How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (2024)

The Dracaena genus is a large group of popular houseplants that tolerate a variety of growing conditions. Dracaena plants are grown primarily for the upright, straplike foliage that is either green or variegated. The small, bushy form of young plants suits mantels, tabletops, and desks. In the right conditions, the houseplants eventually reach 5 to 6 feet tall, making them perfect for adding life to a corner of the living room, dining room, or den. Some dracaena plants grown outdoors in semitropical zones grow up to 25 feet tall.

Occasionally (but rarely indoors), the plants set clusters of small, fragrant, white blossoms. Dracaena's narrow foliage may be completely green or include stripes or edges of green, cream, red, or yellow. Leaves start as rings around the center stem and take on the appearance of bamboo as they age on some dracaena plants. In fact, one of the most commonly grown dracaenas is marketed as lucky bamboo. Use this plant outside as a colorful accent in mixed containers or seasonal displays.

Dracaena plants are toxic to dogs and cats, so place them in areas pets can't reach.

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (1)

Dracaena Overview

Genus NameDracaena
Common NameDracaena
Plant TypeHouseplant
LightPart Sun, Sun
Height2 to 25 feet
Width1 to 18 feet
Flower ColorWhite
Foliage ColorBlue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold, Gray/Silver, Purple/Burgundy
Special FeaturesGood for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones10, 11
PropagationStem Cuttings

Where to Plant Dracaena

Dracaenas are usually grown as houseplants, in which case they need a warm location with bright indirect light, but they can be moved outdoors in the summer. Some varieties of dracaena are winter hardy in semitropical USDA Zones 10–11, where the temperature remains at least 50°F. These outdoor specimens grow much larger than dracaena houseplants.

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (2)

Dracaena Care Tips

Dracaena is extremely easy to grow indoors with a little basic care.

Light

Dracaena is flexible about its lighting requirements, happy to live in anything from a dimly lit office building to the ledge of a brightly lit, south-facing window. Dracaena plant varieties sporting bright colors do best in bright light. If planted outdoors, this plant prefers part sun. Full sun may burn the foliage.

Soil and Water

Dracaena requires well-draining soil. Let the soil dry to the touch between waterings. Be careful not to let the soil completely dry out, or the leaves will begin to turn brown, especially at the tips. Soggy soil, on the other hand, may be fatal.

Temperature and Humidity

In general, most Dracaena species grow best in temperatures between 60°F and 75°F, whether growing indoors or outside. There are exceptions to this range; some can tolerate temperatures as high as 90°F if they are grown in a shady location and as low as 50°F when located in a sheltered area. Dracaena plants prefer humidity at 60 percent, although they tolerate average indoor humidity. Adding a humidifier to a room containing dracaena houseplants is recommended for extremely dry areas.

The 10 Best Humidifiers for Plants of 2024

Fertilizer

Fertilize dracaena once or twice a year to keep this plant healthy and promote growth. Any general-purpose houseplant fertilizer applied according to the package directions will do.

Pruning

The dracaena varieties most often grown as houseplants range in height from 2 to 10 feet, so you may want to prune your plant someday to reduce its size. During the growing season, use clean pruners or a sharp knife to trim the stalks back to the height you want.

Potting and Repotting

Dracaena is an excellent houseplant. Grow it in well-draining soil in a container with excellent drainage. When dracaena is left to grow in the same pot for a long time indoors, it can experience problems. The edges and tips of leaves may brown and die as a reaction to a buildup of fertilizers and salts from softened water. If this happens, make a regular habit of leaching the soil, which means flushing it with water until it runs clear from the bottom of the pot.

A better solution is to repot the dracaena every couple of years, choosing a pot the same size or slightly larger than the one it grows in and replacing as much of the tired soil as possible each time.

The 5 Best Soil for Succulents of 2024

Pests and Plant Diseases

Like most plants, dracaena is vulnerable to various pests. Keep your eyes open for spider mites, which love the warm, dry environment commonly found in household settings. You'll know your plant has these unwelcome visitors if you see webbing and stippled foliage. Spider mites (which are arachnids, not insects) reproduce quickly and should be eradicated as soon as they're noticed. Periodically spraying the plant (especially the undersides of leaves) and the soil beneath it with neem oil helps control this pest. Prevent spider mites outdoors by rinsing dracaena regularly with water.

Mealybugs and scale are two more pests that are troublesome for dracaena plants. Mealybugs leave a sticky residue on the leaves, and scale insects look like small bumps on the leaves. Both of these cause the affected leaves to turn yellow and stunt the growth of the plant. However, they can be treated with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Leaf spot is a fungal disease that appears as small brown spots on the plant's leaves. It is usually caused by overwatering or poor air circulation. Remove and discard any leaves with brown spots and improve the air circulation around the plant.

Root rot is another fungal disease that affects dracaenas that are overwatered and causes their leaves to turn yellow and wilt or fall off. If this occurs, discard and replace the soil (and don't overwater)!

