The Madagascar dragon tree, also known as Dracaena Marginata, is a distinctive plant that is easy to grow. There are a few varieties to pick from, varying in leaf coloring, so you can choose the one that suits your home and design style best. The dragon tree can grow up to 6 feet tall, though it does so slowly, so you have plenty of time to make room for this easy-to-grow plant. Our tips on caring for the Madagascar Dragon Tree will ensure this plant thrives in your home.
- Dragon trees are low maintenance and easy to care for. They make great indoor plants and thrive in typical indoor environments.
- With proper care, dragon trees bloom beautiful white flowers in the spring
- Give them bright, but indirect sunlight. They can survive in partial shade but will grow more slowly.
- They are very drought tolerant, and require little water. Overwatering is the biggest cause of failed dragon trees.
- Typical indoor temperature and humidity is perfect for this plant. They can be grow outdoors, but should be brought inside in late summer before the temperature falls too low.
A decorative planter can accentuate the reddish-purple banding along the edges of the dark green leaves. Of course, not just any container will do for the Madagascar dragon tree. This plant doesn’t like a ton of moisture soaking the soil, so a proper container with good drainage is needed.
A terracotta or clay pot is porous, so these are fantastic options for a dragon tree. Be sure there are drainage holes on the bottom to release excess moisture after watering. The container will also need to be a decent size to give the extensive root system room to grow. The dragon tree does grow slow though, so a container only slightly larger than the root ball will be a fine size.
A dragon tree doesn’t need special soil to thrive, though it does need soil that drains well to prevent too much moisture from soaking the roots. A well-draining potting soil is perfect for a dragon tree, giving it the nutrients it needs to survive. Almost any commercial potting soil will do, so go with whatever is available and affordable.
Bright light is best for a dragon tree, though it should not be placed anywhere that gets direct sunlight. The harsh rays can scorch the leaves of a dragon tree quickly, so keep this plant away from open windows, particularly south-facing windows that get the most direct sunlight. You want to get this plant a lot of bright, but in-direct light to prevent damage to the leaves.
A north-facing window is best, though east-facing windows are also a good option for a dragon tree. While this plant can also grow in partial shade, it will do so more slowly and will not bloom.
The Madagascar dragon tree is a drought-tolerant plant, so it doesn’t need a ton of water to survive. The downside is that it’s easy to overwater this pretty tree, so it’s important to be careful when watering. Check the top couple inches of soil, and only water when it is dry to the touch. This can be up to 3 weeks in certain environments, so don’t be surprised if you’re watering fairly infrequently. That’s perfectly fine for this plant.
If you notice the leaves are turning brown and feel soft, the plant is likely getting too much moisture, though this could also be a sign of high salt or fluoride content. Watering your dragon tree less often with distilled or non-fluoridated water can help prevent this issue. Yellow leaves can mean too little water, so if you notice this discoloration, water the plant more frequently.
Temperature and Humidity
As its name suggests, the dragon tree is a native of Madagascar, which has a warm climate, so it’s no surprise this plant prefers warmer temperatures. Keeping your home between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is best for the dragon tree, though it can handle temperatures as low as 50 degrees F for short periods.
You should also make sure to keep your plant in a location that doesn’t experience any drafts, especially during the winter. Planting it too close to a drafty window can cause harm to your plant.
The dragon tree doesn’t need high humidity, so your home’s normal humidity will be perfect for this plant. If the air gets too dry, you can mist the leaves occasionally to add more moisture. This plant also prefers fresh air over the stuffy air of your home, so opening a window near the dragon tree is a good idea in the warmer months.
All plants need fertilizer now and then to ensure their stems are strong and their foliage keeps sprouting. A Madagascar dragon tree doesn’t need high levels of plant food, though you can give them a light dose of balanced controlled-release liquid fertilizer in the spring if your plant needs a boost.
As a dragon tree grows, it sheds its lower leaves, making room for new ones. If you notice the lower leaves are beginning to yellow, you can let them drop on their own and remove them from the pot. You can also trim them away with sharp, sterile pruning shears, as well as any other leaves you like to clean up the plant. Trimming away some of the stems allows you to maintain the plant’s size if you have limited space for it to grow.
The Madagascar Dragon Tree doesn’t grow overly quickly and therefore doesn’t need to be repotted often. In many cases, you will only need to repot your dragon tree every 2-3 years. Go up one container size to give your plant more room to grow.
You can, however, give your plant a soil refresh yearly. Simply remove as much of the old soil as possible and replace it with fresh soil. This should be done in early spring right as your plant enters its primary growing season.
There are a few ways to propagate a dragon tree, all of which can be combined to get even more new plants from one stem. First, cut the crown of one stem off, leaving about an inch of the stem attached. Apply rooting hormone to the cut end and then plant it in a container of potting soil. Summer is the best time for this to keep the plant warm as it grows new roots, though you can do it at any time if you can supply bottom heat for the plant.
The new crownless stem can be cut back to half its size. New shoots will grow out of the cut end still attached to the plant, which you can eventually cut off for new plants or leave on the existing plant.
The removed cane can also be used for new plants. Cut it into 3-inch pieces and allow them to dry, marking them to be sure you remember which end goes into the soil. Dry them for a day, and then plant each of these in a container with potting soil. Keep them warm and give them plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
While rare, certain pests can see your dragon tree as a target. Spider mites and mealybugs are two of the most common that attack dragon trees.
If you see them, it’s important to remove them as quickly as possible. Neem oil is a good, natural solution, but you can also try using a mixture of dish soap and water. Depending on the amount of bugs on your plants, you can also try simply wiping them off with a damp cloth.
In most cases though, you likely won’t encounter any pests with the dragon tree as they are not a very susceptible species to pest infestations.
Indoor Madagascar Dragon Tree Care
Madagascar dragon trees are excellent, low maintenance plants for indoor growth. They require little water, and even less maintenance. Their slow growth rate also means you won’t need to repot often. For those wanting to add greenery to their home, and without spending tons of time caring for their plant, give the dragon tree a try.
Madagascar Dragon Tree FAQ
How Fast Do Dragon Trees Grow?
Expect only a few inches per year for an indoor grown dragon tree. It takes up to 30 years for these plants to reach maturity, so they grow quite slow.
How Long Do Dragon Trees Live?
Indoor varieties can live for decades with proper indoor care.
How Do You Care For a Dragon Tree?
The two most important aspects of care are bright, but indirect light and infrequent waterings. Get enough light and don’t overwater your plant for best growth results.
Are Dragon Trees Poisonous?
Yes, dragon trees are poisonous and should be kept out of reach of pets.