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Dracaena Dracaena fragrans

Previously known as:

  • Dracaena deremensis
  • Dracaena massangeana
Phonetic Spelling
dra-SEE-nah FRAY-granz
Description

Corn plant is a slow-growing, broadleaf evergreen, perennial shrub in the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). Its native home is tropical Africa, but it is widely grown as a houseplant or interiorscape plant in the United States and elsewhere. It is commonly called a corn plant because of the resemblance of the tall, unbranched stem to a stalk of corn with many broad, strap-like leaves. The species epithet refers to the sweetly fragrant flowers.

Keep it in bright to moderate, filtered light. Direct sun can burn the foliage, but if light levels are too low, the leaves will narrow. Keep the soil moist during the growing season but cut back on the water in the winter. Grow it in commercial potting soil in a pot with drainage holes. Repot it into a larger pot when the plant starts to lift out of the pot or send roots out of the drainage hole. Leaves can turn brown at the tips if indoor humidity is too low. Misting the leaves may help to prevent leaf tip browning, especially in the winter when the house is heated. Keep the temperature above 50 degrees F if possible. Corn plants thrive in temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees F. Propagate by stem cuttings.

Numerous cultivars of the corn plant are available. The plain-green, wild-type is less commonly seen than those with white or lime-green longitudinal stripes on the leaves. The cultivar ‘Janet Craig’ has shorter leaves borne on more compact stems. The flowers are borne in clusters on long stalks. They are infrequently produced but make their presence known by their very strong nocturnal fragrance.

In tropical climates, cultivars of this species are used as a specimen, filler, screen, or hedge. In the temperate zone, the corn plant is a houseplant or interiorscape plant. It has been shown by NASA to remove indoor air pollutants.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Indoor shrub with spirally arranged leaves
  • Leaves linear-lanceolate, 1 to 4 inches wide
  • Leaves usually have one to two central yellow or white stripes

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  It is susceptible to thrips and mealybugs. It is sensitive to fluorides and built-up salts, so if leaves turn brown, try watering with non-fluoridated water and flush salts monthly. 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bausei'
    Leaves have central white band.
  • 'Compacta' or Dracaena Janet Craig
    height 3 to 6 feet, solid green leaved cultivar with dense clusters of short leaves and wavy margins
  • 'Dorado'
    thick, dark green leaves with lime green edges, leaves curl downwards
  • 'Hawaiian Sunshine'
    compact, glossy, dark green leave with light and dark green stripes
  • 'Lemon Lime'
    sword-like leaves with cream-colored, greenish-yellow, and lime stripes
  • 'Limelight'
    glossy variegated yellow-green leaves that become lighter with age
  • 'Massangeana' or 'Mass Cane'
    resembles cornstalk leaves, center of the leaves have yellowish-lime stripes
  • 'Warneckii'
    grayish-green leaves with white or green stripes
  • 'White Jewel'
    glossy dark green leave with white stripes and a small amount of light green stripes
'Bausei', 'Compacta' or Dracaena Janet Craig, 'Dorado', 'Hawaiian Sunshine', 'Lemon Lime', 'Limelight', 'Massangeana' or 'Mass Cane', 'Warneckii', 'White Jewel'
Tags:
#fragrant flowers#houseplant#slow growing#shade garden#showy leaves#low light#interiorscape#air pollution tolerant#glossy leaves#striped leaves#exotic looking#fantz#problem for cats#ebh#ebh-h#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#tropical#container plant#hsc#hsc-f#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bausei'
    Leaves have central white band.
  • 'Compacta' or Dracaena Janet Craig
    height 3 to 6 feet, solid green leaved cultivar with dense clusters of short leaves and wavy margins
  • 'Dorado'
    thick, dark green leaves with lime green edges, leaves curl downwards
  • 'Hawaiian Sunshine'
    compact, glossy, dark green leave with light and dark green stripes
  • 'Lemon Lime'
    sword-like leaves with cream-colored, greenish-yellow, and lime stripes
  • 'Limelight'
    glossy variegated yellow-green leaves that become lighter with age
  • 'Massangeana' or 'Mass Cane'
    resembles cornstalk leaves, center of the leaves have yellowish-lime stripes
  • 'Warneckii'
    grayish-green leaves with white or green stripes
  • 'White Jewel'
    glossy dark green leave with white stripes and a small amount of light green stripes
'Bausei', 'Compacta' or Dracaena Janet Craig, 'Dorado', 'Hawaiian Sunshine', 'Lemon Lime', 'Limelight', 'Massangeana' or 'Mass Cane', 'Warneckii', 'White Jewel'
Tags:
#fragrant flowers#houseplant#slow growing#shade garden#showy leaves#low light#interiorscape#air pollution tolerant#glossy leaves#striped leaves#exotic looking#fantz#problem for cats#ebh#ebh-h#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#tropical#container plant#hsc#hsc-f#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Dracaena
    Species:
    fragrans
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical Africa
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 14 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a small orange-red berry. Rarely blooms or fruits as a house plant.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers appear in panicles 6–60 in. long. Individual flowers are an inch in diameter, with a six-lobed corolla, starting out as pink, opening white with a fine red or purple central line on each of the lobes. The flowers are highly fragrant at night. Rarely blooms as a house plant.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are glossy green and can be variegated with white or yellow. They grow 2-3 ft long, 8-48 in long, and 3-5 in wide. Leaves droop as they get longer. Crowded, arranged spirally, sessile, clasping to sheathing, simple, linear-lanceolate, acute, entire, prominent midrib, all green or with medial yellow or white stripe(s). Looks similar to corn leaves.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Unbranched, woody stem
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Pollution
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses