Skip to Content

5 Causes of Dying Corn Plant (Tips for Keeping Alive)

Do you have a corn plant (Dracaena) at home that you’ve been struggling to keep alive? Are you worried that it might be on the brink of dying because the leaves are turning brown and yellow, or the stalk has lost all its leaves?

Maybe the stem is rotting, or the bark is peeling off. It can be frustrating to see a plant you’ve taken care of show signs of decay. But don’t worry; you’re not alone.

In this article, I’ll share my experience saving my corn plant from the same problems and provide practical tips to help you revive your plant.

We’ll discuss the common causes of corn plant decay and learn how to prevent and treat root rot, stalk decay, and more. So, let’s get started and save your corn plant together!

5 Causes of Corn Plant Dying And How To Deal With Them

Your corn plant may die due to improper watering or light exposure, crucial factors for plant health
Your corn plant (Dracaena) may die due to improper watering or light exposure, crucial factors for plant health

Seeing your corn plant’s once lush and green leaves start to look lackluster can be disheartening.

When those leaves appear fleshy, faded, or discolored, it’s clear that something may be amiss with your daily plant care routine.

Here are five common reasons why your corn plant might be struggling and what you can do to fix it:

1- Lack of Sunlight

Our tropical corn plant babies need plenty of sunlight to thrive. If they’re not getting enough, you might notice their stems getting weak, their leaves losing their shine, and turning brown and yellow.

So, make sure to give your plant the sunshine it craves. If you’re keeping your corn plant indoors, give it at least 5 hours of direct sunlight daily.

A bright spot near a lace curtain in a well-ventilated area can do wonders for your plant’s growth.

2- Is Your Corn Plant Struggling in a Chilly Environment?

Oh, dear corn plant, we can relate to your struggle with the cold. Who doesn’t love a warm, cozy spot in the sun, right? Well, it turns out that corn plants, being tropical creatures, don’t dig the cold weather.

So, if you notice some weird discoloration on your corn plant’s leaves, it might be time to check if it’s shivering in a cold spot.

It could suffer from severe frostbite if it’s outside on a frosty day or near a window where cold air is sneaking in. And we all know what happens after that – RIP corn plant.

But fear not, my plant-loving friends; there is hope! During those winter months (November through March), keep your corn plant’s room temperature above 41°F (5°C).

And please, please, please be gentle with the air conditioning (or heating). Corn plants don’t love extreme dryness, so keep them away from pesky air conditioner winds that suck their life out.

3- The Pot is Too Small: Your Corn Plant is Feeling a Bit Squeezed

Is your corn plant looking thirsty no matter how much water you give it? Well, it might be because it’s stuck in a teeny tiny pot that’s cramping its style.

If the roots are peeking out from the back of the pot, it’s a sure sign that they feel a bit suffocated. So, what’s a plant parent to do? Repot, of course!

Don’t worry; repotting your corn plant isn’t as scary as it sounds. Just follow these easy steps:

  • Start by limiting watering, so the soil is dry enough to work with.
  • Gently pull your corn plant out of its pot, careful not to damage the roots.
  • Pinch off about a third of the root ball to break it up and remove old soil.
  • Trim off any excess leaves to help your plant conserve energy.
  • Place your corn plant in a bigger pot with fresh soil and some potting stones for drainage.
  • Give it a good soak and let it bask in its newfound space.

It’s best to repot during the growing season from May to August, so your plant can make the most of its new digs.

And please don’t repot during the dormant season in winter, or your corn plant might wither away faster than your motivation to go to the gym.

4- Excessive Watering Leads to Root Rot

If your plant’s leaves look droopy or there’s a weird smell coming from the soil, it might mean that the roots are rotting.

Corn plant plants like dry soil, so it’s best to water them only when the top layer of soil is dry. If you overwater them, it can cause root rot and damage the plant.

If your plant has root rot, it won’t be able to get the water and air it needs, and its leaves and roots will turn brown and die.

It’s essential to deal with root rot and save the plant before it’s too late.

Here’s what you can do to treat root rot:

  1. Gently remove the soil around the roots.
  2. Cut off any parts of the roots that look brown or mushy.
  3. Cut off some of the leaves and stems to match the size of the remaining healthy roots.
  4. Put the plant in fresh, clean soil.
  5. Keep the plant out of direct sunlight and water it slightly at a time.
  6. When new shoots grow, move the plant to a sunny spot.

If root rot happens during the winter when the plant is dormant, it’s usually harder to fix. To avoid this, be very careful when watering your plant in the winter and keep it on the dry side.

Discover More Tips for Rescuing Your Dracaena from Root Rot in My Other Article

5- Identifying and Treating Diseases and Pests Killing Your Corn Plant

If your Corn plant is not doing well despite proper care, it might be because of diseases and pests.

Different issues require different ways of dealing with them, so it’s essential to check for diseases and pests affecting your Corn plant and take action as soon as possible.

Here are some diseases to watch out for:

  • Soft Rot: This disease is caused by soil bacteria that invade the plant and cause it to rot. You might notice sticky, rotting leaves and a bad smell. Once the leaves and stems are rotten, they cannot be saved. Controlling pests that feed on leaves and stems is essential to prevent soft rot.
  • Stem Rot: This is a disease caused by a fungus that makes the stems turn brown, rot, and fall over. If you see the Corn plant’s leaves turning yellow from the bottom, it might be a sign of stem rot. The disease tends to occur from spring to fall, and it’s essential to check the condition of leaves and stems regularly and remove rotting stems and yellowing leaves with clean pruning shears as soon as possible.

Here are some pests to watch out for:

  • Scale Insect: These pests have legs and crawl around as larvae, but they become immobile as adults and are covered with a hard shell. If you find an adult scale insect, scrape it off with a toothbrush or similar tool. It’s better to spray insecticides on the larvae to eliminate them.
  • Spider Mites: These pests are so small that they’re difficult to see with the naked eye, but you might notice whitish leaves or spots. They suck nutrients from the leaves and stems and prefer hot and dry conditions. You can remove spider mites with water pressure from a hose or other means because they’re sensitive to damp environments.

It’s essential to take care of any diseases or pests affecting your Corn plant as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

How to Keep Your Corn Plant Thriving and Prevent Dying

Here are some tips to help your Corn plant thrive without dying:

1- Be Careful of Direct Sunlight In Midsummer

Although Corn plant loves sunlight, direct sunlight in midsummer can cause leaf scorch.

When the sun is extreme from July to September, you should expose it to sunlight through lace curtains or move it to a brighter place where it will not be exposed to direct sunlight.

If you’re growing Corn plants outdoors, move them indoors during midsummer and midwinter to protect them from harsh weather conditions.

2- Maintain Good Humidity

Corn plants prefer dryness, but the leaves can wither without enough humidity. To prevent this, it’s crucial to maintain a good moisture balance and water the leaves all year round.

Leaf watering, which involves spraying water onto the leaves with a mist, is an excellent way to prevent spider mites, which can damage the plant.

Be sure to water the leaves frequently to prevent damage from insect pests.

3- Use Fertilizers

If you want your Corn plant to grow more vigorously, use fertilizers. The best time to apply fertilizer is during the growing season, from May to September. Slow-release chemical fertilizers or diluted liquid fertilizers are recommended during this period.

If you use a slow-release chemical fertilizer, feed once every two months. Liquid fertilizers should be applied once every two weeks. Avoid overfeeding with fertilizers, as it can weaken the plant.

By taking care of direct sunlight, humidity, and fertilizing, your Corn plant will grow healthy and robust without withering or dying.

Sharing is caring!