Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
There’s no getting around it: Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’) has been one of the most popular houseplants in the world since its introduction back in the 1930s. The reason is simple: Janet Craig is among the most easygoing, fuss-free plants you’re ever likely to meet, and looks spectacular even when placed in poor light and given very little actual care. If the real Janet Craig acted anything like the plant named after her, we’re pretty sure she would have been every plant lover’s best friend.
Like most Dracaenas, Janet Craig is easily identifiable thanks to its straight, woody canes and the glossy, sword-shaped, deep green leaves that sprout from them. While it starts off as a small tuft of leaves, it can easily grow to 6-8’ tall and looks especially striking when clustered in a pot or planting bed with multiple other “Janets” of differing heights. Janet Craig may be popular, even common, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It’s a rich, neat-but-exotic-looking plant that brings a vibrant dose of the African jungle to your home or office.
Characteristics and traits of a Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
- Scientific Name: Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’
- Genus: Dracaena
- Family: Agavaceae
- Common Name: Janet Craig Dracaena
- Indoor: All year in temperatures 65-90F
- Outdoor Zones: 10-12
- Type: Perennial evergreen; propagated via cuttings
- Mature Height: 2-9’
- Mature Width: 1-3’
- Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
- Growth Rate: Slow
- Flower: Extremely rare. Single stalk holding dozens of tiny white buds, not unlike broccolini.
- Foliage: Dark green, sword-shaped leaves 3” wide but up to 2’ long that spray from a central stalk not unlike a Troll doll’s hair.
Plant Care and Advice for Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
- Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10-12
- Light Requirements: Low to bright indirect light, even fluorescents. Dislikes direct sun.
- Water Requirements: Water generously, but allow top 1-2 inches of soil to dry before watering again. Janet does not enjoy standing in a puddle.
- Drought Tolerance: Good
- Temperature: Likes indoor room temp. 65-90F. Can discolor at temps higher than 90F, growth stalls at temps lower than 70F. Will show cold damage if left below 55F for several days, or if below 35F for a shorter period of time.
- Air Purification: Excellent - One of best plants available for removing trichloroethylene.
- Toxicity: Saponins in plant can cause vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, and dilated pupils in dogs, cats, and horses.
- Fertilizer: Plant is sensitive to buildup of fertilizer salts in soil, so use only high-quality (urea-free) general fertilizer at half strength every two weeks only during warm months
- Container Friendly: Yes - Be sure it drains well
- Planting: Repotting every 2-3 years is beneficial. Like most plants, Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ needs good drainage. However, it’s not opposed to organic material. A soil mix of peat, pine bark, and 10% sand is good. Do not add perlite to Janet Craig’s soil, as it can cause fluoride burn (brown leaf tips). When repotting, be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole. For tall, multi-stemmed Janets, be aware that each stem is likely its own separate plant, which may need at least temporary support when repotting.
- Plant Care: Janet Craig is remarkably easy to care for. It does just fine in low and/or fluorescent light (and actually dislikes direct sun, which can overheat the plant and bleach the leaves). It likes the room about the same 65-80F temperatures as you (growth will stall below 70F, and 90F+ will actually harm the plant). It appreciates extra humidity but doesn’t require it, and is a bit less sensitive to drafts as many other tropicals. Dracaena Deremensis is also easygoing with regards to watering. True, it fares poorly in soggy soil, but prefers when the top inch or two of soil dries out between waterings. It’s a bit sensitive to the salts that can build up from fertilizers, and grows slowly anyway, so a half-strength dose of general (say, 20-20-20) fertilizer every two weeks during the warm season is plenty. With a mature height of up to 9’, Dracaena Deremensis can easily outgrow its space. Fortunately, the plant is a snap to prune. Just lop it off at the canes at whatever height you choose, and the plant will soon bud a new tuft of leaves (possibly more than one) just below the cut line. The trimmed cane can also be rooted to clone a new plant, if desired.
- Expert Advice: Dracaena Deremensis is self-pruning, so older/lower leaves will turn yellow and fall away over time. If older leaves seem to be disappearing faster than new leaves are growing in to replace them, there are a number of possible causes that must be sorted through. The plant may need extra humidity (misting, a pebble tray, etc). It may have a fungal disease such as root rot (this is especially likely if the leaves also look droopy and the plant has been allowed to sit in waterlogged soil). It may be reacting to fertilizer salts built up in the soil (flush with water to clear) or soil. Finally, it may be suffering from fluoride or other chemicals added to its water (let water sit 24 hours before using or switch to distilled water). Dry, “crispy” patches or brown edges can indicate a need for more water. Dracaena Deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ is resistant to most fungal diseases, but shares most plants' susceptibility to root rot if forced to sit in water-saturated soil. One of the few other fungals it can contract is Fusarium leaf spot, which is treatable with a preventative fungicide. It is also largely resistant to pests, outside of the rare bout of mealybugs, spider mites, or thrips. Janet Craig propagates readily via cuttings. Simply cut the top of the cane off and strip away the leaves on the lower half of the cane. Insert in a mix of peat, pine bark, and 10% sand (or other appropriate rooting medium), and keep moist, but not soggy. New roots should form within four weeks. Most Janet Craig plants never flower even after decades, but a select few have been known to bloom. A flower spike rises from the center of the plant and reveals a cluster of dozens of tiny white buds, resembling a head of broccolini. The bloom is sometimes accompanied by clear, oozing sap and a potentially unpleasant odor.