If your Dracaena Marginata has a soft stem, it is crucial to act quickly to give your plant the best chance of surviving.
If the bottom of the stem is soft, propagating cuttings from the top is the best option, as it will be almost impossible to salvage the bottom. If the top parts of the stem are rotten, they can be trimmed and the base repotted.
In this article, we’ll explore what actually causes the stem to turn soft, what it means, and the options you have for saving your plant. Let’s get into it.
- My Dracaena Marginata
- Causes Of Dracaena Marginata Soft Stem
- What To Do If Your Dracaena Has Stem Rot
- What If The Base Is Rotten?
- Preventing Dracaena Marginata Soft Stem
- In Summary
My Dracaena Marginata
I’ve had a Dracaena Marginata for several years now, so I’m pretty well versed in how to look after them.
Soft stem is a problem that I’ve always been concerned about, so I’ll share some of my top tips for preventing it later in this guide.
For now, let’s learn what actually causes it in the first place.
Causes Of Dracaena Marginata Soft Stem
There are several reasons why the stem of your Dracaena Marginata might become soft.
One of the main causes of soft stem in Dracaena marginata is overwatering.
Overwatered soil is a breeding ground for root rot, as it suffocates the roots, which causes them to die and rot. It can also favor dormant fungi in the soil that causes the roots to rot as well.
Root rot is a common cause of stem rot because if it isn’t dealt with, the rot will spread upwards into the stem, eventually causing it to rot.
Poor drainage is a contributing factor to root rot as well, eventually leading to stem rot.
Dracaenas prefer well-draining soil, so if the soil mix doesn’t allow water to drain out properly, it can suffocate the roots and cause root rot as before.
Drainage holes also contribute towards drainage, so make sure your Dracaena marginata has drainage holes.
Disease And Pests
Certain pests like mealybugs or scale can feed on the sap found in Dracaena leaves, weakening the tissue and leaving behind honeydew residue, which promotes the growth of sooty mold.
This can spread to other parts of the plant, weakening it and causing the stem to turn soft.
Leaf spot diseases can also affect Dracaenas, and the most common is Phoma Draconis, which weakens the plant and makes it more susceptible to soft stems.
Low temperatures can also be a big problem and lead to stem rot, but this happens from the top of the plant rather than the bottom, like with root rot.
If the water inside the plant freezes, it causes severe cell and tissue damage, and it will rot as it starts to warm up.
What To Do If Your Dracaena Has Stem Rot
If your Dracaena has stem rot, it’s crucial to act quickly to save your plant.
There are two different cases to consider – stem rot affecting the top parts of the plant and stem rot at the base as a result of root rot.
If part of the top of your Dracaena stem has turned soft, there’s a good chance you can revive it using the steps below.
Remove Rotten Section
First, you should carefully inspect your plant and identify any areas with soft, rotting stems.
Using a sharp, clean pair of scissors or pruning shears, cut away the affected areas, making sure you remove all the rotting tissue.
Be cautious not to damage any healthy areas in the process, and cut 1 to 2 inches further than where the soft section ends to prevent any future problems.
Once soft sections of the stem have been removed, repotting is a good idea.
Removing large parts of your plant is quite a dramatic event for its overall health, so repotting will allow you to provide fresh soil and inspect the roots to ensure a quick recovery.
Gently remove your Dracaena from its soil and brush away soil from the roots. Inspect the roots for signs of root rot like discoloring or mushy roots, and trim them if necessary, treating the rest with a fungicide.
Repot into a pot with drainage holes in the bottom using well-draining soil. Succulent soil is a good option, or you can make your own mix using 2 parts of peat moss, 1 part perlite, and 1 part sand.
What If The Base Is Rotten?
If the stem is rotten from the base of the soil upwards, there is little chance of saving the entire plant.
In these cases, the stem rot is a result of root rot traveling upwards, so it isn’t possible to just remove this section of the plant and repot to help it grow.
There is still an option to keep some of your plant, however, and that is through propagation. If the upper part of the stem is still healthy and there are suitable places for cuttings to be taken, you can propagate these.
The ideal place is just below a node, and newer stems will propagate faster than old ones, so opt for smaller stems where possible. Here’s a quick overview of the process:
- Use a clean knife to take a cutting of a stem just below a node, ideally 10-12 inches in length.
- Place the base of the cutting into water and wait for the roots to develop. Change the water regularly.
- Once new roots have grown and new growth is visible on the branch, pot into soil.
Preventing Dracaena Marginata Soft Stem
Stem rot is a very serious problem, so here are some quick tips for preventing it in the first place.
One of the key factors in maintaining a healthy Dracaena Marginata is providing your plant with the proper amount of water.
It’s essential to avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot and soft stem.
Allow the topsoil to dry out before watering your plant, and when you do water, provide just enough to moisten the soil without letting it become saturated.
Be sure to adjust your watering schedule according to the light and temperature conditions in your home.
Check out our full guide for Dracaena watering frequency here.
Another important aspect to get right is ensuring the plant is potted in well-draining soil.
A mix of peat moss and perlite or coarse sand can help create a well-drained soil environment.
You can also use succulent soil mix as well.
Well-draining soil helps to fight against overwatering and reduces the likelihood of it happening drastically.
Controlling Pests And Diseases
Sometimes pests will infest your Dracaena for seemingly no reason, but there are things you can do to keep them away.
The main thing to do is avoid misting the plant and ensure that the soil isn’t overwatered. Excess moisture not only provides a breeding ground for fungus but it will attract pests as well.
These will also help to prevent diseases as well.
If your Dracaena Marginata has a soft stem, you only have two options.
If the upper parts of the plant are affected, the best advice is to remove these sections and repot the plant – there is a good chance it will survive in this case.
If the base is soft, it is better to propagate cuttings from the upper part of the plant.
Want to learn more about Dracaenas? Check out some of our other guides on this fascinating plant below: