Dracaena Janet Craig is one of the most popular houseplants around, and while the name might be a mystery, it’s not hard to figure out why.
These plants are absolutely adorable, filter the air better than almost any other, and resist a lot of the issues other tropical plants experience.
So whether you’re a beginner looking to get your first plant established or looking for some specific advice on propagation or common issues, follow along with our complete Dracaena Janet Craig Plant Care Guide!
Dracaena Janet Craig Care Guide
History, habitat, and characteristics
Who is ‘Janet Craig’ and why is she… a plant? It’s a mystery to us too! Some say this plant was named after the daughter of its cultivator, but facts are hard to substantiate (some even mistake it for Dracaena fragrans).
What we can tell you is that Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ is an extremely popular indoor plant, found just as frequently in an office as a home. It’s a plant I had seen dozens of times before knowing its name, and now that I can recognize it, I see it everywhere.
Do they know they own Janet Craigs? I’m not sure! Many might think it’s a Corn plant, or just a ‘house plant’ (that’s how ubiquitous it is!).
Dracaena Janet Craig, an evergreen perennial, is native to tropical Africa, where it grows 10+ feet tall. As an indoor plant, it’ll be a great deal shorter and should remind you of the Corn plant or Mass Cane plant.
Its genus, Dracaena, means what it sounds like: dragon, named for a dark red resinous sap that it can produce when cut.
Deep down? There’s a bit of dragon in us all – and I can confirm this, having just left the home of an old family friend. Who did I meet there? Ol’ Janet Craig.
Janet Craig plants thrive indoors and outdoors, with some protection needed, during especially cold temperatures. The most common variety you’ll see is the Janet Craig Compacta, which is a dwarf variety that grows slowly and tends to bunch its leaves together a bit more.
Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ is adaptable to a variety of lighting conditions, as long as you avoid direct sunlight, which will scorch its leaves and greatly reduce its ability to filter your air and capture energy for itself. Instead, I recommend the bright light of a north or east-facing window.
If you put it near a west-facing exposure, be aware that it receives 4-6 hours of direct sunlight during the afternoon, so you’ll want to either move your plant or draw a sheer curtain during this time to prevent burning.
Although most placements are governed by ideal light, you’ll also want to consider the air-filtering properties of this indoor plant and place it somewhere you’ll be a lot. A bedroom while you’re sleeping, a living room that sees a lot of activity, or an office that you work from will all keep you in close company to this Dracaena.
To tell if the Janet Craig Plant is receiving too much or too little light, look for signs of discoloration or stunted growth.
Too much light may cause the leaves to become yellow or have brown edges, especially if it’s direct sun. Low light can cause the stems of the Janet Craig Plant to become long and spindly, and may result in drooping foliage.
If either of these scenarios occurs, you’ll have to relocate Dracaena Janet Craig to a new location with bright, indirect light.
During the winter months, the plant will require less light, which means you should also adjust your watering schedule… Let’s get into that.
Janet Craig plants are very, very sensitive to water. So what does that mean?
Well, first, you need to make sure the soil does not stay wet. This plant does not like standing water, not even a little bit. So big dunks of water or showers are fine, but always make sure to give it an opportunity to drain and empty any trays underneath.
Second, the fluoride and other minerals in tap water can damage its leaves. If this happens, you’ll notice brown leaf tips, extending to yellow, and then green. This is the plant sucking up those minerals and trying to migrate them back out into the soil again.
Just cut those parts off and use filtered water instead, ideally at room temperature.
How often to water? I’ve heard of people going weeks or even a month if the air is cooler or it’s the winter. Your conditions, pot, plant — all of these change the recommendations. So instead, you need to feel the top 2-3 inches of soil.
If they’re dry? It’s time for water.
Temperature and humidity
If you want to give your Janet Craig the power of eternal life and immortality — well, maybe that means there’s another conversation we should be having… but either way, the trick to those [and healthy dark green leaves, new growth] are the twin keys of temperature and humidity.
