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How Often Should I Water Dracaena Marginata? Answered

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The Dracaena Marginata is often found in tropical conditions such as the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius and is commonly known as the Dragon tree. It has evergreen leaves with brightly colored red edgings and is often mistaken for a palm tree by many people.

Dracaena Marginata Plants

Dracaena Marginata plants evolved in drought environments; they are hardy plants that prefer dry arid conditions. Studies show that a watering schedule of 5 to 7 days during the summer months is optimal. In winter, every two weeks is sufficient. Dracaena Marginata plants hate soggy moist soil.

The ability Mother Nature gave the Dragon tree to withstand long periods without water has also left the plant at a disadvantage when left in soggy, wet soil and overwatered pots, as these plants are vulnerable to root rot.

A suitable watering method can help avoid problems that arise from over and under watering the plant.

How Often Should You Water Dracaena Marginata?

First, we need to know what conditions a Dragon tree thrives best. These plants enjoy lightly moist soil closer to their roots.

Please don’t make a mistake here to think it needs to be wet. Dragon trees hate to have constantly wet feet. Because of its adaptation to drought areas with erratic rainfalls, the Dracaena Marginata has developed a root system that quickly absorbs water.

The water is then stored in its chunky fibrous stems and slowly released to the leaves to allow them to perform their daily functions accurately. The trunk can also aid in sucking up water, a process called hydraulic capacitance.

Outside, this plant can store water for months before needing to quench its thirst again. Plants kept indoors will need more maintenance, as their roots can’t reach further into the soil to find little moisture pockets.

You know it’s time for a nice refreshing shower of water when the top half of the soil in the pot has gone dry.

Watering should be every 5 to 7 days in the summertime and every two weeks in the wintertime; however, it is just a guideline. It would be best to create a routine of watering your Dracaena Marginata according to its surrounding conditions.

If you placed your plant in a very sunny, brightly lit area, you might find that it will require water more often. A Dragon tree in a darker area will need less water, and you will find that watering intervals will be further apart.

How Can You Tell When A Dracaena Marginata Needs Water?

You will start to notice some tell-tale signs when your plant needs water. The key is not to let your plant show when it’s time for its next big quench. Constant dehydration will put stress on your plant.

The best way to tell is the finger test. Stick your finger about halfway into the dirt, and if it comes out dusty and dry, it’s time to quench your plants’ thirst.

Get to know your plants’ requirements, and you may find that if the conditions in your home are always constant, watering your plant on the same day of the week will turn into a routine.

If you leave your plant too long without water and your plant dries out due to dry air or perhaps too much sun, then the leaves will start showing signs of water stress.

Yellowing leaves are your first indications of underwatering; if you see the trunk drying and the leaves drooping, you have ignored your Dragon tree for way too long.

Another indication is brown spots on the leaves; don’t mistake this with browning and crispy leaf edges. That’s a whole other problem on its own.

Factors Affecting Dracaena Marginata Watering

It is never just straightforward; there are always factors that play a part in how the plant is affected. Considering all these factors will help you work out your plant’s watering schedule.

  1. Heaters and windows-you may need to water your plant more often if the plant becomes dehydrated from dry air caused by heaters or sitting next to windows that constantly expose your plant to bright sunshine.
  2. Humidity-bathrooms, for one, are perfect little humid boxes. This area replicates the humid conditions that it thrives in, in its natural environment. You will find that it requires less watering as well.
  3. Seasons-the water schedule between winter and summer will vary considerably.
  4. Soil-certain soils such as cacti or orchid soil mixes need more water as they dry out faster than moisture-holding mixes.
Prune Dracaena Marginata

How To Properly Water Dracaena Marginata

How many ways are there to water a plant? More than one way, that’s for sure.

The best way to water a Dracaena Marginata is to bottom water it. Place the pot in a sink filled with water, allowing the water to reach  ¾ of the pot’s height.

Allow your plant to sit in the sink or bucket for a few minutes until the topsoil is moist. After which, extract it from the sink and place it on a grid until all the excess water has drained through the drainage holes.

Morning vs. Evening Watering Of Dracaena Marginata

There are so many theories about the best time to water your plant. Is morning better to allow the plant to absorb the water during the day and keep it hydrated during the sun’s heat? Or is evening better, so the plant does not boil in its juices while the sun bakes them?

