Last Updated on October 19, 2023 by Plant Mom Care
Dracaena marginata also called Dragon tree, is a hardy popular tropical house plant indigenous to Madagascar. It comes in several variations of leaf sizes and colors and trunk types.
The leaves are thin and deep green with red edges, reaching 35 inches long and 3 inches wide that narrow to a point. It is named after a Greek mythical female spirit dragon with human features, called Drakaina.
It has been grown/cultivated by people for thousands of years, mainly for the red resin from the stems of some varieties called “dragon’s blood”, which was used in dyes, incense, and medicine. It is used to make varnishes, stains, and wood polishes for violins and other musical instruments and furniture since the 1600s.
It started to be grown as an ornamental houseplant in Europe during the 19th century and became fairly common as well as popular among gardeners. It comes in several varieties of red or pale yellow variegations and can reach between 6–20 feet in height and spread between 5–8 feet outdoors, but is usually pruned and grown in between 4-6 feet indoors.
It is a slow-growing plant that can take many years to reach full maturity. It is popularly grown in offices as it doesn’t need much care and the consistent heat and light is suitable to its growing needs and is popular with people who lead busy lives as it needs very little attention and care.
Often mistaken to be palm trees, they can enhance and beautify your home and they are also useful in eliminating harmful compounds from indoor air, as found by NASA.
Although they can thrive and grow well in various lighting conditions ranging from direct sunlight to indirect bright light. The plant tends to grow slowly in low lighting situations, producing smaller leaves.
The plant is more drought tolerant than other plants so watering should be done when the soil dries completely, about a 3 weeks gap usually. Over-watering makes the soil waterlogged, causing root rot to develop and spread to the stems. Waterless in winter.
Tap water can contain chemicals that can harm plants so it’s best to allow it to stand for a minimum of 24 hours to let these chemicals evaporate.
Dragon trees can thrive in ordinary household humidity levels with a treat of occasional misting. Low humidity can attract pests to the plant.
It requires a temperature range of 70-80°F and can handle a low of 65°F. Below that, leaves will start dropping off.
Dragon trees usually don’t have to be fed as it is not essential for a growing plant. However, a light feeding at the beginning of spring with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer will give a boost in growth.
A better, organic alternative to fertilizers is to water it with worm tea made from earthworm castings that are rich in nutrients. As usual, never feed the plant in winter when growth begins to slow down.
A mix of soil and coco coir or peat moss, with a layer of pebbles or perlite at the bottom of the pot, is ideal for dragon trees.
Repot the plant if the soil becomes too condensed or if the plant gets root-bound. This plant grows very slow and usually requires repotting once in 2-3 years. Water the plant well at least one day before to wet the soil and shake off much of the old soil as possible.
Replant it in a larger pot with a layer of perlite or pebbles at the bottom and fresh soil, filling the sides with soil and water it well. However, if the plant is too large and heavy to be repotted, replace a few inches of topsoil with fresh soil.
Your dragon tree can be propagated by getting several cuttings at the same time. Cut off a long leggy stem near the soil surface and make as many 12 inch cuttings as you can. Propagate the stems in water, with regular water changes.
Wait for roots and leaves to begin sprouting, which is usually about three weeks. Once the roots are satisfactorily long enough, plant the cuttings in separate pots.
Pruning help prevent the plant from becoming too tall and leggy and helps the plant grow more branches. Trim or prune any yellow or dead leaves.
Collect and dispose of any dead leaves as they fall off and snip off any parts of leaves that are discolored or have spots. Mist and wipe leave now and then to keep them free from dust. Top up the soil occasionally with fresh soil once a year and also if the soil has become compressed.
Dracaena Marginata Common Problems
If the plant is over-watered, its leaves will develop brown tips or become soft and brown. If the leaves turn yellow or get brown spots, it usually indicates that the plant hasn’t been getting enough water.
Since the plant is generally hardy, make sure to water it every 3 weeks. The lowest leaves of the plant turn yellow and drop off as the plant grows – this is normal.
If you notice leaves dropping off or turning pale, it is an indication that either it’s getting insufficient light or it’s too cold. Transfer the plant to a better-lit or warmer location.
The plant can occasionally be attacked by insects like mealybugs and spider mites. Keep a bottle of neem oil ready as it is excellent for pest control. You can also wash the pests away with a water spray in the bathroom.
Soft Rot is a fatal condition caused by bacteria that leads to brown soft spots on roots and on the stem that smells bad. This happens when the soil becomes water-logged due to over-watering and this problem cannot be treated.