The Dragon Tail is a lush evergreen vine that is a native of the Philippines, though there are a few rare species found in Southeast Asia and Australia. It has a distinctive look, featuring smooth, pointed, oval leaves that develop a leathery texture, variegation, and up to 4 lobes as they mature. Though its natural habitat is mainly lowland rainforests, the Dragon Tail has become a popular choice for indoor growth. It’s actually quite easy to grow indoors, and is sure to add some visual appeal to any garden with its distinctive leaves. To be sure one of these beauties thrives in your home, check out the following care tips for growing a dragon tail plant indoors.
Dragon Tail Plant Quick Overview
- This is a trailing, non-flowering plant grown for its striking leaves and vegetation rather than its flowers.
- It’s quite hardy, and particularly resistant to drought.
- Requires indirect light, bright light can fry the leaves.
- Can be grown in containers or hanging baskets depending on the desired effect.
- Able to climb trellis or similar structures if gently guided.
- Easily propagate, do so in early spring for best results.
- Likes warmer temperatures, outdoor growing can be done in warmer climates or in the summer.
A Dragon Tail plant can grow up to 6 to 8 meters tall when grown outdoors, but you can limit its height to about a meter (about 3 feet) when grown indoors. This is a trailing plant, so expect it to grow outside the bounds of its container. This can be combated with occasional pruning and trimming if desired, but is not necessary for healthy growth.
It needs a medium-sized pot with drainage holes to release excess moisture. You can also place this plant in a hanging basket if you like, as long as it gets the drainage and light it needs. Clay pots work well to aid with drainage, but any type of material will do.
As these plants grow you can also encourage upwards growth and climbing. Add some trellis, or similar object, to their container and gently tie the ends of the plant’s stems to the structure. This will naturally encourage the plant to “climb” up the structure instead of growing along the ground. After some time you can untie the stems as the plant will be strong enough to cling to the trellis on its own.
The best soil for the Dragon Tail plant is an organic potting mix that drains well and has good aeration. It should also be slightly acidic, with a pH of between 5.1 and 5.5. You can mix the potting soil with peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite for better drainage if needed to prevent fungal issues or root rot.
For starting, most commercial potting soils will work perfectly fine. The dragon tail plant is fairly hardy, so as long as your soil and container are well draining you likely won’t run into any problems.
A Dragon Tail plant needs consistent watering, though it doesn’t require a lot of moisture to thrive. In fact, this plant has drought-resistant capabilities; storing water in the leaves to keep it healthy when moisture levels run low.
To water it properly, poke your finger into the soil to a depth of about an inch. If the soil feels dry, add water until it begins leaking out of the drainage holes. If the soil is still damp, give the plant a few more days before watering.
You will likely only need to water a Dragon Tail about once each week during the summer. In the winter, when the plant enters its dormant cycle, you can reduce how often you add more moisture.
Be careful not to overwater this plant as you’re much more likely to harm it with too much water rather than too little. Too much water can lead to issues like root rot, which will kill your plant in short order.
Every plant needs light, though they don’t all have the same requirements. For the Dragon Tail, a minimum of 4 hours of indirect sunlight each day is a must. Of course, more light means more growth, so if you want your plant to thrive place it somewhere that gets 6 hours or more of sunlight.
The majority of the light this plant receives should be indirect. This mimics its natural habitat; dragon tail plants grow on the canopy floor and therefore get light filtered out by the taller trees above.
It can handle limited amounts of direct sunlight, though this can cause burned leaves, so it’s best to stick with indirect light as much as possible. If the stems become leggy or the leaves are losing their markings, your Dragon Tail needs more light, so reposition it for a happier plant.
It can also handle low light conditions, but this will lead to slower growth. If you notice the signs of low light described above, then move your plant to a sunnier location or supplement with a grow light.
Due to its tropical origins, the Dragon Tail plant prefers warmer temperatures. When grown indoors, temperatures between 65 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal, with as few fluctuations as possible. Be sure to keep this plant away from furnace or air conditioning vents to meet the Dragon Tail’s needs. You should also avoid placing it too close to drafty windows or exteriors during the winter.
Generally, dragon plants do quite well in most indoor environments. The main issues you’ll face usually deal with changes in temperatures, specifically those of more than a few degrees. Keep the above points in mind and keep the plant away from areas that experience drastic temperature changes for best results.
This plant does not do well in cooler temperatures, however, and will die if exposed to freezing temperatures. For that reason, it’s only viable as an outdoor plant in warm climates, or during the summer months. Make sure to move it indoors well before your expected frost date.
Moderate humidity is best for a Dragon Tail plant to keep its foliage lush and green. Levels between 50% and 60% are perfect to prevent crispy or brown edges from forming on the leaves. You can place a humidifier near the plant if needed to maintain this level of humidity, but this is often overkill and you can achieve an ideal humidity through other means.
A pebble tray beneath the plant is also a good option for naturally raising the humidity levels around the plant. These are easy to make, using a small, shallow tray and some rocks. Fill it with water and place it beneath the Dragon Tail’s pot to add moisture to the air without soaking the plant’s roots.
Another great option is simply to mist the plant every morning. This injects extra moisture into the plant’s environment without risking overwatering.
For more humidity tips, check out our article on the subject.