Saturday, March 9, 2013

What smells like a hyacinth but isn't?

 Obviously, Dracaena fragrans, or commonly known as the corn stalk plant. Actually, it isn't that obvious since I had no idea until last year when my plant flowered and was hit with this amazing scent that is reminiscent of hyacinth and stargazer lily.

It produces on long stalk of whitish flowers with many clusters in early February. The flowers are closed during the day and release no scent whatsoever. However, once the sun starts to sink on the horizon the flowers open up and release their strong scent that fills our whole apartment!
 The flowers take about a week to open up and each flower only lasts a couple of days. Since it opens up and releases its scent at night and it native to Africa, it makes me wonder what pollinator it is trying to attract... bats, moths, beetles, some small mammal? Whatever the pollinator is, this plant adds a wonderful atmosphere that evokes images of being in the mountain forests of Africa which in the middle of winter when it looks like this outside is always welcome.
The corn stalk plant is VERY easy to care for. I had the plant for about 2 years before it started to bloom and so far it has bloomed 2 years in a row. It needs moderate to bright but indirect light and moist soil. I had it for the longest time in an East facing window that only gets bright light in the winter because of the giant Norway Maple in our front yard that blocks almost all the light through the summer. It was obviously getting enough light since it was growing and flowering. I just moved it closer to a south facing window because of some furniture re-arranging so we will see how it does there. It can grow up to 6 ft tall and can live up to 10 years or more! It can also be propagated from stem cuttings, so once it reaches the desired height you can cut the top of the cane and root it like a stem cutting! I will soon be cutting mine and potting it with its parent since you can grow 2-3 per pot and cut them at different heights to get a layered effect.


  1. I think we had the same plant...but I'm not positive since I recall our blossoms dripping sticky stuff on the ground and it doesn't sound like yours does. I'd imagine bats and moths are the chief pollinators for a night-bloomer. :)

  2. Tres belles fleurs! J'aime bien le parfum des Stargazers et hyacinthes, alors la combinaison des deux doit être divine. Un petit souvenir des tropiques qui donne chaud au coeur durant les jour sombres et froid d'hiver.