Dracaena Compacta Not doing well – House Plant Journal

Dracaena Compacta Not doing well

Plant: Dracaena compacta (Janet Craig)

How long have you had the plant? 1 to 2 years.


This plant was in too low light for a year and no real growth.

During a remodel I put some of my house plants outside. It then rained and rained and rained. Plant is back inside but I’m not sure if it will heal or come back.

I have it in a window with strong light now.

In this place, the plant sees roughly 3 hours of direct sun.

How do you determine WHEN to water? I wait for the soil to become just slightly dry.

Describe HOW you water: I pour a small amount of water onto the soil.

Fertilizer? I’ve never used fertilizer


Darryl’s Analysis

The current location where you have it is suitable in terms of light.

The watering strategy for a Dracaena is when the soil is at least halfway dry (it can tolerate waiting until completely dry) – waiting until “just slightly dry” isn’t allowing the soil to dry out enough between waterings.  In terms of how to water, ideally you should evenly and thoroughly moisten all parts of the soil.  Pouring a small amount of water on occasion is okay but if that’s how you always water, you’ll leave dry pockets in the soil where roots may die. If water is never allowed to flush through the drainage hole, then there can be built up minerals that eventually show up as dried/browned tips – Dracaena are especially susceptible to this.

If you want your plant to grow well in the long run, you must use fertilizer (or you’ll be frequently repotting) – more info on fertilizers here.

Leaf damage like this is permanent so I’d recommend cutting off all the browned tips if you find them unsightly.  You should repot into fresh soil (standard potting soil: peat moss/coco coir with some perlite will do) and start using fertilizer.  In a few months to a year, new leaves will begin growing from the middle of the plant, eventually covering up the lower, damaged ones.

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