Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

9 Tips on How to Care for Your Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata Infographic)

Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata previously known as Dracaena reflexa) is a popular houseplant since it is one of the few indoor trees that can tolerate medium/low light conditions. It has graceful, ribbon-like leaves that are attractive and will make a statement as a centerpiece plant. It is also known to bring luck. Your Dragon Tree is an easy-to-grow large houseplant that is also effective as an air purifying plant. Do be careful though since Dragon Tree is toxic to humans and pets. Here are tips on how to care for your Dragon Tree indoors.

Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Infographic

Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Infographic
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Infographic

8 Tips on How to Take Care of Your Dragon Tree

1. Your Dragon Tree is Happiest in Bright Indirect Light. Can Tolerate Medium Light. 

Dragon Tree will be happy in bright, filtered light. It does well in an East facing window with half-day of morning sun. Avoid direct sunlight, it will burn the leaves of your Dragon Tree. It can tolerate medium light which is rare for indoor trees. So if you are looking for an indoor tree that can tolerate medium light, your Dragon Tree is your best bet.  

2. Moderate Water is Best for Your Dragon Tree

Your Dragon Tree has moderate water requirements. Water your Dragon Tree when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it is time to water your Dragon Tree is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 1 inch deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your Dragon Tree.

3. Get the Soil Right for Your Dragon Tree

Your Dragon Tree needs a well-draining, organic all-purpose potting mix. 

4. Fertilize Your Dragon Tree

Your Dragon Tree does not require a lot of fertilizing. It should be fertilized twice a year- once during early Spring and once in June. 

5. Don’t forget to Repot Your Dragon Tree

Repot your Dragon Tree when it outgrows its current pot. Repot your Dragon Tree in a container with a diameter 2 inches larger than the current pot. Your Dragon Tree is a slow-growing plant so don’t plant it in a container that is too big.

6. Drainage is Essential for Your Dragon Tree

Good drainage is important, you don’t want your Dragon Tree to sit in soggy soil. Make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. After watering your Dragon Tree and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your Dragon Tree’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot! 

7. Get the Temperature Right for Your Dragon Tree

Your Dragon Tree needs to have a daytime temperature of 65F to 75 Fahrenheit (18-24C). The nighttime temperature should be 55-65 Fahrenheit (13-18 C).

8. Humidity is Vital for Your Dragon Tree 

Your Dragon Tree is a houseplant that can tolerate dry indoor air.  However, it will grow best when it is in a moderate humid environment. You should increase indoor humidity. Mist your Dragon Tree twice a week.

Another way to increase humidity is to keep your Dragon Tree in a saucer filled with water. But make sure the pot is elevated with pot feet or pebbles so your Dragon Tree is not sitting directly on the water. 

9. Dragon Tree is an Air Purifying Plant

Your Dragon Tree is an air purifying plant that can remove air pollutants from the air such as trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, and formaldehyde. In fact, a NASA study showed that the Dragon Tree effectively removed 79% of benzene in the air and 13.2% of trichloroethylene in the air.

Check out: 10 Best Houseplants for Beginners (Easy to Grow, Impossible to Kill Houseplants)

3 Common Dragon Tree Problems

The common problems for Dragon Tree are root rot, brown leaf tips, and spider mites.

Why are there Yellow and Brown Spots with Spider-Like Webs on the Leaves and Stems of Your Dragon Tree?

Problem: There are yellow and brown spots on the leaves of your Dragon Tree. You also see spider web-like webbing on the leaves and stems. 

spider mites
Spider Mites

Cause: The spider webbing and yellow and brown spots are signs of spider mites attacking your Dragon Tree. Spider mites are tiny pests that are too small to see with your bare eyes. 

Solution: To treat spider mites on your Dragon Tree, spray off the leaves with water from a garden hose. The force will cause the little spider mites to wash off the leaves. You can also wash mites off with soapy water or rubbing alcohol. There are also horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps that you can use to kill off spider mites.

Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap

Why Does Your Dragon Tree Look Wilted even if the Soil is Wet?

Problem: Your Dragon Tree looks wilted even if the soil is wet. Check for root rot by pulling the plant out and examining the roots. If the roots of your Dragon Tree plant look mushy (healthy roots are firm) and the roots are gray to black in color, these are telltale signs of root rot. 

Root Rot
Root Rot

Cause: Root rot is caused by fungus and is a serious problem for your Dragon Tree. Root rot is a result of wet soil due to overwatering or poor drainage. 

Solution: When your Dragon Tree is afflicted with root rot the chance of survival is slim. Your best course of action is to throw your Dragon Tree out and start over with a new plant. This time don’t overwater your Dragon Tree and make sure there is good drainage in the pot.

