Need help with a Marginata (Dragon Tree) rescue!

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by Smalltown_Guy, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. Smalltown_Guy

    Smalltown_Guy Member

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    Hello,

    I did a search and found some good information on this site, that might help, but I thought I would post a new thread to get some specific information on my situation :)

    I am attempting to try and rescue a Marginata after being abused at my office for months. A little background info on what I know about it. It was a gift to our office after a co-worker passed away, and it has been in an environment with zero natural light, and over watered for months. I know it was over watered because when I went to repot it was sitting in a pool of water.

    I will be honest, and say that I don't know anything about plants, but I would really like to try and save this if at all possible, as it has sentimental value and would appreciate any advice that could be offered.

    I went out and bought a bought a 9 Liter bag of Schultz MoisturePlus potting mix with MultiCote (feeds up to 9 months), and Micracle-Gro Shake'n Feed Slow release plant food (19-6-12). I bought the soil and plant food before I knew it was over watered, and tried to ring as much water out of it as I could before I repotted it.

    I did not use the old soil and it smelled rotten, and I am guessing that is because it was sitting in water for a long period of time. I put the new soil in and covered it over well then put the slow release plant food on top and mixed it in with the soil a bit. I am not sure if that was right or wrong to do, hence why I am asking here if I should repot it again, and/or what exactly I need to do.

    The plant consists of 5 separate stalks, and the condition is different for each one of them. It looks to me like 3 of them are coming around a little bit after 1 week but two of them seem to be going the other way, and I have no idea what I can do about it. I did read on another post that someone suggested that this type of plant can be pruned, and I was thinking of trying that, but I don't want to mess it up and kill it more, so I am posting for some advice. The two stalks that are dying appear to have different conditions. One is very soft and moist at the top (approx. 2 inches from the top), and the other one appears to be dry and hard (approx. 3 - 3.5 inches from the top) at the top. The tips of the leaves on are mostly brown and dried out, but they still appear to be somewhat alive as they are not totally dried out (yet).

    I was considering trying to remove the two semi-dead stalks to try and safe the other 3, but I thought it would be a shame if I could somehow save them since this was a very big and beautiful plant when we originally received it.

    Lighting wise, I know it was getting zero lighting before so I have it in front of my picture window right now. I noticed on the tag that it says "Bright light will keep this plant very happy" but from what I have read on here some are saying that it should be kept in a low lighted area? So, I thought I would ask that as well just to clarify.

    Also, when I was attempting to repot it, (I know I did it wrong now but I can't change what happened) I tried to lift it up out of the pot, and some of the bark came loose and slid up, and I tried to slide it back down and replace it. I think it was because it was water logged, but I can't be sure. I know now it was not the correct way to do, so I guess I have plea ignorance :(

    I feel bad that I was not able to bring it home sooner because my co-workers could not agree who should have it, but eventually I ended up with it, and now I am trying to do everything I can to save it..........probably a lost cause but I am willing to try! :)

    If anyone could give me instruction on from step one.......how it should be potted......the type of soil it should have? The fertilizer combination (ie. 19-6-12)? The lighting it should be in? If it should be pruned? What I should use to prune it and if any special techniques are required etc?...I will do my best to follow your instructions to the letter :)

    I really appreciate anyone willing to take their time and help with this :)

    Sincerely;

    CWR
     

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    Last edited: Mar 11, 2007
  2. MamaMac

    MamaMac Active Member

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    I may be wrong, but I believe the plant in your photos is a yucca elephantipes. I'm not an expert, but I'll try to help if I can. First off, condolences on your loss, and good on ya for attempting this rescue operation. From your description of having to "wring out your plant, and the fact that the soil smelled like it was rotting, I think it is safe to assume that it is suffering from root-rot. You need to pull it back out of it's pot and remove any mushy roots. If all the roots are mushy then I would go as far up the cane as I had to , to find where it is firm and make a clean cut there and repot the tip. If you do need to do this, you will lose a lot (maybe all) of the bottom leaves while it is rerooting. As long as it is in questionable condition, I would not fertilize at all. If and when it starts showing new growth, the slow release fertilizer should be fine. I would place it in front of a bright window and not water again until I had seen some new growth. My other recommendation is to make sure that the pot that it is in has good drainage. The soil that you bought should be fine as long as you watch out for over-watering.
     
