Apartment plants

Tronchetto della felicita


Question: log of happiness


My trunk continues to yellow what can I do? thanks

Answer: log of happiness


Dear Arianna,
the trunk of happiness It is a plant of tropical origin, accustomed to a hot and humid climate; at home it is cultivated quite simply, watering regularly, so as to keep the soil always a little damp, and keeping the plant in a well-lit area of ​​the house. In autumn and winter, watering is thinned, supplying water only when the soil is dry. The reasons why your boot will turn yellow may be due to a lack or over-watering, to a lack or over-fertilization, to an excess of direct sunlight.
Below we offer an interesting insight into the Tronchetto della Felicità and the cultivation of this splendid plant.

The log of happiness


The dracena marginata, popularly known as the "log of happiness", is one of the most widespread and appreciated houseplants. Its popularity is due to the ease of cultivation, the low maintenance it requires and the beautiful leaves, of homogeneous or variegated coloring, which are combined with many different types of furniture.
The genus Dracaena includes about 40 species and can be ascribed to the family of the Aspargaceae (although some make it part of the Liliaceae). The origin is tropical: in the spontaneous state they grow in the humid African and Asian forests. They are characterized by extremely slow growth (15 cm per year at best), but at the same time they are very long lasting. In nature they can reach not indifferent dimensions (even more than 10 meters), but in cultivation they rarely exceed the 3. They are formed by very long and naked stems which bear, at the apex, beautiful linear or lanceolate leathery leaves. Flowering and fruiting are very rare events in our latitudes, but they do not represent an attraction.

Cultivation of the log of happiness


The log of happiness adapts easily to growth in interiors as it requires almost stable temperatures throughout the year. The only things to pay attention to are irrigation and lighting.
The log of happiness is to be considered almost exclusively an indoor plant: the minimum temperature that bears is about 12 ° C. Outdoor cultivation can therefore be carried out only in extremely southern areas and making use of thick cover during the winter months.
The thermometer should ideally score between 18 and 21 ° C in every season: in this condition we will have the maximum growth rate. Another important factor of well-being is the high environmental humidity: it must always be around 70%. Air that is too dry, especially during periods of high heat, can cause desiccation before the leaves and then the stems. To meet our plant we can, several times a day, vaporize the leaves or, if it is outside, wet the surrounding floor.






















































































THE FELICIT BAG IN BRIEF

Family, genus, species

Aspargaceae, gen Dracaena, marginata
Type of plant shrub
dimensions More than 10 m in nature, 3 m in the apartment
Foliage Persistent
Foliage color Green, variegated, tricolor
Maintenance low
Growth slow

Cultivation
Exposure Very bright, no direct sun
Ground For green plants + compost, well-drained
soil pH From subacid to neutral
Minimum temperature 10-12 ° C
Ideal temperature 18-21 ° C
irrigations Frequent, no stagnation; suspend in vegetative rest
Environmental humidity high
Fertilizer For green plants, rich in nitrogen
Propagation Head or stem cutting
Pests and diseases Coccinigli, red spider mites, rot and cryptogams

Exposure


The right location must be very bright but avoiding direct sunlight, especially in the hottest months of the year. We choose a room facing South or West, with large windows. To avoid sunburn, from May to September, we can use light colored curtains (even only during the hottest hours of the day). In this period we can also decide to move the vases outside, on a balcony or (if available) in the garden.
We always choose a luminous location, but where the sun is filtered by thin foliage. We rotate the jar every 15 days so that growth is balanced.
The most widespread species in cultivation (marginata and fragrans) also tolerate more shady areas: the most obvious consequences will be a further slowing down of weak growth and a less lively coloring of the foliage.

Climate and environmental humidity



The log of happiness is to be considered almost exclusively an indoor plant: the minimum temperature that bears is about 12 ° C. Outdoor cultivation can therefore be carried out only in extremely southern areas and making use of thick cover during the winter months.
The thermometer should ideally score between 18 and 21 ° C in every season: in this condition we will have the maximum growth rate. Another important factor of well-being is the high environmental humidity: it must always be around 70%. Air that is too dry, especially during periods of high heat, can cause desiccation before the leaves and then the stems. To meet our plant we can, several times a day, vaporize the leaves or, if it is outside, wet the surrounding floor.

Tronchetto in winter


For dracena it is not strictly necessary; if we want in winter we can move the pots in a little heated room, avoiding however to go below 15 ° C. At the same time we will drastically reduce irrigation and make the area more shady. This will clearly affect slowing growth.
