Morning watering                                        Evening watering
Optimal time between 5 to 9Not recommended
Great time to shower or mist your plantAvoid splashes on the foliage
Excess water dehydrates easilyVery little dehydration of the soil, risk of over wet ground
Lower risk of diseasesDamp foliage at risk of bacteria and fungi
Plants soak up more water during the daytimePlants don’t work at optimal capacity for absorbing water
no frostPossibility of artificial frost killing the plant

Bottom Water vs. Top Watering Of Dracaena Marginata Plants

Although bottom watering is preferable in some cases, it is not always possible if you have bigger, bulkier pots with larger plants in them.

Imagine trying to lift a decent-sized pot with a Dracaena Marginata well over 1.5 meters tall and placing it in the sink or bath. Never mind trying to return it to its original spot once the ground has soaked up all the refreshing water the plant needs for the next week.

When possible, use the bottom watering method by placing the pot plant in a bucket or container and allowing the water to rise to ¾ of the height of the pot. Allow it to stand in the water for a short period until the topsoil has moistened.

Remove the pot plant and allow it to stand in an area where the excess water can drain out before placing it back in its spot.

Top watering is undoubtedly the easiest way to water plants and the least messy option. But overwatering or underwatering can occur pretty quickly.

With dry old, compacted soil, you may find that the water will filter quickly through the ground and drain out. This may leave your plant with less water than you would prefer.

On the other hand, in well-draining soil, you may find that the soil soaks up the water before it starts to drain out. This may leave your soil waterlogged and at risk of causing root rot to your plant. If the bottom catch tray is never removed or emptied, the soil will remain soggy, inviting root rot into your environment.

Summer Watering vs. Winter Watering Of Dracaena Marginata

Even though your plant is indoors and protected from freezing temperatures during the winter months, you will find that as the sun’s heat drops and the hours of sunlight become shorter, your plant will slowly start to go into winter mode.

These factors trigger a state of dormancy in your plant. All its functions start to slow down, and the need for water reduces considerably. So adjusting your watering schedule is vitally important to your plant’s well-being.

Summer wateringWinter watering
Every 5 to 7 daysEvery 15 to 30 days
Needs water for growthIt goes into an inactive state
Supplement liquid fertilizer to dampened soil every two weeksStop adding any fertilizers
Beginning April to SeptemberStarting October to March

How Often To Water Dracaena Marginata In Summer?

How often you water your dragon tree depends on where you live and your climate conditions. You will find that you will generally need to water your Dracaena Marginata every 5 to 7 days. The humidity level will also impart the number of times you water your plant weekly.

Humidity will prevent your soil from drying out as quickly as in dry, hot areas.

Speaking of humidity, these plants love the tropical environments they naturally come from, so replicating a refreshing humid spray session with some tepid water 1 to 2 times a week will invigorate them.

How Often To Water Dracaena Marginata In Winter?

Even though your plant will go into a dormant state in winter, and growth will reduce considerably, you will still need to provide your indoor Dracaena Marginata with a drink of water now and then.

Depending on the conditions around your plant, you will find that watering will lengthen considerably in intervals between seasons. Depending on the soil’s moisture condition, you will water your Dracaena Marginata every 15 to 30 days.

The same rules apply when watering your plant in winter; make sure that at least half of the pot’s soil is dry before adding water again.

Showering Your Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata appreciates light misting and showering from time to time. Misting is especially beneficial to the plant during periods of low humidity.

Always shower or mist your plant during the daytime when evaporation is more prominent and won’t leave your plant’s foliage wet and susceptible to fungi and diseases.

Troubleshooting Dracaena Marginata Watering Problems

Your plant will give you subtle hints about its health condition. Below is a quick reference guide to problems caused due to overwatering or underwatering.

