Corn plant (Dracaena fragran) is one of the most popular houseplants among the dracaena group species. It is found abundantly as an understorey shrub (surrounded by taller vegetation which provides it with shade) of wet lower altitude tropical rainforest. It often forms a dense thicket that excludes other shrubs.
In its native place in Uganda, it is often planted around tombs and shrines as a traditional boundary marker or hedge.
It was introduced in the United States of America in the early 1900 and became quite popular.
The plant looks beautiful with thick woody cane or trunk and a cluster of long vertical leaves resembling a corn shape. The leaves are dark green in color and have a lime yellow stripe in the center.
The corn plant is often sold as a group of two or more of varying lengths in a pot. It looks beautiful, attractive, is inexpensive and very easy to care for. All this makes it an excellent houseplant.
Types of Indoor Corn Plants
Dracaena fragrans massangeana is the most popular cultivar and has leaves with a broad yellow central stripe. This variety accounts for nearly 90% of the corn plants sold.
Two other attractive varieties are dracaena fragrans lindenii with white marginal stripes and dracaena fragrans victoria with golden marginal stripes.
The real attraction for this plant is its beautiful foliage. It does produce flowers but in its natural habitat. The flowers are not likely to bloom indoors although they might.
Benefits of Indoor Corn Plants
Below are some of the benefits of keeping a corn house plant.
The beautiful dark green foliage arranged in a rosette pattern with lime or yellow stripes in the middle makes it strikingly attractive.
The leaves are strap-shaped and long resembling a rosette of corn growing on a stem. The leaves arch over and bend down in an eye-catching, stunning view.
This ornamental plant can grow quite tall outdoors but indoors the maximum height is 5-6 feet. It is an excellent choice for a focal point in the room or to cover empty corners attractively. The leaves remain green all year round.
Purifies Indoor Air
It is an excellent plant to get rid of toxins and to increase the oxygen level in indoor air. Dracaena fragrans absorbs our respiratory waste and gives us rich oxygen.
Many of the products we use every day such as carpets, rugs, veneer furniture etc contain volatile organic chemicals which are synthetic materials that emit toxins. The toxins can cause a syndrome called “ sick building syndrome” which can pollute the air and cause respiratory tract irritation. It can cause headaches, sinus congestion, and fatigue.
Take steps to make your air healthier by having this plant in your home. Place 3-4 plants in a 100 sq feet room to filter toxins from the air.
According to NASA Clean air study, dracaena fragrans massangeana (corn plant) is very effective in removing toxins namely, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from indoor air.
Easy to Grow
Dracaena fragrans is quite easy to grow. It is quite tolerant of many light conditions. It is quite hardy and can survive tough conditions for some time. It does not need frequent watering or fertilizer and can be kept roughly anywhere at home.
A great plant to grow for beginners and a durable plant which can adapt, an indoor corn plant is hugely popular among plant lovers in united states.
It is slow-growing, therefore does not need frequent pruning or maintenance. It requires very little attention and is highly rewarding.
It is the least inexpensive among all dracaenas and can be found easily in local nurseries and plant stores. When comparing its size and leaves with other houseplants, it is quite economical despite being big and alluring.
Act as Natural Humidifiers
Keeping the corn plant will increase humidity as they give out moisture as a byproduct of respiration. This will help improve breathing and helps take care of congestion and cough.
Plants are also known to improve comfort levels, helps in tackling mental issues like depression and loneliness.
It helps to focus on concentration.
It keeps the atmosphere serene and relaxed and is a great companion plant due to its perennial nature.
How to care for the Corn Plant
Caring for this Dracaena (corn plant) is very simple. A few things to take care of and it will be fine for a week without needing any care.
Where to place a corn plant?
Like all dracaenas, it does well in bright indirect light. It can also grow quite well in moderate to low light levels.
It likes the imitation of its natural habitat where it receives indirect sunlight under the shade of taller plants. Never place the corn plant in direct sun or else leaves can get scorched due to harsh sun rays. If you wish to keep near a window, make sure to cover the window with a sheer curtain. This will filter the light and give a healthy atmosphere for the plant to grow in.
What about humidity?
Corn plants are found in wet tropical areas and thrive in high humidity. It fares equally well in moderate humidity. The easiest solution is to spray water mist from time to time. Another way is to keep some plants near it. Corn plants gels well with other houseplants and prefer company. This will naturally increase humidity levels due to plants giving out moisture to the air.
Alternatively, you can place a humidity pebbles tray or an electric humidifier.
What about temperature?
The corn plant is happy with temperatures ranging from 60 (15 degrees Celsius) degree Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit(24-degree Celsius). It can not take temperatures below 55-degree Fahrenheit (12-degree Celsius).
Keep it away from cold drafts and direct sunshine areas. If the leaves start turning pale, curling or pointing to another area, it’s time to shift the plant from that area.
Soil and fertilizer?
Corn plant requires well-draining soil. The pH of the soil should be slightly acidic. Most well-draining potting type mixes with peat base are fine. Check the pH. Addition of limestone or wood ash will raise the pH and adding of sulfur granules will lower the pH. Repot only when the plant becomes pot bound. That is once every two or three years with a pot one size bigger.
The corn plant is not a heavy feeder. A water-soluble fertilizer will work fine when applied after every 4 weeks in the growing season. It does not require any feeding in the winter dormant season.
Any organic fertilizer for tropical plants will do. Alternatively, you can also use NPK ratio of 3:1:2.
How much water?
Corn plant likes to be a little dry between waterings. Overwatering can kill the corn plant. Water thoroughly until the water comes out of drainage holes. Wait for the soil to be slightly dry before watering again. That is roughly about a week. Keep checking the soil for dryness ( not more than 1 inch) and then re-water the plant.
Avoid water with chlorine. Let it sit for a day in open and then use the water for the plant.
The plant cannot take fluoridated water. Use filter water if fluoride is present. Do not use saltwater.
Remember it can survive underwatering but will die if overwatered.
Corn plant does not need pruning or trimming although you can trim it if you wish a desired shape or design. Remember to cut leaves from the nodes to encourage new growth. To cut it to a particular height, cut the top portion directly across horizontally. Prune away the leaves which have become brown or are unhealthy looking. Pruning before winter season will conserve nutrients for the plant. Pruning at the start of the growing season will encourage new healthy growth.
Precautions to take with Corn Plants?
Corn plants are usually disease and insect-free. Wipe the leaves with a soft cloth on top and underside of leaves for healthier growth from time to time. Look out for spider mites, scales, and mealybugs. Use a good insecticide. Give your plants a good wash from time to time and wash with soapy water to remove unwanted pests especially thrips which attack plants which have not been watered enough.
The corn plant is toxic to pets- namely cats and dogs according to ASPCA. Symptoms include hypersalivation, anorexia, depression, vomiting ( can be occasionally with blood) and dilated pupils ( in cats).
With beautiful corn plants in your home, the safe zone from all pollutants and worries will just be a home away!
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