How to Grow a Corn Plant (Mass Cane)

Updated on June 22, 2020
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

Source

The first time that I saw a corn plant, I couldn’t figure out what it was. The stem looked like bamboo but the leaves were all wrong. They looked like the leaves on corn but the stem was all wrong. The whole plant struck me as something that Dr. Seuss might draw.

What is a Corn Plant?

Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) is native to tropical Africa. Its resemblance to corn (maize) resulted in its nickname “corn plant”. It is also referred to as “mass cane”, “false palm”, “Chinese money tree” and “fortune plant”. It is related to Lucky Bamboo which is also a dracaena (D. sanderina). Both are members of the asparagus family.

Corn plant is only hardy in zones 10 – 12. In its native African environment, it often reaches a height of 50 feet. Here in the US it is more often grown as a houseplant so it only grows to about 4 – 6 feet. The stems look a lot like bamboo, to which it is not related. The leaves grow from the tops of the stems and look like the leaves on corn (to which it is also not related). The leaves are 2 feet long and 3 inches wide tapering to a point. Originally, they were a glossy green. Newer cultivars sport leaves that are striped down the middle with yellow or lime. A rarer cultivar has white striped leaves.

Corn plant usually doesn’t flower when grown indoors because it doesn’t get enough light. Occasionally, yours may surprise you and bloom. The flowers grow in panicles which means that the flowers are in clusters along branched stems. The flowers are yellow and very fragrant. They are followed by red berries.

The yellow flowers yield red berries.
The yellow flowers yield red berries. | Source

How to Grow a Corn Plant

Corn plants like light, but not direct sunlight. They will survive in a room with very little light. They just won’t grow as well. Aim for a room with filtered light. Too little light will result in leaves losing their variegation. Too much light will burn the leaves.

Humidity is key. When we grow our houseplants, we try to mimic their native environment as much as possible. Corn plants grow in tropical regions that are humid so you will need to provide extra humidity to keep yours happy.

The best way to provide humidity is by using a humidity tray. A humidity tray is simply a shallow pan filled with (ornamental) gravel and water. Set your plant on top of the gravel. As the water evaporates, it provides humidity. Be sure to keep your pan full of water.

You can also mist your plant a few times a week.

A cultivar with lime variegation.
A cultivar with lime variegation. | Source

In addition to providing humidity, you should water your plant at least once a week. The leaves will tell you if you are watering correctly. Yellow, droopy leaves is a sign that you are watering too much. Brown leaf tips means that the soil is too dry and you need to water more.

The kind of water you use is important. These plants are sensitive to the fluoride found in tap water. It is best to use distilled water on your plants. Distilled water has been boiled to remove the minerals and impurities. The steam created when the water is boiled is then condensed back into purified water. You can find distilled water in most stores that sell bottled water.

A rare cultivar with white stripes.
A rare cultivar with white stripes. | Source

Corn plants like rich, loamy, well-draining soil. A regular potting mix should work well. Most potting mixes now come with slow release fertilizer in them so it is not necessary to fertilize your plant. If your mix doesn’t have fertilizer in it, you need to fertilize your plant once a month during the growing season (spring through fall) using an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. There is no need to fertilize during the winter when the plant will be resting.

Corn plants like to be slightly pot bound so you will not need to repot them every year. Every other year or even every three years should be sufficient.

You can put your plant outdoors in the summer. Wait until the night time temperatures are above 50⁰F. Make sure that they get some shade. They are accustomed to the lack of light inside your home so keep them out of full sun. Bring your plant back indoors in the fall when night time temperatures fall to 50⁰F.

When you make a stem cutting from the top of your plant, it grows new stems.
When you make a stem cutting from the top of your plant, it grows new stems. | Source

How to Grow a Corn Plant From a Stem Cutting

Corn plants that are grown indoors may flower, but their flowers will never be pollinated so no viable seeds will be produced. Luckily, you can propagate your plant using stem cuttings. Cut off a 4 – 8 inch piece of the top of the stem and insert it into some soil. Keep the soil moist. It can take 2 or more months for your cutting to root. You will know that new roots have formed when the plant starts to grow new leaves. Plants that have no roots cannot grow leaves.

When you cut the top off of the stem of your corn plant, it will grow two new crowns of leaves. Your single stem plant will become a multi stem plant.

© 2020 Caren White

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)