Botanical Name — Dracaena marginata
Common Name — Madagascar Dragon Tree
Plant Family — Asparagaceae
Dracaena marginata, native to Madagascar, is a beloved houseplant for its easy care, architectural look and foliage, and ability to adjust to a variety of lighting conditions. The perfect plant for providing a statement without also providing a chore. A common plant for offices, Dracaena marginata thrives in direct overhead lighting provided by fluorescent lights. Fairly slow growing indoors, this plant can get more than 30ft tall in the wild.
- Dracaena marginata does well in medium to bright indirect light or dappled sun. Avoid intense, direct sun as this can burn the leaves. Morning sun from an east or north-facing window is ideal. These plants will also grow well in a window with western exposure that gets good evening sun.
- Dracaenas will shift the angle of their leaves to better capture light. If a Dracaena's leaves have angled downward, consider investing in an overhead grow light.
- Dracaena plants require warm temperatures to thrive. Ideal temperatures range between 65 and 90 ºF. This plant will start to decline at temperatures below 55 ºF.
- Dracaena marginata is a fairly drought-tolerant plant. It should only be watered when the soil has dried thoroughly. It is best to error on the side of underwatering. These plants do not do well in consistently moist or soggy soil.
- Dracaena plants like a loamy, well-draining, organically rich soil mixture. A good quality potting mix would work well for potting these plants. Soil can be amended with coco coir up to 25% to improve aeration. Fine pumice or perlite can be added up to 25% to improve drainage.
- Dracaena marginata blooms small white flowers in the spring once it reaches maturity, which can take five years or longer. That said, these plants rarely flower indoors.
- Dracaena marginata do not require much fertilization to thrive. To give them a boost during the growing season or refresh the soil, feed them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted at half strength once a month. Feed your Dracaena from spring through summer, do not fertilize in the winter.
- Stem cuttings are the most reliable way to propagate a Dracaena plant. Using a clean, sharp blade, cut the stem away from the mother plant and allow to callus over a couple days.
- Callused stems can then be placed directly in the soil. While the Dracaena is rooting keep the soil lightly moist by misting it daily but do not soak the soil. Until your Dracaena has established roots it only needs minimal water.
- Cuttings can also be placed in water while they are rooting. Keep an eye on your cutting and put it in soil once you see roots that have grown 2-3” long.
- Stem cuttings will also encourage growth on the parent plant that the cutting was taken from.
- Cuttings should be kept in a warm, bright spot.
- Dracaena marginata are tough, low-maintenance plants and are not especially susceptible to pests or diseases. The most common issue with these plants tends to be root or stem rot. This is typically brought on by overwatering. If the plant is rotting from the bottom, you can attempt to remove the non-rotting portions through propagation (see above).
- Always check your plant for common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. On Dracaena, pests tend to congregate in the nooks and crannies of the stem, where leaf stems meet it.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- These plants require very little maintenance to remain happy. As the plant grows, lower leaves may start to fall off. This is perfectly normal. New foliage will generate from the top. Prune away any unhealthy looking leaves by running your fingers through the leaves gently from bottom to top. Dead leaves should detach from the plant easily.
- These plants prefer to be somewhat rootbound and will only need to be repotted once every two to three years. When repotting select a pot that is two to three inches larger in diameter.
- Dracaena marginata are toxic to pets and humans. Ingesting this plant can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Keep out of reach of children and pets.