'Corn' plant

gardeniarose(z10FLA)February 27, 2005

I have what is called a corn plant, which I think is actually a dracaena of some sort. It has a long bare wide stalk with several green variegated leaves only at the top. When I repotted it a few months ago, it had absolutely no roots. It was just like a sawed-off log at the bottom. The other day my cat knocked it over and I saw that it still has no root system. The plant does grow all the time and seems pretty healthy. Are these plants not supposed to have roots? I know that they are actually the tops of other plants that have been cut but I would have expected to see it grow its own roots by now. Thanks.

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grice(z5 Michigan)

Hello. Unfortunatley,I cannot help with the 'root' portion of the question(I know very little about plants),but I have one of these myself. It is a Dracaena massangeana. An absolutley wonderful houseplant that is surisingly relatively care free.
I will be watching to find out the answer to this one myself.
Good luck,

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 8:24PM
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Y'all may find the link below of interest. The importer of these canes should be sure they are well rooted before selling but sometimes it's unfortunately not the case.

Gardenia, if you have a full-shade nonwindy place where you could put outside for summer, I would think it might put out roots more quickly. The trouble is that the leaves are now being fed from the stalk and nutrients aren't being replaced from roots. Are the new leaves smaller and perhaps lighter in color? On the other hand,if it is doing well so far, maybe just continue current care. Good luck. josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Dracaena

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 4:39AM
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Thanks for the reply. The plant has been outside for the past 7 or 8 months (since it was given to me). The leaves were small to start but have doubled in size, however the plant does not put out any new leaf growth. The leaves are a healthy green color with light green or yellowish variegation. It is a very slow grower but appears healthy. Could I lift it out of the pot, apply some rooting hormone to the base and repot it?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 12:36PM
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Sorry I haven't checked back earlier. I've never used rooting hormone so can't advise (nothing against it...just haven't needed it). I'd think this spring your plant will surprise you, since you say it looks healthy so far. I'd wait another month or so. I'm a big believer in not pushing...as long as it seems to be healthy it will put out roots and new growth at its own pace. Good luck...josh

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 3:18PM
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Gardenia, I had a corn plant for 18 yrs..from a baby to a tall 9' tree..Anyway, one spring I decided to plant it thinking it was probably so rootbound the pot'd break..What I found was one long root..The root was about 2' long, but that was it..don't know if this is normal or not, but the plant was as healthy as could be..Toni

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 1:00AM
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stokesjl(5 IA)

unfortunately this does seem to be the case. most mass cane grown in Florida these days are shipped out with barely even nubs of roots at the base. has a very shallow root system. seems the hawaiians are putting the best quality cane around. They manage to produce massive root systems on their canes, something to do with the lava rock in the soil or something. Unfortunately, most hawaiian cane seems to be available only to the interiorscape industry.

I'm posting a link below to a distributor in CO, there's some pretty interesting info on Massangeana roots.

Here is a link that might be useful: Roots Roots Roots

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 7:01PM
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I've had a corn plant for going on 4 years. It has an extensive root system. I've had to repot twice in that time because it has become root bound. It spends spring , summer and fall on my east facing front porch. I bring it in before the first freeze and put it out as soon as possible in the spring. I give it some miracle gro when i remember.....usually about once a month give or take.
I work at the garden center at Lowe's for the past ten years and i know first hand that they all come in with small root systems. This plant came from Lowe's however it was a passalong plant that another employee bought and then had to move and passed it on to me and it was pretty rootbound when i got it. I have no idea what she may have done to get the roots to grow like that. She was a little oriental lady that always took home our sick plants and nursed them back to health. :)SunriseFairy

