The ease of growing dracaena is largely due to the ease of reproduction and control. Over time, all dracaena, even at first developing as compact, leafy from the very bottom of the rosette, become bare and stretched. For some types of dracaena, graceful thin trunks are an excellent decoration, for others they frankly spoil the look. But sooner or later, any dracaena outgrows all norms, stretching too far up. If the plant has become too large, deformed or damaged by pests, diseases or improper care, pruning is the best option for renewal, rejuvenation and formation.
How to rejuvenate dracaena with pruning?
Why do you need pruning dracaena?
The sight of the thin trunks of the dracaena with a lush, spreading bunch of narrow leaves at the top is a familiar sight. And although dracaena has completely different species (with wider, wavy leaves or leafy leaves for a long time from the very base), they are associated with tree-like forms. Changeable, at the same time similar and so different, dracaena did not accidentally become favorites. After all, their reputation as the easiest to grow a “false palm” in many ways justifies itself, even if there are some nuances in growing dracaena.
Dracaena do not grow very quickly, but literally, as they want, irreversibly changing and stretching over time. Pruning is the only way to create multi-stem-bushy forms, and to contain the height, and to rejuvenate the dracaena. After all, these false palms, unlike cordilins, do not form stolons and do not bush themselves.
Usually, growers of pruning on lignified palm-shaped trunks of dracaena are very afraid, a little confusing dracaena with genuine representatives of the Palm family, who hate unnecessary interference and do not survive with trunk injuries. But there is absolutely nothing to fear. It is necessary to do rejuvenation by pruning, although according to the rules, but very simple. Dracaena pruning does not imply any special secrets and difficulties.
No matter how thick, hard and dry the lignified trunk of the dracaena may seem, dormant buds are preserved on it, capable of starting to grow. Even very old and badly damaged dracaena will grow back again (of course, if their roots are healthy, the plant has not rotted or completely dried out). And the tops take root very easily.
As a result of rejuvenation by pruning you get:
- several points of growth on the old trunk – multi-headed dracaena;
- a young replacement plant, a compact outlet on the rooted top;
- several plants of the same species for planting in the same containers and displaying “in series”, or for planting in one container in order to get the multi-stem effect.
Read also our article by Dracaena Sander, or “the bamboo of happiness.”
When can dracaena be trimmed?
Dracaena is cut off when it loses its decorative effect, ceases to be liked. In varieties with wide leaves, the trunks should be short enough, visually proportional to the crown. In narrow-leaved dracaena, height is limited only by location and your perception of aesthetics. Usually, pruning is carried out as the trunk is excessively lengthened, spoiling the appearance and turning the dragon into a real “monster” with a thin long stem. In rosette species with wide leaves, there is a need for pruning as soon as the lower part of the trunk begins to bare and the effect of a densely leafy “green column” is disturbed.
With the initial desire to grow multi-stemmed, multi-headed, interesting, branched dracaena, and not just a single-stem “almost palm tree”, the formation can be planned without waiting for the plant to outgrow. On young plants, pruning begins when the trunks grow to a height of at least 30 cm (or higher if you wish to get more vertical shapes, tall trunks).
There is an important exception to the rule of “loss of compactness”: if the dracaena has seriously suffered from improper care or has been in unsuitable conditions for a long time, has lost most of the leaves, was affected by pests and diseases, it will take a very long time to restore its shape without drastic measures. Pruning is the best way to deal with sick and hard-hitting dragons.
The timing for pruning dracaena must be selected carefully. It is quite dangerous to “touch” a false palm tree in summer, in the midst of heat, or in autumn and winter, when the plant is in a forced dormant period, provoked by a reduction in daylight hours. Dracaena at this time and so sensitive to extremes, abrupt changes, will adapt and sprout longer, can stand “stick” until next spring.
Pruning in the spring, at the very beginning of growth, is the best option both from the point of view of reducing the risk of plant loss and for obtaining a faster result. The ideal time for pruning dracaena is the second half of February and March, in extreme cases – April or early May.
Combining pruning for the purpose of rejuvenation and formation and transplanting dracaena is not worth it. Pruning is carried out in years without transplantation or on plants that have rooted well after transplantation (when at least two months have passed).
How to cut dracaena hard?
To understand how much to cut a particular plant, you need to take a closer look at it, given that the entire remaining part of the trunk will remain “bare”, new rosettes will begin to develop from the uppermost dormant bud, often literally at the cut.
In the rejuvenation of dracaena, who have lost their shape or suffered from improper care, there are no strict rules at all. They are cut off as much as they want literally. The standard is pruning at a height of 30 to 40 cm, although many create and control lower or taller forms.
Pruning is carried out in the same way as on garden shrubs and trees – 0,5-1 cm above the buds (next to a fallen leaf). If young or densely leafy dracaena are cut for formation, then 3 or 4 leaves are always left below the cut. The cut should be “clean”, smooth, without chipping, as even as possible. It is better to make sure in advance that the knife or blade is sharp and clean.
Since the trunks of dracaena are very tough, cuts are not always easy to make, but even with effort it is worth remembering that the cut must be neat. After cutting, the remaining leaves are removed from the trunk. If you cut young densely leafy dracaena before exposing the trunk, the leaves are removed from 10-15 cm under the cut.
The number of “rejuvenations” on one plant is not limited. If you form multi-stemmed and branched dracaena, then young lateral shoots can, in turn, be cut off when they reach a height of 25-30 cm for even greater division, stimulating the growth of several outlets in place of one.
Read also our article Dracaena – species, growing conditions and care.
What to do with the tops?
Thanks to rejuvenation, you can get strong and healthy plants – to replace old ones, as a gift, planting in a group or to expand the collection. Of course, if the goal is to stimulate branching and renew the old dracaena, rooting the tops is not necessary. But it is unlikely that someone will raise a hand to throw out a beautiful, lush cut off top, especially since it takes root very simply. If desired, you can root not only the tops, but also parts of the trunk with at least several internodes.
A sharp, even cut without chipping, when properly trimmed, remains so, but if something goes wrong, it can be refurbished. Before rooting, the sections should be dried, if possible, treated with a special paste for wounds, or at least sprinkled with crushed coal.
For the tops of the dracaena to take root, it is enough to place them in wet sand, a sand-peat mixture or a universal substrate. Stem cuttings can be laid on the soil by pressing lightly or rooted like tops.
For dracaena cuttings, you need to maintain a stable light soil moisture, continuing watering as the topsoil dries out. Many root dracaena and just in water, but in this case, you will have to remember to change the water regularly, every few days.
How to care for dracaena after pruning?
Cut plants should be moved to a place with soft, secluded lighting (partial shade) and kept at a temperature of 21 degrees. The buds will wake up with the usual care, with light constant soil moisture, but if desired, the plants can be helped.
The best “accelerator” and assistant to successful rejuvenation and restoration of dracaena is maintaining high humidity from 70 to 80%. You can cover the plants with a bag or a cap with daily ventilation, install humidifiers, spray regularly with the fog method, and with enough experience, tie the trunk below the cut with wet sphagnum, carefully monitoring when buds are outlined and immediately removing the moss. You can also speed up the awakening of the kidneys by treatment with growth stimulants.
Dracaena is transferred to normal care as soon as its growth begins. But do not rush to feed. Feeding is carried out every 2 weeks, instead of conventional fertilizers, you can use a solution of growth stimulants.
When the cut site decays, there are no signs of kidney awakening for more than a month, the slices are updated, dropping a few centimeters below.
Of course, if there is no desire to preserve the old dracaena, and they just want to rejuvenate them by replacing them with new and young bushes, then the remaining “bare” trunk can simply be thrown away.