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Dracaena Marginata Care | Top Dragon Tree Plant Tips

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Dracaena Marginata, also known as the Madagascar Dragon Tree Plant, provides an edgy look to any indoor interior. They are attractive trees with green, sword-like, red-edged leaves. These beautiful Dragon trees are easy to care for, drought-tolerant, and are nearly indestructible.

Dracaena Marginata Care

They grow to be tall trees that are visually appealing in any space, and moreover, they remove harmful chemicals from the air – nifty, aren’t they?

These spiky, eye-catching trees are popular amongst many plant lovers and entry-level plant owners. Although they fall short in regard to being feline-friendly houseplants, their long leaves and stalks are sturdy, lending an architectural element to their whimsical foliage.

In this guide, we’ll cover Dracaena Marginata care tips, some common problems and how to solve them, and some frequently asked questions about Dragon Tree care.

Types of Dracaena Tree

Native to Madagascar, around 120 species of succulent shrubs and trees belong to the genus Dracaena, under the Asparagaceae family (the same family as vegetables).

Although there are several varieties of the Madagascar Dragon Tree Plant, the most commonly found include:

  • Classic Dragon Tree: These traditional Madagascar Dragon Plant trees boast dark-green leaves with red outlining.
  • Dracaena Marginata Tri-color: The tri-color Dracaena species boasts dark red edges, green leaves with an off-white stripe down the center of the leaf.  
  • Dracaena Marginata Bicolor: This is a special variety of Dracaena. The leaves are deep green and are lined with red forming bands of emerald green and off-white.
  • Dracaena Marginata Colorama: The Dracaena Colorama has pinkish or reddish leaf color and variegated white and green stripes with a hint of red.

  • Dracaena Marginata Tarzan: This type of Dragon Tree has a similar color to the original dragon tree, with leaves that are much tougher, broader, and thicker.

Dracaena Plant Care Tips

In this guide, we’ll look at the Dracaena Marginatas care, its light requirements, humidity preferences, and additional tips that may help it look and feel its best.

How Often Do You Water Dracaena Marginata?

When it comes to Dracaena Marginata watering, you may find it one of the easiest plants to look after. And when comparing it to other plants, you’ll find it similar to a succulent, needing watering every 5 to 7 days.

Dragon Trees require very little water, and too much may harm them. To ensure you’re not overwatering it (or drowning it), wait until the top 2-3-inches of the soil is dry before watering it again.

When you water your Dracaena, do it thoroughly. Also, ensure there is no excess water left in the pot. These plants benefit from a container with drainage holes.

During the growing seasons, spring and summer, water your Dragon Tree Dracaena every 2-4 weeks, depending on soil moisture conditions. In the slower months, you should water them every four weeks. 

Dry Vs. Overwatered Dracaena Marginata

Both over and underwatering can cause your plant’s leaves to change color or droop. Dragon plants don’t enjoy sitting in soggy, wet soil either, and it can lead to root rot. Another common problem is when the plant’s leaves start to curl or turn brown.

One of the most common mistakes for many plant parents is over-watering. As a general rule, for Dracaena, only water the plant once the topsoil is dry.

Overwatering Symptoms

Like many drought-tolerant plants, it’s easy to over-water the dragon tree. Suppose you notice your plant is developing brown or yellowing tips on its leaves.

In that case, it’s usually an indication that it’s receiving either too much water or that the water has excess salt or fluoride.

If you believe your plant has been overwatered, try to get rid of the excess water by draining the moisture out from the soil or pause on watering until the top half of the soil has dried.

Dracaena Marginata

Underwatering Symptoms

Contrary to overwatering, if your plant receives too little water, you’ll notice its leaves begin to turn yellow. It’ll start to show wrinkles on its canes, and the points of the leaves will begin to dry out, turning crispy and brown.

When this happens, you should give your plant water as soon as possible.

