Dracaena is a popular no-fuss ornamental house plant that effortlessly adds depth and personality to a room. Beginner gardeners are often directed to it as it is easy to maintain and yields many benefits.
Its leaves come in different shades of green, while its stems are often textured. Most of its species are native to Africa, but others also come from southern Asia and northern Australia. While it is often grown indoors, it may thrive outdoors under subtropical conditions.
Indoor ones can grow as high as three feet and typically feature glossy leaves. Aside from its effortless beauty, it is a practical plant to have. Thanks to its ability to remove toxins from the air, you’ll be healthier than before you got it. A NASA Clean Air Study found that certain Its species can remove harmful contaminants and toxins from the air. It’s especially good against formaldehyde.
If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing ornament for your indoor space, Dracaena will surely have something for you. It’s also an easy-to-maintain option.
Varieties & types
Dracaena has about 120 species of shrubs and trees, the same way there are many different varieties of Hibiscus. Some are more popular than others. All have interesting features and characteristics that make them ideal accents when planted indoors or displayed in public spaces.
Most of these species have sword-like green leaves and yield attractive foliage. They are not heavy eaters and typically require little to no fertilizer. The most well-known species include Marginata or Red-edge Dracaena. There’s also the Fragrans or the Deremensis. Make sure to consider Sanderiana or Draco as well.
Braunni belongs to the smaller species under the Asparagaceae family and is also known as Lucky Bamboo. However, it has no connection to actual bamboos. Other types often used as ornamental house plants include:
- Janet Craig
- and Compacta,
Some species have shinier leaves than others, like Surculosa. It’s also called Gold Dust Plant.
If you are new to gardening or are looking for plants that are easy to maintain, then you will never go wrong with any these. In this article, we will discuss ways to care for some of the most popular species and common questions when growing these.
How To Care For A Dracaena Marginata
Also known as Madagascar Dragon Tree, Marginata has sword-like leaves with red edges and narrow stems. Thanks to its low-maintenance quality, this variant is highly recommended if you are new to gardening. While Marginata is popular as an indoor plant, it can also be grown outdoors. But nurturing it outdoors requires warm climates as it does not do well in a cold environment for a prolonged time. In spring, its outdoor variety often produces small flowers. The flowers are white, whereas the fruits are yellow-orange. Read our article on purple flowers as well.
|Components of Dracaena plant care|
Marginata needs water when half up to two-thirds of the soil is dry. On average, watering Dragon Tree should be done every two weeks. You may water it slightly more frequently during warmer days and less often during fall and winter. At that time, its growth becomes slower when the weather is cold. Marginata is fluoride-sensitive similar to other plants, so consider watering it using non-fluoridated or distilled water. Brown leaves indicate overwatering, while yellow ones signal dehydration.
Marginata thrives in medium light. It’s a popular house option, but it can also survive in a low-light environment. The latter slows its growth rate and can make new leaves smaller than usual. Brown spots typically signal too much light, while pale leaves indicate insufficient light.
The ideal temperature for it ranges from 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm weather suits Marginata best, especially when it gets direct sunlight. If you live in a tropical climate, you can easily grow Marginata. Cold climates or temperatures below 63 degrees Fahrenheit may sometimes cause it to lean or curve.
Marginata does not require much fertilizer. You may feed it with liquid fertilizer once every two weeks during its early growth phase. After that, you can use controlled-release fertilizer at the start of spring. Feeding Marginata during winter is not recommended. As with any other plants, make sure not to overfertilize.
How to care for Dracaena Fragrans (corn plant)
Another popular houseplant variety within the Dracaena genus is Fragrans, also called cornstalk. These lovely African evergreens effectively get rid of harmful toxins in the air. This type features solid green leaves and stems that are either dark brown or green. The latter resembles the texture of Lucky Bamboo. Other varieties of Fragrans are Massangeana, Lindenni, and Victoria. It is popular as a houseplant. Fragrans are also cultivated as shrubs or hedges, especially in Africa.
This type needs plenty of water during its active growth phase. Its soil must be kept moist during this stage as well.
Watering is typically reduced from late fall through winter, which leaves the potting mixture only slightly moist. However, you should avoid turning the soil dry. Misting should also be done if you notice that the edges turn brown due to low humidity. Non-fluoridated water is the most recommended as well.
This variety is recommended to be placed close to a window to get filtered sunlight. Ideally, Fragrans requires medium light. It can also live in conditions with low light. Keep in mind that constant exposure to very little light may result in stunted growth and lack of color variegation among the leaves. Meanwhile, too much exposure to direct sunlight may cause it to wilt. If you decide to place Fragrans outdoors, make sure to position it to get partial shade.
