Dracaena x deremensis ‘Bausei’: Corn Plant

Dracaenas are so like cordylines that they are often mistaken for them. One of the several characteristics that distinguish them clearly from the latter are the roots which are not thickened (they are not suitable for propagation) and are either a bright yellow or deep orange inside, whereas the roots of cordylines are white.

Many more species of this genus have been described than is the case with Cordyline; as many as 80 have been recorded, distributed in the tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa. It is also from there that they were introduced into cultivation between the mid-18th and early 19th centuries, with the loveliest shape and colour deviations naturally being selected for further cultivation.

The cultivar has leaves about 40 cm (16 in) long and 6 cm (2’,4 in) wide. Characteristic are the arching leaves; in older plants these are sometimes almost pendant. Also frequently grown is the cultivar ‘Warnecki’, in which the creamy-white centre is often patterned with longitudinal green stripes of varying width and narrower pale zones at the leaf edges on either side of the main stripe. The type species, up to 5 m (16 ft) high, with green foliage, is very rarely found in cultivation.

The related D. fragrans, likewise from tropical Africa, has yielded several attractive forms, for instance ‘Massangeana’ with green margins to the leaf and a centre striped yellow-green and creamy-white; and ‘Lindenii’ with leaves that are nearly white with narrow green margins. There are naturally many more.

Also lovely are dracaenas with smaller, long-stalked, oval leaves such as D. godseffiana from the Congo with leaves patterned with white, blurred spots; and D. goldieana with leaves spotted crosswise.

Dracaenas are among the hardiest of house plants, tolerating the conditions of modern centrally-heated homes as well as colder situations. Cultivation is the same as for cordyline. Propagation is by tip and stem cuttings laid on a peaty-sand compost in a warm and moist propagator.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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