Lower leaves yellowingYour plant is busy dehydratingChange the way you water it, to bottom wateringDecrease the period between watering sessions
Browning leaf tipsYour water contains too much fluoride and saltsUse collected rainwaterSwitch to distilled or bottled water
Browning soft leavesYour plant is cold or overwateredReduce the amount of water your give per session Ensure the soil is dry before you water the plant againMove it to a brighter area closer to the natural sun sourceEnsure your pot has drainage holes, or the holes have not been clogged by roots or clumped dirt
Brown spotsToo much sun or dry airMist it to create a humid environmentRemoving it from direct sunlightEnsure the water has enough water
Drying stem & dropping leavesUnderwatering  or your soil is no longer retaining the moistureCheck your soil dryness more regularlyWater more regularlyEnsure you saturate the soil correctlyChange your soil with a fresh mix
Swollen, translucent rootsSoggy soilChange the soilEnsure proper irrigation and drainage

Signs Your Dracaena Marginata Is Overwatered

Dracaena Marginata plants are reasonably easy to care for, but you may find some signs of overwatering once in a while. These signs can develop over a few weeks to a month.

  • Leaves turn yellow
  • Leaves become pale in color
  • Sagging and drooping toward the ground
  • Crisp rigid leaves  turning soft and limp
  • Yellow-brown spots develop at the edges and center of the leaves and dry up.
  • The topmost leaves are less affected than the lower leaves
  • Roots that are swollen and translucent  mean root rot
  • The stem is soft and limp

What Water Is Best For Dracaena Marginata?

We don’t always think about what water is best for our Dracaena Marginata. I mean, water is water, right?

Unfortunately, in today’s times, most public waters are treated and exposed to substances such as fluoride and other salts, causing the tips of the leaves to go brown and appear scorched.

Bear in mind that some fertilizers containing superphosphates and potting mixes that contain perlite will also give off fluoride when watered. Opt to get a potting mix free of perlite and use fertilizer geared towards the needs and wants of Dracaena trees.

So, in short, Dracaena Marginata plants prefer to be bathed in filtered or distilled water or the odd splash of pure rainwater.

How To Save Your Dracaena Marginata From Root Rot?

When Dragon tree roots are overexposed to moisture or have been in waterlogged soil for too long, you will start to smell an unpleasant smell from the earth, which is the start of root rot.

You could still save your plant from its unpleasant fate if you catch it relatively early.

Once you notice any signs of root rot in your Dragon tree, jump to the rescue by performing any combined methods below.

  1. Stop watering weekly. Set up a watering planner to remember the last watering date.
  2. Ensure no one else is also watering the plant.
  3. Check the drainage holes in your pot for optimum drainage; use a piece of meshing at the bottom of the pot to prevent any holes from clogging.
  4. Change the soil mix to one that is courser and drains much faster. A good combination is 1/3 river sand, 1/3 potting soil mix (remember to get a mix without perlite), and 1/3 garden soil.
  5. Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot 2 inches deep for extra drainage.
  6. Remove the pot tray and never leave the water in the tray after watering the plant.
  7. Remove any rotting roots that have already turned gooey from the wet soil, cut off the affected roots, plant the remaining roots and stem into a dry soil mix. DO NOT water for at least two days, after which water sparingly, to prevent overwatering.

Q & A

Remember, you are not alone; many people have suffered the same issues you are going through. Below are some common questions that people ask about the Dragon tree.

Do Dracaena Marginata Like To Be Bottom Watered?

Dracaena Marginata plants enjoy the effect that bottom watering gives as it quickly saturates the soil. Make sure that they are placed on a grid to drain the water properly.

How Often To Water Dracaena Marginata In Winter?

There is no set period when you must water your dragon tree in winter. Everything depends on the conditions you plant lives in, but a general rule of thumb is every 2 to 4 weeks.

When To Water Dracaena Marginata?

The best time to water your Dracaena Marginata is when the top half of your soil is dry.

Is It Ok To Get Dracaena Marginata Leaves Wet?                                                                        

A little water on the foliage is ok, but you should wide down any wet leaves to eliminate pests and diseases.

Can I Use Tap Water For My Dracaena Marginata?

It is best to use filtered, distilled, or rainwater where possible, as Dracaena Marginata plants are sensitive to high levels of fluoride found in tap water.


Although Dracaena Marginata plants are not high maintenance plants and suit a beginner gardener,  figuring out your plant’s routine and needs is important to their health.

Know when to water your plant so as not to drown or dehydrate it and understand the minor tell-tale signs of when it’s not feeling great. Like any living thing, they have likes and dislikes, and it’s all about getting to know them.