Struggling Mass Cane Dracaena – House Plant Journal

Struggling Mass Cane Dracaena

Plant Parent

My Mass Cane plant has been struggling since the beginning of December. I have always kept it close to the window which faces due East. In December the plants leaves were turning completely brown and dying.

I monitored the soil and would place my finger 1 inch down in the soil to see if it was dry before watering.  At the beginning of January, I re-potted the plant as it was root-bound to see if that would help. I have also been keeping a humidifier near it for the last week. It is not improving and was wondering if you had any tips? It’s now middle of February.


Once leaves begin browning, they do not revert to green.

In terms of your watering thought process, monitoring the soil moisture is the best practice.  But how exactly did you water, when you decided it was time to water?

How long have you had this plant?  Do you use fertilizer at all?

Please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

Plant Parent

I have had this plant for 1.5 years. During this past summer I watered the plant every other week. I did put fertilizer into the plant around September time frame.

When winter came around I would stick my finger 1 inch into the soil. If it was dry I would pour one cup of water. The water I would use came from the sink but I would let it sit for a few days in a watering pot.


This plant looks adequately lit (given a good enough view of the sky) but pouring in just one cup of water isn’t a good approach to watering – uneven moistening of the planting medium will leave dry pockets where roots can die and, without adequate moistening, minerals can accumulate and cause harm to propagate up to the leaves.

A better approach to watering is when the soil has reached the appropriate dryness level (for this plant, wait until “mostly dry” before watering), pour through enough water to completely saturate the entire volume of soil while letting excess water drain away (you need to have a drainage hole and somewhere for the drainage water to go in order to do this).  Do this thorough watering at least once a month if it’s inconvenient to do it for every watering (actually, you don’t have to do it like this EVERY time – the point is to mitigate the dry pockets and mineral accumulation).

Also accept that older leaves (the lowest ones) WILL die eventually.  Don’t fall into the trap of seeing lower leaf loss and immediately thinking that something needs to be corrected. But in your case, as the browning leaves are all over the plant, I’d attribute that to patchy soil moistening. Water evenly and thoroughly at the right time; manage the soil structure.

Tired of your houseplants dying on you?

4 responses to “Struggling Mass Cane Dracaena”

  1. I’m slowly killing my Dracaena. The plant is probably 20 years old, it has one branch off the main stalk that has grown 10 ft or so and is tied to a stake for support- in a low lit room near the front door of my mom’s house. We recently sold the house and we moved it to my small apartment, with vaulted ceilings, and similar lighting however, it is not doing well, it was repotted shortly after its arrival, and any where I put it it gets a/c draft cross breeze

  2. I’m running into the same exact situation with mine. Mine has two “trees” — one about 5’ tall the other about 3’ tall. I noticed (too late of course), that the smaller one was browning very quickly while the larger one remained healthy, vibrant and green. Turns out I realized there is a noticeable draft coming through my window right at the level of the smaller one (it’s winter, so the air is coldddd). I quickly moved the plant about 2ft away from the window (it was way too close, should’ve known better) and bought some fertilizer to strengthen it, but only a handful of the leaves on the smaller “tree” look salvageable. Should I prune all of the mostly brown/dead ones or wait until it begins slowly healing itself?

  3. I accidentally forgot about my mass cane and let it get far too cold and under watered. Do you all think it’s done for good? The leaves are all brown and some mold on top of soil (not a lot)….I think it’s mold. I don’t think I can leave a picture? I had the plant for a very short period. My mom gave it to me and put it in a uncommon place and so I forgot. I had it about 2-4 weeks and I hadn’t even transferred it to a pot.

  4. How is the weather where you live? Is it colder in December. I had the same issue with my plant and I found that it was too cold. The leaves would turn brown and die faster in the colder months and I found that my plant was too cold so I had to move it further away from the window while still maintaining indirect sunlight.

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