Corn Plant Care: A Simple Guide for Healthy Growth

In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about Corn plant care (Dracaena fragrans) at home. What’s great is with a few well-followed pointers, this Dracaena is easy to care for, making it perfect for new plant parents and seasoned plant enthusiasts alike.

Corn Plant Care Guide

Corn Plant Care – Key Takeaways

Scientific Name: Dracaena fragrans
Native Range:Tropical Africa
Soil:Well-draining, loamy or sandy soil; prefers slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.0-7.0)
Light:Moderate to bright indirect light; can tolerate lower light conditions.
Watering:Keep the soil moist but not soggy; allow the top 50% of the soil base to dry in-between watering cycles.
Temperature:Ideal range is between 65-78°F (18-25°C); can tolerate a minimum of 50°F (10°C)
Fertilizing:Feed with a balanced houseplant liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer).
Pruning:Remove yellowing leaves and prune top growth to maintain desired height and promote bushier growth.
Pests: Common pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. Mitigate with insecticidal soaps or neem oil if needed.

How to Grow Corn Plants Indoors at Home

Green and vibrant Corn Plant

4 Things to Do Before Planting a Corn Plant

  1. Select a healthy plant – Before adding it to your home, look it over for any signs of disease or pests. Avoid plants that have discolored or drooping leaves.
  2. Choose a proper location – Look for a spot free of drafts and direct light in your house. Also, ensure your ceilings are high enough to handle the corn plant’s growth — it can grow up to eight feet tall!
  3. Select a suitable container – Pick a large container to hold the corn plant’s rootball. These plants hate sitting in water, so make sure the pot has drainage holes.
  4. Fill the container with potting mix – Provide your corn plant with a great soil mix. See below for tips.

How Big and Fast Will Corn Plants Grow?

Corn plants grow over 15 feet tall outdoors, but indoors they will max out at six to eight feet tall. They grow slowly indoors, so don’t expect more than a foot of growth in a year.

How to Plant a Corn Plant Indoors

  1. Fill your pot 1/4 way full with potting mix.
  2. Place the rootball in the container.
  3. Fill the rest of the pot with potting mix.
  4. Water well.
  5. Place the pot in your desired location.
  6. Avoid moving your plant so it can get cozy in its new home.

3 Characteristics of the Best Corn Plant Soil Mix

  • Welldraining – Look for a mix that contains a material that increases drainage, such as perlite.
  • Nutrient holding – Clay and organic matter will help hold nutrients. Peat moss and coco coir are excellent corn plant soil mix materials.
  • Slightly acidic – Corn plants thrive in soils with a pH of 6.0.

Light Preferences

Corn plants thrive in bright yet indirect light. But they can tolerate low levels of light. An ideal spot would be in a south or easterly-facing room that receives extensive periods of light throughout the day.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Since they’re native to the tropics, it’s no surprise that corn plants love hot and humid conditions.

Keep your house above 65ºF and provide medium humidity if possible. To help with humidity in dry areas, utilize a humidifier or mist your plant (lightly) now and again if needed. A humidity tray is also a worthwhile investment for many houseplants, particularly during the cold, dry winter months.


Essential Corn Plant Care at Home

A mature potted corn plant positioned in a bright, light room

How To Water Corn Plants

Corn plants are drought-tolerant and hate sitting in standing water. To keep them happy, follow these watering practices.

  • Water when dry – Water plants thoroughly, then wait for the top half of the soil to dry out before watering again. You won’t need to water more than once a week.
  • Use suitable water – Chlorine, fluoride, and minerals in tap water can harm corn plants. To avoid adding these harmful substances, use filtered water or rainwater. Alternatively, let tap water sit on your counter for a day before applying it to your plant.
  • Take note of the season – During the cooler and darker winter days, plants grow slower than in the summer. Therefore, they require less water in the winter.
  • Account for environmental conditions – Since these plants live inside, you’ll need to take note of your temperature, light, and humidity. Plants require frequent watering with low humidity, high temperature, and high light.

Fertilizing Corn Plants

Corn plants are light feeders, meaning they don’t require much fertilizer. Fertilize them once in the spring and once in the summer with a diluted houseplant fertilizer.

Pruning Corn Plants

You don’t need to prune corn plants, but you certainly can. The best time to prune is when the plant is actively growing in spring and summer.

To prune, simply cut a stalk with a sterile and sharp knife or pair of shears. New leaves will emerge from the cut.

Leave at least half of the stalk attached to the plant to avoid stressing the plant too much.  Also, avoid pruning more than one stalk at a time.

When and How to Propagate Corn Plants

Propagating corn plants is easy and goes along well with pruning. You can propagate corn plants anytime, but the best time to take a cutting is during the spring and summer.

Follow these steps to propagate your corn plant via a cutting.

  1. Take a stem cutting – Following the above directions, prune a stalk off your plant.
  2. Place the cutting in water – Put the cutting in a jar filled with one or two inches of water.
  3. Wait – Wait for the plant to form roots. This can take two to four months.
  4. Place the rooted cutting in soil – After your plant has formed roots that are 1/2 inch long, place the cutting in a pot with soil. Be sure to follow the previously mentioned planting steps.

Repotting a Corn Plant

Since corn plants are slow-growing, so you won’t have to repot them often. Aim to repot once every three to five years.

To repot a corn plant, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a pot or planter that is one inch larger in diameter than the old pot.
  2. Remove the plant from its old container and inspect the roots for any signs of disease.
  3. Dust off any old potting soil.
  4. Place the corn plant in its new pot.
  5. Add new potting soil.
  6. Water thoroughly.

