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Dracaena marginata, commonly called the Dragon Tree, is a tough houseplant that is native to Madagascar. It makes for a wonderful houseplant! Some other common names include Madagascar Dragon Tree, Dragon Blood Tree and Tree Dracaena.
Keep reading to find out more about its care, some of the beautiful varieties that you can obtain, and finally, the discover the most common problems encountered with this plant and with tips on how to resolve them.
DRACAENA MARGINATA CARE
The accepted botanical name for this plant is actually Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia, but is mostly still referred to by most people as Dracaena marginata. Here are some care tips to help your plant thrive in your home.
Contrary to what many sources may tell you, this plant can take direct sun indoors. At a bare minimum, place your plant right in front of a window that does not get any direct sun.
Even better would be a few hours of direct sun per day indoors. Right in front of an Eastern or Western facing window would work very well, and these will also do well in your sunniest window.
If you have a really sunny window, you can safely set it back a little bit from the window and still have good results.
Although these plants can tolerate lower light, growth will suffer and be less vigorous. They’re already fairly slow growing to begin with, so low light will slow it down even more.
2. POTTING MIX
These plants need excellent drainage. I always like to amend my potting mix with either perlite or
A good mix you can start with is 2 parts of an all-purpose potting mix and 1 part perlite or pumice. You can even add materials like orchid bark if you wish.
One benefit of this plant is that they are pretty drought-tolerant. They do need to dry out sufficiently so make sure that at least the top quarter of the entire potting mix dries out before watering again.
They can even take drying out completely, but be careful not to leave it completely dry for too long.
Refer to the Troubleshooting section at the end of this post to discover what can happen if you have extremes in soil moisture.
4. TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY
If you are comfortable indoors, your plant will be too. Average indoor temperatures and humidity will do just fine.
Try and keep temps between 60-80F. As far as humidity, these plants really aren’t fussy and there is no need to
Avoid any cold drafts.
I like to use Dyna-Gro Grow, which is an amazing, nutritionally complete formula, and it’s urea-free so it won’t burn your plants.
Use during the active growing season, and refrain from fertilizing when your plant is not growing.
6. PRUNING AND REJUVINATING DRACAENA MARGINATA
There are numerous reasons why you would prune your Dracaena marginata. You can prune if:
- You want to propagate (see the next section for details).
- You have a single trunk plant and you want it to develop multiple trunks.
- Your plant has gotten too leggy and you want to rejuvenate it.
- All of the above!
These plants actually respond extremely well to pruning and you should see new growth within weeks or less after pruning.
For best results, prune your Dracaena marginata anytime from late winter through Spring and Summer.
It would be best if you can try and prune in late winter or Spring in order to allow for time for your plant to grow before winter time.
All you have to do is simply take some pruners and snip your plant where ever you want new growth to occur. You really can’t go wrong.
Take a look at the photo below. The trunk was cut off, and you can see that there are 3 new growth points starting to grow.
Sometimes, it can even force growth at the very bottom of the trunk as well, like you can see in the photo below.
Propagation is super simple. Simply cut the top off your plant, place your cutting in a vase of water, and wait until roots grow about an inch long or so.
Change the water weekly, and place it in a bright window. Some direct sun is ok too, but not all day while it’s growing roots.
For quickest results, keep your cuttings warm.
DRACAENA MARGINATA VARIETIES
This is the plain old species that you’ll find everywhere. The beautiful, narrow green leaves have reddish edges.
Dracaena marginata ‘Tarzan’
This cultivar has very similar leaves to the plain species, but the leaves are wider and a little thicker.
Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor’
This beautiful cultivar has an added yellow stripe on the leaves, in addition to the existing green and red (hence the name tricolor).
Dracaena marginata ‘Colorama’
This is perhaps the most stunning cultivar, and it has the most red or dark pink of all the varieties out there. The more direct sun it gets, the more pronounced the color will be.
Lower Leaves Yellowing and then Turning Brown
Keep in mind that it is normal for your plant to eventually shed its lower leaves as the plant grows. If you find that many of the lower leaves have turned yellow in a short time frame, feel your potting mix.
If your soil has gone completely dry for too long, it will cause many of the lower leaves to yellow.
Plant is Drooping
If your plant is drooping, it is normally caused by extremes in soil moisture.
If your soil has gone completely dry for too long, your plant will droop. It will probably also be accompanied by yellowed lower leaves.
On the other hand, if your soil has stayed wet for too long (for example, by sitting in excess water for too long), it will eventually cause root rot, and your plant will droop.
Leaves are Growing in Thinner and Smaller
This is typically caused by insufficient light. If you increase the light on your plant, any future, new leaves will grow in bigger, but the existing foliage will remain the same size.
Plant is Not Growing
This is a slower growing plant, but if your plant hasn’t budged at all in months or longer, it probably isn’t getting enough light.
Move your plant to a brighter location.
Browning Leaf Tips
Browning leaf tips can be cause by the soil being too dry, as well as fluoride in tap water.
Dracaena plants are notoriously sensitive to additives in tap water such as fluoride. If you’ve been watering with tap water and you haven’t let your potting mix get really dry, the brown leaf tips are probably due to the water quality.
Note that once brown tips happen, they can not be reversed. You can simply cut off the brown tips with scissors if they bother you.
Toxicity to Pets
Plants in the Dracaena genus are toxic to cats and dogs, according to the ASPCA, due to compounds called Saponins.
Thursday 10th of November 2022
Hi! Just brought one of these plants home from my work place. She has one main trunk with three branches. There was little or no light at work so I am hoping she likes even the north light. She was dry and did have a few brown leaves. Pot seems to drain well. I have fluoride in my tap water so will pick up bottle water now since you have said they are sensitive. Thanks for the information. Are other plants as sensitive…..orchids eg.?
Friday 11th of November 2022
Hi Ada! Good luck with your plant! Orchids like pretty pure water as well, so they will benefit too.
Saturday 30th of July 2022
I've found out my plants love RO water sparingly watered.
Saturday 30th of July 2022
If it works for you, keep doing it! :-). It makes sense though since Dracaena in general are sensitive to fluoride in tap water.
Friday 22nd of April 2022
Lots of brown tips on mine. I don’t let it dry out so I’m guessing it’s my water. I have well water so no fluoride. What do you suggest I water it with?
Wednesday 8th of June 2022
Like Al mentioned, maybe try distilled water and see if the new growth looks good and stays without brown tips. Well water can be tricky because the quality can vary drastically.
Monday 6th of June 2022
@ecky, Distilled water, iv'e seen is reccomended.
Monday 6th of June 2022