Summary: When houseplants like a Dracaena get too tall they must be shortened, there are also other reasons a houseplant may need to be pruned, find out how to shorten your Draceana
Question: My Dracaena is 10 years old and getting too tall. Can I cut it back without hurting it. It is tipping over in the huge pot I have it in? Lois
Answer: Over the last few weeks several people have asked how to cut the top off of their dracaena because it has grown too tall.
First off, congratulations!!!
Your Dracaena is doing very well because of your excellent care, and has out grown it’s space. Let’s look briefly at “Dracaena pruning” and why we need to do it.
A couple of reasons to prune a Dracaena is because the plant may be infested with insects or diseases or to contain the size and
Insects Or Diseases
Plants that have branches and growing tips that have a infestation of insects like mealy bug may need to be removed and thrown away. Don’t waste any time trying to root out a plant that is full of mealy bugs and or scale – throw it away.
While you are at it give the whole plant a good cleaning. By the way I like organic, natural Neem Oil for insect pest control
Dracaena – Containing Size
In order for plants to look good in any interior setting they need to “fit the space”. Over time a good healthy dracanea will outgrow that standard 8 foot ceiling.
Before you jump in and start chopping away, ask yourself first if there is any other place that you could move this plant to. If your luck is anything like mine the answer will be – NO.
Now, we know our only option is to perform houseplant surgery.
How much cane and foliage do we remove?
Remember, that when you cut the top off the Dracaena your new growing tip(s) are going to be coming out of the top of the cane. Make sure that you remove enough to allow for future growth or should we say re-growth. If your plant is hitting the top of an standard ceiling, think about removing 24 to 30 inches or more minimum.
The new growth on a Dracaena fragrans or massengaena can be 8 to 12 inches. It won’t be long before you’ll be pruning it down again, with your good growing techniques.
Some dracaneas canes can be pretty thick so don’t think you’re going to get out the kitchen scissors to cut the cane. My favorite are the #2 clippers made by Felco. They are tough, durable, and will last for years.
Time to Cut – Let’s Do It
Don’t make it complicated.
- Select what you want to remove
- Take off a few leaves to expose the cane (check out the tip below)
- Make a clean cut, no ripping, tearing or shreading
- You may want to remove some of the leaves right at the top of the
Now is a good time to give the plant and leaves a good cleaning. Check out Cleaning Your Tropical Plants.
Over a period of a few months new growing tips will begin to emerge and mature.
Dracaena leaf removal trick
This technique works really well on the Janet Craig and Fragrans types.
- Cut the leaf in the middle at the tip
- With both hands grab a side of the cut leaf
- Pull apart to rip the leaf toward the stem
- Give a little tug and the leaf is off the cane
Now that you have removed the top of the plant… What do you do with the growing tip. Try your hand at rooting it…
The plant tip will most likely be large with a lot of foliage. Remove some of the lower leaves. Then take the cutting or tip and place it in a moist
Wait… Keep the soil moist but not wet. Over a period of time roots should slowly begin to appear. Now you have a new plant to grow to the ceiling.