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Houseplant SOS from complete novice!

Hello all

You'll have to excuse my ignorance as I have absolutely no clue about plants, but perhaps you'll take pity on me as I really want to save this poor house plant of which I am very fond.

I don't even know what kind of plant it is - I have always just called it Bob.  I was given it as a present about five years ago, when it was just a little spring of leaves in a tiny pot, purchased from Wilkinsons, probably for about 99p.

Bob grew at an incredible pace for the first few years, and I repotted him three times.  He always had a great crop of glossy leaves and was cheerful and strong.  He has moved house with me several times and always survived and even thrived. 

However, over the last couple of years, he has lost a lot of leaves.  They gradually turn brown and drop off.  This mostly seems to happen in the winter (although I don't think he is a diciduous plant, if that is the right term...).  Gradually he became more stem than leaf, but always with a fresh clutch of new leaves in the middle. 

Last winter, however, the leaf loss was even more than usual and then, just as spring was trying to arrive, disaster struck.  My flat was being painted, and one day I came home to find Bob had been bashed, and his lovely new clump of leaves had been snapped right off as a one.

His other leaves have continued to drop, and he only has three left now, and they are going brown and droopy at the ends, so won't be around much longer.  His middle section is still strong seeming, but hasn't grown since the injury.  His stem is still long and thick and seems quite robust.  I keep him in plenty of sunshine, and try to make sure the compost is damp without being too wet. 

The picture shows the sorry state he is in now.

Do the good people of this forum think that poor Bob can be saved?  If so, what should I do?  I am really sad to see him in such a poor state and wish I could stimulate new growth.

Help please!!



  • MuddyForkMuddyFork Posts: 435

    Bob would appear to be a Yucca.  I would just leave him alone to see if he can recover.

  • averil 2averil 2 Posts: 36

    Hi there

    Well i read about poor Bob and as i was scrolling down and things were getting worse and worse and the ultimate in horror he lost his gorgeous new clump of leafs....I didnt know whether to laugh or cry. Then when I actually seen this handsome creatures photograph ...well!! Im sat here crying laughing!!!!!!!image (made my day)

    Bob looks like a dracaena palm to me though im probably wrong. It may be the central heating thats getting him down. You could try misting him with water and maybe try him in a different window for a while. Im not great with plants myself but he looks kind of dried up to me

  • LilylouiseLilylouise Posts: 1,013

    Bob is a Dracaena marginata - I would let the compost dry out a bit and put him somewhere bright but not direct sunlight and do as Averil says - give hime a mist now and then - I hope he recovers image

    Pam x

  • Looks like a yucca to me, if you are brave enough you can cut them down and they send out new shoots, also they hate to sit in water so check that it is not too wet.

  • LilyanneLilyanne Posts: 21

    Really feel for you Ellie (although I was entertained with your description of Bob's decline!). I hate losing any plant. Best of luck with all of this advice. Hope he survives. Keep us posted.

    I have a couple of these and they do tend to be very tall and "leggy". I assume that is how they should grow?

  • KoalagirlKoalagirl Posts: 225

    I agree that it looks like Dracaena marginata (dragon tree).  I've had one for years in my conservatory.  It is normal for the leaves at the bottom to drop off because that is how the trunk grows.  You get the same thing with most palms, which is why they get that curious pattern on the trunk.  Mine has three stems so the top must have been cut off at some point before I got it.  Perhaps that will happen to yours?

  • KoalagirlKoalagirl Posts: 225

    Actually, I just checked on the internet and it says that you can chop the top off and it will produce new leaves.  Interestingly enough, it also says that they are sensitive to fluoride so you may want to be careful if you live in an area with fluoride in the tap water.

    Mine is in the biggest pot that I want to use and it tries to push itself out of the pot. Every now and then I tip it out of the pot, cut off some roots and repot it with fresh compost.  It doesn't appear to mind.

  • LilyanneLilyanne Posts: 21

    I have a plant with one stem, but a bit of a gap between leaves. Do you think iIf I cut off the top of this one,I could cultivate it and generate a new plant - and also, the original plant would survive and produce new leaves?

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I can't guarantee it, but I often behead mine and push the cut-off sections into the compost. The majority generally take, and the cut stem usually produces two or three shoots. It's best to do this around about June.

  • EllieS1982EllieS1982 Posts: 6

    Thanks so much everyone for all the advice (and the identification)!  It sounds like he might be for the chop then..... I'm a but nervous about doing that, but if it might help, I suppose I should take the plunge.  Should I literally just cut straight across below where the leaves are?

    Will also try giving him a mist.  We don't generally have the heating on all that much, and my flat is quite draughty, but I suppose his leaves could be drying out a bit.  I'll also double check he's not sitting in water.

    Thanks again, and I'm glad if Bob and I gave some of you a giggle!image

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