Dracaena Light Requirements

Dragon trees thrive in bright indirect light, but also do well in partial shade. These plants are popular in both residential households and commercial buildings, mostly because they boast a sleek and modern appearance and aren’t demanding when it comes to lighting.

Keep in mind that plants kept in lower light situations tend to grow slower and produce smaller foliage. Moreover, you should ensure your plant is not placed in direct sunlight as its foliage can be easily scorched.

How Much Light Does Your Dracaena Marginata Need?

Dracaena Marginata plants prefer medium light but can survive in low light. Keep in mind, while they can tolerate lower-light conditions, these plants won’t produce foliage of the same brilliance as they would with indirect sunlight.

Signs Your Dracaena Marginata Needs More Light

Pale, bleached leaves, slow growth, and small new leaves are usually an indication that your plant is not receiving enough light or too little humidity.

If low humidity is the problem, you can occasionally mist your plant’s leaves or place them in a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water.

Dracaena Marginata Soil Requirements

Dragon trees are low-maintenance and can survive in just about any well-draining soil. When growing a Dracaena Marginata as a potted plant, you should ensure it’s in a loose, well-drained potting mix.

Perlite or loam soil with a pH of 6-7 and some peat moss often works best. You can test your Dracaena Marginata pH levels with a home testing kit.

You should also make sure your dragon plant’s container or pot has plenty of room for its extensive root system. This should be a few inches larger than the root ball so that the root system has space to grow.

Dracaena Marginata Temperature

Dracaena Marginata plants prefer temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This should be fine for general household temperatures; however, if your plant’s environment is particularly dry, you could try misting the plant lightly using a spray bottle.

You should also keep your dragon tree away from drafts and vents that could potentially dry out its leaves.

So, if your home is a bit drafty, make sure your plants are somewhere nice and cozy to stay warm.

Dracaena Marginata Humidity Requirements

If you’re wondering about humidity, these dragon plants thrive best in tropical places that experience up to 80% humidity. If you reside in a dry area, you might want to consider increasing the humidity surrounding your plant.

To help monitor your plant’s moisture levels, you could get a digital hygrometer. You could also try alternative methods to increase the humidity in your plant’s environment:

How To Care For Dracaena Marginata In Winter?

Although, Dracaena Marginata houseplants don’t require any special considerations when preparing for winter.

There are, however, some steps to consider for your outdoor plants to survive the cooler conditions.

When the temperature drops and the sun isn’t as powerful during the winter months, it’s best to put your plant closer to a large window. And throughout the winter, Dracaenas will only need occasional watering when the soil becomes dry.

And as soon as spring starts and the sun is stronger, move the plant back to a shadier spot in the house.

Dracaena Marginata Plants

When To Prune Your Dracaena Marginata

As I’ve mentioned before, Dracaena Marginata plants aren’t very finicky. You can simply use a pair of sharp gardening scissors to cut off the brown or yellowing tips. The bottom leaves often yellow and die and that’s completely normal.

Dragon Plant Fertilizer

Dragon plants are slow-growing plants in both the summer and winter months. They don’t require fertilizer very often, and it’s not an essential component for their growth.

However, you can use it to boost their growth by feeding them lightly in early spring. If you’re looking for a good fertilizer for your dragon plant, you should try using a 10-10-10 fertilizer and add it every two weeks during the spring and fall seasons. A balanced smart-release liquid fertilizer will do the job here.

Dracaena Marginata Propagation

Propagation of Dracaenas works best with older plants when their canes become ‘leggy’ as the leaf area shifts higher up the plant. This gives you plenty of material to work with.

Like pruning, dragon plants should only be propagated during the spring and summertime. Dracaena are easy plants to propagate with stem cuttings. These plants may be super slow growers, but they are very easy to propagate.

Take a look at this step-by-step guide on propagating your Dragon Tree:

  • Step 1: All the leaves grow out of the ends of stems (called canes), so all you’ll need to do here is select a branch or stalk to propagate. Using sharp, clean scissors, cut the stem about 3-inches under the leaves at a 45-degree angle.

