Commonly known as Dragon Trees or Madagascar Dragon Trees, Dracaena Marginata is a fun addition to any plant collection. With their twisty growth habit and variety of colors, they are reminiscent of the Truffula Trees in Dr. Seuss’ books. Their easy-care, tolerance for neglect, and ability to adapt to a range of light levels make them a very beginner-friendly plant! As a bonus, they even help purify the air!
Dracaena Marginata grows from the top and that’s where all the new leaves come from. As it gets taller it will lose its lower leaves to bare its silvery-gray trunk and give it its unique pom pom look. So don’t panic if your Dragon Tree is losing its lowest leaves, it is just growing. Indoors they can reach 6-8 feet tall, but it will take several years to reach that height.
Potting: Dragon Trees prefer a well-draining mix that doesn’t keep the roots too wet. I find regular potting soil with a couple of handfuls of perlite tossed in works great. You can also throw in some bark, but it isn’t necessary for them to be happy. They are slow-growing so most likely they will only need to be repotted every couple years or so, and they don’t mind being root-bound. If you repot too often you may see growth slow down up top while it works on growing more roots, and if you put into too big of a pot it is really easy to over-water. Pot type doesn’t really matter as long as you have well-draining soil and the pot has at least one hole for drainage.
Light: Dragon Trees tolerate a range of light levels so its pretty easy to find a spot that makes it happy. Right in a North window or near an East or West window is best. They will likely burn if put right in a South window, so be sure to pull them pack a bit or hang a sheer curtain. They will survive in low light, but growth will stop and it will drop leaves that it cant support. So it’s best to keep it near the windows where it can see the sky. Dragon Trees will bend towards the light as they grow, that’s how they get the twisty trunk. If you want to minimize this be sure to turn the pot often. But if you like it, you can wait a bit between turning to get a more bendy look.
Watering: Dragon Trees are pretty easy on watering needs. They don’t mind a bit of a drought, so forgetting to water isn’t a disaster. However, over-watering will cause root rot and can kill them. So wait to water until the topsoil has dried to about half a finger length down, then water until you it comes out the drainage holes. All Dracaenas are sensitive to the chemicals in tap/city water, and Dragon Trees are no exception. If you notice the tips of your leaves browning, likely it’s from the water. Leaving your water out overnight can help with this. But if not, you have a couple of options. You can water with filtered water, or you can treat your water with an aquarium conditioner/dechlorination before you water.
Fertilizing: Dragon Trees have low fertilizer needs, but it is a good idea to fertilize at 50% strength once a month during the growing season. A 3-1-2 Fertilizer is perfect! Do not fertilize through the winter.
Propagation and Pruning: I haven’t propagated or pruned any of my Dragon Trees yet since they are so slow-growing, and likely you won’t need to either. But if you do, it is super easy. Pruning and propagating are basically the same with these plants. Simply take clean pruners and cut through the main trunk or side trunks underneath the lowest leaves at the height you would like it. It will take a while, but before long the cut will callous over and you will see new shoots growing from below the cut. The pieces you cut off can be placed into a vase of water and will eventually grow roots, then you can pot them up.
Toxicity: Dragon Trees are toxic to dogs, cats and horses and can cause them to vomit. So it is best to keep them away from any animal that will chew on them. It isn’t toxic to humans but should NOT be consumed.