Purchase of the log of happiness



Plants can be purchased at any time of the year: in any case we check especially the substrate and the collar. They must absolutely not be too wet or notice the first signs of rot. It is always a good idea to immediately repot the specimens to control the root system and replace the soil, which is not always adequate.

Repotting


The best time for repotting is always the spring, at the end of the possible vegetative rest.
We choose small containers, slightly larger than earthen bread: in fact, the dragon tree tends to occupy all the available space with its roots before focusing again on the growth of the foliage. The terracotta ones are ideal: they guarantee excellent transpiration and, being heavy, they prevent this plant (often tall and narrow) from falling due to the wind.

Soil and composition of the vase



The creation of a thick draining layer (based on gravel, expanded clay, pumice or lapillus) is extremely important in this case. The ideal height is at least 3 cm, also checking that the drain holes are well clear. We insert our dracena in the center and fill the empty space with a compost for houseplants to which we will have mixed some of the flour manure. If we want to produce ourselves the substratum we will have to mix generic soil, ground of leaves and peat in equal parts, adding some organic soil improver.
We compress well and irrigate abundantly, but then letting the pot drain to perfection.
If we want to obtain a fuller and more bushy effect, we can use a wider container and combine a greater number of plants.

Irrigation


Irrigation is the aspect to be cared for most if we want to obtain luxuriant specimens. The dracena should be bathed often during the whole vegetative period, paying attention to avoid water stagnation. The ideal is to wait until the first two centimeters of soil have dried completely before giving water again. If desired we can, twice a month, rehydrate the plant well by immersing the pot, up to the edge, in a basin. Then let it drain perfectly. Occasionally the plant also benefits from exposure to rain: let's place it outside when a storm arrives. This will help us to clean the leaves in depth and to release stomata from the impurities of the domestic environment.
If we make it respect a period of vegetative rest, we will have to significantly reduce the water supply: in this case we will always wait for the earth bread to be dry for half of its height.

Dracena fertilization



Making fertilizer is very important to prevent growth, which is already slow, becoming even less evident. Ideal are the liquid products for green plants in which the nitrogen is predominant. They must be diluted a lot (even twice as much as indicated on the package) and administered every two weeks. We can do it throughout the year if the weather conditions of our apartment are stable; otherwise we will totally suspend during the vegetative rest period, indicatively from mid-October to the end of March.

Pruning


Pruning is completely unnecessary given the slow growth of these plants. In any case, it is possible to intervene if we want to obtain a more curled and bushy looking specimen. In this case we will cut one of the stems at about 10 cm from the base and apply to the wound of the appropriate mastic or (if we do not have it) some vinyl glue. This treatment will induce the release of new lateral buds and consequently new branches within two months.
The ruined leaves should be removed as soon as possible to the base.

Propagation of the dragon tree



To obtain new specimens it is possible to operate using apical cuttings or stem segments; proceed at the beginning of spring or at the end of summer.
Apical cutting
You must choose juvenile and totally herbaceous apexes, about 10 cm long. We cut with sharp and disinfected scissors, eliminating at least half of the leaves. Put them in half of their length in small jars filled with a very draining compost (half peat and half sand or perlite). We always keep the humidity of the substratum and the environment high, but let's avoid watering. It is useful to cover the jars with a transparent plastic bag, then air it at least twice a day. It is also important to maintain constant temperatures between 21 and 25 ° C. The rooting takes place in about 2 months: at that point we will be able to move into the final compost and begin to fertilize, but in very diluted doses.
Cutting from stem segments
Proceed as above, but starting from stem segments about 5 cm long. It is a convenient method for those who have pruned their own plants to favor their planting.

Tronchetto della felicita: Parasites and diseases of the dragon tree


The most common parasites are cochineal, red spider mite and various cryptogams that affect the leaves and the root system.
Cochineal can be removed manually; in case of serious infestations we can resort to mineral oils and systemic insecticides, to be inserted possibly also in the ground.
Mites are prevented by maintaining high environmental humidity and avoiding too hot exposures. In severe cases we resort to specifically designed pesticides that affect all growth stages of these pests.
In case of stains on the leaves, let's activate them by cutting them at the base and spray the others with a broad spectrum fungicide. We limit watering and humidification for some time.
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THE CALENDAR OF THE FELICIT BAG

repotting

End of winter
Pruning and cleaning from old leaves End of winter

Talea
Early spring, late summer
Vegetative rest (not necessary) November to March
Composting Always or November-March: every 15 days