  • Step 2: Place the plant in water. Ensure the stem is submerged and that no leaves are sitting in water.

  • Step 3: Place the new plant in bright light with indirect sunlight and wait!

  • Step 4: After a few weeks in water and once you start to see a good number of roots begin to appear, transfer your new plant into potting soil. Choose an appropriate size pot depending on the size of the cane and its roots.

Psst… To speed up the process of propagation, you can dip the root side of your cuttings in a growth hormone before planting it. 

Note: Once the stem has been removed, you can cut the remaining parent stem back. And the cane of the now exposed stem on the parent plant will grow new shoots too.

How To Take Care Of Dracaena Marginata: Pest, Disease And Common Problems

Dragon trees are tough plants; however, this doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to spider mites, disease, and occasional mealybugs. Take a look at some common dragon marginata problems these plants may face and what we can do about them.

Root Rot

Like many plants, over-watering the Dracaena Marginata plants is a common mistake that often leads to root rot.

When the plants are left sitting in soggy soil for too long, their canes may become mushy, and the roots may rot away. 

A good rule of thumb to follow here is to ensure your plant’s soil is left to dry out between waterings and ensure the planter offers good drainage.

Root rot intervenes with your plant’s ability to function properly. Apart from mushy black roots, you’ll often notice their leaves will begin to turn yellow.

Insect Invasions

While pests are not very common in Dracaenas, scale, spider mites, and mealybugs can take up residence in your beautiful plant’s foliage.

To prevent such infestations from happening, you should often check the leaves, especially the undersides.

Mealybugs look like tiny balls of cotton and often use plants as their haven for breeding, protection, and leaving a toxin in the plants’ leaves as they feed. Spider mites are another pest that hangs on the underside of leaves and literally sucks the life out of your much-beloved plants.

To treat an insect infestation, you can use rubbing alcohol diluted by half with water. Spray your plant (if it’s a larger plant) or use a q-tip and be sure to get inside the nodes. You could also try to treat the infestation by wiping each leaf with insecticidal soap.

 Dracaena Marginata Plant Dropping Leaves

If you notice your Dracaena leaves begin to start dropping, more often than not, the first thing you should look at is overwatering.

The soil should be dry to touch between waterings. On the contrary, another thing is if your plant is receiving too little water.

Their leaves may also begin to drop due to weather conditions, from a cool wind, or if it’s scorching hot. Madagascar dragon trees react dramatically when they experience colder weather or drafts.

Dracaena Marginata Leaves Turning Yellow

You may sometimes find your beautiful Dracaena Marginata leaves turning yellow. This is often completely natural, so don’t worry.

However, if you begin to see an alarming number of leaves turning yellow and shedding from your plant, especially from the top, it may be a sign of under or overwatering.

The most common cause of yellowing leaves is improper soil moisture – overwatering. Your dragon tree likes to be kept in damp (but not wet or saturated) soil. Yellowing and browning of the leaves are the first signs that your plant may have root rot, or that root rot is likely to occur.

Dracaena Marginata Brown Spots or Edges

There are a few causes of brown spots on the tips and edges of your Dracaena Marginata’s leaves.

  • Water sensitivity: One of the main causes is if there is too much chlorine or fluoride in the tap water. A simple remedy to this problem is to fill a container with water and leave it for at least 24 hours to enable the chlorine and fluoride to dissipate. Another option is to use rain or distilled water.
  • Inconsistent watering: One of the main causes of brown spots on your Dracaena Marginata tree is due to inconsistent watering. If the soil dries out too much, the tips of the leaves will begin to turn brown or develop spots. To help resolve this problem, water your plant every 7 to 10 days, or when the top 75% of the soil is dry. 

  • Leaf spot disease: If you notice small brown spots with yellow trimmings appear on your plant’s leaves, your plant may have leaf spot disease. You should immediately remove the affected leaves and isolate your plant from others. You can treat it with a home remedy by using a spray bottle and adding a tablespoon or two of baking soda and a teaspoon of mineral oil. 

