Dracaena marginata, more commonly known as a Madagascar dragon tree, is an attractive plant with green sword-like, red-edged leaves. The striking spiky tree, which is native to Madagascar, is well-known as a great entry plant for home gardeners because it requires little maintenance, can withstand drought and is practically unbreakable.
Although it hardly ever blooms indoors, the slow-growing plant can be planted all year long and features tiny white flowers in the spring. This small tree can reach a height of 20 feet in warm climates, but it is typically grown as a houseplant in a pot and pruned to no more than 6 feet. Because the dragon tree is toxic to animals if consumed, keep pets away from it.
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Dragon Plant Care Guide
Your Dragon Tree plant will thrive in light shade. The best places to sit are on the ledge of a window facing north, close to a window facing east or west, or far from a window facing south. Too much light will cause the leaves to scorch, and too little light will result in smaller, limp-appearing new leaves.
Try to keep the soil moist (but never soggy or wet). A little bit of root dryness is preferable to the danger of overwatering. Be sure to reduce watering in the winter as this is when plants are most likely to develop the dreaded mushy, soft stems.
It must be reasonably humid. Most of the time, the humidity in a typical home is ideal, but if you can, mist the leaves occasionally, especially if the air is very dry. Dust that collects on the leaves will be removed with the aid of the misting.
You must feed your dragon tree in order to consistently see new leaves sprouting. Try to do it once a month in the spring and summer. There are few in the fall and winter and none in the autumn.
This plant does not like the cold. The room it lives in should never have temperatures lower than 10°C (50°F). Before any sign of frost, you must remember to bring your plant inside if you left it outside for the summer. The temperature range for ideal growth is between 16°C (60°F) – 24°C (75°F).
Speed Of Growth
In comparison to other indoor plants, dragon trees grow rather slowly. However, they will experience rapid growth spurts at the crown in the spring and early summer, which you will undoubtedly notice as the crown produces a series of leaves.
Height / Spread
The final height of your plant is determined by the height of your ceiling! To be fair, while natively they can reach 3m / 10ft or more, indoors you will probably run out of large enough pots to allow the plant to reach that size. So expect yours to only reach 2m / 6ft after many (many) years. No wider than 1m / 3ft.
Dragon Tree flowers are very rare and almost never seen on indoor plants. Only the foliage and aesthetic appeal of this indoor plant are grown.
You only need to repot when the roots are very congested and the plant is suffering as a consequence (little to no growth for several months is the most common sign). If you strictly abide by this definition, you might have to repot the Dragon Tree twice a year because its roots grow so quickly. In its place, we would suggest being a little cruel and only repotting plants once every two years at most.
These plants can do well with very little root room. You can see how big the plant is despite being in a small pot by looking at the first image in the article and in the gallery.
In our experience, Dragon Trees don’t care what kind of potting soil you give them. Just make sure it’s light and fresh. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our article on various growing mediums.
The roots of a Dragon Tree are normally yellow(ish)
On occasion, you may find the large tap roots start to “coil” around and around the pot causing the root ball to rise up out of the container. If this happens, take the plant out of the pot and cut back some of the large thick tap roots before positioning what’s left, back in the pot which should remove the “coil” effect.
A dragon tree shedding dead leaves on its own is completely normal. Simply gather them up and throw them away. Cut back stems with sterile, sharp pruning shears to tidy up the tree, or remove leaves that appear to be about to fall to keep the plant trimmed and tidy. Before using your pruning tool on your plant, clean a rag and saturate it with a common household product, such as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Rinse the rag in water, then wipe the tool dry.
How to Propagate the Madagascar Dragon Tree
You can grow more dragon trees by using stem cuttings that have been rooted in water. In fact, it’s so simple to do that the variety is frequently used in dish gardens and easily propagated by nurseries and retailers. It is best to do this in the spring when the plant is actively growing. The cuttings begin to sprout roots in just about three weeks, and a rooting hormone is not required. Cuttings from your own plant can be used to create thoughtful housewarming gifts for dragon trees.
- Cut an 8-inch-long length of stem with a clean, sharp pair of scissors. Remove any leaves, and keep in mind which end goes into the ground.
- A moist potting soil should be used to place the cutting.
- Place the cutting in direct, bright light.
- On the cutting’s upper nodes and top as a rosette, leaves will begin to sprout.
Types Of Madagascar Dragon Tree
Although there are several varieties of dragon tree, the most commonly found at plant stores (and used as household plants) include:
- Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor’: Green leaves with dark red margins and an ivory stripe running through the middle characterize this variety.
- D. marginata ‘Colorama’: Although the dragon tree looks entirely pink, it is actually variegated with white and green stripes. To maintain its distinctive colors, it will require very bright light.
- D. marginata ‘Bicolor’: This dragon tree variety has stripes of red and green, living up to its name.
The dragon tree will tolerate a lot of neglect, as was previously mentioned, though this is obviously not advisable. To watch out for, consider the following potential issues.
- Brown leaf tips: Dry air, chilly drafts, or under-watering could all be contributing factors. To find the cause, check the humidity and water levels in the room, then look for any drafts. Justify the necessary conditions or care once the cause has been identified.
- Brown soft leaves: The soil may be water-logged and the room has gotten too cold for the plant. Increase the temperature while checking the soil.
- Brown spots on leaves: Here, a lack of water may be the root cause. Of course, the solution is to water more frequently and keep the soil just moist enough.
- The bottom leaves becoming yellow: This is typical, as was already mentioned. Lower leaves are falling off the plant to make room for new growth.
- Insects: Mealy bugs and scale can occasionally be a problem.
Dragon Trees: Are They Poisonous?
There are trace amounts of toxic substance in the sap that is present in the leaves and stems. Although unlikely to be fatal, this substance can irritate people and animals when consumed.
Are Dragon Trees Simple To Maintain?
This indoor plant is very tolerant and requires little maintenance.
A Dragon Tree Grows How Quickly?
Trees called dragons to grow very slowly. The plant can grow only a few feet tall, sometimes taking a decade.
What Distinguishes A Dragon Tree (dracaena Draco) From A Dragon Tree (dracaena Marginata)?
While the leaf shapes of various dragon tree varieties can differ, these two dragon trees appear to be nearly identical, so this is not the case. The main difference between Dracaena marginata and Dracaena draco is inside the leaves. Marginata does not have a red resin, but Draco does have a red resin (called “dragon’s blood”) that you will see ooze out if you cut into the leaves.