Help! My Dracena Marginata Has Hit the Ceiling — What Can I Do?

A dracena marginat houseplant has grown so tall that it is crushing itself against the homeowner's ceiling. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Our dracena marginata is crushing itself against the living room ceiling. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It’s true. My graceful dracena marginata is doing itself in. It’s hurling itself mercilessly against our living room ceiling. What’s a plant lover to do? Seriously, green thumbs, I need your help.

The slender stalks of a dracena marginata growing too talk for their living room setting. Photo by Barbara Newhall

I don’t dare give this plant a bigger pot and fertilizer; it’s already outgrown its space. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Tell me what to do here.

Two stalks of this old plant are doing just fine. But the third seems intent on crushing itself against our sheet-rocked ceiling. Don’t plants know better? Can’t my hearty dracena tell that that’s an unmoveable object it’s pushing against?

Shall I just let it be? That seems heartless — you can see how contorted its leaves have become. That’s gotta hurt. Or should I put it out of its misery — cut the suicidal branch off and toss it in the compost bin?

Not an option.

Maybe I could cut that stalk in two, put the pieces in water, wait for them to root — then stick them back into the pot. What do you think? Will that work? Please advise.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like “A Case of the Human Condition: I Want to Kill My Snapdragons.”



  1. Liz Nystrom says:

    You are so funny Barbara. I’m surprised the plant hasn’t committed suicide and taken you with it! Be brave, cut it off at an angle about 4-6 inches up from the soil. Pretend you are giving it a much needed haircut. New shoots will grow from that. The plant will thank you.

    • Oh. It’s that simple? What do I do with the stalk I cut off? Send it off to the compost can and plant heaven?

      • Liz Nystrom says:

        That’s one option. You can take the part of the stalk with leaves still on it, cut it off from the main stalk at an angle and let it root in water. When roots form, plant it back in pot, but this takes a few months. Go for it!

        • That’s what I’m going to have to do — put the cut-off stalk into water and give it a chance. Otherwise, I’d be throwing away a good four feet of a plant that has been a perfectly pleasant guest in our house for quite a few years. I’ll keep you posted. btw, why is it important to cut the stalk at an angle?

        • Stay tuned. I’m going to run upstairs, find a really sharp knife and — ouch — cut that big long stalk down. Wish me luck.

  2. Virginia Newhall says:

    The latest Book Passage schedule arrived yesterday. There is was!! “Wrestling With God”……a reading and signing by Barbara!! Exciting!! I’ll see you there to get a few signed copies for various friends and family. See you on 11 April, Barbara!


  1. […] of our living room months ago and, stymied, had proceeded to grow around and around itself in painful contortions. It hurt to look at that plant. But the thought of cutting off the stalk and throwing it into the […]

Leave a Comment