Dracaena Marginata Spider Mites

Though not often visible to the naked eye, spider mites are a common pest problem for Dracaenas. The small brown or yellow specks on the leaves are a sign your plant may be infected.

To get rid of or ward off spider mites, you can use a spray with a few drops of mild dish soap diluted in water.

You can also use insecticidal soap for a serious infestation. Be sure to get the undersides of the leaves because this is their main breeding ground and where they like to hang out.

 Best Products for Dracaena Care

While we’re on the topic of Dragon Tree care, and to ensure your Dragon Plant looks (and feels) its best, have a look at these top products you may need.

Dracaena Marginata Plant Care | Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we’ve covered the ultimate Dragon tree care guide, you’re pretty much set to having a long-lasting relationship with your beautiful plant baby.

If you still have some unanswered questions, for additional information, take a look at some commonly asked questions and answers.

Is Dracaena Marginata Safe For Cats?

Dragon plants contain saponins that are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Signs of Dracaena Marginata poisoning may include:

  • Vomiting (with occasional blood)
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive salivating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilated pupils (in cats)

Is Dracaena Marginata An Indoor Plant?

Dragon Trees are popular indoor plants with beautiful long, slender leaves with red edges. They are great for new plant parents because they aren’t fussy about light conditions and are drought tolerant – the perfect combination of beauty and hardiness, making them the ideal houseplant.

Moreover, these trees can grow up to 20 feet tall outdoors but won’t get much taller than 6 feet indoors (especially if you prune it back).

The Madagascar Dragon Trees also appear in NASA’s Clean Air study to show how they help remove formaldehyde from the indoors.

Why Is My Dracaena Marginata Leaves Curling?

Madagascar Dragon Tree leaves curling is often due to exposure to extreme temperatures or low humidity. Other causes include:

  • Improper watering
  • Accumulation of salt in the soil
  • Overdose of fertilizer
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Insect infestation
  • Disease or fungus infection
  • Excessive light

Why Is My Dracaena Marginata Dying?

More often than not, overwatering causes root rot, and it’s one of the main culprits causing your sweet Marginata to die. If you believe your plant has root rot, you should do the following:

  • Trim off the dead canes
  • Allow the plant to sit out with its exposed root overnight
  • Get rid of the wet soil
  • Re-pot your Dracaena in a container that’s not much larger than the root ball
  • Ensure the root has a proper drainage system at the bottom

Does Dracaena Marginata Need Much Light?

Dragon plants prefer medium, indirect sunlight. They can also survive in low-light areas, although they may not look their best in these conditions.

Bleached leaves with dry yellowing or brown spots typically indicate the plant is getting too much light. Slow growth, pale leaves, and small new leaves are also indications of a lack of sunlight.

Can Dracaena Marginata Take Full Sun?

The Dracaena Marginata grows best in tropical and subtropical climates. These plants grow reasonably well in cold winters. It prefers indirect sun in well-drained soil.

Dracaena can survive in low to medium light, but the leaves look their best in indirect sun. Excessive sun or too little humidity can cause the browning of leaves.

Exposure to full sun could burn the leaves and can often cause your plant’s foliage to turn brown.

Are Dracaena Marginata Poisonous?

Dracaena are poisonous to dogs and cats but not to humans. The guilty chemical that is the main culprit to harm our pets is called saponin, meaning ‘soap’ in Latin. If your pet has ingested a part of this plant, you should call your vet immediately.

A Footnote On The Madagascar Dragon Tree

Dracaena Marginatas are beautiful houseplants that leave an edgy feel to any household. Moreover, these plants are super easy to take care of.

However, like most plants, there are a few tips and tricks that could make taking care of these plants even easier.

The most important takeaway from these plants is to ensure that the Dracaena has the capacity to dry out between waterings and to keep it away from direct sunshine.

So, now that we’ve covered the ultimate Dracaena Marginata care guide, it’s time for you to get yourself one of these beauties.