Why are the Tip of the Leaves of Your Dragon Tree Turning Brown?

Problem: The tips of the leaves of your Dragon Tree plant are turning brown. 

Cause: When the tips of the leaves of your Dragon Tree turn brown that is a result of not enough water or humidity. The tips of the leaves are turning brown because they are dying.

Solution: Water your Dragon Tree and increase humidity by watering your Dragon Tree. Another reason for the brown leaf tips is the tap water you use may have too many chemicals. Try watering with distilled water or rainwater to see if that resolves the issue.

Dragon Tree Houseplant Facts

NameDragon Tree
Scientific NameDracaena marginata previously known as Dracaena reflexa
LightBright Indirect Light. Can Tolerate Medium Light.
Daytime Temperature65 to 75F (18-24C)
Night Time Temperature55-65F (13-18C)
WaterModerate Water
HumidityModerate Humidity
PottingWell-draining, organic, all-purpose potting mix
FertilizerApply once during early Spring and apply once in June.
Dragon Tree Houseplant Facts

Dragon Tree: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Other Common Names of Dragon Tree?

Dragon Tree is also called Madagascar Dragon Tree, Marginata, Song of India, Red-Edged Dracaena, and Pleomele. Dragon Tree was previously known as Dracaena reflexa. It now has the botanical name of Dracaena marginata.

Dragon Tree: Varieties 

Popular Dragon Tree varieties are Dracaena marginata var ‘Tricolor’ and Dracaena marginata var ‘Bicolor’.

Is Your Dragon Tree toxic to Pets and Humans?

Dragon Trees are toxic to humans and pets. Don’t let children or pets chew on the leaves of the Dragon Tree plant because it contains saponins. Saponins have been used as fish poison! It can cause vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. The toxins in the Dragon Tree will cause dilated pupils in cats. If you see any of these symptoms and suspect ingestion of any parts of the Dragon Tree plant, call poison control immediately! Also, call your doctor or vet once you start seeing adverse reactions in children and pets.

How Can You Tell When It’s Time to Water Your Dragon Tree?

Water your Dragon Tree when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it’s time to water is by sticking your finger into the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 1 inch deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your Dragon Tree. 

Can You Use Cold Water When Watering Your Dragon Tree?

Dragon Tree can be watered with tap water but be mindful of the water temperature that you are using to water your Dragon Tree. Don’t use straight cold water from the tap to water your Dragon Tree. 

Dragon Tree prefers cool water that is not hot and not cold. When you turn on the cold water from the faucet add a little bit of warm water. You can also get to this ideal temperature by filling a watering can or pitcher with water and leaving it out overnight until the water is at room temperature. 

Can You Use Tap Water on Your Dragon Tree?

You can use tap water on your Dragon Tree however, it can be sensitive to the minerals in tap water. If you see brown tips on its leaves, that may be a sign of sensitivity to tap water chemicals. You may need to switch to watering your Dragon Tree with distilled water or rainwater. Brown tips on leaves can also be a result of underwatering.

What Fertilizer Should You Use for Your Dragon Tree?

Use liquid or powder, organic fertilizer with a higher nitrogen ratio on your Dragon Tree.

How Big Does Your Dragon Tree Get?

Your Dragon Tree is a large houseplant that can grow up to 6 feet tall indoors. It’s a slow-growing houseplant.

How Do You Propagate Your Dragon Tree?

Your Dragon Tree is easy to propagate. You can propagate your Dragon Tree by stem tip cutting.

Below are steps on how to propagate Dragon Tree by stem tip cutting:

1. Take a Stem Tip Cutting of Your Dragon Tree (include a node)

Pick a stem with a node. Cut below the node.

2. Place Your Dragon Tree Stem in Jar of Water

Place the Dragon Tree stem into a jar of water and wait for it to grow roots. To help it focus its energy on growing roots, make sure your stem has a maximum of 2 leaves. Cut off extra leaves as needed.
Another way to stimulate root growth is to dip your stem cutting in root hormone and plant it in moist sand. I personally prefer the jar method so you can easily see the roots come out. Know that not all stem cuttings of Dragon Tree will grow roots, so to be safe, cut a few stem cuttings so you will at least get one with roots.

3. Plant Stem Cutting in New Pot

Once the roots grow, plant these stem cuttings into a new pot. Water the new plant immediately after planting. Then water every 2-3 days until the roots are established.

4. Place New Dragon Tree in a Spot with Bright Indirect Sun

Place your new Dragon Tree plant in a spot with bright indirect sunlight. Don’t put it in direct sunlight.

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