Things You'll Need
Protected outdoor area
Corn plants (Dracaena fragrans) are one of the most widely grown plants available in the indoor foliage plant trade. They are easy to care for and adapt well to the low-light levels of most houses. Corn plants also have highly fragrant fall and winter flowers. To get them to flower requires a two-week temperature drop that is usually too cold for most people to tolerate indoors, so it has to be done outside. The plant needs to be at its peak health and acclimated to lower temperatures and higher light before it is prompted to bloom.
Select a healthy well-grown mature plant that is 2 feet high or taller.
Move the corn plant outdoors to a deeply shaded and covered area, such as under a porch, and let it acclimate to the outside for two to three weeks. Wait to move it completely outdoors until spring, when the night time temperatures are above 45 degrees. If you are lucky and the plant was well cared for in the nursery, it might bloom after being outdoors, but most likely not.
Move the plant from the deep shade to a slightly shaded area that gets more light, but not full sun. A little sun first thing in the morning is fine.
Water the corn plant when the soil below the surface feels slightly dry to the touch. Once a month add a water soluble houseplant fertilizer. This gives the corn plant all of the warm growing season to build up strength and condition it for flowering.
Place a thermometer next to the corn plant and monitor it carefully as the end of summer comes. Let it sit outside until night temperatures drop to 45 degrees for two weeks. Stop fertilizing at this time when the weather is cooling and growth is slowing down.
Move the plant indoors to a brightly lit window such as a lightly shaded southern exposure. This protects it from night temperatures that are starting to get below 45 degrees outdoors. It should be starting to flower or will flower soon after the temperature drop.
You do not have to move a corn plant outdoors to get a flower if it has enough light indoors or it is grown in a greenhouse. The temperature drop to 45 degrees for two weeks is what initiates flowering. In a greenhouse, simply drop the indoor night temperature for two weeks and care for it as normal.
Do not expose a corn plant to frosts or freezes. This will cause it to die off. Don't be alarmed if it looks like the foliage is dying after flowering. Flowers arise from the growing tip of each of the corn plant's stems. After the flowers die off the stem will stop growing longer and will resprout from nodes on the side just below the old growing tip.
- University of Florida: Dracaena Production Guide: Physiological Problems: Massangeana: Flowering
- University of Florida: Dracaena Fragrans 'Massangeana' Corn Plant, Fragrant Dracaena
- University of Vermont: Dracaena Fragrans 'Massangeana'
- Plantoftheweek.org: Dracaena Fragrans "Massangeana"
- Clemson University: Dracaena