How to Save a Dracaena Massangeana, Home Guides, SF Gate

How to Save a Dracaena Massangeana


Corn plants do best when they receive adequate water.

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The Dracaena fragrans «Massangeana,» suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12, is a native plant of tropical Africa that grows anywhere from 15 to 50 feet tall in its natural habitat. When grown outside that area, typically as a houseplant, it is low maintenance and easy to care for. Also known as the corn plant, it is typically hardy; however, when it’s in distress, you can take several steps to save it.

Examine the roots of the plant for blackened tips and decay that indicate root rot. If found, trim the roots with scissors so only healthy, white roots are left. Replant the corn plant in loamy soil rich with peat to provide the optimal environment. Ensure that the soil is well drained by placing rocks or pebbles in the bottom of a pot with a drainage hole. Too much moisture in the soil can cause root rot. Check the moisture content of the soil before watering — while corn plants like moisture, it’s best to allow the soil to dry slightly between watering to prevent the soil from becoming too wet.

Remove the Dracaena fragrans «Massangeana» from direct sunlight when the edges of the leaves are brown and withered. Direct sunlight can overwhelm a corn plant and burn the leaves. The corn plant does best in a location with normal room temperature and average humidity. Use scissors to trim brown edges from the plant following the natural shape of the leaves.

Inspect the plant for spider mites by shaking its leaves over a white paper towel. Look for miniscule specs in black, green, red, yellow or brown which may indicate a spider mite problem. If spider mites are found, mist the bottoms of the leaves of the corn plant with water once a week to dislodge spider mites and create an inhospitable environment. Prevent the plant from becoming dry and dusty, as spider mites thrive in that environment.

Inspect the leaves and stems of the corn plant for small brown or tan attachments ranging in size from 1/16 to 1/4 of an inch across that indicate a scale insect infestation. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of mild dishwashing liquid in 1 quart of water and spray the plant with it once a week to eliminate scale infestations. Maintain this schedule for at least one month for optimal results.

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs on Bamboo

21 September, 2017

Mealybugs are less than 1/2 inch long, but an infestation can significantly damage your bamboo plants. The pest sucks the juices from the bamboo culms, or hollow shafts, and can cause culms to become deformed or stop growing in some cases. Mealybugs may not always be apparent from looking at your bamboo, but peer inside the hollow tubes and you may find the pests hiding. You can get rid of mealybugs in a variety of ways.

Pick off the random mealybug or two that may be present on your bamboo plant. In the event of a light infestation, you might never even see the bug but may notice evidence of its presence, a white cottony webbing on the plant. Remove all debris by hand.

Drown mealybugs to kill off a moderate-to-severe infestation without resorting to chemical means. According to the American Bamboo Society, or ABS, many varieties of bamboo are indigenous to wet regions of the world and can withstand a good water dunking. Place the pot in a bucket of water and leave it for between 12 and 24 hours.

Apply biological controls to eliminate your mealybug problem. A type of ladybug, appropriately named the mealybug destroyer, as well as lacewings, like to eat the pest. The amount of a beneficial species required will vary, according to the severity of your infestation. Once you’ve purchased the mealybug eaters from your local garden center, let them loose on or near your bamboo.

Manage destructive mealybugs with chemical controls that will kill the pests without harming your bamboo plants. A contact product that contains dimethoate or dinotefuran can be injected directly into the culms of the plant, or sprayed on the surface. ABS’s «Bamboo Magazine» suggests mixing the chemicals with dish detergent to facilitate removal of the mealybug webbing.

Examine your bamboo on a regular basis after you’ve treated with chemical insecticides. Mealybugs that hadn’t yet hatched at the time of the initial treatment may still be lurking, and will require a follow-up spraying.

Is White Lint on a Houseplant a Sign of Mealybugs?

I have more than eight years of hands-on experience in the horticultural maintenance industry and shares many tricks of the trade.

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Does Your Houseplant Have Mealybugs?

If you look closely at your houseplant and notice little white tufts of something that looks like heavy cotton lint, it’s probably mealybugs. Mealybugs give the appearance of lint due to a waxy outer residue that they secrete for camouflage and protection. Underneath that coat, the mealybug looks a lot like an ancient trilobite, only much smaller.

