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Dracaena marginata Care – #1 Best Growing Guide

If you are looking for a plant that offers an Asian, classic, and architectural look, the Dracaena Marginata plant is for you.

The Dracaena marginata not only adds a modern overall look to any space but also removes harmful chemicals that may be present in its surroundings.

The Dracaena Marginata plant is also known as the ‘Madagascar Dragon Tree.’ It belongs to the Dracaena group of plants, and its name is inspired by its close relative, the Dracaena Draco.

The Dracaena plant group has over 120 species, each famous for its numerous beautiful characteristics.

The Dracaena marginata plant is an excellent houseplant choice for a beginner, as it is easy to care for and fairly disease-resistant. When grown as a houseplant, the Dragon Tree grows with a considerable amount of cane or trunk.

Dracaena marginata Care

To care for Dracaena marginata provide well-draining soil and bright indirect light. Water weekly to by-weekly once the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry (5-7.5cm). Provide a temperature between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 Celsius). The ideal humidity is 60-80%. Fertilize every 3-4 weeks in spring and summer and reduce fertilization in autumn and winter.

Dracaena marginata Care
Dracaena marginata Care

Dracaena marginata Growing Guide

Soil

The Dracaena marginata plant likes well-draining and airy soil consisting of loam amended with peat moss. 

The Dragon Tree plant further prefers a soil pH of 6 to 7 (slightly acidic to neutral). If your Dracaena marginata plant soil’s pH drops too low or rises excessively, the plant can react adversely and shed all its leaves. 

The Dracaena marginata plant has an extensive root system. Therefore, when grown as an indoor plant, make sure that its container has good drainage by using drainage holes and is large enough to comfortably hold its roots.

Some varieties of the beautiful Dracaena marginata imported from Hawaii may even arrive with lava rock.

You should remove approximately one-third of the lava rock for such plants and replace this with the loamy potting mix.

Water

Water weekly to by-weekly once the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry (5.0-7.5cm).

Dracaena marginata though highly disease and drought-resistant, is sensitive to over and under-watering. Therefore, maintaining a balance between these two extremes is imperative for the Dragon Tree plant’s healthy development.

Ideally, water the Dracaena marginata plant, then wait till the top half of the soil is dry. The plant’s surroundings have a considerable impact on its watering schedule. However, the soil’s top half usually dries off in 3 weeks in low light.

Nurture the Dracaena Marginata plant and maintain it with this watering pattern. Due to the plant’s water sensitivity, preferably water it with lukewarm water.

If you see the Dracaena marginata plant’s leaves turning yellow, it is thirsty. Therefore, immediately water your plant.

On the contrary, if you see the Dracaena marginata plant developing brown leaf edges, your plant is overwatered. Therefore, dry off the plant’s roots and withhold watering till its top 2 to 3 inches are dry again.

One of the main mistakes that many Dracaena marginata plant owners make is watering their plants with fluoride-containing water.

Always be sure that your water does not contain any fluoride before pouring it over your Marginata plant. Ideally, use distilled water.

Light

Dracaena Marginata prefers bright indirect, filtered sunlight. Its leaves form a luscious green color when placed in the preferred light and even develop delicate white flowers in the summertime. The Madagascar Dragon Tree plant can also grow in dim light; however, its leaves usually lose their vibrant color to some extent.

Placing the Dracaena marginata plant in partially-shaded areas, such as in front of an east or south-facing window or a tinted balcony door, will result in healthier growth and development of fresh flowers.

I suggest keeping your Dracaena marginata plant well away from direct, harsh sun rays; they are likely to burn its leaves. Unfortunately, the damage may be irreversible.

Temperature

The ideal temperature range for the Dracaena marginata plant is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 Celsius). Most households already fall within this temperature range; therefore, going above and beyond for establishing the preferred environment is not required.

The Dracaena marginata plant is fairly sensitive to light; therefore, please bring your plant inside during the peak sun hours if you have placed it outside.

Similarly, if it is too cold for the Dracaena marginata plant, place it inside to protect it from any temperature fluctuations. The USDA hardiness zones are 10 to 12.

Humidity

In its natural habitat, the Dracaena marginata plant thrives in high humidity. However, fortunately, the plant can also thrive considerably well in normal household humidity. Due to its resistant nature, it can adapt relatively well to humidity ranging from 60% to 80%.

