Dracaena fragrans: Cornstalk dracaena

Family: Asparagaceae
Common name: Cornstalk dracaena, Striped dracaena, Happy plant, False Palm, Corn plant, Chinese money tree, Fortune plant

Dracaenas come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors, all of them suited for indoors as well as outdoors. Dracaena Fragrans can be distinguished from the others, by its specific corn plant look, and broad, droopy foliage.

They can grow to a height of 15 meters in the wild, though in gardens, they usually stay at 4-5 meters. Younger plants will have a straight, unbranched stem with alternate leaves hanging down along the sides. Once they become too tall and unsightly, they can be pruned to help branching, and to have more stems grow at the same time.

Leaves are about 1.5 meters long, some plain green; and some variegated with yellow stripes depending on the species. Though it is rare in house plants, Cornstalk dracaena plants can produce bunches of white flowers about 2.5 cms in diameter.

They are highly fragrant as the name of the plants suggests; attracting birds, bees, insects and ants that helps in pollination. The fruits are orange berries about 1-2 cms in diameter, containing multiple seeds.

Few common cultivars are Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’ or Mass cane that has a broad yellow stripe at the center of the green leaves; Dracaena fragrans ‘Lindenii’ that has a broad green stripe along the center of its yellow leaves; and Dracaena fragrans ‘Victoria’ with white or cream stripes on the leaves.

All these variants are ideal for your gardens and indoors since they can thrive in low light or indirect sunlight. But it is always better to keep indoor plants near a window that gets indirect sunlight. It is also good to turn the indoor plants occasionally so that they grow evenly without slanting to a side, seeking sunlight.

When grown outdoors, it is good to keep them in partial shade since too much sun can result in browning of the edges of the leaves. Cornplant dracaenas need very little water and fertilization; so it’s good to ensure that the soil has dried out before watering.

Other Dracaenas ideal for your garden are Dracaena trifasciata or Mother-in-law’s tongue, Dracaena marginata or Dragon tree, Dracaena reflexa or Song of India and Dracaena sanderiana or Lucky Bamboo. All these low-maintenance plants can beautify your rooms or your gardens with their beautiful, unique foliage.

Propagation is from stem cuttings or from seeds; stem cuttings being the easier and more effective method.

Image credits: Nicy Joseph

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