Janet Craig Dracaena: Low Light Workhorse Houseplant [GUIDE]

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Summary: Dracaena Janet Craig is an interior workhorse, popular for decades, used frequently as a floor plant in interior situations or mass planted in beds. Survives in low light levels and grows best in filtered light.

The Dracaena Janet Craig plant, along with Dracaena fragrans (corn plant), has been an interior workhorse and one of the most popular house plants used indoors for decades.

various forms of dracaena deremensis (aka janet craig)Pin

Although Dracaena deremensis, which has the common name of “Janet Craig,” reaches heights of 15′ feet in its native Africa, plants grown for indoor use are much smaller in size.

Usually propagated as tip cuttings, with 3 to 4 stalks or tips per pot. 

J Craigs have shiny, solid, wide, dark green leaves with wavy margins, measuring 3″ inches wide and approximately 2′ feet long.

Their long, tapered leaves, pleated-like foliage, and rich green colors help make them attractive plants for interiors.

Used frequently as floor plants in interior situations or for mass planting in beds. 

Similarly, this plant should not be consumed by humans due to its high saponin content. Ingestion of this plant may lead to gastrointestinal upset and other adverse reactions in some people. 

dracaena janet craig tips calPin

Most Dracaena Janet Craig plants grown for interior use are 10″ inch pots with three plants per pot, ranging in height from 24″ to 32″ inches.

Some 14″ inch pots are grown as well with four plants per pot and reach a height of 30″ to 42″ inches in their natural environment.

When purchasing a bush form, look for a plant whose width is 50% to 75% of the plant’s height.

Over the last few years, we have seen the introduction of Janet Craig cane-type plants enter the market from Hawaiian growers.

We see some taller plant sizes produced, reaching heights of 6′ – 8′ feet tall in very small pots compared to their height.

It should be noted the correct botanical name for “Dracaena Janet Craig” is Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig” and is known throughout the plant industry simply as “Janet Craig.”

Dracaena Janet Craig Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena fragrans ‘Janet Craig’
  • Common Name(s): Janet Craig Dracaena
  • Synonyms: Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’
  • Family & Origin: Asparagaceae family, native to tropical Africa
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-12
  • Size: Grows up to 15′ feet tall
  • Flowering: Rarely flowers indoors
  • Light: Prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate low light
  • Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
  • Temperature: Thrives in temperatures between 60-75°F
  • Soil: Well-draining potting soil
  • Water: Water when the top inch of soil is dry, do not overwater
  • Fertilizer: Feed every 2-3 months with a balanced liquid fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs, can also develop root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagated through stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Popular as an indoor plant, can improve air quality and add greenery to any space.

The history or “beginnings” go back to the 1930s or so. “Janet Craig” is actually a ‘sport’ or a variant of Dracaena Warneckii and was named after the daughter of nurseryman Robert Craig, who lived in the Philadelphia area.

Low Light Requirements Indoors

As an understory plant, Dracaena Janet Craig is an excellent low-light indoor plant.

Add the ability to handle medium to low humidity, air conditioning, plus infrequent care – you have the making of a very durable indoor plant in most home conditions.

It survives low light levels but grows best however in filtered bright indirect light but no direct sunlight. Janet Craig does well in room temperatures you are most comfortable in.

It is important to remember that the bathroom and living room have a consistent, higher humidity level that allows the plant to thrive well and a natural décor for the home.

Janet Craig Plant Hates Heat – Temperatures

dracaena janet craig cane does well in indirect bright lightPin

Dracena deremensis cultivars do not like heat. This is very important to remember, especially during summer months when plants have a tendency to discolor.

If all you have is a south or west exposure, you have to find a spot for it where the direct sun will never touch it, as the foliage will be damaged.  The recommended maximum temperature is 90° degrees Fahrenheit.

As temperatures increase above 95° degrees Fahrenheit, problems with leaf discoloring and leaves may develop notching. Brown leaf tips can mean the soil is too dry, the light is too bright, or the humidity is too low.

In the nursery, Janet Craig is grown in deep shade. This is not because the plants want low light. 

It’s also a great accent plant for a shady corner where most other corn plants would suffer in low-light conditions.

Growers shade Janet’s more for temperature control than to reduce actual light levels.

Potted Janet Craig, dark green leaves are shiny and smooth.Pin

Below 70° degrees Fahrenheit, Janet Craig shows little growth.

Cold damage will occur around 35° degrees Fahrenheit or if plants are exposed to 55° degrees Fahrenheit or lower for a week.

Janet Craig Dracaena Watering Guide and Requirements

Janet Craig needs well-drained potting soil. A mixture of peat and pine bark with perhaps 10% sand.

Stay away from adding perlite on Dracaenas because of fluoride problems that build up. Fluoride shows up on Dracaenas as brown tips or burns. Fluoride is great for teeth but not for Dracaenas.

Man smiling, holding potted plant indoors.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @planthousealx

More on Dracaena Care:

NOTE: It is recommended to allow tap water to sit for 24 hours before use to allow chemicals to dissipate. Better yet, use distilled water or rainwater for watering your Dracaena.

Better yet, use distilled water or rain water for watering your Dracaena, as the fluoride and chlorine in tap water can damage the plant. It is best to avoid wet or dry extremes. You will do much better keeping this green dracaena on the dry side.

Related: Discover 9 Reasons Dracaena Leaves Turn Yellow

Janet Craig is an excellent candidate for self-watering indoor planters.

