Corn plants, also known as dracaenas, are laid-back plants that are easy to care for. Aside from removing dead or damaged leaves, pruning your corn plant is optional. You may even choose to let it grow one year, and prune it back the next. Although they aren’t very picky, there are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re learning how to prune a corn plant (video further below).
What You'll Learn Today
- When Should I Trim My Corn Plant?
- How to Cut Back a Corn Plant
- How Do You Revive a Dying Corn Plant?
- Why is My Corn Plant Flowering?
When Should I Trim My Corn Plant?
The best time to prune a corn plant is in the spring, before the growing season. Corn plants usually come out of their winter rest period in April or May.
Waiting to prune the plant until this time is a good way to promote healthy growth. Your plant will likely recover quickly from the trimming during late spring.
With that suggestion in mind, however, corn plants can generally be pruned at any time. They are fairly tough plants that can take a good amount of abuse.
How to Cut Back a Corn Plant
Pruning corn plants is a simple process. As long as you use clean garden shears or scissors to prevent spreading disease, you should start to see new growth within a couple of weeks.
1. Remove damaged leaves
First, look for leaves that are totally dead. These leaves will be completely yellow or brown, brittle, and shriveled.
You should be able to remove these leaves by gently pulling on them at the base. If they don’t easily come off, just trim them as close to the base as possible.
2. Trim the tips of the leaves that have brown tips
Find any leaves that have yellow or brown tips. Use garden shears to trim only the discolored parts, cutting at an angle that matches the ends of the rest of the leaves.
As always, make sure your garden shears are clean before you prune. Dirty shears could end up spreading disease between plants.
3. Remove or cut back stems to achieve the desired height
Where you will make a cut depends on how you want your plant to look. Some people prefer their corn plants to be compact, while others like them taller and fuller.
If you spot a stem that seems out of place aesthetically, simply trim the stem off at a 45-degree angle. The plant can be trimmed at any height, but it’s best to leave a few inches of stem on the cane.
4. Cut all of the stems in the spring to rejuvenate your plant
If your plant had a rough winter or if it was neglected for a while, it may start to look generally droopy and weak. This would be a good time to give your plant a fresh start.
All you need to do is wait until spring, and then cut all of the stems so that they are about six inches tall. Then, providing that your plant receives proper care during the growing season, you should see quick, healthy growth.
For a great visual guide on the basics of pruning corn plants, check out this video.
How Do You Revive a Dying Corn Plant?
If you’ve accidentally neglected your corn plant or inherited one that isn’t looking great, you may still be able to save it. Your remedy will depend on the symptoms of the sick plant. Here’s what you should check for:
- Brown marks on the leaves: this could be due to excess sunlight. Corn plants like bright, indirect sunlight. If your plant is close to a window that the sun shines through, move it away.
- Only the tips of the leaves are brown: you may need to adjust your watering schedule. A good rule of thumb for these plants is to water them when the top of the soil is dry to the touch
- Droopy, yellow leaves: This is typically a sign of overwatering. Again – hold off on watering until the top of the soil is dry, or root rot could become a factor. Make sure your soil is well-drained, too.
Yellowing leaves may also be due to a lack of sunlight. If your plant isn’t getting much sun, try to place it a little closer to indirect sunlight.
If you’ve cared for other plants before, you know that trial and error comes with the territory. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what your plant likes best.
You may have to try different things and see how the plant responds. And if it doesn’t make it, don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve all been there at some point!
Why is My Corn Plant Flowering?
Some people are surprised when their corn plant starts to flower. When it’s an indoor plant, this feeling is understandable.
Corn plants rarely flower when they’re grown indoors. For those that do, it’s not uncommon for it to happen for the first time when the plant is 10+ years old.
When a corn plant begins to flower, it’s usually a sign that the plant is happy and well cared for. If you’re sensitive to the extremely fragrant smell of the flower, however, feel free to remove it.
The easy-going, tough nature of corn plants makes them an excellent choice for beginners. It is not unheard of for these house plants to last up to 40 years with proper care.
So, even if you make a mistake while pruning your plant, chances are good that it will come back stronger than ever.