Mass cane, also known as corn plant, is a popular houseplant known for its tall, corn-like stalks and large, tropical foliage. While mass canes are easy to care for, there are some common mistakes that can hinder their health and growth. Avoid these missteps for a thriving indoor corn plant.
Not Providing Bright Light
Mass cane thrives in bright, indirect light. Insufficient light is one of the most common reasons corn plant leaves turn brown or yellow. Place mass cane near an east, west, or lightly shaded south window. Rotate the plant occasionally for even light exposure. Supplement with a grow light if needed. Low light will starve the plant.
Keeping Soil Too Wet
Overwatering is a prime mass cane killer. These tropical plants are adapted to drought and cannot tolerate constantly soggy soil. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. Check by inserting your finger into the potting mix. Reduce watering frequency in winter when growth is slower. Let excess moisture drain freely from the pot.
Using a Pot That’s Too Small
Mass cane grows quickly and needs room for its expanding root system. Use a pot that’s only 2-4 inches wider than the current root ball. Repot annually in spring as needed into the next size up. A too-small pot restricts growth and causes lower leaves to yellow or brown due to lack of water and nutrients.
Not Providing Support
Mature mass cane plants can reach 6-10 feet tall and occasionally need support to remain upright. Stake taller stalks or place the pot in a heavy pedestal planter to prevent toppling. Trim and propagate top-heavy plants. Use plant velcro ties to gently corral leaning stalks until roots expand to anchor in the pot.
Allowing Pets to Chew Leaves
Pets like cats and dogs may chew on mass cane leaves if able to access the plant. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate the mouth and gastrointestinal tract if ingested. Keep housepets away from the plant or place it in an area they can’t access. Trim off any damaged leaves which are unsightly and invite disease.
Not Providing Sufficient Humidity
Mass cane naturally grows in the humid tropics. In dry indoor air, its leaf tips and margins may turn brown. Boost humidity by misting the leaves daily or placing the pot on a pebble tray. Use a humidifier during winter when heaters create very dry air. Failing to provide adequate humidity will cause the leaves to crisp and dry.
Letting Leaf Dust Build Up
As a large, fast growing plant, mass cane foliage collects dust easily. Wipe down the leaves once a month with a damp cloth to remove accumulated dust. This allows the leaves to function and ‘breathe’ properly. Dusty leaves can also harbor insect pests like spider mites. Prevent dust build up to keep your corn plant looking its best.
Not Providing Regular Fertilizer
During the active growing season from spring through summer, mass cane needs regular fertilizer to look lush and vigorous. Use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength every two weeks. In fall and winter, reduce feeding to monthly as growth naturally slows. Fertilize in spring to support rapid new stalk growth.
Exposing Plant to Cold Drafts
Mass cane prefers warm conditions between 65-80°F. Avoid placing the pot near cold drafty windows in winter which can shock the plant and damage leaves. Move the corn plant away from air conditioning vents blowing cold air directly on it. Protect leaves from chilly outdoor air when transporting the plant for seasonal maintenance.
Propagating at the Wrong Time
For the highest success rate, propagate mass cane by divisions in early spring before active growth resumes. Avoid taking divisions during winter dormancy or summer heat when plants are stressed. In spring, divide congested rootballs into smaller clumps, ensuring each has some roots and stalks. Plant immediately into potting mix.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can keep your mass cane thriving for many years as an attractive, clean air-boosting houseplant. Check soil moisture, provide ample humidity and light, use proper pot size, fertilize regularly, and protect from drafts and pets for optimal corn plant health.