Adored for ornamental cornstalk-like foliage, Corn Plant is sturdy, yet it is not immortal and can exhibit signs of dying from severe improper care.
Thus, read till the end so you know how to identify the root cause and proceed with the treatment solution immediately.
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Can I Save a Dying Corn Plant?
Corn Plant (Dracaena Fragrans) is adored and loved by many for their easy-going, highly tolerant nature.
So, if you notice dying Corn plants, it only means they went through severe negligence with very poor care.
Nonetheless, you can save a dying Corn Plant with proper diagnosis if you stop the ship at the harbor before it sails off.
Before the signs worsen, diagnose the plant, find the root cause, and proceed with proper treatment.
Remember, with each passing day with dying signs, the chances of revival thin out, so be quick.
Why is Your Corn Plant Dying?
Besides leaves wilting, drooping, or turning yellow, brown, and stalks with no leaves, dying Corn Plants exhibit immature leaf drops, stunted growth, and foul odor.
If you notice any of these signs in your Corn Plant, immediately identify the culprit and give them respective treatment.
1. Overwatering & Root Rot
Overwatering is one of the rookie mistakes most newbie gardeners make while growing Corn Plants.
Alternatively, watering them once every ten days or two weeks is also optimal but is not ideal all time.
Excess water clogs the soil and suffocates the Corn Plant roots, resulting in root rot.
Other signs of overwatered Corn plants are wilting yellow leaves, soggy moldy soil with a foul smell, and stem decay.
Furthermore, increasing dark brown tips despite being in the indirect sun indicates overwatering issues.
Solution: Cut Off Rotten Roots & Use Flexible Routine
- Rotten roots are often dark, mushy, and have a foul smell. So, snip such decaying, dead roots using a clean, sterilized pruner.
- Also, snip off decaying, black, severely browned, dead leaves or stems off the plant.
- Apply fungicides to the exposed cut edge and clean, healthy roots using a soapy solution.
- Repot the plant using a fresh soil mix featuring well drainage in a new pot.
- If there are few remnant healthy roots, carefully trim the top leaves to balance out leaf and root proportion.
- Aim for a flexible deep watering routine to keep soil evenly moist but not soggy.
The plant should bounce back within a week or two, given that the main plant base stem had not turned dark or mushy.
Pro Tip: Poke chopsticks or a moisture meter onto the soil to measure moisture before watering the Corn Plant.
2. Underwatering & Excess Sunlight
The watering need of the Corn Plant increase with the increment of light intensity they are receiving.
Hence, the Corn plant kept in a brighter location dehydrates much faster.
Dracaena exposed to excess light with poor watering have crispy, dry, wrinkled leaves with brown or yellow scorch marks.
Furthermore, the plants are accompanied by a dry, grayish potting mix that may also feature cracks.
Solution: Relocate The Plant & Adjust The Watering Habit
- Submerge the underwatered plant pot in a tub or opt for deep overhead watering till the water oozes out from the drain holes.
- Reposition the plants to a more shaded place with 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight.
- Snip off entirely brown or dead foliage, as they will not revert to a healthier state.
- Monitor the plant for a few weeks and ensure the soil is evenly moist but not soggy.
- Aim to water plants in a brighter location more frequently in the morning than the plants in the shade.
- Place the plants in an east window for optimal sunlight without the risk of afternoon sunburn.
You can use the bottom watering approach with occasional overhead watering for failsafe watering habits.
Pro Tip: Corn Plants kept in severely dark room for too long might also reach the brink of death. So, ensure the lighting is neither too bright nor too dark.
3. Poor Soil Choice
Although infrequent, improper or inhabitable use of potting mix can also result in the dying Dracaena.
Meanwhile, poor soil often shares characteristics like bad drainage, excess water retention, compactness with no to low aeration, and wrong pH.
Use of such soil results in stunted growth, root rot, immature leaf drop, leaf discoloration, and ultimately death.
Thus, if your Dracaena shows signs of distress from improper use of soil, an immediate transplant is the only revival option.
Solution: Repot The Plant Using Fresh Soil Mix
- Loosen the soil mix with thorough watering and carefully take out the plant from the pot.
