All About Growing Easy-Care Dracaena Plants

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When it comes to growing indoor plants, one of the most common choices is the dracaena.

This is partly because they are undemanding in addition to being extremely beautiful. That being said, you need to make sure you can give them the right growing conditions before bringing this beauty home.

If you are ready to make the striking dracaena

Dracaena Plant Facts

Belonging to the Asparagaceae family, there are more than 120 Dracaena species that exist ranging from small plants that can be kept indoors to large trees. These wonderful plants are native to tropical Africa, South Asia and Australia.

Even though outdoor dracaena plants can reach 30 feet tall or more, indoor specimens stay much smaller and are easier to care for.

Houseplant types of dracaena can be found in many different colors, patterns, and sizes, but most people end up with the striped foliage type.

When browsing your local plant store or looking for plants online, you’ve probably come across these plants before. The most common dracaena plants sold are:

  • Dracaena fragrans
  • Dracaena deremensis
  • Dracaena marginata
  • Dracaena sanderiana

The name is said to come from the mythical female dragon that had human features. Her name was Drakaina in ancient Greek. Hence the Roman adaptation Dracaena.

Since the 17th century, the world has been captivated by this unique plant, its multiple uses and its beautiful appearance. In recent years it has become popular among plant owners and is now found in many homes across the country.

Dracaena planting

Although these plants are easy to grow, that doesn’t mean they can grow in just any old condition. They need filtered light, so it’s a good idea to place them near a window with a sheer or next to a north-facing window.

The soil should also drain well and the container should have drainage holes. Use a standard potting soil modified with rice hulls or perlite.

Once you get your plant home, simply place it in your container of choice filled with potting soil and fill it with additional soil to hold it in place. Water well.

If you live in USDA growing zones 7-11, you can raise dracaena outdoors in a location with well-drained soil and dappled sunlight.

Caring for Dracaena Plants

It is important that you do not place your dracaena plant in direct sunlight as this will scorch the foliage and ruin the beautiful leaves. Ideal lighting conditions are areas of moderate, filtered light.

Remember that these plants can grow outdoors in some fairly sunny and dry areas, so you can introduce them to brighter direct light. Do this gradually over several weeks.

When it comes to providing enough heat for your plant, you need to give it at least 60-70°F during the day. However, during the evening, these plants can tolerate cooler temperatures if they need it. Do not expose them to freezing temperatures.

In the spring, feed your dracaena plant once with a slow-release houseplant fertilizer that will give your plant everything it needs to keep growing. Or you can use a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted in half with water. Add once in spring and summer.

Do not overfeed the plant or it could kill it. In fact, many people choose not to feed and simply repot every few years in fresh soil. You never need to fertilize your plant during the winter.

In general, you should water your plant regularly. Allow the surface of the soil to dry before adding more. It is important to test the soil for drought because overwatering is a death sentence.

When you water your plant, check it for any signs of pests or disease.

These plants also love humidity, so group them with other potted plants, place them on a humidity tray, or use a humidifier in the room.

Pruning and maintenance tips

As your draceana plant grows larger and continues to grow, it will naturally begin to shed its lower leaves. You can easily remove these dead leaves by tearing them off with your hands.

Prune damaged stems or dead or diseased leaves when you spot them.

It may be necessary to cut the stems if they become too long. This can happen because their natural growth length is quite long, so if you keep them indoors you will need to determine a size that works for you.

For pruning, you should use a sharp blade and cut the cane to the length you desire. New growth will emerge from the sides of the cut.

Keep an eye out for dust developing on the leaves and clean your plant with a damp cloth if necessary.

You should also repot every few years if your plant outgrows its container. You also need to refresh the soil every few years or you run the risk of it becoming hydrophobic, compacted and depleted.

If you decide to repot your dracaena, you should choose a container at least one size larger than its original pot. All you have to do is carefully slide the plant out of the existing pot and cut off any dead roots or roots that have started growing out of the drainage holes.

If you have trouble getting the root ball out of the container, you can always use a knife to gently pry it out of its slot.

Then, place the root ball in the new container and surround it with your soil.

Once you have successfully repotted your plant, water it thoroughly.

Pest and disease control

Finding pests and disease early is key to saving any houseplant, so here are some things to look out for when growing Dracaena. Once you know the signs, you will be able to take care of them properly if they occur.

aphids

Aphids are common pests that like to infect houseplants, so it’s no surprise that they can appear on Dracaena varieties. These little pests will suck the juices from the stem and leaves until they have gone through the entire plant.

Our guide can help you spot and eliminate them.

mealybugs

Not only do aphids tend to cause problems for dracaena plants, but scale insects also like to gnaw on this plant. You can tell your plant has scale insects when a cotton-like substance appears on the leaves.

Normally they hide in the armpits of the paws and can therefore be difficult to find.

A solution of neem oil or insecticidal soap will effectively kill these pests. Combine these liquids with lukewarm water and apply them to your plant. For more tips on identifying and eliminating scale insects, check out our guide.

spider mites

The last common pest that can infect dracaena plants is the spider mite. These sneaky pests can cause a lot of trouble, so it’s essential that you catch them quickly. Any sign of brown or yellow foliage is an easy way to detect spider mites. Also look for thin straps.

Similar to scale insects, neem oil can get rid of a mite infestation.

Diseases

There are only two diseases you need to worry about when growing Dracaena at home. The two problems are soft rot and leaf spot. The best way to avoid any type of rot is to always pay attention to your watering schedule and choose well-drained soil.

Pay attention to watering levels and check soil dryness before watering.

It is essential to choose a pot with drainage holes for extra protection. Even though these pots may not look as good as some other trendy choices, they will give your plant a better growing environment.

Soft rot

This disease is caused by Erwinia carotovora, a bacterium that turns roots soft and brown before they die. You might also see a waterlogged area on the lower stem and notice a bad odor.

There is no cure so avoidance is best. Overwatering and a pot with no drainage is a surefire way to end up in trouble.

leaf spot

The mushroom Fusarium moniliforme causes a disease known as leaf spot on dracaena plants. As you might have guessed, symptoms include brown or rust-colored spots and they often have a yellow ring.

As with soft rot, this problem is best avoided by watering carefully and ensuring your plant has good drainage.

How to use Dracaena

Dracaena works well as a solo specimen or in a group. This is perfect for adding height to the center of a planter containing things like peperomias or hoyas.

Whatever you choose, remember that this plant can be toxic to pets, so keep it away from them.

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