Mealybugs usually originate in the foliage crowns of infected plants or at leaf stem joints. Most commonly, you’ll find the white residue in these areas first, but if your problem has advanced, these pests will spread out to more joints, foliage crowns, or further out along the foliage and down stems. Mealybugs will also produce a sticky substance called honeydew that will coagulate on the leaves, giving the appearance that something has been splashed or spilled on the plant.

If you have positively identified mealybugs on your plant, do not worry; it is not a death sentence for your plant. However, it will need to be treated and quarantined.

How to Treat a Houseplant Infested With Mealybugs

Step #1: Isolate the Infested Plant

Mealybugs have a piercing mouthpart on the underside of their bodies that they use to bite into houseplant foliage. They lay eggs along the foliage that they inhabit and easily contaminate anything that touches them. Due to the ease of contamination, mealybugs are also easily spread to other plants that may be touched after the infested plant has been touched. Because of this, one of the first steps in taking care of an infestation is to make sure the plant is quarantined as best as possible. If you come into contact with the infested plant, it’s important to wash your hands before touching any of your other houseplants.

Step #2: Remove the Mealybugs

As part of the removal process, mealybugs must be wiped away completely. They are best cleaned off with baby wipes or a wet paper towel. A sponge also works well but should not be reused on any other plant after being used on the infested plant. After the mealybugs have been wiped away, spray the infected area down with a light solution of water and insecticidal soap, dish soap, or a very effective and natural soap called Dr. Bronner’s. Not much soap is needed in this solution; a mere teaspoon in 20oz of water is plenty. Spray this solution on the plant leaves and wipe them clean again; this will serve to further clean off more eggs that may have been left behind. The soap will also coat the leaves (if any mealybugs ingest the soap, it will kill them). This cleaning process will need to be repeated regularly.

Step #3: Cut off Any of the Infected Parts

If an area of a particular plant has a spot that appears to be the epicenter of the infestation—dracenas (sometimes called corn plants) will commonly get mealybugs that are nestled down in the new growth crowns—cut off any of the infested crowns. Don’t worry, the plant will easily regenerate and the foliage was damaged anyway due to the pests.

What If You Still Have Mealybugs?

If you have followed and repeated the steps above and the Mealy problem is still persistent, there are insecticides (referred to as systemic insecticides) that can be used to treat the problem. Since these insecticides can be hazardous to the plant itself along with other living creatures if used excessively or improperly, only use them as a last resort and follow the instructions carefully. Systemic insecticides are absorbed into a plant’s entire system through the roots. They come in liquid, granulated, and powder forms and are added to the soil. As the insecticide is absorbed by the plant’s system, the plant itself becomes toxic to the mealybugs, killing them off by essentially poisoning their food supply.

How Can You Prevent Mealybugs?

Since mealybugs seem to come with the infested plant (unless the infestation is accidentally transferred from one plant to another), it’s a little difficult to prevent them entirely. However, the following measures can be taken to help ensure that a problem doesn’t worsen.

  • Keep your plant clean by wiping the leaves down with baby wipes on a regular basis; remove any debris and/or potential pests that you notice.
  • Keep your houseplant in stable condition by watering it properly and keeping it in proper environmental conditions. A plant that is struggling in any way is more prone to be attacked by pests of many kinds including mealybugs.

If you know what kind of plant you’re dealing with and maintain it with care, mealybugs should be of little to no worry.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

I have a natal mahogany tree that is healthy but is attracting ants which are leaving a sticky mess on the leaves, aside from pruning, what treatments can I use?

It is likely that the ants are actually there because they are feeding on the sticky substance on the leaves, they are not usually the cause of the stickiness. The culprit of the sticky substance on the leaves, called «honeydew», is most likely mealybug, scale, or aphids. The honeydew is excrement from these common pests, and ants love to feed on it. Identifying the pest responsible for the honeydew, and neutralizing it will resolve the problem.


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Caring for Dracaena Reflexa: Song of India, Jamaica, and Pleomele

I have more than eight years of hands-on experience in the horticultural maintenance industry and shares many tricks of the trade.

Reflexa, a Dracaena, Really?

In spite of its unique bush-like appearance Reflexa really is a Dracaena. One of the more visually striking interior bush type Draceana, Reflexa stands in a class of its own as it does not adhere to the typical cane planting structure that most of its relatives exibit. Its small inch long spiraling leaves also make it a unique and intriguing specimen. In shape it most closely resembles large Marginata, or character stump Marginata, but even Margies are very different in appearance from Reflexa.

