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Are you planning to decorate your home with a dragon tree for added attraction? Good choice because this houseplant is pretty easy to care for and maintain even for first-timers. It has a wide range of tolerance for various environmental stresses making it thrive even with adverse conditions.
The dragon tree is one of those indoor plants you’ll surely love for its simple beauty and undemanding upkeep routine. Just learn the basics, start right, and save yourself from doing unnecessary troubleshoots in the future. Here are the most important things to take note of with this houseplant.
|Scientific Name||Dracaena marginata|
|AKA||Dragon tree, Madagascar dragon tree, Red-edge dracaena|
|Similar to||Yucca elephantipes/Yucca|
|Shape||Erect with multiple thin, curving stalks and narrow ribbon-like, green leaves|
|Maximum size||8 to 15 feet|
|Watering requirements||Moderate (wait until the top half of soil is dry before watering)|
|Light requirements||Deep shade (less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)|
|Preferred humidity||Medium – High|
|Preferred temperature||70 – 80F (21 – 27C)|
|Soil||Use loose, well-drained potting mix, loamy soil amended with high organic matter like peat moss|
|Fertilizer||Apply slow-release general houseplant fertilizer during spring, summer, and fall|
|Propagation method||Tip or stem cuttings|
|Toxicity||Cats and Dogs|
|Vulnerable to||Leaf spot diseases|
Overview of Dragon Tree Plant Care
Dracaena marginata is classified as a shrub that can be planted both indoors and outdoors. It’s commonly known as dragon tree, Madagascar dragon tree, or red-edge dracaena. Originally, it’s from the tropical country of Madagascar located in the east of Africa.
This houseplant is a common favorite indoor accessory. With foliage that looks like sword-shaped leaves in a whorled arrangement on top of a woody stem, this plant can grow to as high as 8 to 15 feet.
What you’ll love about having a dragon tree is that you won’t need to spend every single day giving it water. All it wants is a moderate supply and it survives well. In fact, it has a strong tolerance to drought.
The perfect time to give water is when the top half of the soil gets dry. The lead time depends on the weather so expect that watering is more frequent during hot days than in cold days. Just make sure not to overwater as this may cause root rot that leads to death.
More watering tips? Check out this article on the topic of watering your house plants.
If your room is heavily shaded with very little contact to direct sunlight, that’s not a problem. You can put the potted dragon tree there. It will survive in that kind of environment without worry because it doesn’t need much of that sunshine.
From time to time, if you want it to catch a little sunlight, you may opt to put it on a windowsill for a short time (2 hrs maximum). But if sunlight isn’t available, the artificial light inside is just as good. If leaves start dropping, that may be an indication that it needs the sunlight already so you have to expose it a little.
The dragon tree is a tropical plant so it can tolerate moderate to high levels of humidity. Since this plant is generally adaptable to various conditions, it can thrive in the humidity inside your home.
If the air gets too dry, you can spray water around it to increase the moisture level. It will definitely enjoy that once in a while misting. Putting a humidifier is also a big help to keep the air moving especially for places that are closed.
Plant Food and Soil
Make sure to pot the dragon tree in a soil that’s well-amended with high organic matter like peat moss. This will increase the texture of the soil. Choose a loamy soil that has good drainage to ensure that water will not remain stagnant.
Fertilizer isn’t much in demand so you can use slow-release fertilizers to compensate for the consumed nutrients. You may add only once during spring, summer, and fall seasons. The added nutrients shall be enough for the plant’s need until the next season or so.
Read more: Easy to care indoor plants
Aside from the main ingredients above, there are a few things you have to know in order to keep the plant well and good. Once you’ve established the dragon tree inside your home, you have to perform additional care routine from time to time. These are the following:
Repotting a dragon tree can be extra challenging especially if the plant is already tall. It will take more of your strength to do so. You’ll notice that the plant needs repotting when it stops growing because the roots down there are already bound.
Always use a fresh set of potting mix. Trimming off some of the roots is also necessary to ease off the congestion before you transfer it to a new container. Water the soil deeply and drain well before you put it back in shade to allow it to establish for days.
