This is a comprehensive guide to mass cane plant care. Furthermore, you’re going to learn how to grow, maintain, and propagate numerous plants including some of the common problems look out for.
Mass cane plant, botanically known as Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana' is a cultivar of ornamental corn plant usually grown as a houseplant. This is because the plant can survive under low light conditions for up to 2-3 years. Besides, mass cane plant is a low maintenance plant making it ideal for most beginners.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a large indoor plant to spice up your décor while filtering indoor air pollutants then, the corn plant is the best option for your
Finally, you will be able to enjoy the beauty of a plant with rosettes of arching, broad evergreen leaves that have a wide, central yellow stripe, and form a heavy but graceful tropical clump, and doubles as an excellent air cleaning machine!
So if you want to learn how to grow and care for your corn plant like a pro, you’ll love today’s guide.
Let’s get started.
Mass Cane Plant Factsheet
Botanic Name: Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'
Height at Maturity: 5 to 15 feet (You can train the plant to grow with a short, single trunk; typically, multi-trunked or clumping stems)
Spread at Maturity: 2 to 3 feet
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 12
Description: The mass cane plant is an upright growing shrub native to tropical climates. The broader corn plant is called so because of the resemblance of the tall, unbranched stem to a corn stalk. When the conditions are right, the plant will occasionally produce extremely fragrant flowers which open during the night.
Most corn plant cultivars including the mass cane contain Saponins which serve as protection for the plant against fungal attack. While this is a good thing for both plant and plant enthusiasts like myself, it may be toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
When ingested, the affected pet or animal will develop anorexia, depression, hypersalivation, dilated pupils especially in cats and vomiting (occasionally with blood). You should consult a veterinarian immediately if your pet exhibits such symptoms.
Cultivars of Corn Plant
There are six popular varieties, types, or cultivars of corn plants often grown as ornamental houseplants including Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana' (mass cane plant) which is the focus of today’s article. It’s the most common variety and features a yellowish lime-green stripe down the center of its leaves.
Other corn plant cultivars include:
Dracaena fragrans 'Janet Craig' – All the leaves are green.
Dracaena fragrans 'Bausei' – The leaves have a central white band.
Dracaena fragrans 'Compacta' – Performs extremely well indoors.
Dracaena fragrans 'Variegated Warneckii' - Leaves are variegated with yellowish to cream stripes.
Dracaena fragrans 'Warneckii' – The leaves are variegated with 2 white stripes.
Dracaena fragrans 'Lindenii' - The leaves of this variety have yellow edges rather than a stripe down the center.
How to Grow Mass Cane Plant
You have two options:
You can either grow mass cane plants from seeds or vegetative propagation of the cuttings. Let’s discuss both methods.
Growing mass cane plant from seed
It’s both possible and easy to grow mass cane plant from seed. The only challenge that most people face is getting high-quality seeds. But if you can access them, this could be a good approach for you since you can grow a lot of plants at ago – as long as you have patience.
Begin by soaking the seeds 3-5 days before planting to break their dormancy and enhance germination. Get small pots and fill them 75% with seed starting mix. Moisten the mix and place 3-4 seeds on top before covering them slightly with a thin layer of potting mix.
Cover the pot with a clear plastic wrap and place it in a bright warm location that receives indirect sunlight. After 4-6 weeks, the seedlings will emerge. You can remove the plastic wrap and wait until the seedlings develop at least two leaves before you transplant.
Propagating the corn plants
You can purchase a healthy live mass cane plant and use it as source material for propagating more plants. Alternatively, check from your nearest garden centers or borrow from your friends if you don’t have your own plants.
Propagation is then done by tip cuttings. This serves two purposes. First, it helps you prune the mother plant and rejuvenates the leaf growth of the mother plant. And secondly, you can use the top part to make more plants.
Begin the propagation by snipping the top off the mother plant and include one node or cut a 7-inch stem segment. Submerge the cut end in a clear jar with fresh water. Place the jar in a warm spot. If possible, change the water every other week.
Alternatively, you can plant the cuttings directly in moist peat moss. Once the cuttings planted in the jar of water develop roots to 2 inches long, you can pot them in a well-draining potting mix.
