How to Care for Dracaena Marginata


green dracaena marginata

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Dracaena marginata, also known as the dragon tree plant, is an attractive plant with narrow green leaves and yellow stripes outlined by deep red edges. Indigenous to Madagascar, the Dracaena marginata plant’s name comes from the Greek word drakaina meaning female dragon.

Resembling a miniature palm tree with its luscious, green spikes, the dragon plant is a popular houseplant, not only because it is a stunning, easy-to-care-for decoration, but because it also removes harsh chemicals from the air. 

Here’s our complete guide on growing dracaena marginata:

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dracaena marginata leaves in white background

Growing Dracaena Marginata outdoors

Before you start growing a Dracaena marginata plant outdoors, you have to take time to think about what your weather is like year-round. Dragon tree plants can only be grown in warm climates, so it’s crucial that your environment will support and sustain this plant for the entirety of its life, not just during growing season. 

Because Dracaena marginata are intolerant to cold climates, it’s safe to say that this plant will only thrive in temperatures that never drop below 63 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (17 to 18 degrees Celsius), even in winter.

If you do live in a warm, sunny climate, then you’re in luck! The dragon tree plant flourishes beautifully outside, producing white flowers in the spring and growing up to 20 ft outdoors. 

To ensure your Dracaena marginata reaches new heights and beams into the sky, follow our easy gardening tips. We recommend that you place a bed of gravel or pebbles down on the ground to help with water drainage. Then, on top of this layer, add a mix of garden soil, soil mix and sand.

The Dracaena marginata is a slow-growing plant which may take a long time to reach its true potential. But soon enough, you will have a spiky, green tower of life peering over you!

Now, what if you don’t have the luxury of growing a Dracaena marginata outdoors?

Growing Dracaena Marginata indoors

If you’re unable to grow a Dracaena marginata outdoors, no worries. It’s much more common for the dragon plant to be grown inside, making them a very popular indoor plant. 

Dracaena marginata make great houseplants because they are known for being drought-tolerant, comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, and almost indestructible. Typically, a potted dragon plant grown indoors is kept pruned to 6 ft or less, depending on the home gardener’s preference.

There are a number of ways to use your dragon plant as decor in your home. Depending on your desired height for the Dracaena marginata, you can use your greenery as a floor plant or a table top plant. This will add a beautiful accent to your living room, office or any other space in your house.

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or you’ve been living in yours for years, a Dracaena marginata will add life and color to your living space, making you feel more relaxed and open-minded. Let’s talk about the best ways to care for and maintain your dragon plant!

Best Dracaena Marginata on Amazon

Here are our best pick for best dracaena plant available on Amazon.

Dracaena Marginata care tips

To ensure the best results for your Dracaena marginata, it’s important that you’re prepared. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced gardener, we’ll let you in on the secrets for how to make your dragon plant thrive. Here are the best practices for taking care of your Dracaena marginata plant…

Light

Dracaena marginata require much light to grow tall and strong. In fact, it is best for the dragon plant to receive medium to bright light for its growth. 

But, be careful! If a Dracarna marginata plant is getting too much light, its leaves and foliage will burn and turn brown. In that case, move your plant away from the bright spot to a new area with indirect sunlight or partial shade.

On the other hand, if your plant isn’t getting enough light, its leaves and foliage may become pale. It is difficult for dragon trees to survive in low light conditions, and if they are exposed to only a little light, they will grow slower and their leaves will be smaller and less vibrant.

So remember, the best way to care for your Dracaena marginata and give it the right amount of light is to expose it to natural light, but only bright indirect sunlight.

Soil

When preparing the soil for your potted dragon plant, it’s important to use a well-drained potting mix, preferably loamy soil with peat moss. It’s also essential that your plant’s pot or container has extra room for the plant’s roots to breathe.

Water 

Because it’s known as a drought-tolerant plant, Dracaena marginata doesn’t require that much water.

A general rule to follow for watering your Dracaena marginata is to water it every time you notice that the top half of the soil is dry. Typically, this adds up to every 2 weeks, but can be more often in the summer and less often in the winter.

Pay attention to your dragon plant to see how it handles the amount of water you feed it. If your plant’s leaves are yellow, it might be thirsty. If the edges of its leaves are turning brown, it might be overwatered. To prevent this, feed your plant less often and make sure its pot has good drainage. Sometimes excess water can create soggy soil, so to drain it, make sure the bottom of the pot has good drainage holes.