  3. Smalltown_Guy

    Smalltown_Guy Member

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    Thank you for your kind words and for the information. I greatly appreciate your input and assistance :) I have been keeping a close eye on it and judging from the look and feel of one of the stalks I think it has root rot. Although I am no expert either, but I noticed that one is going black, under the bark, so I attempted to prune the soft part off the top of one stock and it looks black on the inside as well, so I doubt there is much hope for the smallest cane (the little one on the left hand side in picture #3). I thought I would let it sit for a few days and hope to see some kind of improvement. If it doesn't start to firm up or look alive by the weekend, I will have to amputate I guess :( ......I was hoping that I wouldn't have to, but I don't want to chance of spreading the rot, or disease setting in (if thats what happens....I really don't know).

    I will have a look at the roots this weekend, and remove anything that doesn't look healthy, and I will probably pick up another bag of potting soil as well. The pot I bought does have self drainage, although I guess it would not be a bad idea to pick up some stone for the bottom just give it that little extra.

    I was not sure about how much light it needed as I was reading different things, so I moved it back away from the window a little bit, just enough so it would not be in direct sunlight. Also there seems to be an excessive amount of mulch that was in the original potting, but I was not sure so I put it all back as I found it.

    Any idea how much mulch should be on top? Right now I would say that the top 1/3 of the pot is mulch, because that is the way it came.

    If you have any other helpful hints or advice, please feel free to post because I am more then willing to listen :)

    Thanks again for your help!

    CWR
     
  4. MamaMac

    MamaMac Active Member

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    The reason for mulching an indoor plant, is usually more for decorative purposes, and secondarily for decreasing the amount of water you lose to evaporation. I would remove all of it so that you can see the soil, lessening the chance of future over-watering, and allowing the soil to dry out a little quicker, which at this point would be a good thing!
     
  5. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    dude this IS a dradon tree. My parents had one about that big or bigger that died on us. It actually looked like yours does righ now. We had it in a large garbage can and the canes rotted bottom up ( im assuming tis from really bad drainage). Check the stems near the soil to see if there soft and squishy. If they are then theres no hope for it.
     
  6. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    It is a Dracaena, not a yucca, and your moisture-holding soil will do it in unless you mix a LOT of grit (perlite, tiny aquarium gravel, chicken grit from a feed store) into the mix when you repot. Cut back any mushy or black roots to cleaner, firm places and when you're through layering in the soil again, do not press down to 'settle' it, but let it breathe - but you should just tap each layer as you go along so there are no gaps around the roots. Water slowly when done, til it reaches the drain holes (no bottom layer of rocks please!) and allow drain water to go down the sink - never sit the pot in it as that's how rot can start. They like lots of light all day, which is more important than very intense light for a few hours, so somewhere with light from more than one window would be good if you have a choice.
     
  7. Smalltown_Guy

    Smalltown_Guy Member

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    Thank you for your feedback everyone! I greatly appreciate your assistance with this.

    This morning I removed all the mulch, and took the knife to the root system (or what used to be a root system). Three of the canes have been showing signs of life, so I repotted those and amputated the other two for the greater good.

    I didn't fully realize what tangled mess the root system was until I started to try and remove soil from it, and it was pretty hard to tell what was good and bad. Some roots were obviously bad, but all 5 root systems had basically merged together, so I cut the roots down to next almost nothing to try and get rid of the majority of the dead ones. I believe I succeeded except there is not much root left now. I mixed the soil up so it was not so packed and replanted it about 2/3 down into the pot, and I did not put the mulch back on (as suggested) to try and help dry the soil out. I also removed any half broken or half dead leaves, and gently washed the good leaves with rain water (thankfully it was raining today) and a soft cloth. I didn't add much water after finishing.......just a little bit, to hopefully try and get the roots going again. I moved it into my bedroom in front of my window where it can get direct light. I will be going to pick up another bag of soil tomorrow to top it off as I lost some with the roots.

    I guess she is the hands of Mother Nature now, but I think I have done everything I can with your suggestions, and that I do thank each of you for :)

    I'll keep you posted on its progress (trying to think positive here)

    Thanks again!

    CWR
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2007
  8. Sirijsli

    Sirijsli New Member

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    Same thing happened to my plant. I cleared the rotten roots and replanted it. Did you manage to save the Dracaena?
     

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