Mass Cane Plant Care Tips
Watering is the most important component of mass care plant care. If you get it right, the rest shall follow. For instance, make sure that you’ve provided optimal drainage to allow any excess water to pass through. This is because most corn plant types have a reputation for not needing a lot of water.
When the plant is actively growing, keep the soil moist. During this time, water the plant when the potting soil is dry 3-5 inches below the top surface. Soak the soil properly until excess water comes out of the drainage holes.
For the best results, use filtered water, rainwater, or distilled water, as these plants don’t like salts or minerals.
Pruning helps in keeping the plant in top shape and improves the general aesthetic.
With time, the lower older leaves will start to yellow making the plant unsightly. Begin by removing them since they are candidates for pest infestation. Besides, if the corn plant grows too tall for your space, cut the tops of the canes and use them to propagate new plants.
Doing this will bring about new leaf buds near the cut rejuvenating your plant.
Mass cane plants are not heavy feeders instead they prefer rich organic soil. As such, feed them sparingly every other month throughout the growing season. Apply a slow-release fertilizer, fish emulsion, or a complete liquid fertilizer at a ¼ the recommended rate.
You can also top-dress the plant at the start of the growing season with rich compost.
Mass cane plant thrives in bright to moderate light indoors. Just make sure to screen the sunlight since direct light can damage the leaves and cause them to wilt. On the contrary, if the light is too low, the leaves will narrow, lose their color variegation, and stunt the plant’s growth.
Hence, the ideal indoor location for mass cane plant is near a window with filtered sunlight. If you grow them outdoor, make sure there’s enough shade. They’re shade-loving plants – give it to them.
Temperature and humidity
This type of corn plant thrives in temperatures between 70-80 degrees F. Too low and the plant freezes to death. Besides the temperature, humidity is also vital. If the plants don’t get enough humidity the leaves will start to turn brown at the tips.
To raise the plant’s humidity, mist the leaves regularly especially in the winter when the heater is on. You can also use a humidifier or place the pot on a tray of water and pebbles but don’t let the bottom of the pot touch the water.
Most potted plants perform well when they’re root-bound including the mass cane plant. But a time comes when the pot can’t accommodate the roots. You’ll if this is the case when the plant starts to lift or sends roots out the drainage holes.
As a rule of the thumb, repot your mass cane plant every year or two into a slightly larger container (2 to 3 inches larger and deeper) with fresh potting soil. When you are ready to repot the plant, remove the loose soil around it and carefully lift the plant from its base.
Put a couple of inches of fresh soil at the bottom of the new container and center the plant in its new container, making sure not to damage its roots in the process. Fill the space around it with fresh potting soil, but do not pack it too tightly.
Since these plants are native to the tropics where the temperatures are warm, they’re not able to tolerate freezing conditions. You should bring them indoors if outside when the temperature drops below 60 F.
Alternatively, you can cut off the top of the plant or stem cutting, propagate it indoors during the winter, and plant it as soon as temperatures begin to rise.
Pests and diseases management
Mass cane plants are resistant to most fungal diseases courtesy of saponins present in their cells. However, if you don’t water properly they may be sensitive to root rots and leaf spot diseases. Other common pests include mealybugs, thrips, mites, and other chewing insects.
Dust the leaves of the plant regularly with a damp cloth to keep it looking its best and to disrupt pests from colonizing.
Common problems with mass cane plant (Physiological disorders)
Mass cane plant tips turning brown
When the tips of the leaves begin turning brown, it means the air is too dry and the plants are not getting enough humidity. Raising humidity as we’ve already discussed above will help.
The leaves turning brown
Mass cane leaves turning brown means there’s a build-up of salts. This plant is very sensitive to fluorides and built-up of salts. So if leaves turn brown try watering with distilled or rainwater and flush salts monthly.
We’ve covered quite a big deal in regards to mass cane plant care. With good reasons of course. Sometimes, to be able to truly take care of a plant, we must understand everything there is to know.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have, consider sharing it with your friends. All the same, happy gardening.