Fragrans thrive amid warm conditions, with temperature levels that range from 75 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below this does not bode well for the plant. Fragrans’ leaves may become damaged if exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, growth may stall if the level is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter and light frosts are not friendly to this plant.
Fragrans thrive in rich, organic soil. They may require slow-release or liquid fertilizer once every month during their growth stage. During winter, feeding should be done modestly or not at all. You can also use an iron drench to prevent yellowish leaves.
How to care for Dracaena Janet Craig
Native to Africa, Janet Craig is a favorite home and office plant. It features dark green and shiny leaves that are shaped like a sword. These leathery leaves typically measure three inches in width and three feet in length. Janet Craig can grow as high as 15 feet, but its varieties grown indoors are much smaller. It is perfect as floor plants, but it can also be mass planted in garden beds.
Janet Craig has low watering requirements. Make sure to have half of the soil dry out before watering. Janet Craig must not be left sitting in water to avoid root rot like other varieties. If you use tap water, set it aside uncovered overnight to let the chemicals evaporate. In terms of duration, it needs to be watered every seven to 10 days. The frequency of the watering depends on its size.
Janet Craig does well in medium-light conditions, where it grows much faster. It prefers filtered, indirect sunlight. It makes it an excellent choice for an indoor plant. If placed in a low-light environment, Janet Craig tends to grow slower and produces smaller and narrower leaves. Do not place this variety under direct sunlight, as it will cause the leaves to burn.
The ideal temperature for Janet Craig is from 65 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature levels below 55 degrees Fahrenheit are considered harmful to it. You should avoid exposing Janet Craig to harsh winter conditions and blowing heaters as they can destroy the leaves.
Commercially sold Janet Craigs are usually sensitive to fluoride, so liquid fertilizer is the best supplement for them. Using fertilizers for this species is not a requirement. Fertilizers tend to leave behind salts, which could damage the tissues and cause the leaves to turn brown.
How to care for a Dracaena Dorado plant
Dracaena Dorado is an indoor plant with long, dark green leaves and sturdy-looking canes. It is a native to Africa. It is undemanding and requires very little maintenance. Aside from adding depth and beauty, it helps clean the air by removing contaminants such as benzene and formaldehyde. Dorado is not pet-friendly as it can cause digestive reactions among your four-legged furry friends.
Like Anthurium, Dracaena Dorado requires moderate watering during its growth phase and slightly more than usual during winter. The soil should be dried out in between watering. Make sure not to leave excess water as roots do not like getting soaked for too long. If you see root rot or yellow leaves, then this may be an indication of overwatering.
Like the varieties mentioned earlier, Dorado does well in low-light conditions with partial shade. It prefers indirect sunlight as too much direct sun exposure may damage and bleach its leaves. You can give it up to three hours of sunlight a day. A known office and house plant, Dorado, is recommended to be placed next to a window to get filtered sunlight.
The ideal room temperature for Dorado is between 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A light misting once a week may be needed if the air is too dry.
Dorado is a low-maintenance option that requires little to no fertilizer. You may consider feeding it with liquid fertilizer during the summer or spring. It is also perfectly fine if you decide not to. Remember that giving it too much fertilizer may lead to root damage.
How to care for Dracaena Deremensis
White stripes across its sword-shaped leaves differentiate Deremensis from other species. This no-fuss hardy also features thick stems and is easy to plant in gardens or containers. Like most varieties, Deremensis is widely grown indoors. It is not needy and requires very little care. It makes it perfect for people who want to start their gardening journey but are always on the go.
It will look nice on top of a desk or a window sill with its simple but elegant appearance. You can even place it on a table next to your sofa or bed. Deremensis planted in containers or are mostly kept indoors rarely yield any flowers. However, grown outdoors or in the garden may produce small yellow flowers at times.
Deremensis needs regular watering during its growth period, spanning from spring to fall. The soil must be moist and organically rich. It needs drainage to avoid root rot. During winter, watering must be scaled back without causing the soil to dry out completely. The best way to know if it is time to water your Deremensis is if the soil feels dry once you place your finger in it. Yellow and brown leaves indicate that you are watering your plant too much. Rainwater or distilled water is ideal for Deremensis, which is fluoride-sensitive.
Indirect sunlight is the most recommended for Deremensis. If indoors, place your pot or container close to a window so it can get enough filtered sunlight. Deremensis can tolerate some shade. Constant exposure to poor light conditions will prevent the leaves from growing to their full potential. In contrast, too much direct sunlight will cause them to burn.
