When your plant gets a little overgrown, you can restore its good looks with a quick trim. That's also the perfect time to take cuttings to grow new plants.

By Megan Hughes
Updated November 23, 2020
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The houseplant known as corn plant (also called dracaena) features long, strap-like leaves that resemble the maize plant, or more commonly known as the corn we eat. Though the name implies a relation, these two species are not at all related. While corn plant is one of the easiest houseplants you can grow, it can look a little gangly and overgrown over time. That's the perfect opportunity to cut it back and propagate more of these plants from cuttings. Then, you can give the new, young plants away to new homes or keep them and create your own lush living room plant jungle. Timing and patience play into the success of growing more corn plants from cuttings. Here's what you need to know.

Three varieties of dracaena in pots sitting in room near window
Credit: Jacob Fox

Making the Cut

Spring and early summer are the best times to cut back your corn plant. Not only will the original plant recover quickly from the trimming, but the new cuttings are likely to root faster in the prolonged bright light. Using a pair of clean, sharp pruners ($13, The Home Depot), cut an 8-inch or longer length of stem that includes four to six leaves from a cane of your existing plant. Reduce the size of your plant significantly by removing a longer piece of cane. The cane on the original plant normally will re-sprout just below the cut, although it may take a couple of months to do so.

Caring for the Cutting

Remove any excess leaves from the cutting so that it has four or so leaves remaining. The leaves are essential for producing the fuel the plant needs to produce new roots. If you made an exceptionally long cutting, reduce the overall length so that about 4 inches of cane extends below the leaves. Make an angled cut at the rooting end of the cane. Dip the cut end in rooting power ($6, Etsy), then stick the cutting into a pot of pumice, perlite, or coarse sand. Potting soil isn’t a good choice for rooting corn plant because it will stay too damp and rot the stem before it can root.

Keep the rooted cutting in a bright location, but out of direct sunlight until new roots form. Check the potting medium for moisture every other day or so. Water when it feels slightly dry to the touch. Corn plant cuttings take about eight weeks to form roots. After that time has passed, gently try to lift the stem. If you feel strong resistance, the cutting has rooted and can be replanted in a houseplant potting mix. If the stem is wobbly when you lift it, it needs a little more time to root.

Try Air Layering

If you want to try getting fancy with propagating your corn plant, you can use an advanced technique called air layering. Similar to cuttings, air layering begins with cutting a stem. Rather than completely cutting off the stem, simply make a notch about halfway around the stem with a clean, sharp blade. Prop it open with small pieces of toothpicks. Dust the open wound with rooting powder. Wrap moist sphagnum moss around the cut stem and enclose the moss in clear plastic. Keep the moss moist but not soggy until you see new roots developing. At that time, cut off the stem just below the roots, and pot up the new plant.


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