Like Compacta, Reflexa is a popular choice for contemporary design themes. Its random winding stems covered with small spiraling leaves can serve as a point of unique visual interest and contrast to bold solid shapes and artwork.

Available in a variety of pot sizes from 6″ diameter (approx 12″ tall) all the way up to 21″ diameter (approx 20′ height). Reflexa is moderately priced in comparison to similar plants like Shefflera and is tolerant of most interior light conditions.

It can be an easy-care houseplant with a little bit of understanding, it does require a bit more attention than some of the other Dracaena, but is not considered a temperamental plant. There are some general maintenance tips that are specific due to its alternative look and growth habits, these things can also be fairly simple once you know what you’re dealing with.

Native Habitat Madagascar, Mauritius

Choosing a Space

Reflexa is well designed to adapt to indoor lighting conditions. It is capable of handling high, moderate, and a degree of low light conditions.

Ideally, it does the best in moderate light, it can also do very well when placed under beneficial artificial light sources that are available for significant periods of time throughout the day.

High light will work but water requirements will increase. The threat of pests can become more prevalent in high light as well. Some varieties of like Song of India will do best in higher lighting conditions, the increased light will help the plant maintain it’s brightly variegated leaves.

Low light is tolerable to some degree. Water requirements will decrease significantly in low light. The likelihood of symptoms of overwatering showing up will increase in low light conditions, and the plant will most likely lose a great deal of foliage while adjusting to this environment. Low light frequently causes this interior shrub to become a bit leaf-bare and spindly.


Unlike most other Dracaena Reflexa does not have wide thick Canes that store water, this makes reflexa a bit more demanding when it comes to watering, but not enough to be seriously difficult to care for.

A reflexa placed in ideal light conditions requires fairly consistent watering for best results. Reflexa should not be left sitting in water, nor should it be allowed to go dry for extended periods of time. When watered it should be given just enough to moisten the soil through the pot. Check that the soil surface that it is dry to the touch before watering.

A reflexa in high light will require more water on a consistent basis than one in moderate light. In high light, a Reflexa may be more prone to drop fully brown or yellow leaves regularly as it will grow more actively in such conditions and send it’s resources to the most productive leaves and stems.

A Reflexa in lower light conditions will require much less water than one in ideal moderate light. The amount and or frequency of watering will need to be closely monitored and reduced to allow the soil surface to become dry to the touch. A Reflexa in low light may easily be overwatered, and may also lose healthy foliage to compensate for the reduced amount of light available. It is not uncommon for Reflexa in low light to have stem, or entire stalk rot out as the roots may have a much greater challenge drying out, if this occurs evaluate watering amount and frequency, and remove the rotten section.

Common Pests

The most common houseplant pest found on Reflexa is without a doubt the Mealybug. Mealy Bug can be difficult to treat on Reflexa with its multiple stem sections, and many tiny leaf crowns.

The most basic treatment for Mealy bug is to clean away the visible white linty looking little creatures, but this treatment is made difficult with multiple tiny hiding places. If it is possible it can be helpful to move a Reflexa briefly outside and give it a good spray down to removed mealies, followed by application of a coat of insecticidal soap or dish soap to combat the remaining bugs.

Since Reflexa responds well to pruning, cutting away infected areas can also be a good strategy for controlling Mealybug.

More About Mealy Bug

  • White Lint on House Plant, You May Have Mealy Bug
    Have you noticed something that looks a bit like lint on your houseplant. You could have some cotton stuck on your plant, but more likely your plant has Mealy bug. To find out more about this common pest look inside the Thoughthole.

General Maintenance

Reflexa is by nature an abstract grower with a freestyle random look. Reflexa can be kept for a very long time with a small degree of regular maintenance.

  • Remove Blooms: They are messy and in interior situations, the blooms are unproductive. They only serve to rob the plant of resources.
  • Pruning: This is so commonly overlooked. It is very typical to see an intrusive overgrown Reflexa that has overtaken its space and then some. This plant takes well to pruning it will frequently sprout multiple new heads where it is cut back. It recovers well from pruning and begins to produce new growth quite quickly. Have no fear, prune away, pruning will keep your plant full long term.
  • Remove Dead Foliage: From this very productive interior plant, they have a great tendency to lose leaves. These leaves should be removed right from the plant stem if they are brown, yellow, or just plain unsightly.
  • Cut Away Dead Stems: On occasion, a stem will die off, for best health, this stem should be completely cut away, necrotic sections leave a doorway for a disease to enter plants.
  • Rotate: Do this regularly to keep it’s growth habits balanced.

Regularly inspections and adhering to these general maintenance tips will keep your Reflexa healthy and happy for years to come.

See also:  How to Get Rid of Insects on Herbs, Home Guides, SF Gate

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

I recently found what appeared to be water droplets on the undersides of some leaves of my Reflexa plant. When I touched them, they were sticky. Should I be concerned?

In the past, I have seen similar issues caused by residue from a cluster of Reflexa blooms. If the plant has recently bloomed, I would guess this is the cause. Also, heavy transpiration (plant perspiration) can sometimes create something similar. Neither of these issues is of concern.

Do keep an eye out for white cottony looking clusters, this may indicate a Mealybug infestation. Mealybug excrement, called honeydew, is shiny and sticky. This would be a concerning problem that would require treatment.

I plan to plant a Dracaena Reflexa plant outside in direct sun, should I use groundwater? I was told that it can get fungus on the leaves if they are too wet?

My area of expertise with this plant is in interior settings. Since I live in a high altitude desert with a very short and intense growing season, I would never be able to successfully plant a Reflexa outside. It would probably be best to pose this question to an individual familiar with outdoor landscaping in tropical climates.

I have red spots on my Reflexa leaves. Do you know why? What should I do?

The red spots on Reflexa are likely caused by a mineral build up in the soil. Some possible resolutions are adding new soil, and watering with filtered water if you live in an area with high mineral content in the water.

Will Dracaena Reflexa grow outside in pot near a front door with lots of sunlight?

If you live in a tropical climate, Dracaena Reflexa can live outside. Otherwise, it should be kept indoors.

Would music help Dracaena Reflexa grow?

There is a school of thought in the world that supports beneficial effects from delivering good intent to living creatures in the form of talking, thoughts, touch, etc. I agree that these methods of positive energy transfer strengthen vitality, and I believe that music, depending on the intent behind it, would fall under the umbrella of energy transfer, or “Biocommunication”. In short, I believe music could help depending on the intention behind the delivery of the music.


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Questions and Comments Welcome.


I have a Song Of India Pleomele. It’s at least 13 years old. It’s been at my job for years. I’ve brought it home today. Re potted it today in a bigger pot. In the past I’ve just broke a piece off and stuck it in the dirt and it grew! It’s resilient. low light. high light. NO LIGHT (laugh). Hope it does well in my home. I don’t have a lot of light because my home sits in the direct sun so I keep the blinds closed


23 months ago from Utah

Marwaan, definitely get an exterminator for a Cockroach problem. I am sure the Roaches have just found a nice place to hide in and under the potted plant. I’ll bet they are living around your home elsewhere as well.

Chandra kala vyas

Useful article,I have purchased this plant few days ago,n now it’s leaves are going to fall off n some are became brown please suggest what to do,thank you.

marwaan nazeer

I have cockroaches coming out the bottom of my reflexa plant. Any tips please?


2 years ago from Utah

Thank you for the feedback Cheese, I am glad this content has been useful. I have answered your question in regard to music in the Q&A feature.


Would music work for this plant? Also, great article!


4 years ago from Utah

Bryan, from your description it sounds like the main stalk is dead above the new growth the base. I can only guess at what may have caused this, my two main guesses would be that the main stalk may have received some external damage at some point, or it had been under watered at to the extent the plant began to reserve resources. Over water could also be a culprit mainly if it has destroyed roots that feed that main stalk.

Draceana stalks will wrinkle up when the internal tissue has shrunk, this can be caused by drying out from under water, or from damage, root or external, killing off what it feeds.

Moving forward I would suggest cutting the stalk back to any new healthy growth.


Please help! My 8 foot tall Dracaena Marginata plant is dying!

The main branch is very wrinkled, has lost all its leaves, and does appear to have a dark spot with thin bark (though it is not hollowed at that point).

More often than not, this would be indicative of overwatering, but at the base of the main branch are two new offshoots that have sprouted and are growing very fast. As well as the large pot is shared by two other canes of 4 and 5 feet in size, that are also doing quite well with no signs of over watering.

What the heck is going on!? Please feel free to email me, [email protected]


Time to face the music armed with this great inraomotifn.

Copyright © 2020 HubPages Inc. and respective owners. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages ® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc. HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

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