Dracaena dermensis "Janet Craig" - NASA CLEAN AIR PLANT #5

 

Dracaena is a flowering plant species that is native throughout tropical Africa. Janet Craig history or “beginnings” go back to the 1930s or so. “Janet Craig” is actually a ‘sport’ or a variant of Dracaena Warneckii and was named after the daughter of nurseryman Robert Craig, who lived in the Philadelphia area. With her ability to handle low light, low humidity, air conditioning, plus infrequent care – you have the making of a very durable indoor plant. A Dracaena Janet Craig  can be used as a table plant, a floor plant, or a tall, stately tree.

Light - In their native environment, Dracaena Janet Craig grows in the understory of larger trees needing less light than other plants. Dracaena Janet Craig plants grow slowly in low light, but grow much faster in medium light. When the light is extremely low, new leaves are smaller and narrower. Placing a dracaena janet craig in the sun outside for even a few minutes, burns the leaves. Brown spots on the leaves usually indicate the plant is getting too much light. Pale leaves, slow growth, and small new leaves indicate it is not getting enough light.

Temperature - Your Dracaena Janet Craig likes comfortable room temperatures between 65-80 degrees. They do not do well in temperatures below 55°F. Cold winter drafts and blowing heaters damage the leaves.

Water  - When in doubt, do not water! Overwatering causes root rot and is the main reason a Dracaena Janet Craig plant dies. Water your plant thoroughly and allow the top 75% of the soil to dry before watering again. In low light, allow the soil to dry completely before watering. Water less in the winter, when light levels are lower and growth has slowed. Overwatering will cause leaves to turn yellow and fall off. Fluoride, chlorine, or salt in the water causes brown leaf tips and yellow spots on the leaves. If you have a water softener use distilled water or rain water.

Humidity - Basic household humidity is sufficient for dracaenas to grow well and look good.

Soil - To prevent roots from becoming water logged use a well draining aerated potting soil mix. I like to use a 75/25 mix of potting soil and sand.

Fertilizer - Dracaenas need very little plant food. Feed once or twice a year in the spring and summer with a balanced houseplant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Too much fertilizer causes leaf tip burn.

 

Flowering - If the growing conditions are right, a dracaena janet craig may produce a 10"-12" stalk with large fragrant white flowers. Although this is fun to see, the flowers often slows down leaf production, alter the shape of the plant, and may secrete a messy sticky sap that gets all over the plant and the floor. I recommend cutting the flower off as soon as it appears.

Re-pot - Janet Craig plants like to be root-bound in small pots so don't rush to move them to larger containers. Be sure any pot you use has drip holes in the bottom. If you need to repot, only go to the next sized pot. Large pots retain too much water and will drown this plant.

Maintenance - Remove dying leaves to maintain good looks. Thin or bare stemmed dracaenas should be pruned in the spring and early summer. Cut off the top part of a cane anywhere along the stalk; the plants produces new leaves directly below the cut. The pruned section can be used to start a new plant.

Pests - Scale and mealy Bugs can be a problem. Check frequently for pests by examining the backs of the leaves and new growth. If a Dracaena becomes infected, spray with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol mixed with water (2 parts Alcohol, 1 part water) or an insecticidal soap at 1/2 the recommended strength. Leaf Spot is the main plant disease problem.

Propagation - Propagation is done by tip cutting or cane cutting. Dracaena cuttings root in water, but the preferred method is to root them in a potting soil.

 

Potential Problems - Look out for a common problem called ‘tipping’ when the tips of the leaves dry out and turn brown. This can be caused by a variety of issues like overwatering, too much fertilizer, etc. The most common cause is tap water, which contains salts, chlorine, and fluoride. If you do not have a filtration system, leaving the tap water in an open container overnight before watering can help remove some of the chlorine and fluoride.

Special Notes - A dracaena janet craig is sometimes listed as a non- poisonous houseplant, however, some pets, especially cats and dogs, have experienced problems after eating the leaves. My advice, keep dracaenas away from your pets. Ranked as NASA Clean Air Plant #5 for its ability to remove formaldehyde and other chemical toxins from an indoor environment.