The corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) is a tropical African evergreen tree popular in Europe as an indoor plant since the mid-1800s—and in the U.S. since the early 20th century. They grow fairly slowly, from thick canes or stems that produce long, narrow leaves like stalks of corn, growing upward. This growth habit also makes them look a lot like palm trees, which is why they’re sometimes called “false palms.” They make good houseplants because they are tall and narrow, typically only reaching around 4- to 6-feet tall in containers.
Corn plants do best in bright indoor locations protected against direct sunlight, drafts, and air conditioning and heating vents. These plants also prefer a high humidity environment.
You can put corn plants outdoors during the summer if they are in a sheltered, somewhat shady location. Protect them against strong winds. Bring the plant indoors once the temperatures start to fall into the 60s F.
Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
The ideal indoor location for this plant is near a window with filtered sunlight. Too little light will result in the leaves losing their color variegation and might stunt the plant's growth. Exposure to direct sun can burn the plant's leaves and cause them to wilt. Outdoors, the plant does best in a shadier spot.
Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy during the growing season (spring through fall). Reduce watering in the late fall to winter. However, never let the soil completely dry out. Soil that is too wet or too dry will lead to plant health issues.
Temperature and Humidity
Corn plants do best in temperatures from 60-75 F. Avoid exposing them to temperatures in the 50s F. If you temporarily moved your corn plants outdoors for the summer, make sure to bring them indoors before temperatures reach this point.
Maintain humidity levels between 40 to 50 percent, which mimics the plant's native environment. To raise the plant's humidity, use a humidifier or place the pot on a tray of water and pebbles. Do not let the bottom of the pot touch the water. You can also mist the leaves regularly.
Corn plants prefer organically rich soil. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer every other month throughout the growing season and feed sparingly, if at all, over the winter.
Common Problems With Corn Plant
The corn plant is an easy houseplant to keep once you get the growing conditions correct, namely water, light, and humidity. It also doesn't like cold temps, high heat, or drafty spots. If any of these conditions are off for a prolonged period, the plant will likely exhibit some health issues.
Dry Leaf Tips
Plants that get too little water or too much dry air can get dry leaf tips and edges. Add a humidifier or mist the plant regularly to increase humidity. Increase the plant's water, but never let the soil get soggy. Yellowing tips can also be caused by too much plant food or fluoride in the water. Use distilled water to avoid leaf tip burn.
Sudden Loss of Leaves
Too much water and poor drainage can cause a sudden loss of leaves or root rot. Make sure the soil is well-draining and the plant's pot has several drainage holes.
Dry Patches on Leaves
If you put these plants in direct sun, your dracaena plant may get round dry patches and streaks on the leaves. Move the plant to a spot with less sunlight.
Corn Plants are toxic to pets and humans.