Growing a Dragon Tail Plant

Growing a Dragon Tail Plant

Last Updated On: August 3, 2022

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.

Container

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.

Soil

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.

Watering

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.

Light

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.

Temperature

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.

Humidity

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.

Fertilizer

Most plants need fertilizer during their growing season to give them the nutrients they require and the Dragon Tail is no different. Add a balanced liquid fertilizer every four weeks during the plant’s growing cycle. Dragon tails typically don’t need any specialized nutrients, so generic or general fertilizers will do fine. It does not need fertilizer during the winter since the plant goes dormant and growth temporarily halts.

Pruning

A Dragon Tail should ideally be pruned during the beginning of the growing season in early to mid spring. At this time, you can remove any old or damaged leaves on the plant and trim long branches to keep it small and maintain its shape. Be sure to disinfect the scissors used for pruning before you begin to prevent plant infections from occurring.

You can prune later in the season, but try to limit this as much as possible. If the plant is growing too large, it’s okay to cut back the plant to keep it contained. Try to never cut more than about ⅓ of the plant at once though. This ensures that the plant will have enough strength to grow back and not be permanently damaged by the pruning.

After a pruning, give your plant at least several weeks before doing so again. This just ensures that your plant has time to recover, and that you’re not stressing it too much too soon.

Repotting

Repotting a Dragon Tail only needs to be done every 2 or 3 years since this plant doesn’t grow very quickly. If it needs a larger home, place it in a new pot that is one size larger than the one it’s in to give it a bit more space. After repotting, the plant may need a week or two to recover from the stress of the move, so give it a bit of extra love during this time.

Repotting also allows you to replenish the soil. Even if it doesn’t need a new home, you can swap out the loose soil for new soil to give it some extra nutrients before replacing it in its original pot or a brand new one. During this time, you should also look to break up the root ball if it’s becoming too tightly wound. A tight root ball can lead to issues with the plant being able to effectively absorb nutrients from the soil.

Propagation

Propagating a Dragon Tail plant is a good way to add new ones to your indoor garden or share your beautiful plant with friends or family. For this process, prepare a pot with a well-draining, organic potting mix.

Then, find a healthy stem on your Dragon Tail plant that is about 4 to 6 inches tall. Carefully cut the stem free and place it into the center of the pot burying the bottom of the stem. Press the soil firmly to hold the stem in place.

Water the plant until moisture leaks from the drainage holes. Then place the pot where it will get plenty of indirect sunlight. The new plant should begin rooting in about 2 weeks and new growth should appear after about 4 weeks.

Toxicity

Though beautiful to look at, the Dragon Tail is extremely toxic to both humans and animals. If you have small children or pets at home it’s best to keep this plant well out of their reach.

Growing Dragon Tail Plant Indoors

Dragon tail plants are gorgeous and unique, the perfect addition to any garden. They’re also quite easy to grow making them a popular choice for any level of gardener. If you’re looking for a new plant to add to your collection, give the dragon plant a try. You definitely won’t be disappointed.

As always, we are happy to answer any additional questions you might have. You can contact us through our site, or hit us on social media for any and all of your plant related questions.

Dragon Tail Plant FAQ

How Long Do Dragon Tail Plants Live?

Indoors, the dragon tail plant will last about a decade with proper care. Outdoors, it can live much longer.

Is The Dragon Tail Plant Poisonous?

Yes, it is poisonous, and should be kept out of reach of pets and small children likely to ingest it.

How Big Do Dragon Tail Plants Grow?

Indoors in a container you can expect their stems to reach about 1 meter or a little over 3 feet.

Do Dragon Tail Plant’s Leaves Grow Back?

Yes, you can safely prune small sections of the plant and its leaves and they will grow back. That is assuming you take proper care of the plant.

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