My Oldest Houseplant – Janet Craig Dracaena

By Mary H. Dyer | January 5, 2021
Image by OllgaP
by Mary H. Dyer
January 5, 2021

My oldest houseplant, and probably my ugliest, is a Janet Craig dracaena (corn plant) that my son gave me 25 years or so ago. It’s a rather weird-looking specimen, but it keeps on growing and growing. I don’t have the heart to throw it out.

This poor plant is just never completely happy. No matter what I do, the leaves turn brown and dry. It’s dusty here in farm country, so every so often, I wipe the leaves gently with a moist cloth. (I should probably mention here that the plant was no happier when we lived in rainy western Oregon. In other words, my infrequent dusting isn’t solely to blame). 

I’ve tried everything to help my poor Janet Craig. I leave the watering can out for a few days so the chlorine can evaporate. I irrigate using room-temperature water. I fertilize lightly during spring and summer. There are no signs of pests.

I’ve tried moving the plant to brighter light, but never intense, direct light. I’ve moved it to lower light. Currently, it’s in moderate light, where it’s been parked for four years. 

Every so often, I pull off the ugly, dead leaves. Sometimes I use scissors to cut off the dry, brown tips. I carefully shape the cut leaves so they look as natural as possible. 

In spite of all the challenges, Janet Craig has an interesting shape, and some of the leaves (the ones that aren’t brown) are actually very glossy and pretty. 

For whatever reason, I love this crazy, cranky old plant. It has stick-to-it-iveness ,which, according to Merriam-Webster, means it has tenacity and dogged perseverance. I don’t know about you, but I think those are good qualities for plants, and people, too.

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