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In this post, I’ll explain how to properly fertilize Dracaena Marginata plants. Dracaena marginata plants have low nutrient requirements but generally require monthly applications of all-purpose liquid fertilizer with trace minerals in the growing season. If potted and grown indoors, Dracaena marginata plants should receive less fertilizer than when grown in the ground outdoors.
Dracaena marginata, also called Madagascan dragon tree, is an attractive succulent shrub species from sub-tropical East Africa.
These hardy, low-maintenance plants are widely grown in outdoor and indoor settings. They can reach a height of 10ft or more.
Do Dracaena Marginata Need Fertilizer?
The plants aren’t heavy feeders. However, they have adapted to nutrient-rich volcanic soils, so they grow best when fertilized periodically.
Benefits of Fertilizing Dracaena Marginata
D. marginataplants benefit significantly from the application of fertilizers. According to a 2009 study, appropriate fertilization of D. marginata plants results in increased:
- growth rate,
- number and size of leaves,
- stem thickness,
- intensity of leaf pigmentation.
Types Of Fertilizers For DracaenaMarginata
D. marginata plants don’t have a preference for a specific type of fertilizer. Most general-purpose fertilizers will work well, provided they have a balanced and complete nutrient profile.
The most common recommendation is to use liquid fertilizer, though this is primarily for the sake of convenience.
Best Fertilizer For Dracaena Marginata
The nutrient content of the fertilizer is the main factor to consider when choosing what to feed Dracaena marginata plants. The most effective fertilizers for Madagascan dragon trees contain primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) and secondary nutrients (sulfur, magnesium, calcium).
It is also crucial that gardeners use fertilizers containing a comprehensive set of trace minerals including silicon, molybdenum, manganese, zinc, and iron. The trace minerals will mimic the volcanic soils in the areas where marginate plant occurs naturally.
The most convenient and reliable option is to purchase general-purpose liquid fertilizers from a garden store. These fertilizers are widely available and typically have appropriate nutrient profiles for Dracaena.
My personal preference is to make my fertilizers at home. The do-it-yourself option is less convenient than purchasing fertilizer from the store but it’s cheaper and yields a better-quality product.
Here is a quick recipe for making a miraculously effective fermented fertilizer for dragon trees:
- collect green shoots of fast-growing plants,
- collect dandelion or kelp and seaweed for trace minerals,
- mix plant material with an equal weight of sugar (brown sugar is ideal, but white sugar or molasses work fine),
- place mixture in a jar (filled to 80% capacity) and cover with a breathable lid,
- leave the jar in a cool dark location for 5-7 days,
- sieve the accumulated liquid and store in the fridge or with mix with 50% sugar for shelf-storage (for up to two years),
- apply to plants at a ratio of 1 part fertilizer to 500 parts water.
A faster and simpler alternative would be to make a botanical tea by soaking the collected plant material in water for 24 hours.
The water can then be strained and applied immediately to the soil and foliage at a concentration of one part tea to two parts water.
If you have access to earthworm castings, then it’s even simpler and quicker to make high-quality fertilizer for yourDracaena marginata plant. Here is the process for making make earthworm casting tea:
- take one cup of castings and mix it into five gallons of water
- mix 1 part tea with 5 parts water and apply the soil and foliage.
When To Fertilize Dracaena Marginata
In general, Dracaena marginata plants only need to be fertilized during the summer growing season. The plants usually don’t need fertilizer during the wintertime because they go dormant.
Avoid applying liquid feeds when the soil is excessively dry or moist. If the soil is too dry, the fertilizer might burn the roots of Dracaena marginata plants. However, the soil should be dry enough to apply the fertilizer without creating excessive moisture in the root zone.
To maximize the benefits of fertilizing Dracaena marginata, gardeners should avoid feeding the plants late at night when they’re resting (though this won’t harm the plants).
Dragon trees should also be fertilized when the plants look malnourished. Symptoms like leaf chlorosis (yellowing) usually indicate a lack of nutrition.
However, the symptoms of malnutrition appear similar to those caused by over-and under-watering, so gardeners must accurately assess if the plants need fertilizer.
How Often To Fertilize Dracaena Marginata
If Dracaena marginata plants are growing in the ground, fertilize them once a month during the growing season. If the plants are grown in pots, they may need fertilizer twice a month.
How To Fertilize Dracaena Marginata: A Step By Step Guide
Here is a step-by-step guide for correctly fertilizing Dracaena marginata plants. The process is straightforward.
However, there are some crucial factors to consider if you want to maximize the benefits and minimize the potential harms of fertilizer applications to Dracaena plants.
Step 1: Considerations Before Applying Fertilizer To DracaenaMarginata
Before fertilizing Dracaenamarginata plants, you should check that the plants are sufficiently healthy and that the growing conditions are favorable.
Fertilizing an unhealthy, unhappy Dracaenamarginata plant could be counter productive. This is because the plant’s metabolic processes have slowed down, decreasing its need for nutrients, as well as its ability to process those nutrients.
Applying fertilizer to Dracaenamarginata plants that are unhealthy or growing in poor conditions poses the risk of causing more stress to the plants. It is also a waste of water and fertilizer!
