Dracaena marginata: Dragon tree

Family: Asparagaceae
Common name: Dragon tree, Madagascar dragon tree

Dracaena is a family of over 100 leafy plants, all of them well-known for their decorative foliage, and easy maintenance. Dragon tree plants can grow to a height of 20 feet with thin long leaves that are green with stripes of red along the edges. Leaves are sword-like with pointy tips, about 2 feet long and half an inch wide; giving the plant a very distinct appearance.

They are preferred indoor plants since they can stand some amount of shade, need very little water and maintenance. Their stems grow woody and long, sometimes twisted; with a tuft of long leaves at the top of it like a dusting broom.

They are used as landscape plants because of their unique shape and color, featuring in most interior design and gardenscape magazines. Young Dragon tree plants can be kept on tables or workstations uplifting the ambiance of the space. They are slow-growing taking 3-4 years to reach their full height of about 6 feet which is the maximum they grown indoors.

Though they are indoor plants, they cannot be grown in dark corners since they need sufficient indirect sunlight to bring out the bright colors of the leaves. Indoor Dracaenas should only be watered once a week and fertilized once in 6 months; an amateur or forgetful gardener’s dream plant.

Overwatering is the worst sin you can commit to the dragon tree plant; so err on the side of watering lesser than you think is required. Since the water requirement is very low, well-drained soil is key to growing Dragon trees.
Older leaves will fall automatically, leaving small scars on the trunks which is normal and not a cause for concern.

Drooping or yellowing leaves indicate water distress and must be addressed immediately. Dragon tree plants do produce small white flowers and orange berries, but these are rare in indoor plants.

A popular variant called ‘Tricolor’ has a strip of yellow along with green and red stripes on the leaves. Other variants like Bicolor and Colorama also exists with variations in leaf colors.

It is very easy to propagate Dragon tree plants. When the stem is long enough, you can cut the top part with its tuft of leaves, and keep it in water for couple of weeks to root. Once rooted, you can plant it as a separate plant; and the original parent plant will produce more branching stems from where you cut it.

Propagation is from stem cuttings.

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