I get it; there’s only so much you can do. Indoor plants are almost always uprooted from the tropics, and most of our homes don’t have the same conditions. But we can get close enough!
For temperature, the regular temperature of a home actually suits Dracaena Janet Craig just fine. You do need to worry about shocking it with cold air, whether that’s an open window, a draft, or an air conditioner, or when you bring it home from the nursery.
Cannot emphasize this enough: very cold air will destroy Dracaena plants, even if it’s only for a few hours. So wrap it up snugly when bringing it home, and keep those temperatures stable, ideally between 65 – 80 F (average room temperatures for most indoor growers).
For humidity, anything above 40% will be greatly appreciated by your Dracaena Janet Craig plant. If you don’t have a way of knowing how humid your home is, the more the better. So how can we raise that humidity?
- Fill up a tray with small stones, pebbles, and water. Place it underneath your plant (or right next to). As the water evaporates, your Dracaena Janet Craig will smile. Or at least grow a bit faster.
- Place a small humidifier nearby, and if you don’t have one, cluster other plants.
- Avoid misting the leaves without wiping them down after. Water mist (from a spray bottle) doesn’t last too long in the air and really just attracts bugs and fungus.
Soil and planting
Dracaena Janet Craig plants love loose soil that isn’t overly sandy. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest soils to mix. You only need two ingredients:
- Potting soil. Pretty easy, right? Not garden soil, not some dirt you found, but bagged potting soil.
- Perlite. You want to mix this in so that you reach a 30% perlite to 70% potting soil mix. It’s very porous, holds water, adds air — everything you want for an indoor tropical plant.
Wet soil that just doesn’t dry is one of the worst things for a Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’. This is easily solved with a well-draining soil, extra drainage holes, or less frequent watering.
Bacteria and fungi both thrive in overly saturated soils, so when your soil is overly set, not only are you promoting their growth, but you’ll also be weakening your plant’s health, which makes it more vulnerable. Wet soil (and leaves) also attract pests.
Propagating dracaena species like “Janet Craig” is about as easy as it comes. It’s even easier than most water propagations because you have the option of replanting right into the soil you have the parent plant in.
Propagating Dracaena Janet Craig via top cutting
These plants often shed their lower leaves, so follow that cane-like stem up to the top, where you’ll see branching nodes of growth. Pick an area where you see many healthy leaves.
Cut away a section at least 5 inches long with leaves at the top. You’ll be cutting between the leaves. Remove any leaves near the bottom to reveal a section of stem at least a few inches long.
You’re going to now take this section and either place it in a glass of water or right back into soil. With soil, you need to keep it a little bit moister than usual for the first few weeks as new roots form, so it’s easier to use a new pot to avoid bothering your original plant.
But honestly? Most of the time, you’ll be fine just tossing the cutting back in.
If your cutting is in water, change it up every few days and give it plenty of bright indirect sunlight. After a few weeks, you’ll see some substantial root growth, and it’ll be time to replant into its own pot.
Keep that humidity high if possible with new stem cuttings — they’ll thank you!
Dracaena Janet Craig is exceptionally easy to care for when grown indoors, but it is more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and quality of water than some other plants.
We’ll cover the issues we see the most, along with how to best diagnose them, so you can figure out the actual cause and not just the symptoms.
Poor environmental conditions can lead to a stressed plant. So we recommend the following to avoid these and other common issues with Dracaena Janet Craig:
- Avoid low light for too long. Indirect light is good, but as the plant grows, it can often grow past its source of light as it gets taller, so adjust placement.
- Fertilizer is okay to use, but dilute it to half concentration, and don’t use ‘plant food’ pellets or other additives. Plant food isn’t necessary for this plant.
- Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing them to become white, thin, and crispy.