Another reason your dragon plant’s leaves may be turning brown or getting discolored is if the water it’s being fed has too much salt or fluoride in it. If you’re currently using tap water to feed your plant, fill your pitcher or watering can and let it sit for a day or two at room temperature to remove any salt. But, fluoride won’t settle or evaporate, so use distilled water to prevent fluoride if that’s the case.

dracaena marginata with drops of water
Photo from twitter: @PlantMomma87

Temperature

As previously mentioned, the Dracaena marginata plant flourishes in warm weather and is intolerant to anything cold. 

Therefore, the ideal temperature for a dragon plant is room temperature, or anything between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This number can go up to 85 degrees F in the summer months and down to 65 degrees F in the winter months, but remember that Dracaena marginata do not like any temperatures under 65 degrees F.

In the winter months, Dracaena marginata are sensitive to cold drafts and cold air, so make sure the thermostat is set to a temperature that will keep them comfortable.

Typically, dracaena marginata like household humidity, but if there is dry air inside the house, they might need a regular misting.

Fertilizer

Before you fertilize your dragon plant, it’s important to note that this type of plant does not need much fertilizer at all. In fact, Dracaena marginata do not need fertilizer to be alive and healthy.

But if you’re looking to boost your plant’s growth, you can feed it a small amount of liquid fertilizer once a year at the beginning of spring. Just remember not to overdo it!

Dracaena Marginata maintenance tips:

Now that we’ve given you the Dracaena plant care basics, it’s time to talk about the plant maintenance tips that will lead to new growth and longer life.

Propagating

If you have plans to propagate your dragon tree plant now or in the future, you’re in luck! Propagating Dracaena marginata is actually really easy.

All you have to do is cut the stems from your plant and place their ends in water. It will take about three weeks for the stem cuttings to sprout roots naturally. Then, be patient as the new shoots lengthen and grow new leaves.

Potting and repotting

As your Dracaena marginata grows and expands, you might consider upgrading from your current pot to a new pot on an as needed basis. Typically, this will occur every second or third year because dragon tree plants grow slowly.

In between potting changes, you can refresh your plant’s old soil with a new soil mixture to freshen up your dragon tree plant each year.

Pruning and cleaning

As we mentioned earlier, it’s very common for Dracaena marginata plants to develop yellow leaves or brown tips. To solve this common problem with the plant’s leaves, cut off the dead leaves.

But first make sure your scissors are sharp before you begin pruning and cleaning your plant, or else their leaves might tear.

The bottom leaves and undersides of the plant’s leaves will turn yellow and die with age and growth, so feel free to remove those leaves. You can also snip off the brown leaf tips.

While you’re at it, shape your dragon plant, try out some unique looks and spray the leaves to give it a quick bath!

Protecting from pests and diseases

We hate to say it, but it’s quite possible your dragon plant will get infected by pests or diseases at least once over the course of its lifetime. 

Mealybugs, scale insects and spider mites are the most common types of plant diseases, but beware of fungus gnats too. Here are some sticky traps we recommend:

Mealybugs are easy to spot because they will leave sticky, cotton-like residue on the tree. Humidity is a common cause of mealybugs. Warm temperatures and dry air will attract mealybugs, so be mindful of the climate in your home.

On the other hand, spider mites are difficult to notice until they have already caused damage to your Dracaena marginata. 

If you do have a mealybug or spider mite infestation eating away at your tree plant, spray a mix of water and soap on your plant, especially on the undersides of its leaves. If the infestation is particularly bad, create a mixture of half water, half alcohol and clean your plant with a q-tip. Continue these treatments daily each week for roughly 4 weeks.

Are Dracaena Marginata poisonous?

Believe it or not, Dracaena marginata are indeed poisonous.

Luckily, the plant causes no harm to humans, but it can be very toxic if chewed on or eaten by cats and dogs. 

So if you think your pet would try to take a bite out of your dragon plant, opt for a different plant or put it somewhere out of reach. If you notice your cat or dog acting out of the ordinary or experiencing symptoms of being poisoned, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Now that you’re a Dracaena marginata expert, it’s time to bring a dragon plant home so you can put your care and maintenance skills to the test!

When choosing your dragon tree plant, be mindful that there are many varieties to pick from. Aside from the Dracaena marginata, there are many other plants that make up the Dracaena family. For example, there’s the Dracaena fragans (common name: corn plant), Dracaena draco, Dracaena ‘Tarzan’ and Dracaena deremensis, just to name a few!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Dracaena family, ask a local greenhouse to show you their inventory of Dracaenas. Good luck on your new endeavor, fellow gardener!

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Patrick Chism

Patrick likes to pretend that urban gardening is just a hobby, but he’s actually prepping for the apocalypse. He’s a practical grower, specializing in hydroponics systems and grow lights. His dream is to one day feed his family with just the food he grows in his Chicago-based condo.

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