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 10:44PM
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Hi SunriseFairy,
Thanks for the response. Someone ("stokesjl") posted a very good website here that explained the origins of this plant and how most suppliers ship their plants out with no established roots (not considered good practice). Even though mine has no roots, somehow it gets water and nutriets up through its stalk and is growing, though slowly. I only fertilized it once in about 8 months however.
Last week I decided to bring the plant indoors and put it in a very bright window to see if it will be happier there. If it doesn't fare well there, I'll put it back outside in the shadier part of the patio. When my mother gave it to me (when she was house-sitting for us and we were away) she had it in full sun, so I assumed that is what it needed. I found out this was not the case. The plant did not look happy at all in full sun. Then I tried it in mostly shade all day except for late afternoon sun. Looked a little better but not much. So trying the filtered window light now. Will also fertilize it this week, since it is now growing season.
Thanks for your advice!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 11:03PM
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I too have a corn plant that I bought nearly a year ago. From what I had learned, corn plants do very well in lower light situations, with diffused light. They do not like bright sun or drafts. I had it by my front door, next to a diffusing side light window. Direct sun never hit it, but it still started to brown on the edges of leaves. Even though it was diffused, the light was still very bright. So I moved it to a middle wall in my living room, where at best it gets late day sun-set light. I cut back the edges of the leaves, and even though I hestitated to do that, the leaves survived with no further browning. Well, as I look now, and spring sun is hitting it toward the bottom, and the 2nd layer of leaves is browning slightly on the ends. That's probably where the late day sun is hitting it from a window that is 12 feet away! In a perfect lighting situation, you will get a nice variation of color, but although mine is doing well, it does not have the distinct markings that it had when I bought it. Maybe it's like a puppy that loses it's pretty markings as it grows :)

So my advice would be to keep it in an area in which it gets no direct light, nor is drafty. I usually give it Miracle Grow once a month, and wait until the soil has dried between waterings.
I have not replanted this, but looks like it does need a bigger pot. I do not know how it's root system is, but it obviously doesn't have as much room to spread until I replant it...so thanks y'all for reminding me that it needs attention too.
By the way, I put a dumb cane plant by that same diffused light window, and it is THRIVING there! I'm almost afraid to replant it, because it will grow too large for that area, and I will not have another place to put it!
I had read that dumb canes can be poisonous to pets, but my cat seems to prefer fake christmas tree branches. Little devil.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 11:51AM
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Thanks for all your help, Leelime. When my mom first gave me this plant it was in full sun (she put it there and I left it there, assuming she knew what it needed). I saw the leaves browning so I moved it under the house's soffit. It looked a bit better but then I decided to put it in the house in front of a sliding glass door. It's been there only about a week so I don't know how it will adapt. It went from warm outside conditions to an air conditioned house. I think they look great when they get tall so I am hoping it picks up growth rate soon.
My cat was very into the plants when we first moved down here but he has gotten bored with them and ignores them now. He used to eat even the tough fronds of the majesty palm out on the patio! I guess he liked his vegetables crunchy! Now he just eats the anoles and geckos that run around all over the place down here. YUCK.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 12:00AM
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I was just reading through some of the posts and wanted to say...Once again I go against the norm. I have a corn plant that I've had for about 6 years, in my foyer, where it gets full morning sun and is one of the coldest spots in the house. Around Easter it started putting out a stalk from the top of the plant that was resembling some sort of flower. Today they started to actually open. I have to tell you, the scent that it puts off is about a hundred times stonger than a Lilac. My entire house is perfumed right now.
I would like to add a word of thanks to the others that have written in about their experience with this plant.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 8:25PM
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Congratulations on your plant blooming! I have heard about the blooms of this plant having an incredibly strong scent. One woman said she came home from work one day and was immediately hit in the face by a strong sweet aroma. She had no idea what it was until she saw the bloom on the corn plant. I wonder if one day mine will bloom. Incidentally, I too was just re-reading these old posts and I cannot believe I started it over a year ago! The last thing I posted was that I'd brought the corn plant inside and put it in front of a sliding glass door. It is still there and is doing great. It has put on a lot of new growth and appears to be healthy. I am glad this post was helpful to you!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 11:04PM
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Here's an update on my corn plant. It is still in the same place in front of my sliding glass doors. It gets only diffused daylight, no direct sun. It is now growing like a fiend, no brown leaves. About 2 weeks ago I decided to repot it and lo and behold....TONS of roots! I guess it's happier as an indoor plant. Thanks again to all of you who posted your experiences!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 12:06AM
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On our coffee farm in the Turrialba area of Costa Rica we had thousands of these growing! In full sun.They were often used as living fence posts, on many of our neighboring farms also.
If laid on it's side, a 'stem, with grow many new plant growing upwards, very quickly.And o they have roots!!
An older plant will 'bloom' and perfumes the air in the evening.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 3:20PM
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I'm glad to read all these posts on corn plants, since I've just bought one and love it. It is in a fairly large pot, with two stems, each with a set of variegated leaves. I have it in a south window, but at the back of the room, not directly up against the glass. Looking forward to an eventual bloom!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 2:31PM
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Hi, I'm new here. I have a corn plant named Seymour. I have had him for 20 years. He started as a baby and grew to be 10 - 11 feet tall. He just really looked anorexic to me and I decided to cut him. Boy was I nervous. We've been through a lot together. Anyway, the top 5 feet of him is now in a 5 gallon bucket of water. I'm sure he will root. My concern is Seymour's butt (the lower 4-5 feet). Will he sprout again? That end is still in the original pot (probably root bound) and is oozing from the top of the stem. Is there anything special that I need to do.....or just wait.

