How To Care and Tend to Your Dracaena Plants Indoors — STUMP ‣ PLANTS · WARES · COMMUNITY (2024)

A good statement tree can be the missing piece in your plant collection and take a grouping of plants to an indoor jungle with just one plant. But, what do you do when you want an indoor tree and you don’t have a ton of direct sunlight in your space? You get a Dracaena!

Dracaenas are a family of tree and shrub-like plants native to Africa, parts of Asia, and Australia, growing to be well over 20’ tall in the wild. Indoors, they can be maintained at a much smaller height with intentional and regular pruning. They’re tall and slender, with winding and contorting trunks and branches filled with palm-like leaves. Thankfully, Dracaenas also happen to be relatively easy to care for indoors with proper sunlight and watering techniques.

What Makes Them so Great?

You’ve likely encountered some type of Dracaena before, whether it’s in a fluorescent-lit office, interior-scaping in a mall, or in a friend’s home, Dracaenas are prevalent indoor plants that have been on the houseplant market in various species and cultivars for decades. It goes without saying, but since they’ve stuck around and stood the test of time, they’ve proven themselves popular (read: relatively easy) for people who are looking to add a pop of greenery indoors.

With leaves like splays of fireworks, these trees burst onto the scene ready to make an impact. By themselves, they’re great standalone plants when you’re looking for something that’ll make a statement, and intermixed in a plant collection, they’ll add texture and height to the jungle.

How To Care and Tend to Your Dracaena Plants Indoors — STUMP ‣ PLANTS · WARES · COMMUNITY (1)

Dracaena Sunlight Needs

They’re no Ficus in terms of their sunlight needs, but Dracaenas will most enjoy a brightly-lit space. Depending on your windows, the direction they face, and the amount of sunlight available from them, this could be anywhere close by or pulled back a ways into the interior of your space.

Dracaenas won’t enjoy direct afternoon sun from western or southern exposures, which could end up burning the leaves, leaving scorch marks or making your tree’s leaves look faded and less vibrant. If you’re working with this kind of lighting indoors, pulling your Dracaena back a few feet from the windows will still give them sufficient light without burning the leaves.

Dracaenas are also great plants for some lower-light conditions. While they won’t flourish or grow nearly as quickly as they would in brighter light, Dracaenas are some of the few indoor trees suitable for longer-term placement in low sunlight conditions. The best Dracaenas for lower-light areas are Dracaena warneckii or—a STUMP favorite—Dracaena ‘Janet Craig Compacta,’ while brighter spots indoors would be great spots for Dracaena marginata, Dracaena reflexa, and other variegated Dracaenas.

Watering Your Dracaena

Like we talked about above, Dracaenas are pretty easygoing plants that don’t mind a little bit of drought from time to time. Ideally, these trees would like a thorough saturation of their potting mix whenever the potting mix is about halfway dry between waterings—for larger trees, this might look like around every couple or so weeks.

Dracaenas are great for beginners growing their green thumb because they won’t mind if a watering is missed and the potting mix gets dry in between. Try not to make a habit of letting the soil get too dry in between waterings, but these are otherwise easy enough plants to water and care for indoors. Since they are tolerant of under-watering, one of our favorite sayings, “when in doubt, drought,” also applies here—if you’re ever unsure of when you should water next, hold off a little longer, and things will still be okay.

How To Care and Tend to Your Dracaena Plants Indoors — STUMP ‣ PLANTS · WARES · COMMUNITY (3)

Other Considerations

As they grow and mature, your Dracaena might start to get a little bit too tall or bushy for your space, meaning you might want to learn how to prune your tree back.

Dracaenas (and trees in general) respond well to pruning and getting cut back, sending out growth in different directions from where you trim, allowing you to control the shape your plant takes over time. Plus, with the right species of Dracaena, some sharp pruning shears, and a little bit of dedication, a Dracaena can quickly turn into a minimalist’s dream plant, with long, bending branches and wispy foliage at the tips.

Whether you’re looking for a statement tree or something to fill a corner of windows in your indoor jungle, Dracaenas are a great family of plants to try your hand at no matter your experience level.

How To Care and Tend to Your Dracaena Plants Indoors — STUMP ‣ PLANTS · WARES · COMMUNITY (4)

Words by: Egan Thorne

Photos by: Egan Thorne

Egan Thorne

plant care, indoor plants, houseplants, plant parenthood, potting mix, aroids, epiphytic plants, cacti, succulents


How To Care and Tend to Your Dracaena Plants Indoors — STUMP ‣ PLANTS · WARES · COMMUNITY (2024)


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