When it comes to growings houseplants, one of the most common choices is dracaena.
That’s partially because they’re undemanding on top of being extremely good-looking. That being said, you need to make sure you can give them the right growing conditions before bringing this beauty home.
If you’re ready to make the striking dracaena
Dracaena Plant Facts
Part of the Asparagaceae family, there are over 120 Dracaena species that exist ranging from small plants that can be kept indoors to large trees. These wonderful plants are native to tropical Africa, southern Asia, and Australia.
Even though outdoor dracaena plants can grow up to 30 feet tall or more, indoor specimens stay much smaller and are easier to maintain.
The houseplant types of dracaena can be found in many different colors, patterns, and sizes but most people end up with the striped foliage kind.
When you’re browsing the plant shop in your town or searching for plants online you’ve probably already come across these plants before. The most common dracaena plants that are sold are as follows:
- Dracaena fragrans
- Dracaena deremensis
- Dracaena marginata
- Dracaena sanderiana
The name is said to come after the mythical, female dragon who had human features. Her name was Drakaina in ancient Greek. Hence, the Roman adaption Dracaena.
Since the 17th century, the world has been captivated by this unique plant, its multiple uses, and its lovely appearance. In recent years, it has become popular amongst plant owners and is now found in many homes across the country.
Although these plants are easy to grow, that doesn’t mean they can grow in any old conditions. They need filtered light, so it’s a good idea to place them near a window with a sheer curtain or next to a north-facing window.
The soil should also be well-draining and the container must have drainage holes. Use a standard potting medium amended with rice hulls or perlite.
Once you bring your plant home, simply place it in your chosen container filled with potting medium and fill in around with additional soil to secure it in place. Water well.
If you live in USDA Growing Zones 7-11, you can raise dracaena outdoors in a spot with well-draining soil and dappled sunlight.
Caring for Dracaena Plants
It’s important that you don’t place your dracaena plant in direct sunlight as this will burn the foliage and ruin the beautiful leaves. The ideal light conditions are moderate, filtered light areas.
Remember, these plants can grow outside in some pretty sunny and dry regions, however, so you can introduce them to brighter, direct light. Just do it gradually over several weeks.
When it comes to providing enough heat for your plant, you should give it at least 60-70°F during the daytime. However, during the evening these plants can tolerate colder temps if they need to. Just don’t expose them to freezing temps.
In the spring, feed your dracaena plant once with a slow-release houseplant fertilizer that will give your plant everything it needs to keep growing. Or you can use a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted by half with water. Add once in the spring and summer.
Don’t overfeed the plant or it could kill it. In fact, many people opt to skip feeding and just repot every few years in fresh soil. You never need to fertilize your plant during winter.
In general, you should give your plant water regularly. Let the surface of the soil dry out before adding more. It’s important to test the soil for dryness because overwatering is a death sentence.
When you water your plant, check it for any signs of pests or diseases.
These plants also love humidity, so group them with other container plants, place them on a humidity tray, or use a humidifier in the room.
Pruning and Maintenance Tips
As your draceana plant gets bigger and continues to grow it will naturally begin shedding its lower leaves. You can easily remove these dead leaves by pulling them off with your hands.
Prune away any damaged canes or dead or diseased leaves when you spot them.
It might be necessary to cut the stems back if they become too long. This can happen as their natural growing length is quite long, so if you keep them inside, you’ll have to determine a size that suits you.
For pruning, you should use a sharp blade and cut the cane at the length you desire. New growth will emerge out of the sides of the cut.
Keep an eye out for dust developing on the leaves and clean your plant with a moist cloth when needed.
You also need to repot every few years if your plant is outgrowing its container. You should also refresh the soil every few years or you run the risk of it becoming hydrophobic, compacted, and depleted.
If you decide on repotting your dracaena you should pick a container at least one size bigger than its original pot. All you have to do is carefully slide the plant out of the existing pot and cut away any dead roots or roots that have started to grow out of the draining holes.
If you struggle to get the root ball out of the container you can always use a knife to gently for it out of its home.
Next, place the root ball in the new container and surround it with your potting mix.
After you’ve successfully repotted your plant, water it thoroughly.
Controlling Pests and Diseases
Finding any pests and diseases early is the key to saving any houseplant, so here are some things to look out for when growing Dracaena. Once you know the signs, you’ll be able to properly care for them if they arise.
Aphids are common pests that like to infect houseplants so it’s no surprise that they can appear on Dracaena varieties. These little pests will suck the juices from the stem, and leaves until they’ve made their way through the entire plant.
Our guide can help you spot and eliminate them.
Not only do aphids tend to cause problems for dracaena plants, but mealybugs like to eat away at this plant too. You can tell that your plant has mealybugs when a cotton-like substance appears on the leaves.
Normally, they hide in the leag axils so they can be hard to find.
A solution of neem oil or insecticidal soap will effectively remove these pests. Combine these liquids with warm water and apply them to your plant. For more tips on identifying and getting rid of mealybugs, head to our guide.
The final common pest that can infect dracaena plants is spider mites. These sneaky pests can cause a lot of trouble, so it’s vital that you catch them quickly. Any signs of brown or yellow foliage is an easy way to detect spider mites. Also look for fine webbing.
Similar to mealybugs, neem oil can get rid of a spider mite infestation.
There are only two diseases you need to be concerned about when growing Dracaena at home. The two problems are soft rot and leaf spot. The best way to avoid any type of rot is to always be careful with your watering schedule and pick a well-draining soil.
Be attentive to the watering levels and check the dryness of the soil before watering.
It’s essential to pick a pot with draining holes for extra protection. Even though these pots might not look as nice as some other fashionable choices, they will give your plant a better growing environment.
This disease is caused by Erwinia carotovora, a bacteria that causes the roots to turn soft and brown before dying off. You might also see a water-soaked region on the lower stem and notice a bad smell.
There is no treatment so avoidance is best. Overwatering and a pot with no drainage is a sure-fire way to end up with problems.
The fungus Fusarium moniliforme causes a disease known as leaf spot on dracaena plants. As you might have guessed, the symptoms include brown or rust-colored spots and they often have a yellow ring.
As with soft rot, its best to avoid this problem with careful watering and ensuring your plant has good drainage.
How to Use Dracaena
Dracaena works well both as a solo specimen or in groupings. It’s perfect to add center height to a planter containing things like peperomias or hoyas.
Whatever you choose, just remember that this plant can be toxic to pets, so keep it away from them.