3 Common Corn Plant Problems and How to Treat Them

While corn plants don’t experience many problems with pests or diseases, they often deal with issues caused by poor environments. Here are three of the most common corn plant problems.

Brown or Yellow Leaves

Check for the following if your corn plant’s leaves begin to discolor and drop.

  • Excess water – Ensure your plant’s soil is drying out between waterings. And don’t forget to dump water that flows through drainage holes.
  • Cold temperature – Temperatures below 60ºF and drafts can stress out corn plants. Raise your home’s temperature, and move the plant away from exterior doors and poorly insulated windows.

Brown Leaf Tips

Brown and crunchy leaf tips indicate an issue with water or fertilizer.

  • Poor water quality – Tap water can introduce salts that harm plants and cause browning. To avoid issues, switch to filtered water or rainwater.
  • Excess fertilizer – Corn plants don’t require much fertilizer; only apply nutrients twice a year. And don’t exceed the recommended application rate.
  • Overwatering – Allow soil to dry out between waterings.

Bleached Leaves

Faded leaves indicate that your plant is receiving too much direct light. Move the plant to a location where it receives indirect light.


All About Corn Plants

All About Corn Plants

Corn Plant Origins and History

The corn plant is native to tropical regions of Africa, including modern-day Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Mozambique. It thrives in the dappled light of the understory of hot, humid forests.

European botanists brought the plant to Europe during the 1700s. They named it after the words drakaina, a mythological female dragon, and fragrans due to its sweet-smelling flowers.

From this point on, people have kept Dracaena fragrans as a houseplant.

Botanical Information and Names

Family:Asparagaceae
Subfamily:Nolinoideae
Genus:Dracaena
Species:fragrans
Common Names: Corn plant, Cornstalk dracaena, False palm, Fragrant dracaena, Dragon plant
bloomscape dracaena warneckii for sale
Credit: Dracaena Warneckii from Bloomscape

The Dracaena genus contains hundreds of species of plants, and Dracaena fragrans is only one. Some other popular houseplants in this genus include the snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) and lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana).

When it comes to the fragrans species, things can get a bit confusing. Some botanists consider Dracaena deremensis a separate species, but the majority list deremensis as a group under Dracaena fragrans. So if you see a Dracena fragrans ‘Janet Craig’ and a Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’, know they’re the same plant.

NAME: COMMON IDENTIFIERS:
Massangeana:Green leaves with central yellow stripes
Lindenii:Green leaves with central yellow stripes and white margins
Victoria:Green leaves with yellow margins
Limelight:Bright lime green leaves
Janet Craig:Dark green leaves
Warneckii:Dark green leaves with white stripes

Are Corn Plants Toxic to Pets or People?

Corn Plants Toxicity to Pets

Corn plants are toxic to pets, including cats and dogs, so keep them out of your furry friend’s reach. If pets ingest the leaves, they experience symptoms including vomiting, depression, and a lack of appetite.

The plants aren’t toxic to humans, but best to keep the plant out of the reach of children if possible.

Corn Plant Uses and Benefits

Corn plants are great at removing toxins from the air: Scientists used the corn plant in NASA’s clean air study, which proved that plants can remove toxins from the air. As such, you can use the corn plant to remove harmful compounds, including benzene and formaldehyde, from the air.

Studies have shown that houseplants like corn can reduce stress and anxiety. Not only do these plants brighten your spaces, but they also improve your mood!

Corn plants are also super popular as privacy hedges: In tropical regions, people plant corn plants in a row to form outdoor borders.


Corn Plant Meaning and Symbolism

Corn Plant Meaning & Symbolism
  • The Chagga people of Tanzania have special uses for the corn plant. They use it as a grave marking as well as an element of a marriage proposal. The Chagga also utilize various Dracaena species to mark areas that hold ancestors’ skulls.
  • In some Asian countries, people view the corn plant as a symbol of luck. If the plant blooms in your home, you’ll receive good fortune.

Corn Plant Care FAQs:

How much sun does a corn plant need?

Corn plants in their native environment are used to shade being provided throughout the day by overhanging trees and plant life. Aim to position your corn plant in a bright room away from the sun’s rays. 

Why are the leaves on my corn plant turning brown?

Corn plant leaves turning brown is typically a result of over-watering. Stagnant water in the soil base or on the leaves can put significant stress on the corn plant, causing discoloration. Corn plant leaves also turn brown due to sudden changes or very cool temperatures.  

Should I cut the brown tips off my corn plant?

Brown tips on corn plant leaves can be cut off with sharp gardening scissors, especially if any sign of decay or fungal infection forms. Be careful not to cut away any of the healthy foliage. 

Are corn plants easy to care for?

Corn plants are considered easy-care plants suitable for both novices and enthusiasts alike. They thrive in moderate to low-light settings and generally require less watering than other houseplants, so their maintenance requirements are also considered minimal.

How long will a corn plant live?

Corn plants can thrive for several years in most indoor environments with due care and attention. The plant can also be propagated every spring or summer if you want to start new growth afresh. 

How do I get my corn plant to bloom?

Corn plants grown indoors will typically grow at a slower rate compared to those grown outside. Corn plants must reach maturity before they flower, which can take several seasons of growth indoors.

Wrapping Up

With unique branching habits and various leaf colors, corn plants make the perfect addition to any home. Plus, they’re easy to care for! Just provide a tall space, indirect light, and proper water, and you’ll have a stunning plant for years to come.

For more, see our guide to the best plant shops and nurseries delivering Dracaena plants throughout the United States.

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