How to Care for a Mass Cane Plant in Your Home

How to care for a mass cane plant featured image.

The mass cane plant (Dracaena fragrans), also known as a corn plant, is an easy to grow houseplant. Due to its ease of growth, it is an excellent plant for beginners to grow in their homes. The plant grows in a similar way and has resemblance to a palm tree. In this article, we will break down how to care for a mass cane plant in your home.

Table of Contents

About the Mass Cane Plant

The Mass Cane Plant is native to tropical areas in Africa. This type of plant is a variety of corn plant, which you will also find in many other unique varieties. The plant is a low maintenance plant that grows with a long stalked stem and brightly colored striped green leaves at the top. This plant is a slow growing plant that is known to be very tolerant of mild neglect and bounces back well. It is important to learn how to care for a mass cane plant in order to keep it thriving in your household.

Light and Water Requirements

Light and water are two important requirements to master when learning how to care for a mass cane plant. The mass cane plant does well in filtered light that is moderate or bright. The leaves will burn in the sun easily, so it’s important to not keep it in direct sunlight for too long. However, this plant is tolerant of lower light conditions, which makes it a good indoor plant for many areas of the home. If kept in low light conditions for a long time, it will eventually have an impact on the plant and cause the growth to slow and leaves to grow more slender. You will find that this plant grows better and more quickly in conditions of moderate light.

You should check the mass cane plant’s soil once a week. When the top inch of soil is dry to the touch, it is time to water the plant. This plant does not like being overwatered and it may lead to root rot. The more light the plant receives, the more often you will have to water the plant. When watering, be sure to moisten the soil completely. Then remove any excess water that drains out of the bottom of the planter.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

This plant is a tropical plant, so providing the correct temperature and humidity levels is an important part of how to care for a mass cane plant. The optimum temperature for a mass cane plant is between 65° to 80°F. The plant can withstand temperatures down to 50°F but should not be kept in those temperatures for long.

The mass cane plant thrives in humidity levels of 40% to 50% due to it being a tropical plant. Normal household conditions will normally be fine for the plant to thrive. However, be sure to maintain humidity levels throughout the winter. When the heat is on during the winter to to keep your home warm, it leads to drier air that lacks moisture. Due to this, this plant will do well near a humidifier or in a room that has higher humidity such as a bathroom. If the plant cannot be placed in an area with higher humidity, mist the leaves once or twice a week.

Tip: If the humidity inside of the house remains too low for an extended period of time, the tips of the leaves may begin to turn brown.

Type of Soil and Fertilizer

The best type of soil for the mass cane plant is well draining and nutrient rich soil. The mass cane plant can handle a variety of soils, so a good store bought potting mix will do just fine. Additionally, you can add perlite to the soil to increase the drainage and aeration of the soil.

The mass cane does not require too much fertilization, as it is susceptible to over fertilization. This can hurt the plant, so it is important to fertilize sparingly. Most corn plants often do fine without any fertilization. You will want to only fertilize the plant during the growing season of spring and summer. Fertilize once every month or two with a balanced water soluble fertilizer that is diluted. Optimally, a NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 will be sufficient for the plant to get plenty of nutrients. Do not fertilize during the fall and winter months.

Repotting a Mass Cane Plant

Part of how to care for a mass cane plant is repotting the plant when it’s needed. These cane plants will not need to be repotted often because of their slow growth. You can expect to have to repot the plant once every two or three years. The planter size will depend on the current size of the plant. A good rule of thumb to go by is to repot the plant into a new pot two inches larger than it’s current container. This allows for plenty of new growth to occur over the next few years.

Make sure that the bottom of the planter has drainage holes. Drainage holes are important to allow excess water to escape out of the plant’s soil. Without these holes, the plant’s roots will be left wet and it will lead to root rot.

Pruning the Mass Cane Plant

Pruning is a straightforward and simple process that is essential in how to care for a mass cane plant. This will help keep your plant looking nice, remove any dead leaves, and maintain a proper height. You will need sharp garden shears or scissors. It’s best practice to disinfect your pruning tools before using them to reduce the spread of any diseases. Follow these easy steps to keep your mass cane plant pruned and maintained!

  • Inspect: Check the plant for any browning or yellowing leaves. These leaves will not turn green again and should be pruned away. The discolored leaves take energy away from the plant that could be utilized elsewhere. If your plant is becoming too tall, you may opt to trim new branches of leaves off or part of the stem below the nodes for propagation.
  • Removal: Using your garden shears, cut the leaves that you want to remove as close to the base of the leaf and stem of the plant as possible. If you want to remove brown tips on leaves, you may cut the discolored tip off at an angle to keep the natural look of the leaf.
  • Disposal: Remove all cut leaves and throw them away. Do not allow the dead leaves to stay in the plant’s pot for this will encourage pests and disease to the plant.
  • Disinfect: After you have pruned away all necessary leaves, clean the tools that were used. This will prevent any future disease transfer between plants.

Propagation of the Mass Cane Plant

Roots growing from a mass can stem cutting.

The mass cane plant is propagated with stem cuttings. This makes duplicating your plant quite easy and gives you a good reason to prune it. To start, you will need a healthy adult plant to get stem cuttings from. Do not propagate from a diseased plant, as you may pass the problem onto the new plant. To propagate follow these simple instructions:

  • Locate a stem that has at least one node, but optimally a couple of nodes for a greater chance of successful propagation. A node is the location where a cluster of leaves or branch grows from.
  • Make a clean cut at a 45 degree diagonal angle below one of the nodes.
  • Plant the cutting into well draining soil, similar to the type used for the parent plant. Make sure you plant the cutting a couple inches deep to provide stability.
  • Place the plant in a location that gets indirect sunlight and make sure the soil gets plenty of water.
  • Alternatively, you may place your cuttings into a container of water. Submerge the lower half in the water and make sure a couple of nodes are within the water. Make sure to keep the leaves dry and out of the water. Once roots have grown from a node and gotten to be a few inches long, you can plant the cutting in soil.
  • This plant is slow growing, so rooting may take up to two months. Be patient!

Common Issues with a Mass Cane Plant

The mass cane plant is generally a low maintenance plant that does not experience many issues. However, there are a few problems that this plant can experience that you need to look out for. Keeping an eye out for any problematic signs is an important part of how to care for a mass cane plant.

Tips of leaves turning brown: This can indicate low humidity in the area that the mass cane plant is growing. Alternatively, this can be the cause of an irregular watering schedule, which has resulted in under or overwatering of the plant. Increase humidity and maintain a stable watering schedule avoid this issue.

Yellowing of leaves: This indicates a problem with overwatering, poor drainage, or root rot in the plant. Do not water your plant until the top inch of soil has dried. Be sure that the pot has drainage holes to allow for excess water to be removed.

Plant becoming leggy: The mass cane may grow too tall or have thinner stems if it is not receiving enough light. Additionally, this plant will grow too tall if not pruned back and maintained.

Yellow lines on edge of leaves or brown tip burn: This can occur due to a build up of fluoride within the soil. This plant is sensitive to high levels of fluoride. Fluoride levels will build up in the soil due to the excess fluoride that is in city water supplies. Try using distilled water if you are having this problem. Fluoride build up may also be coming from fluoride within any fertilizers that you are using.

Toxicity of Mass Cane Plant to Pets

The mass cane plant is nontoxic to humans, however, it is known to be toxic to cats and dogs. This plant should be kept away from any pets that you have in your house, especially small ones. If your pet ingests or chews on any part of this plant, it is important to monitor their symptoms and contact a vet immediately.

Article Sources:

Dracaena fragrans. North Carolina State University Extension