Thanks for any advice.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 12:12PM
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Hi thetwig,
I am willing to bet that the top half of Seymour will root in time. As for the bottom half that is still in the pot, I see no reason why it wouldn't resprout. Is it just the woody stalk that is left on the bottom? If so, and I am no expert, but I would say keep the soil moist, not soggy and maybe cover the top with plastic to keep it moist....not sure on that. Maybe someone will come along and tell us. I have dracaenas that I have cut the top off and rooted in water. I think they are related so I bet it will root like the dracaenas did. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 11:20PM
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I don't know if you are still a member of this site and if you will receive this post. I just googled "corn plant" to get some info on it and this old post of mine came up in the search. I had wanted to find out how low a light level the plant can take since I wanted to move it away from the window, where it's been for a year and a half. Anyway, while looking up info, I saw that this plant doesn't like tap water due to the fluoride in it. It is the fluoride that can cause browning on the leaf edges. You had mentioned that your plant had browning leaves while being 12 feet away from the window. Maybe the browning isn't from the light but from fluoride...maybe this info will help you out.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 12:21AM
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Though it's been many months since the last post, I thought I'd keep this thread alive with one more corn plant story. I've had one for about two years; it just recently started blooming for the first time. I had no idea it was even capable of doing this, so at first I assumed my plant had been attacked by some airborne pest or something. The stalk and flowers it produced were mostly brown, so it didn't look like a normal bloom. After a couple of weeks the flower petals blew off and now the remnant of the stalk looks pretty worn out....maybe I'll just remove it. Anyway, I don't know if blooming will be a regular thing or if it was just a one-time shot. Does anyone have experience with multiple blooms? Is it an annual occurrence?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 12:06AM
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I need some help. I have this awesome corn plant with the big stalk like stem things.... Anyway, I got this in Nov from someone who sent it to my grandmothers funeral. I am not a green thumb but I really love this plant soooo much and each time I look at it I think of my grandma. Anyway, It is growing and new green it growing on it. It is fairly big already but the leaves are brown on the ends which I have read this happens alot with these. The question is when I cut the brown off of this can I use scissors and just cut the leaves or do I have to cut the whole leaf off? Any help would be great help for me.... thanks,

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 8:05PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Sure, you can trim the leaves with your scissors! Use a sharp scissors and try to shape your cut so the trimmed leaf is a similar shape to the existing leaves - the plant won't care, but it will look natural!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 11:25PM
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my corn plant has grown beyond my ceiling. can i cut the extra foliage and start a new plant? and- do i put it in water or in dirt with "root-on"?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 6:45PM
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I just got two corn plants as a gift. They are about 3 feet high and I transplanted them a larger pot together. The roots/ball were about the size of a soft each. I keep them inside by sliding glass doors but in afternoon I put them outside in indirect sun for a few hours. They haven't died yet (my thumb must be turning green). I didn't know they flowered. How do I make that happen? Do I need to add phosphate or potasium? Any help would be greatful.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 7:25PM
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Hihen, the first time I saw a corn plant in flower was at a nursery in Chicago. The plant was no larger than 2' tall..the flowers were amazing and super fragrant.
I'd bet this nursery didn't offer the plant anything more than humidity and light.
I've one dracaeana, (Song of India) that blooms in mid-winter..when it was sitting in a west window it'd bloom every yr, but I had to move it, (for other higher light loving plants) and since I did, it hasn't bloomed..So, I'm assuming light plays a big role. Perhaps someone has a better idea...Toni

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 12:48PM
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hey....i had one that was dying, it had one dead "stem" at the very top and one healthy looking one with leafs just poking out from above the soil (but no growth in a while). so i cut the trunk at the soil level. what should i do now?

let me know if you need pictures.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 5:25PM
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cozymoses(z5 UT)

It's insane! My corn plant is flowering right now, and I've been sitting here for the past few hours trying to figure out why I smell lilacs. Turns out, it's the plant. I didn't even know this plant flowered, and I have two degrees (horticulture and plant science). Okay, so I know most plants flower, but I had never heard of a significant flower on this plant! It's amazing, and I wish my house always smelled like this!

And me without my camera....

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 9:35PM
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Cozy, it's not unusual for corn plants to flower, but what is odd is the time of year..They usually bloom in winter, at least every dracaena I've had did or does..
Doesn't it smell terrific? Toni

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 9:30PM
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cozymoses(z5 UT)

I am posting a pic of my flowering Corn Plant. So Pretty. And I miss the smell! Nothing in my house flowers when it's supposed to. Perhaps it's a protest. Perhaps I'm just lame. Who knows?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 8:28PM
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Molly, how pretty..are flowers still fragrant?
BTW, you don't have a Corn plant, but a relative in the same family called Dracaena Janet Creig. It's very close to a corn plant, adapts to different light, and fairly quick growing.
Anyway, thanks for the pics, they are so pretty..I can smell them just thinking about it..Toni

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 3:28PM
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dirtdivarocks(z6 SW PA)

I have had my corn plant for at least 32 years. It was the first plant I ever bought. (I have 8 big ones...all from a very small start). Well, at least 4 of them are beginning to bloom FOR THE FIRST TIME!!! I never knew that they bloomed so I did a web search and ended up here on this forum. Mine, too, is blooming in the summer. It looks like the flowers are just peeking out and I believe they are purple. No smell yet. But they are just in the "bud" stage. Over the years these plants have survived numerous conditions and almost died during the time I lived in mom's basement when our house was being built. (mostly because I put them outside to get some more light and the conditions were too cold). Now, I keep them in the kitchen with large windows in the winter and in my outdoor screened-in porch in the summer. I never knew they bloomed. This is soooo exciting. It's a great sign! The plants are very happy, and healthy. I can't wait to see the flowers and smell them. They are only peeking out right now!!! I haven't read this thread all the way through, but I know there were some questions on how to root the plants. I have tall ceilings in this house, but in my last home I actually had to cut the plant cause it grew too tall. I just stuck the top part of the tree in rooting hormone and put it in dirt. It took off. And now I have many.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 5:58PM
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I have a corn plant (dracaena massangeana) for about 2 years. I keep it in front of a drafty (full west facing) sliding glass door that gets full sun from 1-2pm till sunset. What do I need to feed/fertilize it? I have some Schultz 10-60-10 Bloom plus plant food that I have started fertilizing it with today, to see it will bloom. I used a ¼ teaspoon, ½ half gallon water mixtures. This is a plant food that I used to get some other plants to bloom a few years ago. It really works. My plant has deep green leaves I only water it when it is completely dry, its 3 ft tall. It has no brown spots on it. I got it from Lowes. Can someone offer me some advice? Thx

