On June 8, 2009, I bought a Dracaena thalioides from my ex-job. (Posted about it here.) At the time, I was pretty excited about this, because this was the first time I'd had the chance to get one, and they're one of those plants like Pandanus veitchii that I only knew from books. Not even as many books.
And it's not an un-handsome plant. Not flashy, granted, but I've seen worse. Plus it's a Dracaena, so I was figuring that probably it'd be pretty trouble-free. It seemed like a solid investment.
Could not have been more wrong.
When I first got it, it looked like this:
And then it almost immediately turned yellow, which I assumed was a nutritional problem of some kind, so at one point or another I tried everything I could think of: fertilizer with and without trace nutrients, fertilizer containing nothing but trace nutrients, epsom salts, acidifying the soil, changing the soil, etc. And nothing worked.
At the same time, it also developed a raging spider mite infestation that was, now that I think back, probably the actual reason for the yellowing -- once a plant's leaves turn yellow from spider mite damage, they're that way forever -- but I also tried everything I could think of to get rid of the mites too (neem oil, spraying soapy water on the plant and then sticking it in the shower, soapy neem, hand-wiping every individual leaf top and bottom with soapy water, spraying all the leaves top and bottom in the shower, every time I watered, etc.), and they Would. Not. Go. Away.
Plus I think the D. thalioides was serving as a spider mite reservoir for everything else in the area (mostly Dracaena reflexa 'Riki,' though I also saw them more than once on Anthurium andraeanum, which is unusual for Anthurium), which meant spreading around even more neem, more soapy water, etc.
So last week I finally gave up on the damn thing and threw it in the back yard to freeze and die. (Which hasn't happened yet: so far it's just lying on its side. The freezing will come later.) By that point, it looked like this:
There are sites on-line that apparently do sell D. thalioides, mostly European, and they appear to be available as landscape plants in Florida, or at least parts of Florida. And, strangely, Water Roots appears to have had one in Canada at one time, according to a photo; I don't know how that worked out for her. (Are you reading this? How's the plant now?) How anybody manages to get this to work without the spider mite populations getting so heavy that they bend the stems over, I have no idea, but D. thalioides is one plant I will not be trying again indoors.
Happily, the other four plants I bought at the same time (the Big Damn Screw Pine, Senecio macroglossus, Furcraea foetida 'Medio-Picta,' and Zingiber malaysianum) are all doing much better. The Zingiber has done so well for me that it's become one of my favorite plants, in fact. And I already knew I loved Pandanus. So just the one dud from that batch, which is not so bad.
But seriously. Worst Dracaena ever. Do not buy a Dracaena thalioides. Unless Water Roots tells you you may. And you have a really clean establishment to buy from, that offers a money-back guarantee.