Common Name: Corn Plant, Dragon Tree
Botanical Name: Dracaena deremensis, Dracaena steudneri, Dracaena marginata, Dracaena fragrans (see below for available varieties)
There are approximately 120 species of dracaena trees and shrubs. Whether your favorite is marginata, massangenana, fragrans, or possibly deremensis, each will give you a hefty return for very little maintenance. This genus of plants can grow quite large and are best kept under control by removing the top portion of the plant. New foliage will emerge from the cut area and you can even propagate the cutting! If you give this hearty indoor plant the proper light and amount of water, it will become a lovely, long-term resident in your home.
Some dracaenas - like the D. fragrans and D. fassangeana - will grow in low light, but most other varieties - like marginatas - thrive in filtered, bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves, unless the plant was originally grown in direct sun.
Dracaenas have a reputation for not needing a lot of water. True, but they need a thorough soaking when the soil dries out! Remember -- all plants need water! Dracaenas planted in a six-inch pot should be watered when the soil is dry four inches below the top. Use filtered water, rainwater, or distilled water, as these plants don’t like salts or minerals. Dracaenas prefer dry soil over constantly damp; soggy soil promotes fungus and root rot. Discover more indoor plant watering tips and advice!
Nutrient-rich potting soil that is loose and drains well, but still allows for moisture to reach the roots for a few days, is essential for dracaena. Most pre-mixed soils will suffice. Make sure that there is plenty of organic matter, like coco-coir, peat moss, or shredded leaves, and avoid soils that contain moisture retaining crystals. If your soil drains too quickly, we recommend re-potting your dracaena into a compost-rich soil mixture with fewer drainage materials. Learn how to create your own universal soil mixture for all of your indoor plants!
The ideal temperatures for dracaenas are those above 65℉. Sudden coldness can damage the leaves, so keep them away from drafty doors and windows during the colder months.
Dracaena houseplants benefit from higher humidity levels during summer, or when they’re in heated, forced-air environments. Brown and brittle leaf tips are the tell-tale sign that your dracaena is suffering from humidity deficiency. Set your dracaena in an area that is naturally humid, or use a humidifier or a pebble tray with water to create the ideal environment. Learn how to increase the humidity for you indoor plants!
It’s not necessary to fertilize your dracaenas, but they benefit from you feeding them once a month during the growing season with a ¼ diluted complete liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion. You can also top-dress the plant at the start of the growing season with a rich, organic compost scratched into the top few inches of the soil.
Dracaeana marginata is slow-growing indoor plant, and it may take years to reach its mature indoor height depending on your interior environmental conditions. Dracaeana deremensis, and fragrans grow a bit faster, but will need optimal growing conditions and the proper care to reach maturity (this can take up to ten years!)
Pet Friend of Foe
All dracaena are toxic to pets. Foe!
- Use filtered water as these plants are sensitive to salts and chemicals found in most tap water.
- If you want to reduce the size of the plant, simply cut off the top; over time, new foliage will grow back at the cut, producing a fuller look.
- If your plant isn’t thriving, try moving it to a spot with more light.
- Leaf drop could be a signal that you are not watering your dracaena enough! Soak the soil, evenly and thoroughly each time you water.