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 3:44PM
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I just got a corn plant. My cat likes to play with the leaves. If she eats one, will it hurt her?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 5:35PM
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I have a beautiful corn plant at my place of business....It get alot of diffused light from a skylight in the room I have it in....it grows like a WEED! Twice over that last ten years or so it has bloomed and the fragrance is amazing. 4 or 5 times over the years the thing has grown into the ceiling and I have reluctantly trimmed off 3 or 4 feet and it has grown right back. The last time I trimmed it the top of both stalks grew like 3 or 4 shoots a piece, and they are smashed up against the ceiling. My question is, if I cut them off and put them in water...will they root? or do I have to graft them to the woody stalk to get them to grow? I hate to just pitch them....they appear healthy and green....the "old" leaves below are brown and sickly looking...any thoughts and/or advice would be appreciated...I love this plant!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 9:39AM
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I just "rescued" a corn plant (I'm pretty sure it's a corn plant anyway) and want to inspire it to rebud lower on the "log" than the two sparsely leaved arms reaching up from the lesser of two trunks. (The other stalk is pretty lush and well shaped) Can I simply saw off the top of the lesser "log" and expect the buds to eventually show up or do I need to leave the existing shoots from said log and merely trim them instead of the "log"?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 3:43PM
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I purchased a massangeana cane about 2 years ago. It sits at the top of the landing in my apartment. I am not really sure how to fix its "troubles". It had 3 stalks, however, the smallest lost both of its shoots about 6 months ago. With the other 2 stalks, the one has 1 major shoot with very long leaves- about 16 inches for the longest. The other stalk has 1 main branch that is struggling, but has 3 shoots that just started and appeared out of the branch. But the leaves turn brown and die quite a bit, and most of the time they turn yellow before they brown. I have read varying things about how often to water it, light, etc. Does anyone have any suggestions, for someone who is not known for her green thumb?? Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 12:48PM
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musiccass--How often do you water the plant and does it get any light? They do well in low light but do well in filtered window light. I had one that was also dropping shoots and I discovered it had rot of the main stalk. It was too wet. I managed to cut off 2 of the shoots and save them and they are both doing well now in separate pots. You may have to lift the plant out of the soil and examine the main stem. I keep both the new plants on the dry side and they seem happy with that.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 5:45PM
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I have a corn plant and it was out in the cold and now all the leafs are dead, I want to know if it will live or not

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 6:19PM
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I have a plant that I think is a corn plant. Not sure. The leaves are long and slender each about a foot long. The coloring has, light green stripes on each side and a dark green stripe down the middle. There is two separate stalks, one about 3feet tall and the other about 5 1/2 feet tall. The bottom stems have no leaves so it looks like a cornstalk, want a be palm tree. I've tried to find pictures on the computer but the only one I can find have all green leaves. My ? is, would this be a corn plant? and how do I propagate the stalks?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 3:13AM
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november_17th(zone 10)

RE: 'Corn' plant
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* Posted by ckrasno (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 1, 07 at 17:35

I just got a corn plant. My cat likes to play with the leaves. If she eats one, will it hurt her?


Nope, this plant is not dangerous to eat.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 3:31PM
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I have had my corn plant 29 years (got it at my Grandmother's funeral in 1981 about 12-18 inches tall). About the top 3 feet were cut off when it reached the ceiling and repotted and it lived. I think it has bloomed 3 times, first time when I'd had it about 12 years. It was in our bedroom at the time and it took us a while to figure out what the sickenly sweet smell was. We put it outside until it was through blooming. Right now it is blooming (late April) and in a much bigger room so it is not so overpowering. Strange thing is it puts out a really strong smell between 8 and 9 pm each night and the rest of the time it is much milder.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 10:32PM
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I have a corn plant that was given to me 11 years ago as a birthday present. Just last week I noticed that it had flowers at the top.I only looked up to see how much room I had left before it touched my ceiling. This week I noticed that is has a fragrance that lights up my entire home. If it becomes overwhelming how do I get rid of it.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 9:11PM
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