grow just like how it's previously cut top pieces have re-grown?
Question 3) It also gets flowers once in a few years on it's top somewhere, which have extra ordinarily good fragrance. I would like to know what is the normal flower growing cycle of this plant, what are these flowers called, and can I do something to the plant to promote the growth of flowers more often then every few years?
Appreciate your help.
1) Your plant is a Corn stalk plant (Latin name: Dracaena fragrans 'massangeana)...It is native to tropical Africa and can grow to 50' tall with a trunk a foot or more in diameter... Look it up on your search engine...
skip to - 3) The flower is considered a panicle type (a branched cluster of flowers) - similar to a lilac flower in structure...After flowering your plant will produce new leaf shoots... They are easy to use to make new plants...Flower production will depend on climate...It is a tropical plant, so it depends on where you live (area/zone/seasons, etc.)...
2) Sounds like you have been propagating it for quite some time now...Cutting the bottom roots off from the top area will probably not work too well...The larger diameter of the severed top will not root as well (or easily)...It won't hurt to try it...You may get lucky...Keep the bottom part in the old container to see if it produces new shoots on the stalk (latent growth buds)...You can always throw it out later...Put the top in a new pot with new soil...Watch repotting into larger pots too often...Pot bound plants stay smaller...
As for care try this with your plants...Water by weight. Put a saucer under the pot. Water and let the plant sit in the excess water for 5-10 minutes. After that time pour off any excess water in the saucer. Pick up or lean the pot. It should feel heavy. Don't water again until it feels considerably lighter in weight. Outdoors check the plant everyday. Indoors check it every 3-10 days or longer. Watering frequency depends on many factors(type of plant,light exposure, temps, humidity, etc.).
Most indoor tropical plants require you to add fertilize on a weekly to monthly basis during the growing season. Visit your local garden center (not chain store) and see what they recommend for your particular plants...
Spray misting and humidity requirements will vary from plant to plant...Misting once or twice a week will help keep the plant clean. Overdoing it can cause mold and fungi problems.
Sounds like you are doing OK taking care of them already...But this info may help some...
Hope this helps...
Let me know what you think.
Rick in southern New Jersey
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
Thank you so much for your detailed responses. Please see my feedback/follow-up questions below:
1) Thanks for identifying the plant for me. That helps a lot.
2) Does following help recommend watering tips?
(2a) since the plant is 18 feet tall and in a pot that is 30 inch diameter X 26 inch tall, it would be impossible to lean it or lift it to feel it's weight.
(2b) The plant is located in the foyer near the front entrance with it's base and @8 feet length behind shoe closet wall, but the top 10 feet is exposed to light due to a large window higher up on the front wall of the house. The house is facing north-west. (Please see image of whole plant).
3) I live in Lindenhurst, a suburb in far north ILLINOIS. Does that help recommend any tips for promoting flowering growth?
2a) Try to lean it to feel for weight when it has dried out sufficiently to move the pot ...Again you are checking for weight after just watering it VS weight after it has dried out some (once every 2-4 weeks)...You can always dig into the soil some to check and see how wet it is...I have checked larger plants by leaning or lifting one side of the pot many times...It won't lean a little until it is ready to be watered again...
I am very familiar with the Chicago area having visited there many times...I also lived out there in the early 70's...I have relatives in Gurnee and friends from college(Ohio)in Skokie area...
3) You could also get some grow lights to use as an added daylight source...Visit your local garden center (not chain-store) for more advice on caring for the plant and adding aditional lighting...