Dracaena (Dragon Tree) - Expert tips
In this article
- How to Care for Dracaena (Corn plant/Dragon Tree) - Expert Tips for Thriving Plants
- Dragon Tree Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully
- Dracaena plant care tips
- Light requirements
- Temperature & humidity
- Repotting & soil
- Dracaena propagation
- Most common pests on Dracaena
- Is Dracaena poisonous for your pets or children?
- Buy your new Dracaena online at PLNTS.com
How to Care for Dracaena (Corn plant/Dragon Tree) - Expert Tips for Thriving Plants
Dracaena plants are incredibly popular as houseplants worldwide. The ones you'll see most often are Dracaena Marginata and Dracaena Fragrans. You might also know them by other names, like Corn Plant, Dragon Tree, or Cornstalk Dracaena. What's really fun about these plants is that they look like tiny trees.
The word Dracaena comes from the Ancient Greek word Drakaina, meaning "female dragon". With about 120 recognised species, the Dracaena family is not particularly large. This family is native to Africa, South Asia, northern Australia and Central America.
Fun fact! Interestingly, a recent DNA testing investigation revealed that Sansevieria plants belong to the Dracaena family. However, we have dedicated a separate page to Sansevierias to maintain clarity.
Dracaena species are generally low-maintenance. Still, some species are tropical (Dragaena Fragrans) while others are found in dry environments and tolerate much more drought (Dracaena Marginata) - so it does vary. But overall, they are perfect houseplants!
Dragon Tree Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully
- Choose a spot with bright indirect light. Dracaena plants enjoy growing in plenty of natural light. They can tolerate low light, but they might not grow as quickly, and their leaves might not be as vibrant.
- Water your Dragon Tree with care. They are really sensitive to overwatering. Water only when the soil ball has slightly dried out, but don't let it dry out too much.
- Adjust watering with seasons. Remember that Dracaenas require less water in the winter months. As days are shorter and the plant is dormant, soil simply dries slower.
- Dracaena plants enjoy high humidity levels. While they can tolerate low humidity pretty well, they thrive in higher humidity.
- If you see brown tips on your Dragon Tree leaves, adjust your care routine a little. It's probably caused by under or overwatering or too low humidity.
- Clean the leaves gently with a damp cloth as part of your care routine. Dust can pile up, blocking the light the plant needs and also creating a cosy home for unwanted pests.
- Repot only when it's needed, and do it carefully. Dracaenas don't like their roots to be annoyed. Only repot when the plant becomes rootbound, usually every 2-3 years.
- If your Dracaena gets leggy or too tall, cut it back. Simply prune it back to your preferred height in spring. Just like magic, it'll begin to sprout fresh, new growth right from where you snipped it.
- Rotate your Dracaena tree from time to time. To ensure even growth, turn your Dracaena every few weeks so all sides of the plant receive equal exposure to light.
- Keep your eye on pests. If you see something suspicious, act fast! Treating pest issues early can prevent them from spreading and causing further damage to your plants.
Dracaena plant care tips
Dracaena plants grow best in bright, filtered or indirect light. While these hardy plants can tolerate some direct sunlight, they thrive best with just a few hours of morning or evening sun each day. If it stands in full sun, we advise you to keep a close eye on your houseplant. You don't want its beautiful leaves to burn!
Expert tip! East or north-facing windows are the best spots for these plants. If you have a south or west-facing window, consider placing the plant a bit farther from the window or using a curtain to diffuse the light.
Dragon Trees can also tolerate lower light levels. However, its leaves will be smaller, and it can grow quite leggy. Dracaena Marginata can tolerate lower light conditions slightly better than Dracaena Fragrans. So if you have a shadier spot, choose Dracaena Marginata.
Dracaena should be kept constantly moist but not too soggy during the growing season (spring to autumn). It should be enough if you water it thoroughly every week during the active growing season and drain excess water through the pot into a container or bowl underneath. Just make sure the top half is nice and dry. If it feels a bit moist, no worries! Simply give it a few more days, and then check again.
As for the dormant winter period, watering less frequently, like every two weeks, can be a good starting point. Just be sure to let the soil slightly dry out before watering again.
Dracaena plants do well with monthly feeding with a water-soluble fertiliser for houseplants (PLNTS nutrition, for example). Do this only in spring and summer. In autumn and winter, when the plants grow more slowly, it is better not to give any additional fertiliser.
Temperature & humidity
Keep the temperature around 15-27°C and humidity around 40-60%, and your Dracaena will be a happy houseplant. If you have dry air, consider raising the humidity for your houseplants.
Repotting & soil
Dracaena plants typically need to be repotted every 2 to 3 years. You'll know it's time to repot when you see roots crowding the pot, peeking out from the drainage holes or surfacing above the soil. Read more on how to repot houseplants.
As for the soil, you want something that's both well-draining and nutrient-rich. We recommend using PLNTS organic potting soil with perlite, bark or another chunky component, as this will give your plant the nutrients it needs while ensuring proper drainage.
Dracaenas are usually quite easy to propagate with stem cuttings. Even a bare piece of the stem often produces a new plant. Just follow these easy steps:
- Cut a 10 cm piece off the stem using clean, sharp pruning shears. Don't worry if your chosen stem piece has leaves or is just a plain part of the stem - it'll work either way. If there are some leaves on the lower part of this stem piece, simply take them off.
- Dip the bottom of the stem in rooting powder and then plant it in a small pot filled with moist cutting soil or root it in water.
- If you're rooting it in water, wait until you see roots developing. Once that happens, carefully plant the cutting into potting soil. You can skip this step if you plant it directly into the soil.
- Place the newly planted cutting in a spot with bright indirect light and keep it moist until leaves begin to sprout.
Keep in mind that this process can take a few weeks, so be patient! Once your newly potted cutting has taken root and established itself, you can treat it just like any other Dracaena plant.
Most common pests on Dracaena
Although pests on Dracaena are uncommon, your plant may suffer from scale insects like mealy bugs and some other stinging and sucking insects. Too much nitrogen sometimes promotes excessive new growth, which attracts aphids and other insects that eat Dracaena and weaken the plant.
As you may know, a healthy, adequately fertilised plant is less susceptible to insects and diseases than a weak plant. Not sure which plant pest is bothering your Dracaena? Then check out our PLNTSdoctor page and find out immediately what to do to save your plant too.
Is Dracaena poisonous for your pets or children?
Unfortunately, Dracaena plants are toxic to pets, according to the ASPCA. Also, for us humans, this plant can be toxic. So keep an eye on your pets and/or small children. You don't want them to get sick, but you don't want your plant to be damaged either.