Monday, June 8, 2009

Question for the Hive Mind: strange Dracaena 'Janet Craig Compacta' behavior

So. Back at work on Saturday, which doesn't mean I haven't quit, just that a sort of loophole has been found whereby I could help out for a couple days, which is nice for all concerned, I guess. I don't know. It was weird to be back but not back but back.

The plan is to go back again today, Monday, and work another part-day, which should be about as enjoyable as work ever gets, because it's supposed to involve helping to put away a new tropical order from Florida, an event which happens only four times a year or so and which is always way better than Christmas. (Those of you who are watching me on Twitter may recall that there's supposed to be a Pleomele thalioides in this order specifically for me. All kinds of other potential points of interest and impulse buys as well, but the Pleomele is the one I'm most interested in seeing. I don't know why: they're not especially pretty plants. I just need one.)

Anyway. So but to get to the point of the post, when I was at work on Saturday, I saw that the Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig Compacta' plants were all doing this:

The simplest way to describe it would be to say that it looks like one of the leaves, not too long ago, simply refused to uncurl as it emerged, and every leaf since has grown up into the center of this original rebellious leaf, over time becoming a tightly compacted wad of non-unfurling leaves. In every case I saw, at some point this had forced the wad to bend sharply over to the side.

The main question, then, would be: what the hell? How does something like this get started in the first place? What's keeping the original rebel leaf held together, despite the pressure from the leaves growing inside it? I didn't see any evidence of bugs or anything.

The other odd thing is that all six growing tips, on two plants, which weren't together, are doing this, and they appear to have started at more or less the same time, because the affected foliage is roughly the same-sized wad on all six. So whatever it is clearly has a cause of some kind. This isn't just an accidental forgetting to unfurl kind of thing. And it's not a mechanical damage kind of thing, because the wads are all still firmly attached to the plant.

So . . . anybody have any guesses? I can't tell you what's happened to them in the last couple weeks, because I wasn't around, but maybe someone has seen this before?


Claude said...

just guessing, hard to tell from several hundred miles away, but I'd say something happened to cause the new leaf to die and dry out... maybe a freeze? Or maybe it got to dry during shipment? Anyway, whatever happened, it dried out in a closed state, dried and constricted around the growing point...

Then the growing point continued growing and is trying to bust out.

But I don't really grow draceanas, so I don't really know what I'm talking about...

Blueszz2000 said...

Some sort of stress, lack of water, temperature changes, lack of humidty - are the best things I can come up with.

mr_subjunctive said...

I should have mentioned that these have been in the greenhouse at work for as long as I've worked there, and have never done anything like this before.

My first thought was that maybe they'd gotten cold -- we did have a cold night semi-recently. I asked somebody if, to the best of their knowledge, there'd been a night where the vents didn't get closed or something, and they said no, not to their knowledge. (And anyway, anything dramatic enough to have caused this really should have caused the other plants to do something too. As far as I can tell, whatever it is only affected the Dracaenas, and only these two specific Dracaenas.)

sheila said...

No clue here, but I'll throw out some wild guesses - bird of paradise leaves can get "stuck" when the humidity is low and never unfurl, but that's only one leaf, not a bunch of them.

My other thought, due to the fact that it happened to them all at once, was perhaps some sort of reaction to a chemical spray? I've seen new growth get deformed on scheffleras and such when sprayed heavily with hort oil.

John de said...

Okay wild guess-- but could this be some kind of flower bud growth? Perhaps good conditions initiated a flower bud, and now it is kind of aborting them.
Hard to tell from the picture!

Anonymous said...

I had a Crassula do something similar - the very tips of its newest leaf pair had been damaged. They got crimped together, died, and dried out, but the majority of the leaves were fine; they just didn't spread out. When it grew new leaves anyway, they tried to force their way out the sides, beneath the crimp. Removing the dead tissue at the tip let the second-newest leaves spread out and solved the problem. If you've already ruled out mechanical damage, though, that hardly helps. =/
Very weird that all of the tips are doing it on both plants.