Even when placed in 30% to 60% humidity, the usual environment moisture level, the Dracaena marginata plant thrives. You can tell the humidity levels meet the plant’s requirements when you see signs such as healthy-looking vines, lush green leaves, and beautiful white flowers.

However, if your Dracaena Marginata plant looks dull or leggy, I recommend you check your house’s humidity levels. The Dragon Tree plant often loses its turgidity when placed in dry surroundings.

To check if your house is too dry, you can buy a moisture meter that accurately measures humidity levels. If your moisture comes out as too low, get your hands on a humidifier and place it in the same room as the Dracaena marginata plant.

Those on a limited budget can simply place the plant on a tray with pebbles and water, with the water reaching just below the plant. Alternatively, you can mist your Dracaena marginata plant’s surroundings.

Fertilizer

Fertilize every 2-3 weeks in spring and summer and revert to fertilizing by-monthly in autumn and winter.

For a plant that is sturdy and disease-resistant, you might think that it has large feeding needs. However, it is just the opposite; the Dracaena marginata plant has a small appetite and does not need to be fertilized often.

Ideally, the Dracaena marginata plant should be fed at the beginning of the growing season in spring and then again in summer. It can also be fed right at the start of spring. Fertilizing the Dracaena Marginata plant during the winter is not essential since it does not actively grow in the cooler months.

The perfect fertilizer type for the Dracaena marginata plant is slow-release fertilizer. The controlled-release fertilizer decreases the probability of toxicity and aids in gradual efficient absorption.

I also advise you to buy a fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorous in equal halves. The phosphorous encourages blooms, while the nitrogen helps the plant’s leaves grow.

The Dragon Tree plant is usually fertilized twice throughout the year with controlled fertilizer. However, in the case of instant-release fertilizer, fertilizing twice or thrice a week is sufficient.

You should apply the slow-release fertilizer to moist roots, preferably. Applying fertilizer to damp soil ensures efficient absorption and prevents the accumulation of excess salts.

Repotting

The Dracaena marginata plant needs to be repotted every two to three years. Since its roots are considerably large, you may need to get a bigger pot.

The Dracaena marginata plant has an extensive root system; therefore, its roots can usually occupy a lot of space. The Marginata plant’s roots grow gradually, giving the plant plenty of time to repot it.

Please keep in mind that the Dracaena marginata plant does not do well if grown in a fully-packed space. Therefore, repot it in a container that has good drainage and aeration.

The Dracaena marginata plant is an ornamental plant that is mostly grown for decorative purposes. Therefore, I suggest you get a plain white pot for your Dragon Tree plant so that its vibrant green leaves and attractive white flowers in a delicate white container make an eye-catching sight.

Moreover, if you receive your Dracaena marginata plant from Hawaii in lava rock, before potting it replace one-third of its soil with the plant’s ideal loamy soil lox.

Remember to clean all your gardening tools before using them on the plant.

Pruning

The Dracaena marginata plant does not grow massive within a few days; however, it does reach the ceiling at one point, if not pruned. Most plants, including the Dragon Tree, do not look as attractive if not pruned from time to time.

There is no definite time when you should prune your Dracaena marginata plant; cut off a vine or two whenever you think it is outgrowing the given space or the vines seem uneven. However, the ideal time to cut the Dracaena Marginata plant is during the summer or spring season. Avoid pruning during winter and fall, as the plant becomes dormant.

Surprisingly, the beautiful Dracaena marginata plant develops better when regularly pruned. Its leaves generally grow healthier, and the vines appear stronger. Pruning from time to time also promotes new growth.

I recommend disinfecting your pruning shears before using them on your Dracaena marginata plant. You can use plant specific-alcohol for cleaning the gardening tools.

Propagation

The Dracaena Marginata plant grows reasonably well from stem cuttings rooted in water. The Dragon Tree’s propagation is so easy that it is often grown in dish gardens.

To grow a Marginata plantlet, you need a mature Dracaena Marginata plant, water, fertilizer, and a pot.

Stem Cuttings Method

  • Please start by cleaning all your gardening tools. This will decrease the spread of any possible bacterial infections.
  • Next, select a mature Dracaena marginata plant and cut off 2 to 3 vines from it.
  • Choose one of the cut vines. Ideally, pick the stem with two or more nodes at the lower end.
  • After that, take your soil mix and fill up a pot with it. Cover this pot with a plastic bottle.
  • Plant the Marginata vines in the soil mix.
  • You can also add rooting powder to this mix. However, it is not necessary as the Dracaena Marginata plant grows considerably well, even on its own.
  • In the end, add some water and fertilizer to the Marginata plant’s soil.