- Untangle roots and prune off any rotten ones and apply fungicides to the cut edges.
- Prepare a fresh soil mix or use commercial ones suitable for the Corn Plant.
- Ensure to use the same size or a 2-inch bigger pot featuring drain holes, and if it does not, drill one.
- Add pebbles or wood chips at the bottom to avoid clogging drainage issues.
- Carefully transfer the plant and thoroughly water to lower repot stress.
4. Fertilization Issues
As Corn Plant is not heavy feeder, they require relatively infrequent fertilization with reduced chances of fertilizer mishaps.
Nevertheless, repeated fertilization within a short time can result in salt buildups, chemical burns, and choked roots.
On the contrary, low to no nutrients in the soil can entirely stunt growth and eventually cause nutrient deficiency, leading to plant death.
Thus, aim for an ideal fertilization routine so you do not push the plant over the edge in the name of fertilization.
|Light Conditions of Corn Plant||Frequency|
|Lots of Bright Light||Fertilize every two months|
|Medium Light||Fertilize every four months|
|Low Light||A maximum of two times a year|
Solution: Leach Out White Salt Buildups
- Spoon out the white crust of salt buildup from the soil.
- Flush out the excess fertilizer from the soil by running the soil under clean water 3-4 times.
- Inspect the severity of root burn or rot and carefully snip off dark, burnt roots.
- Repot the plant using fresh soil in different pots if the soil is entirely toxic and inhabitable.
- Snip off leaves that are entirely covered in brown spots.
- To avoid chemical burn, ensure to dilute fertilizers to their half strength before application.
- Opt for organic fertilizer or homemade compost to eliminate the chances of salt accumulation.
- Cut down fertilization in dormant winter months.
5. Improper Temperature & Humidity
Albeit tropical, the Corn Plant can not tolerate temperatures above 90°F and suffer gravely from cold temperature.
Likewise, consistently poor or excess humidity, accompanied by temperature fluctuation, can result in dying Dracaena.
Extended exposure to high temperatures or humidity results in wilting, leaf browning, fungal diseases, and stunted growth.
Meanwhile, frost damage and poor humidity result in dry, brittle, curling leaves with leggy or stunted growth.
Solution: Away From Heating Devices
- If your plant is near the heating devices or windy, cold windowsill, immediately relocate them away.
- You can place them somewhere around the bright kitchen or bathroom.
- Place the pebble tray underneath the plant pot to keep plants hydrated, or invest in an electric humidifier.
- Opt for frost blankets and heat pads to keep the soil temperature warm in winter.
- Prune off the severely damaged or browned foliage using a sterilized pruner.
- Regularly water them to moisten the soil and monitor the plant for progressive recovery.
- Mist the plant in the morning occasionally but refrain from misting them in the evening.
- Increase watering routine when the temperature spikes up and lower when it dips in winter.
6. Pests & Fungal Infections
Despite the optimal care and efforts, if your Corn Plant is dying, the underlying culprits could be obnoxious pests and diseases.
Meanwhile, the Corn Plant is susceptible to fungal infections like fusarium leaf spot, soft rot, and stem rot.
Often these issues arise from overwatering and consistently high humidity for a long time.
Regardless, immediate identification and treatment steps are pivotal in preventing and controlling further spread.
Solution: Prompt Quarantine & Corresponding Treatment
- When you notice signs of pest infestation or fungal infection, instantly isolate the plant away to prevent further spread.
- Manually remove the pests and snip the infected parts using sterilized sharp pruners.
- Try blasting out the visible pests and their eggs using a forceful water jet spray.
- After pruning infected plants, thoroughly apply fungicides and insecticides.
- Try propagating the plant using healthier parts of the stems if cutting propagation is viable in case of severe infection.
- Opt for preventive measures like applying neem oil regularly and cleaning plant foliage with soapy water.
Slow Growing, Easy To Care Corn Plant!
The tropical evergreen Corn Plant, aka. False Palm is relatively easy to care for with slow growth habits.
They can live for over a decade with prompt treatment as soon as they exhibit signs of distress, like leaves turning brown and yellow.
All The Best!