How To Save A Dying Corn Plant?

How To Save A Dying Corn Plant?

If your corn plant is dying, it is due to an environmental factor that is causing it stress. In order to revive it, you need to be able to correctly diagnose the cause of the problem. The sooner you identify the cause, the better your chances of saving the plant.

The most common causes of dying corn plants are underwatering, overwatering, too much sunlight, humidity issues and fertilizer issues.

In this article, we will discuss the reasons your corn plant may be dying, and how to save it.

Why is my corn plant dying?

Underwatering

Your corn plant may be underwatered if its leaves are turning yellow and drooping. These are signs of dehydration.

When a plant loses moisture, it will save its remaining resources for its younger foliage and sacrifice the older leaves at the bottom of the plant. This is why the leaves turn brown, especially those closest to the base of the plant.

You can save an underwatered plant by soaking the soil with water until you see the excess water flowing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This will ensure that all of the roots have received water.

You may be tempted to correct the underwatering by overwatering your plant. Do not do this. Only water the plant when the top of the soil in the pot is dry to the touch. If the soil is still damp, wait one or two days and then check the soil again.

After a few days, your plant should be back to its normal self.

Overwatering

Another reason your corn plant is dying may be overwatering. This can be due to watering the plant too often, giving it more water than necessary per watering, leaving it outside during the rainy season, using poorly-draining soil, or using a pot without drainage holes. All of these factors contribute to the plant’s roots becoming waterlogged.

If the plant’s roots are constantly standing in soggy soil, they will drown and die. The dead roots become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens, which then cause root rot. If the rot is not detected in its early stages, it can move up to the rest of the plant and kill it.

Suspect overwatering if the soil is always damp, the leaves are droopy, yellow and soft, or the roots have turned brown or black and smell like rotten vegetation.

Save an overwatered corn plant by removing it from the pot and shaking off all the soil from the roots. If there are brown and black parts on the roots, cut them off using a clean knife or a pair of scissors. Let the plant air-dry for 24 hours. Once the roots are dry, you can replant it. Choose a pot that is either clay or terracotta, because these materials are more breathable and allow the soil to dry faster and air to circulate better. Make sure you use soil that is well-draining, such as a peat-based soil.

Water the plant only when the top two inches of soil are dry. If they are still damp, wait one or two days and check the soil again.

You need to manage your expectations, especially if the plant’s roots are mostly rotten. There is a chance you can save it, but it might be very slim.

Too much sunlight

Another reason your corn plant may be dying is because it is getting too much sunlight. When you see brown spots on your plant’s leaves that have a yellow ring around them, this is probably sun damage. When the plant takes in too much light, it will break down the chloroplasts in its cells because they are no longer needed. The plant thinks that the strong light can make up for the limited number of chloroplasts to keep it alive. This is, of course, not healthy. 

Another symptom of too much sunlight is when the plant’s leaves start to grow inward. This is the plant’s way of protecting new foliage from sun damage.

Reduce the plant’s light exposure by moving it to a different location or by positioning a curtain to diffuse the light coming in.

Humidity issues

When the tips of the plant’s leaves are turning brown, there could be an issue with the humidity in your home. Air conditioning, humidifiers, or heating vents could also be causing drafts to flow through your home and affect the plant, causing these symptoms.

If the plant has been growing without any problem for a long time but is suddenly showing negative signs, you need to consider any environmental changes that might have occurred in your home.

Check for drafts by inspecting the vents in your home and whether they could possibly be blowing in the direction of your corn plant.

Corn plants like their humidity anywhere between 40% to 50%. In the dry winter months, humidity can be quite low, so adjust your watering schedule to make up for this. You can also mist your plant with a spray bottle.

Fertilizer use

Aside from sufficient water, corn plants also need nutrients to grow. Use a fertilizer once a month during the growing season, but not during the winter when the plant is dormant. Fertilizing the corn plant during the winter has no benefits.

How do you save a dying corn plant?

You can save the dying corn plant by cutting off the dead parts, such as the yellow and brown leaves and the rotten roots. Use clean gardening scissors and make sure you sterilize these after each cut in order not to spread the pathogens. Trim regularly until you see budding in the trimmed areas.

Do not remove the stumps of your dead corn plant. Even if you suspect a dying root system, never cut right down to it. Leave two to three inches of stump above the soil to help facilitate sprouting. This method is suggested because not all corn plants with brown leaves and stalks are beyond saving. Trimming the stalk could result in new growth, so give the plant some time to prove that it is still alive before you choose to get rid of it completely.

To avoid overwatering, water only when the soil is dry, but do not wait too long between watering as this can result in underwatering or drought.

The best way to get rid of disease and pests is to constantly inspect the plant for signs and symptoms. Catching an infestation early is key to effectively eradicating pests and disease.

Conclusion

If a corn plant is dying, there is an environmental factor causing the plant stress. You need to figure out the cause of the problem as soon as possible in order to fix it promptly.

The most common causes of dying corn plants are underwatering, overwatering, too much sunlight, humidity issues and fertilizer issues.

Image: istockphoto.com / dimid_86