Even without rooting hormone, the Dracaena marginata plant usually sprouts roots within three weeks. The young Dragon Tree plant makes a wonderful housewarming gift.

Blooms

The Dracaena marginata plant gives rise to beautiful tiny white flowers that produce a pleasant fragrance. The plant also forms circular yellow-orange berries. However, usually, when grown indoors, the flowers and berries do not appear.

The flowers are of various sizes but are overall small. Additionally, they only appear in the summertime.

Growth

The Madagascar Dragon Tree is an attractive plant that reaches about 20 feet (6m) and spreads as far as 10 feet (3m). Most owners prune it to approximately 6 feet (1.8m).

The plant has slender grayish stems that are topped with green pointy sword-like leaves and red edges. The leaves have a shiny texture and usually form an arch. The leaves are about 2 feet (0.6m) long and half an inch wide.

Dracaena marginata Varieties

In addition to the original Dragon Tree plant, three more varieties are available in the market:

Dracaena marginata Colorama – this is a modern reddish-pink cultivar with tricolored leaves. The red color on the outer margins of the leaves is very prominent.

Dracaena marginata Tricolor – this variety produces leaves in beautiful shades of red, yellow, and green. This cultivar has a golden touch to its appearance.

Dracaena marginata Tarzan – this variety has thick, green leaves that are wider than the original version.

Common Problems for Dracaena Marginata

Yellow Leaves

Most plants’ leaves turn yellow when they are overwatered. However, the Dracaena marginata plant’s case is the complete opposite. The plant’s leaves turn yellow when it is underwatered.

Please water your Marginata plant when its leaves begin to turn yellow.

Keep a close eye on the Dracaena marginata plant’s overall condition and ensure that you also do not overwater the plant.

Brown Leaf-tips

The Dracaena marginata plant usually forms brownish leaf tips when it is given insufficient water. The Dragon Tree is a non-fussy plant; however, it is quite sensitive when it comes to its watering needs.

If your Dracaena marginata plant has brown leaf tips, please refrain from watering it till its soil’s top 1 to 2 inches dry out. Furthermore, please use fluoride-free room-temperature water.

Pests

The Dracaena marginata plant is a fairly disease-resistant plant. However, it may be infected by pests such as mealybugs and spider mites occasionally.

One can identify a Mealybugs infection easily as they often leave sticky, cotton deposits on plants. Similarly, when the temperature rises, spider mites may attack the Dracaena marginata plant.

Unfortunately, unlike mealybugs, spider mites are noticed when they have already caused massive damage.

To get rid of them, spray your Dracaena marginata plant with a disinfectant spray or get rid of the diseased vines, if necessary.

Tips for Growing Dracaena marginata

  • Do not place the plant in temperatures below 65 Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
  • Cut off any yellow leaves or brown vines, especially if infected.
  • Monitor the plant for signs of overwatering and under-watering. Change the watering schedule, as necessary.
  • Protect the plant from direct sun rays; place it in bright, dappled sunlight.
  • Preferably, use a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Grow the plant in well-draining and well-aerated soils.

Dracaena marginata Toxicity

The Madagascar Dragon Tree is not poisonous to humans; however, it is highly toxic for pets. Therefore, admire this beauty from afar.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dracaena marginata

Are Dracaena marginata plants poisonous?

The Dracaena marginata plants are highly toxic for animals, such as cats and dogs, but they are non-toxic to humans. However, it is best to keep it only as a decorative plant and not ingest it.

How long does a Dracaena marginata plant take to grow?

The Dracaena marginata plant is a slow grower. Therefore, when placed in a favorable environment, it usually reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet in about ten years.

How long does a Dracaena marginata plant live?

There is no definite lifetime period for a Dracaena marginata plant. However, most houseplants live for about 2 to 3 years when placed indoors.
 

Conclusion About Dracaena marginata Care

The care for Dracaena marginata:

  • Provide well-draining soil
  • Bright indirect light
  • Water weekly once the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry (5-7.5cm)
  • Temperature between 70-80°F (21-27°C)
  • The ideal humidity is 60% to 80%

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.