- Tap water can lead to brown tips, and soon your dark green leaves will turn yellow. Cut off any affected parts of the leaf and change up that water source.
Yellow leaves / Brown leaves
First, we need to look at all of your Dracaena Janet Craig’s leaves. If only the new plant leaves are yellowing or showing brown leaf tips, this is almost certainly an issue with the root system. If your plant isn’t root bound, you’ll want to make sure the soil has been given enough time to dry out because moist soil can lead to rotting.
Take a look at the roots. If they’re black or brown and mushy, check our next section on rot to understand treatment.
If all of your leaves turn yellow and not just the newer growth at the top, or they’re yellowing on the edges but still dark green throughout, this could be minerals in tap water, so switch to filtered water if you can.
If this happens suddenly, it can also be a sign of too much fertilizer, so make sure to dilute and use infrequently (if at all).
Diseases and pests
Dracaena plants like Janet Craig are pretty resistant to most pests, but because of their sensitivity to moist soil and desire for indirect light, sometimes rot or fungus can appear.
Fungus can cause several issues with the Janet Craig plant, such as powdery mildew and leaf spot. Signs of fungus may include discoloration and curling of the leaves. Make sure to increase air circulation and provide plenty of drainage, as well as treat the plant with a fungicide if necessary. If you’re misting the leaves, make sure to wipe them down after.
Root rot is a common issue for any indoor tropical plant. This is easily prevented but harder to fix once it sets in. You’ll want to cut off any of the affected roots (they’ll appear brown or black, mushy, and unhealthy), replant in fresh soil, and make sure you wait longer between watering.
If your planter doesn’t have a drainage hole: make one! These are absolutely essential for avoiding soggy soil. If you don’t have good potting soil, you can add peat moss, sand, perlite, or anything to help improve drainage, because these plants don’t need a lot of water.
Dracaena Janet Craig plants can all suffer from bugs, and unfortunately, they thrive just as well in low light as any other. The trick is to keep your plant healthy so it can resist them on its own.
If you do see spider mites, mealybugs, or scale insects taking a bite out of your plant, you’ll want to act fast to preserve it. Neem oil, a spray of cold water, and some alcohol to wipe off your leaves is usually the combination that works. Reapply neem oil every few months and isolate your affected plants if possible.
Dracaena Janet Craig is an exceptional air-filtering plant that brings a tropical flair to your home or office. When taking care of them, keep the following in mind:
- Brown tips can be caused by cold shocks or water heavy with minerals.
- Too much direct light will quickly damage these leaves and take a while to recover. These plants love bright indirect light, and lots of it.
- When watering, try to keep the soil evenly moist and then let it dry out completely before watering again.
Hopefully, this lovely floor plant will take care of you while you’re taking care of it! If you have any questions or just want to share some pictures of your very own Dracaena Janet Craig, drop us a line here or on Twitter/Instagram.
What kind of plant is Dracaena Janet Craig?
Janet Craig is a member of the Dracaena genus, which includes around 120 species. These plants are mostly native to Africa, but can be found throughout Central America, Asia, and even parts of Australia.
Importantly: they make excellent house plants and can thrive even in low light conditions. ‘Janet Craig’ is considered to be a mutation of the Dracaena ‘Warneckii.’
Is Dracaena Deremensis Janet Craig related to the Corn plant?
It is! They’re both Dracaena, though the Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) tends to be a bit sproutier and has a very strong-smelling flower.
How big does a Janet Craig plant get?
In the wild, Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ can grow taller than 10 feet, but indoors, they usually struggle past six, and the dwarf variety grows even shorter.
If you’re finding that yours is getting a bit too leggy for your liking, you can just chop off the top and replant it to create a friendly little cluster of plants.
Are Dracaena Janet Craig plants easy to care for?
Yes. Without exaggeration, they are some of the easiest to care for indoor plants you can find. There’s a reason people love them in offices: they withstand low light and infrequent watering — even better than the humans around them!