To keep your dragon tree from growing out of control, you’ll need to cut off portions of its branches. This is to maintain only a certain height and allow the plant to grow more foliage. Pruning is also a good way to get rid of plant parts that have been infected with diseases.
You may cut off the plant in varying heights for a better structure. Maintain only the main stem with a few branches so that the plant won’t take up so much space inside. Remove the old branches and leaves to allow the new ones to flourish.
Every plant has an enemy. Surely there a few organisms that would love to feed on this beautiful dracaena plant. Common pests of a dragon tree include mites, thrips, spider mites, scales, and other chewing insects.
Nevertheless, the presence of pests isn’t much of a problem because they rarely affect a dragon tree in a serious manner. Just be alert when you see any foreign attacker. Pick them out at an instant.
Since you’re planning to put a potted dragon tree indoors, make sure to place it somewhere safe from your pets. Dragon tree is toxic to both cats and dogs so if you have one, beware.
It contains a compound named saponin that’s the source of toxicity. Once pets ingest this compound, they’ll experience vomiting and hypersalivation. They’ll suffer from depression and anorexia as well.
A number of dragon tree varieties are out there for you to choose from. Each variety differs mainly in their color. Depending on the aesthetic purpose, you may consider which variety suits your preferences.
- Dracaena marginata ‘original’ – This is the variety that we commonly see characterized by having dark green-colored leaves with purple stripes on its margin. This is a classic choice for indoor ornament.
- Dracaena marginata ‘tricolor’ – As the name stands, this variety has three colors visible in its leaves. In between the green middle and the red stripes in its margin lies a yellow band.
- Dracaena marginata ‘colorama’ – This cultivar has an overall reddish look. At a closer look though, you’ll see that it has three colors as well but the green and yellow bands are relatively thinner than the red. It’s a perfect accent you can use to decorate your home.
- Dracaena marginata ‘tarzan’ – A variety that’s unique from the rest, this dragon tree is thicker, tougher and has bigger leaves than the others. The color resembles the original marginata.
How do I get my dragon tree to be colorful?
If you want to have a more colorful dragon tree, choose the bicolor and tricolor cultivars. They have extra colors of red, light yellow, and green to add to the basic dragon tree palette. You may also combine it with other indoor plants you have at home.
Also, you have to make sure that the plant receives enough nutrients so that it’s leaves will remain vibrant in color. Plants with pale leaves are unhealthy ones. An indication of nutrient deficiency is a change in the color of the leaves from green to yellowish (chlorosis).
Are dragon trees toxic to cats?
Yes, it is! So, please keep it securely away from your cats. Find a location that cannot be disturbed by cats. You may use plant holders to elevate them from the floor.
Cats love playing with the leaves of a plant. If they happen to ingest the leaves, that’s harmful. The toxic it contains can cause vomiting and nausea. Their pupils will also become dilated.
How tall can my dragon tree get?
The dragon tree grows really tall. It can get as high as 15 feet. That’s huge for an indoor plant so you have to be mindful and trim it off once in a while.
Allowing the plant to grow too much will compromise not only the space indoor but the health of the plant itself. With limited soil and root space in pots, the plant will find it difficult to sustain its aboveground parts. Pruning would ease the pain.
Which plant food is the best for my dragon tree?
A general houseplant fertilizer is enough. You won’t spend so much fertilizer feeding the dragon tree because it isn’t a picky indoor plant. Begin with a healthy potting soil rich in organic matter to sustain its growth.
Once established, all you need is to maintain giving fertilizer once every start of a season. Opt for the slow-released formulations. You also need to be careful with fertilizers because overfertilization can lead to sudden death.
If you think the plant is really healthy, you can give the fertilizer a pass. Apply only when you think it’s needed.
Caring for a dragon tree is not really a tedious job. This houseplant will sit well inside a room with the abovementioned conditions and all you need is to add extra effort checking it from time to time. If you’re careful to provide the ideal conditions, then expect your plant to be in its best shape.
While the initial steps in caring for a new plant may have been unfamiliar, the consistency, as well as dedication in knowing and learning, will help you get acquainted with it. In no time, you’ll have not just one but two or more propagated dragon trees inside your home.