HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR DRACAENA (DRAGON TREE)
THE DRAGON TREE
Dracaena (genus). Common varieties: Dracaena marginata
This diverse genus covers around 200 species of trees and succulent shrubs. Weirdly, they are a member of the larger Asparagaceae family (which includes the humble asparagus) and these striking plants can make excellent additions to the home of the novice indoor gardener. With ribbon-like foliage and an impressive upright growth, these plants are a long-term investment and are perfect for cultivating a statement piece for your living space.
Where Does It Come From?
Most of the plants in the genus come from subtropical Africa, with a few particularly notable species developing on the isolated island of Madagascar. These plants also grow in the wild in northern Australia and tropical parts of South America.
Why Should I Get One?
- The upright, woody stems mean that these plants work really well for adding a feature piece to tight spaces. The plant stays tall and slim, topped with a canopy of foliage. They look lovely grown large in the corner of a living room for example.
- Dragon Trees do not require an enormous amount of attention and are an excellent choice for new plant lovers. They are tolerant of under-watering and are flexible in terms of light conditions.
How Big Can It Grow?
In their natural habitat, these trees can grow really quite enormous – seeing specimens a few metres tall is fairly common. Kept as an indoor plant, this growth is considerably reduced. The strappy leaves of a healthy plant, however, can still grow up to 40cm long. Bear in mind that these trees are a long-term project as they grow very slowly at a rate of around 10cm per year.
Where Should I Keep It?
These trees do best in bright indirect light. Like many plants with ribbon-like foliage, too much sun can cause browning and scorching. If your plant’s leaves begin to droop, it may be somewhere a little too bright. Dragon Trees appreciate humidity and thus do well in kitchens and bathrooms. If kept somewhere with drier air, misting can be helpful to keep the plant moist, as well as preventing dust mites and other common household pests. Dragon Trees require excellent drainage and sandy soil will make them much happier than claggy, nutrient-rich compost. The optimum temperatures for these babies is between 18-32°C, ensuring the temperature doesn’t drop below 15°C regularly.
How Often Should I Water It?
A forgetful gardener’s dream, these plants are tolerant of under-watering. Be careful not to drown them – over-watering is much more likely to kill them off. Water generously once a week or until the top two inches of soil are dried out. Using a half strength liquid fertiliser every two weeks in the summer can also help to achieve maximum growth. Reduce watering and stop feeding during the colder autumn and winter when the plant will go largely dormant.
Care for these exotic plants is really relatively simple and an added bonus is that they’re easy to keep looking in tip-top condition just through a little manicure here and there. Removing dead leaves and trimming browning leaf-tips in a V-shape all helps to keep the plants looking and feeling their best. Suitable for all levels of plant-owner, they bring bundles of personality to your indoor spaces without any of the hassle.