It’s also crucial to check the moisture levels in the soil before applying liquid fertilizer. If the top inch of the soil is very moist, it should be allowed to dry out slightly before any fertilizer is applied.
If the soil is too dry, add plain water and wait a few hours before applying fertilizer solution.
Before applying fertilizer to marginata plants, you should also ensure that the nutrient profile of the fertilizer is appropriate.
When using store-bought fertilizer, it’s also vital to check the product instructions and recommended concentrations before applying it to Dracaenaplants.
Finally, you should ensure they have non-fluoridated water on hand dragon trees are notoriously sensitive to fluoride, and the leaves will become discolored and show brown streaks when exposed to fluoridated tap water.
Dracaenamarginata plants should be fertilized using distilled water, rainwater, or fluoride-free spring water. (www.plants.ces.ncsu.edu)
Step 2: Mix Appropriate Amount of Fertilizer for Madagascan dragon tree
Applying insufficient or excessive fertilizer to Dracaena marginata plants is a counter-productive practice, so it’s vital to mix the appropriate ratio of fertilizer and water. Always remember that marginata plants are light feeders.
You should aim to apply an amount of fertilizer that is sufficient to meet the relatively low nutritional needs of Dracaena marginata plant, while trying to avoid excessively strong concentrations that will burn the plants.
To figure out the appropriate amount of fertilizer for a particular Dracaena marginata plant, you also need to consider its size and growing location.
Mix lower amounts of fertilizer for small, young Dracaena marginata plants and higher concentrations for larger mature plants. If Madagascan dragon tree are grown indoors, apply lower amounts of fertilizer than if the plants are growing outdoors.
As always, you are advised to follow the principle of starting low and going slow. Apply low concentrations of fertilizer (30% to 50% of the recommended concentration), and then wait five to ten days to observe the effects before re-applying.
Step 3: Applying Fertilizer To Dracaena marginata
Once the fertilizer solution is mixed, it is finally time to apply it to the plants!
It is sufficient to apply to the fertilizer as a soil drench. However, drenching the foliage achieves faster results than soil drenching alone, though it can be a little messy if the plants are indoors.
You can also apply the fertilizer by misting the foliage with a spray bottle. Make sure to spray the upper and lower sides of every leaf.
To achieve the highest efficacy, apply foliar sprays in the daytime because their leaf stomata are open and receptive to fertilizer solution (Hamidah et al. 2020).
When applying fertilizer to Dracaena marginata plants as a foliar drench or spray, it’s advisable to do this in dry conditions and to ensure adequate airflow after the application. Avoid wetting the foliage in conditions of high humidity and inadequate air movement because this will increase the risk of fungal disease.
Step 4: Observe The Plants Results And Act Accordingly
The job isn’t over yet. As noted earlier, it’s vital to observe how Dracaena marginata plants respond to the fertilizer application.
If the fertilizer application was successful, the plants will look visibly healthier and grow with more vigor within a few days.
The posture of the leaves will also be more erect. In this case, only apply fertilizer again in three to four weeks (or as needed).
You know you added too much fertilizer when the leaves have burned tips and brown streaks. Wait four to six weeks before fertilizing again, making sure to reduce the concentration or amount of fertilizer applied.
If the damage worsens, check the fertilizer because it might be contaminated or expired.
If no results are observable after five to seven days, you know the plants didn’t receive enough fertilizer.
Re-apply the fertilizer at a higher concentration when the soil is dry enough. Observe the results and repeat the process if needed until the plants show positive responses to the fertilizer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fertilizing Dracaena Marginata
While we’ve covered the basics of fertilizing Dracaena marginata plants, here are the answers to some additional frequently asked questions about how to feed these attractive plants.
Can You Fertilize Dracaena marginata With Coffee Grounds?
It’s generally not recommended to add coffee grounds directly to the soil that Dracaena marginata plants are growing in.
This is because coffee grounds pose the risk of attracting fungal pathogens. The grounds also won’t provide much nutritional benefit to the plants unless they’ve had time to decompose, which leaves plenty of time for fungal diseases to take hold.
How Do You Encourage Dracaena marginata To Grow?
Fertilizer applications aren’t the only way to boost the growth of Dracaena marginata plants. At a general level, the best way to promote increased growth in Dracaena marginata is to ensure the plants have proper growing conditions.
The plants can also be encouraged to grow bigger and faster pruning. Pruning Dracaena marginata will force the plants to produce new vigorous growth shoots and bushy foliage.
Re-potting to a large container will also facilitate increased growth in Dracaena marginata plants. By giving the roots more space to expand, they can support more growth of stems and leaves.
What Fertilizer PH Level Is Best For Dracaena marginata
Dracaena marginatatolerate a wide pH range but prefer slightly acidic conditions between 6.0 and 6.5. Ideally, fertilizer solutions should be in this pH range when applied to Dracaena marginata plants.
Check the pH of the water before mixing with the fertilizer to achieve optimum results. It’s also worth checking the pH of the fertilizer solution after mixing.
It’s alright if the pH levels are slightly off the mark, but don’t apply fertilizer if it is excessively acidic or alkaline.
Homemade organic fertilizers tend to be mildly acidic, making them well-suited for feeding Dracaena marginata plants.