If you’re looking for a plant that is easy to care for, can handle a little neglect, and will produce many more free plants for you, look no further than Dracaena fragrans (a.k.a. Corn plant). Dracaenas are known for their easygoing nature and the ability to bring a tropical vibe to any household. This article will discuss how to propagate corn plants and support them as they grow.
What You'll Learn Today
Is Corn Plant Easy To Grow?
Corn plants are one of the easiest houseplants to propagate once you learn where to cut them. Whether you start with a top cut or stem cut and stick it in soil or water, your chance of success is high.
All you need to propagate a corn plant is your mother plant, a sharp knife or garden shears, potting soil (if you’re not using the water method), and a bright, sunny spot.
How Do You Grow a Corn Plant? (Step By Step Guide)
Corn plants offer two ways to propagate: stem cuttings and top cuttings. You can use one of two methods to propagate either of those sections: water or soil.
The method you choose to propagate will depend on your comfort level. Water propagation is popular because plants tend to form roots quicker in water, and if you use a clear container, you can monitor the root growth.
The downside of water propagating is the high failure rate when transitioning cuttings to soil. Roots that form in water tend to be more fine and delicate.
Since the fragile water roots are acclimated to the water, soil can sometimes be too heavy and too foreign. If you’re not careful during the transition, your cuttings may not make it.
Soil propagation is more reliable in terms of success rate, but the process is slower, and you can’t monitor the roots as well.
Once you decide which method you want to use, here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
You will need:
- Garden shears or a sharp knife (shears are easier if your plant has a thick stem)
- A glass of water for water propagation
- Soil and a pot for soil propagation
- Rooting hormone (optional)
Step 2: Take Your Cutting
For a top cutting, make your cut just below the leaf line on a cluster of several leaves. Remove a few of the bottom leaves from the cutting so that about 4 or 5 leaves remain.
If you’re using a stem cutting, cut about 3-5 inches of the stem with several nodes. The nodes are located where the horizontal lines on the stem are – that’s where roots or new growth will emerge. Make sure you remember which side is the bottom of the stem cutting – if it’s potted upside down, it will not grow.
For a visual of where to cut on your plant, check out this video:
Step 3: Dip the Cuttings in Rooting Hormone
Some growers like to use rooting hormone to boost cuttings and increase the chances of quick root production. It comes in liquid or powder form and can be found at most stores that carry garden supplies.
To use it, just dip the bottom of the cuttings in the rooting solution before putting them in water or soil.
Step 4: Place Your Cuttings in Your Preferred Medium
For the water method, simply stick the stem in a glass of water. The water should be room temperature and only cover one or two nodes.
If using soil, fill a small pot with pre-moistened soil and make a hole in the center. Place the cutting a few inches into the pot to cover some of the nodes with dirt.
Step 5: Care For Your Cuttings
Place your cuttings in a warm spot that will receive plenty of bright, indirect light. If using water, change the water in the glass 1-2 times per week and top it off when it evaporates.
If you’re using soil, you can increase your chances of success by giving your cutting plenty of humidity. Many growers place the pot inside a plastic zip-seal bag and close the top.
You can open the bag every few days to check the soil’s moisture and allow some air to circulate into the bag.
Step 6: Wait
Dracaenas are easy to root, but they do take their time. You may have to wait 6-8 weeks before noticing any root growth on your cuttings. Until then, keep the soil moist or the water fresh, and don’t get discouraged if it takes longer.
If your cuttings are in soil, you can check for roots after several weeks by gently tugging on the stem. You can assume that roots have developed if you feel resistance.
If rooting in water, wait until the roots are a few inches long before pot them in soil. The longer you wait, the better your chances of a successful transition.
How Big Does a Corn Plant Get?
Dracaena fragrans are native to tropical Africa, where they can grow up to 50 feet tall. Without the growing conditions of its origin climate, such as ample space, warmth, humidity, and sunlight, they don’t grow nearly as large.
Corn plants usually reach heights of about 4-5 feet indoors. Their leaves will spread to a span of around 2 feet in the house.
The growth rate and the maximum height of any houseplant largely depend on its growing conditions and the care you provide. The factors that determine how fast and tall your corn plant will get include:
- Pot size: Using a pot that is too big or too small can lead to many problems like root rot, potbound roots, decreased growth, and even death of the plant if the issue is not addressed.
- Type of soil: If your plant is not in an appropriate potting mix, it may suffer health issues and will likely not grow very well.
- Watering habits: Underwatering, overwatering, and inconsistent watering can all stunt the growth of dracaenas.
- Available sunlight: Sunlight is the golden ticket when it comes to plant growth. More light is often the answer when plant owners are concerned about their corn plant’s slow growth. When houseplants such as Dracaena fragrans are marketed as low light plants, it simply means that the plant can survive longer without much light instead of thriving with increased light.
Corn plants are a great introduction to propagating since they grow easily. A word of caution, though: once you learn how to propagate, there’s a good chance you’ll be hooked.
Using an existing plant to make more for free is fun and extremely rewarding. You can share the wealth with plant-loving friends and family or build up your collection.