As a tropical plant, Deremensis thrives in warm climates. Its ideal temperature levels range from 60 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 50 degrees could kill it. In terms of humidity, anything above 40% is great for this species. If you notice brown parts due to dry air, consider misting once in a while or making a pebble tray to raise the level of humidity.
Deremensis only needs liquid fertilizer once a month during summer or spring. Fertilizer is not necessary for winter and fall. Older ones may need to be fed once a week during their growing season.
The Dracaena family requires little maintenance and is also easy to propagate. For this genus, the ideal time to start pruning is during its growth stage in spring and summer. They are dormant between fall and winter, so avoid pruning during these seasons.
There are several ways by which you can propagate any variety of Dracaena. Each of these can be done even if you are not an expert. The first option is simply by cutting off the top part. To do this, start cutting below the leaf line. Include one or more nodes where roots grow. Afterward, you may plant it in moist soil or put it in a vase with fresh water. Make sure to place the cutting in a warm area.
Another way to propagate it is through stem cutting, which is the perfect method to have more clones. As in the first method, make top cuttings but include a large part of the stem. Next, the stem portion should be cut into 8-inch sections. Place the cuttings in a container filled with water or plant them in soil.
Make sure that the cuttings get enough indirect sunlight from their location. You can then transfer it to a pot and consider repotting once the roots become larger, especially during spring. However, repotting should be avoided if it is budding.
You can also propagate it through air layering. This method needs a moist location to let the aerial roots come out. To do this, choose a portion of the stem and scrape off one layer of bark using a sterilized knife. This should expose a band that measures half an inch in width, creating a wound. You can use a rooting hormone and apply it to the new mark, though this step is optional. Next, cover the wound with wet sphagnum moss. It should be covered with a plastic wrap. You can remove the wrap once you start seeing new roots come out.
Are they poisonous to cats?
Most types of Dracaena should be kept away from cats and dogs as they are poisonous. This houseplant has a chemical compound that can result in a range of side effects in our four-legged furry friends:
- loss of appetite
- and depression.
In extreme cases, cats and dogs may vomit with blood and exhibit dilated pupils when they chew on them. If this happens, contact your veterinarian immediately to have your pets treated. Many varieties can be kept in small containers or pots. You may want to hang them where your pets cannot access them. If you have had it for quite a while and your pet does not seem to care, then it is fine to keep it in its original place.
Leaves turning yellow and brown
Yellow and brown leaves sometimes indicate poor health conditions among plants. It includes cucumbers and tomatoes, among others. Unfortunately, the Dracaena family is no exception to that. The most common culprit of leaves turning yellow is overwatering.
If Dracaena were a person, it would only require a half-bath. It wouldn’t require a full shower. In general, overwatered ones are prone to fungal infection. It causes the roots and stems to rot. To prevent this, make sure that it comes out of the pot’s drainage hole and flows straight into the saucer. Excess from the saucer must be discarded right away.
Keep in mind that you should not allow it to sit in water for a long period. Aside from overwatering, poor quality may also lead to yellow leaves. To prevent this, make sure only to use filtered water when hydrating your plants. Alternatively, you can fill a container with tap water and let it sit without a cover overnight. It allows fluoride and chlorine to evaporate.
Cold water is a no-no for Dracaena. Make sure that the temperature level is higher by a few degrees than room temperature. You can keep a watering schedule to keep track of your most recent watering date. This will also help you trace if overwatering is the cause of those yellow leaves or other factors.
Aside from overwatering, the humidity level is also a contributing factor. Low humidity levels may cause the edges to turn brown before turning yellow completely. Regular misting and using a humidifier are just some of the simple tricks to solve this problem. You can also make a pebble tray.
Aside from creating holes, pests can also cause them to turn yellow. Bugs, spider mites, and scale insects can suck moisture out of the plants. It accelerates the transformation into yellow. Stressed ones are even more susceptible to this and should be treated early on.
Fertilizer salts may also cause yellow or brown leaves. This is common if you are using potting soil that has perlite. If you think there is a build-up of fertilizer salts in the soil, flush them out using freshwater.
Yellow leaves can sometimes be addressed by repotting them and placing them in bigger pots to get enough air. If your plant is close to a radiator by any chance, choose another location as the radiation can also affect the color.
Having said this, it is important to note that some yellowing is natural. It is particularly among older leaves it happens to give way to new ones. These older, yellow ones are typically seen at the bottom part of the plant.
Other plants are also susceptible to yellow leaves if maintained poorly. If you want to know why tomato experiences it and ways to avoid it, check out this article. Make sure to read this article if you want to grow a pineapple.
Maybe you want to buy a Dracaena, but you don’t know how to take care of it. We have prepared a list of steps to follow in the care process to help you make the right decision: