Saving the World, One Dracena At a Time

Ya’ll….(yes, I just said ya’ll)…..I’ve got a total black thumb.

Really.

I mean, I’ve killed cactuses. (Cacti?)

BUT I DID NOT KILL MY DRACENA.

Jimmie did.

Actually, he didn’t kill her, but he tried.

Dracena lovers, step away. You’re not going to want to see this.

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Yes, he did that most dreadful of sins…he gave her water. I was perfectly content to never water her. So I didn’t. And as a loving boyfriend, he stepped in to help. Too bad neither one of us knew enough to know that you’re actually not supposed to water Dracenas. EVER.

Ok, so maybe they need water occasionally. But like, once a month or something.

When we bought her she was a lovely upright palmy tree. We put her in the corner, and she shed a few leaves, but she was doing well. Didn’t get much light, or much water, and you could barely see her. Then I had the bright idea to move her, because I wanted her more visible.

It went downhill from there.

Suddenly we could see her, and we remembered to water her. Or Jimmie remembered to water her. We transferred her into a pot, and gave her new dirt, and thought we were helping.

Pretty soon, she started drooping. And shedding. And generally looking more and more pathetic. And then Zoe ate half of her, which I’m sure didn’t help matters.

So what’s a girl to do? Google away, of course.

And that’s when I first started to see the problem. Dracenas and water don’t really like each other. Dracenas and light don’t really like each other. OOPS.

First thing I did was check her soil. Wet. Not good. I read that if she was in low light she didn’t need water, so I moved her to high light hoping to dry her out. Then I realized one of her shoots was mushy. So I cut it off below the mushy part, which I’d read would save it. And then I gave strict instructions that under no uncertain circumstances was she to get water. AT ALL.

A week later the soil was still wet.

And I noticed that the stem looked darker at the bottom. Hoping against hope, I touched it. Soft. And then I squeezed it, and I discovered what all those blogs meant when they said “the stench of a dying Dracena.” OMG. I can’t even describe it. Saying it smelled like death is an understatement. Back to Google, to see if there was anything to be done.

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Turns out she had a case of root rot, caused by too much water and poor soil drainage. Sigh. But, there was hope….it would take love and patience and a little extra care, but there was hope. So off to Lowe’s I went.

Let me just say…I am constantly surprised by how much the garden center people know. Because the lady there talked to me about my poor baby, and even looked at my picture. She loaded me up with rooting hormone, a plastic pot with drainage holes, and some potting soil, and strict instructions to coat the crap out of the stem with the hormone. And to watch the watering.

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So one sunny afternoon about two weeks ago, it was time for the last ditch effort. I’ll admit, I felt a little barbaric cutting her, but the Lowe’s lady told me I had to make it drastic. At least 4 inches above the mushy part. Which left me with a very short little plant.

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When I dumped the old soil out, it was soaking wet, and there was standing water in the bottom of the pot. Lesson learned…decorative pots are lovely, but you’ve got to have some way for water to drain, or you’re going to kill everything you try to pot.

I put her back in her sunny spot, and I’ve only watered her once since planting day. And you know, short though she is, I think she’s doing better! Her stems are turning a lovely shade of green, and her leaves aren’t quite as droopy. And she’s only lost 5 leaves since P-Day. Before she was losing 8 or 9 a week. Success, right?

Better? Or just wishful thinking?

Better? Or just wishful thinking?

I’m determined to save this plant. I will not be called the killer of….well, the killer. She will survive!

Any thoughts on what I should name her?

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