Dracaena Marginata Plant Care & Growing Guide

Looking for a large houseplant that’s easy to care for? Dracaena Marginata certainly fits the bill!

Dracaena Marginata, also known as Dragon Tree or Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia, is a drought-tolerant, spiky plant that is very easy to care for, making it the perfect option for novice gardeners. This tree-like plant can reach up to six feet tall when grown indoors and up to twenty feet when grown outdoors! Dracaena Marginata is known for its long vibrant green tropical leaves which are 1-2 inches wide and 12-24 inches long (or more).

If you’re thinking about getting a Dracaena Marginata Plant or currently have one, keep reading. This article will cover basic plant care for the Dracaena Marginata Plant!

Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata: The Basics

Dracaena Marginata, the Dragon Tree, is a small tree native to the islands in the western Indian Ocean, including Madagascar. This plant is now grown as a very popular houseplant that can be shaped into many forms. Dracaena Marginata is also known as a low-maintenance indoor plant well suited to beginner gardeners. This plant was also included NASA Clean Air Study and may help remove formaldehyde and other harmful indoor VOC chemicals. Dracaena Marginata is now classified botanically as Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia.

Dracaena Marginata grows best in light potting soil mixes as this plant prefers slightly dry roots and can develop root rot in overly moist soil. This plant also grows best at room temperature, and should not be placed in locations where the temperature dips below about 60°F (15°C). Dracaena Marginata can handle bright light and can be acclimated to harsh direct sunlight over a period of several weeks if desired (although some afternoon shade is preferable). It can also be grown indoors and in partial shade locations.

Dracaena Marginata is just one of many common names for Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia. Other common names for this species include Red Edge Dracaena (as named in the NASA Clean Air Study), Dragon Tree, Madagascar Dragon Tree, Dragon Blood Tree, and Tree Dracaena. There are also quite a few specialty named cultivars, including ‘Tricolor’, ‘Colorama’, ‘Tarzan’, and ‘Magenta’.

Buying Dracaena Marginata Plants

Dracaena Marginata Plants are available at most garden centers, plant nurseries, and online plant stores! Here are some shops that offer Dracaena Marginata/Dragon Tree plants:

Dracaena Marginata 'TriColor'
Dracaena Marginata ‘Tricolor’

Varieties/Cultivars of Dracaena Marginata

There are many varieties and cultivars of Dracaena Marginata. Listed down below are some of the most popular types!

1. Dracaena Tri-Color

The Dracaena Marginata Tricolor cultivar has three different colors on its leaves, hence the name. The leaves are lined with red with green on both sides separated by a large yellow stripe running down the middle.

2. Dracaena Colorama

This cultivar is similar to the Tri-Color cultivar, except the red lines around the leaves are much larger, giving the leaves a maroonish pink look.

3. Dracaena Tarzan

This cultivar’s coloring is highly similar to regular Dracaena Marginata plants. However, the difference with this cultivar lies in the leaves. The leaves on this cultivar are thicker and wider, giving the plant a “spike ball” appearance. 

Dracaena Marginata Houseplant

Dracaena Marginata Plant Care Guide

Dracaena Marginata is among the easiest houseplants to care for. With adequate sunlight and not too much water, these plants can thrive indoors for many years.

Watering Dracaena Marginata

Since Dracaena Marginata is a drought-tolerant plant, it doesn’t need as much water as you think. The best way to tell if your plant needs water or not is to check the top inch of soil. If the soil is dry, you can water it. If not, wait a couple of days and check again. Also, this plant does well if you let it dry out between waterings, so don’t worry if you forget to water it one day! In addition, make sure you use distilled or filtered water for this plant because it is sensitive to the fluoride levels in tap water. 

Another way to tell if your plant needs water is to check the leaves. If they look pale yellow or have brown tips, it’s a sign you need to water them. The leaves can also turn yellow when they’re old, so don’t worry when they fall off! This is normal. 

Light Requirements For Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata requires bright, indirect light and even a little partial shade. Placing this plant in direct sunlight without adequate acclimatization causes foliage to burn and the leaves to dry out. Keep in mind that putting your plant in an area with low light can impact its growth. This plant already grows extremely slow, so if you want it to grow at a decent rate, place it in bright, indirect light. 

Fertilizer For Dracaena Marginata

Since Dracaena Marginata grows slowly, you can boost their growth with a bit of fertilizer. However, it’s not necessary for healthy plant growth. During the spring, summer, and fall, you can fertilize your plant with a bit of liquid fertilizer. These months are when the plant is most actively growing. However, in the winter, you don’t need to fertilize your plant!

Here are some good houseplant fertilizers for Dracaena Marginata plants:

Humidity & Temperature For Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata hails from Madagascar and thrives off ample humidity with temperatures of around 70-80ºF. As far as humidity goes, the humidity in your home should be fine for your plant. However, you can get a humidifier or mist your plant every so often if your house is on the drier side. You may notice brown tips on your plant’s leaves when the humidity level drops below 30%. You can also wipe the leaves occasionally or gently spray off the leaves with an outdoor hose. 

Repotting Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata grows so slowly that you only need to repot every couple of years or so. 

Potting Soil For Dracaena Marginata

The best potting mix for Dracaena Marginata is half the regular potting mix and half loam, sand, or perlite to break up the soil. You can also add lava rock to the bottom of your pot.

Here are some potting soil mixes that work well for Dracaena Marginata (Dragon Tree) plants:

Planter Pots For Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata Plants aren’t super picky about what type of pot they’re planted in, just as long as they have draining holes at the bottom. The only recommendation would be to avoid planting your Dracaena Marginata Plant in an overly large pot for its height. Using too large of a pot keeps the soil damp, leading to fungal disease.

Propagating Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata is extremely easy to propagate with stem cuttings. To propagate your plant with stem cuttings:

  1. Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors cut off a young healthy stem around 8 inches long off the top of the plant.
  2. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder (optional).
  3. Put the cutting in moist soil and place it in bright, indirect light.
  4. Water thoroughly and rest until you see new growth sprouting from your cutting.
Dracaena Marginata Plant Indoors

Common Pests Affecting Dracaena Marginata Houseplants

Common pests affecting Dracaena Marginata Plants are spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and thrips. These pests suck the juicy sap from the plant’s leaves, causing the plant to weaken. Spider mites, in particular, attack plants when the air is hot but dry, so monitoring humidity levels is crucial for reducing pests. 

The best way to prevent these pests is to properly care for your plant and keep it healthy. If your plant already has an infestation of one of these pests, quarantine your plant, so the pests don’t spread to your other plants. Then, use a gentle organic insecticide spray such as Insecticidal Soap, Neem Oil Spray, or a specialty product like Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew to eradicate the pests. Most organic sprays can be reapplied on a regular basis to ensure the eradication of the pests.

Common Diseases Affecting Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata is a hardy plant that is affected by very few diseases. However, this plant is susceptible to root rot due to overwatering and a poorly draining pot. The best remedy for root rot is to only water your plant when the top layer of soil dries out and keep your plant in a well-draining pot with a well-draining potting mix.

Resources

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a gardening expert and founder of Home for the Harvest. She's also an engineer and certified permaculture garden designer. Mary Jane has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, Heirloom Gardener, and Family Handyman.