Allow the moist soil to dry between 1/3 to 1/2 down before watering. Do not let your plant sit in water. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole.

Water thoroughly and remove the excess water from the saucer or bottom of the decorative container. If not excessively fertilized, the plant will tolerate considerable dryness.

While talking about watering, let’s look at the roots.

Dracaena Janet Craig and Dracaena Warneckii have almost two root systems. The main root and the finer secondary roots.

If you want to maintain a good strong plant, make sure the fine secondary roots are healthy. If the secondary roots experience problems, the tropical plant quality will go downhill quickly.

Pruning and Grooming

If you want, you can propagate the stem cuttings for more plants. The leaves, over time, will collect dust, and using a feather duster regularly will help keep foliage clean. Trim the brown tips and edges of the leaves to a natural contour with scissors. 

Foliage plants Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig at Walt Disney World, looking good under the right light conditions.Pin
Dark green leaves show off these Janet Craig house plants

High humidity encourages the plant to grow well and to thrive easily, making it easier for propagation for the next year or two. A new cluster of leaves will sprout from where it was cut. 

Fertilizing Dracaena Janet

Most Dracaenas grown commercially are fluoride-sensitive, and Dracaena Janet Craig is no exception.

The use of fertilizers indoors generally increases the possibility of damage from salts. Fertilizers leave salts behind in the soil.

The soil requirement of janet craig is a well-draining soil type that is very loose and has an excellent potting mix. The soil can be mixed with organic materials such as peat moss, perlite, gravel, vermiculite humus, charcoal, etc.

There should be a soil mix or potting mix to aid the plant in achieving its required optimal condition to survive and thrive.

Roots pick up the salts, moving them to the leaves. These “salts” accumulate in the leaf tips, and over time the salt levels become too high, burning the leaf tissues and causing leaf tips to turn brown.

The bare stump will sprout new leaves shortly for a more full and compact look. You should, of course, cut off any dead or damaged leaves whenever they occur during the year.

Growers use special fertilizers to grow Dracaenas. I would recommend you DO NOT fertilize your Dracaenas unless you use the correct plant food and understand the plant completely.

Pests – Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Thrips

dracaena janet craig mealy bugPin
large colony and mealybug threat

Janet Craig has relatively few insect pests. Indoors look for scale on plants, and mealybugs on Dracaena (see image) are occasional problems. Mealybugs are identified by their white, cottony masses, which may move slowly.

Scale insects are more difficult to spot. However, they appear to be woody growth bumps on the stems and their dark green leaves.

If you’re having trouble with insects or pests on Dracaenas and other houseplants, spend some time learning to check out their pest control basics.

If you wipe down the leaves of your Dracaena Janet Craig once a month with an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution, you should be able to keep most bugs away.

If you overwater Dracaena’ Janet Craig’ plants, fungal infections caused by root rot are widespread. Root degradation is slowed by wet soil, frequent irrigation, or inadequate drainage.

Overwatering can lead to root rot. Unfortunately, they’re difficult to detect until the infestation is severe. Treat your plant right away with insecticidal soap. 

Dracaena Deremensis Varieties and Sports

There are several “new” varieties of Janet Craig that have been introduced over the past few years. Primarily these have come from the Hawaiian growers who discovered these new “sports” in the production process.

Dracaena Lisa

dracaena lisa canePin

Also, an excellent low-light plant, Dracaena Lisa, at first look, appears like Janet Craig. After a closer look, you will see the leaves of Dracaena Lisa are much narrower.

The lush dark green foliage of Dracaena Lisa is attached to its notable green trunk, which also distinguishes it from Janet Craig.

Lisa is an upright columnar plant that usually reaches a height of not more than 8′ feet high. It has been grown exclusively in Hawaii, and supply can be very limited.

The green trunks of Dracaena Lisa and the upright growth of the plant made them perfect cane plants.

“Exotic” Dracaena Lisa canes make a nice focal point in easily seen areas at home.

A combination of Dracaena Lisa in staggered canes or various heights makes them very attractive, even in narrow spots in offices or buildings.

Dracaena Michiko

dracaena michiko hawaiiPin

Dracaena michiko is one of the world’s most sought-after Dracaena hybrids.

This fabulous plant is imported from Hawaii and is commonly known as Michiko cane because of its cane-like structure caused by its upright growth habit.

The leaves of this plant are held tighter to its trunks. This makes the plant a perfect plant to be put in narrow or tight areas or rooms with limited available space.

Dracaena Michiko plants grown in Hawaii seem to have greater life expectancy because of their extensive, well-developed root system.

The large size, full-grown look in smaller pot sizes means lower expenses spent on pots or decorative containers.

Michiko’s tall and upright or columnar growth makes them excellent choices for areas with limited space. Expect to pay more for Hawaiian-grown Dracaena Michiko.

Janet Craig Compacta

dracaena janet craig compactaPin

Dracaena Compacta (Janet Craig ‘compacta’) is a very small bird nest-like plant about one foot tall with small leaves.

Compacta is similar to Janet Craig but much smaller. This variety is slow growing and very durable. It has been around for about 35 years.

The dark green Janet Craig Dracaena “Compacta” is one to consider as a “low or no light bathroom plant.

We see it grown more as a low table plant in 6″-inch pots and also in multiples of threes in larger pots.

More available types of Dracaena plants for use indoors.

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