With their ornamental foliage and easy care nature, Dracaena plants are popular houseplants ideal for beginners and busy folks. This large genus contains dozens of varieties including the corn plant, dragon tree, red edge dracaena, and lucky bamboo.
In this guide, you’ll learn all about growing and caring for Dracaena plants so yours will thrive indoors for years to come!
Overview of Dracaena Plants
Dracaena is a genus of over 40 varieties of tropical broadleaf evergreen shrubs. They are native to Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
The most popular houseplant Dracaena species include:
- Dracaena marginata – Also called dragon tree, this slow growing plant has slender stems topped with rosettes of narrow leaves. The red edge dracaena is a variety with red margins.
- Dracaena fragrans – Known as corn plant, this features thick woody stems and broad green leaves. ‘Massangeana’ has yellow stripes.
- Dracaena sanderiana – Called lucky bamboo, it has solid green or variegated stems and is grown in water.
- Dracaena reflexa – The song of India has slender twisting stems and narrow green leaves arranged in spirals.
While some Dracaena like corn plants grow into trees, most stay compact and bushy, maxing out under 10 feet tall. The majority have green linear, sword-shaped or arching foliage.
Dracaena are easy to grow houseplants that tolerate low light and inconsistent watering quite well. Read on to learn more Dracaena plant care tips.
Growing Conditions for Dracaena Plants
Although native to tropical regions, Dracaena houseplants are quite adaptable. Here are the key conditions they need:
Most Dracaena varieties thrive in bright indirect light. Avoid direct hot sunlight which can scorch their foliage. Types like lucky bamboo and Madagascar dragon tree tolerate low light areas.
Give your Dracaena bright indirect light from an east or west window. Move plants further away from windows in intense southern light. Some ambient artificial light also works well.
If Dracaena plants don’t get enough light, growth will slow and leaves turn pale. Providing adequate light will keep them looking their best.
Dracaena plants grow well in average room temperatures between 65-80°F. Avoid cold drafts which can damage their foliage. Corn plants can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures.
Water Dracaena plants when the top inch of soil becomes dry. Water less in winter when growth slows. The most common cause of problems is overwatering – allow soil to dry between waterings.
Dracaena enjoy average humidity. Mist plants occasionally or use a pebble tray to boost moisture when air turns dry. Keep Lucky Bamboo stems misted.
Use a general houseplant potting mix with peat moss and perlite. Lucky bamboo will grow in water only. Add sand and moss to help support corn plant’s heavy stems.
With the right conditions, Dracaena are easy indoor plants! Now let’s go over how to propagate and grow more.
How to Propagate Dracaena Plants
You can easily propagate Dracaena plants by stem cuttings in water or potting mix:
- Take 6 inch cuttings in early summer from an existing plant’s stem with at least 2-3 nodes.
- Remove lower leaves except for the top few pairs. Dip cut end in rooting hormone powder.
- Insert into a glass of water or into moist potting mix. Provide bright indirect light.
- Change the water weekly or keep soil moist but not saturated. New roots will sprout in 2-3 weeks.
- Once rooted, pot up the new Dracaena plant into soil and grow as usual. Gradually acclimate it to normal light levels.
You can also air layer Dracaena plants to propagate them. Lucky bamboo propagates by simply taking stem cuttings.
Pruning and Training Dracaena Plants
Occasional pruning keeps Dracaena plants full and compact. Prune anytime but avoid cutting off more than 20% at once.
- Remove any dead or yellowing leaves as needed to improve appearance.
- Snip off leggy stems back to a node to encourage bushiness. Always make clean cuts with sharp pruners.
- Prune off top rosettes of corn plants once they reach your ceiling to contain height.
- Pruning Dracaena marginata creates multiple stems and a nice bushy shape.
- Twisting and spiral Dracaena like song of India benefit from gentle rotating or staking of new growth to encourage the desired form.
Troubleshooting Common Dracaena Problems
Dracaena are fairly easy care houseplants but can develop a few issues:
Drooping or curled leaves
This is usually caused by overwatering. Allow soil to dry out to fix. Low humidity can also cause leaf tips to brown and curl.
If lower leaves turn yellow, overwatering is likely the issue. Let soil dry out and remove affected leaves. Older leaves naturally yellow and drop as the plant grows.
Leaf spots or drooping
Fungal disease or bacterial leaf spot may cause spotting or soggy leaves. Improve air circulation and remove affected leaves. Keep leaves dry when watering.
Insufficient light causes Dracaena growth to slow. Provide brighter indirect light to increase growth speed.
Wobbly or falling over
Tall corn plants and dragon tree may need staking to stay upright as they grow. Keep them turned so all sides get light exposure.
Catch problems early by providing ideal care and your Dracaena will thrive!
Tips for Growing Healthy Dracaena Plants
Follow these care tips to keep your Dracaena houseplants looking their best:
- Provide bright indirect light to encourage growth. Turn plants periodically for even shaping.
- Water thoroughly when soil is partly dry. Water less in winter. Mist occasionally to boost humidity.
- Wipe dust from broad leafed varieties once a month. Trim off dead foliage as needed.
- Repot in spring every 2-3 years when roots fill the pot. Use fresh potting mix for optimal drainage.
- Feed monthly in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer or houseplant spikes.
- Propagate Dracaena by stem cuttings or air layering for more vigorous plants.
- Monitor for common pests like mealybugs and spider mites and treat promptly.
With the right care, Dracaena plants will grow into beautiful focal points in your indoor garden!
Eye Catching Types of Dracaena Plants
With so many varieties, you can find a Dracaena plant perfect for any space! Here are some popular ornamental types to consider:
- Dracaena marginata – Slender upright stems with rosette of narrow leaves. Tolerates low light.
- Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India’ – Green spiraling twisted stems and foliage. Compact size.
- Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’ – Thick woody stems with yellow striped foliage.
- Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’ – Bright yellow and green variegated leaves. Medium size.
- Dracaena sanderiana – Lucky bamboo with solid or variegated stems grown in water.
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckei’ – White banded dark green leaves with showy white flowers.
With the diversity of the Dracaena genus, you can find just the right easy care plant to fit your needs and style. Give Dracaena a try and bring the tropics indoors!