Common Issues with Dracaena

Observe dracaena plants regularly; if they have problems, the leaves usually show it. Yellow or wilting leaves might indicate you are overwatering the plant or have it in a container with poor drainage. Water the plant until the soil is moist but not soggy. Use well-draining potting soil in a container with adequate drainage, and the plant should recover.

Overexposure to full sun can also cause leaves to yellow (or turn crispy brown); in this case, relocate the plant to a location with bright, indirect light. In general, the plants with the brightest coloration do the best in full sun; if they are grown in lower light, their coloration is affected.

Brown tips on dracaena leaves might be caused by watering with tap water. You can't control the quality of your tap water, but you can (and should) water dracaenas with distilled water if you live in an area where the tap water is hard and contains added fluoride.

How to Propagate Dracaena

The easiest way to propagate dracaena plants is via water or soil propagation of a stem cutting.

Identify a healthy stem on the dracaena plant and cut it with sanitized pruners, making sure the cutting includes several leaf nodes. Each cutting should also have at least two leaves.

The 12 Best Pruning Shears of 2024 to Keep Your Garden in Check

Dip the bottom of the cutting into a rooting hormone. If the cutting is short, shake enough of the rooting hormone on the stem to cover the bottom half inch.

Propagating in water: After adding the rooting hormone to the cutting, place it in a glass or jar that contains clean, distilled water. Most of the rooting hormone will dissolve into the water. Don't submerge any of the leaves. Place the container in a warm location where it receives bright, indirect light. Replace the water every other day. You'll see the roots as they develop.

Propagating in soil: Fill a small peat pot that has a drainage hole with a soilless mix and moisten it. After dipping the cutting in rooting hormone, immediately insert it into the mix. Firm the mix around the bottom of the stem and add a pencil or wooden craft stick if needed to keep the cutting upright. Place the pot in an area that receives bright, indirect light. Water the mix slightly every day for the first month, and then water it only a couple of times a week. The soilless mix should remain moist but never wet. It takes about six to eight weeks for roots to form. When you see roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, the cutting has rooted.

After the cutting develops roots, repot it in a small container filled with soil formulated for tropical plants or good-quality potting soil, or plant it directly in a prepared garden bed in subtropical areas.

Types of Dracaena

There are more than 170 species of dracaena houseplants. Here are some favorites.

Janet Craig

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (3)

Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig', also known as Dracaena deremensis 'Compacta', has solid green leaves with short internodes. This shrubby plant adapts well to low-light conditions.

Corn Plant

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (4)

Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana' is called corn plant for its resemblance to the crop with the same common name. However, this dracaena has a woodier stem and a broad band of gold down the center of its leaves.

Florida Beauty

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (5)

Dracaena surculosa 'Florida Beauty' is smaller and shrubbier than most dracaenas, rarely reaching more than 2 feet tall. It has broad leaves brilliantly spotted with creamy yellow, which give it the nickname "Gold Dust."

Lemon Lime

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (6)

Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon Lime' has leaves with a central green band and a wide margin of chartreuse green.

Lucky Bamboo

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (7)

Dracaena sanderiana is not a bamboo at all but rather a dracaena with a pliable stem that is often woven into elaborate shapes. It grows well directly in water or a gravel-filled pot with water.

Madagascar Dragon Tree

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (8)

Dracaena marginata, also called the Madagascar Dragon Tree, may be grown either as a multiple-stem shrub or tree. Stems of tree-form plants often are trained to grow with crooks or bends. Deep green straplike leaves are edged with a narrow band of maroon.

Ribbon Plant

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (9)

Dracaena sanderiana 'Variegata' is the same species as lucky bamboo, but its leaf margins are creamy white. It is sometimes grown in terrariums because it remains shorter than most other dracaenas.

Song of India

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (10)

Dracaena reflexa 'Song of India' is a shrubby plant, usually grown with multiple stems in a pot. Leaves are edged with a band of gold and are 6 to 8 inches long. It is sometimes sold as Pleomele reflexa.

Tricolor

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (11)

Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor' or rainbow plant is a lighter color version of Madagascar dragon tree. Its narrow straplike leaves have a central band of medium green surrounded by a narrow gold band and edged with a stripe of red.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it true that dracaena houseplants clean the air?

    According to a well-known NASA Air Quality study, dracaena plants are among the most effective houseplants for removing pollutants from a home's air. While these plants may remove certain harmful chemicals from the air, the number of plants necessary to have any measurable effect on a home's air quality is impractical. However, you can still enjoy these plants for the beauty their foliage brings to indoor spaces.

  • How long do dracaena plants live as houseplants?

    Although this varies by species, most dracaena houseplants live 10–15 years when grown under optimal conditions with regular repotting. Dracaena plants that grow outdoors in subtropical zones live much longer.

How to Grow Dracaena as a Houseplant to Add Life to Any Room (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rubie Ullrich

Last Updated:

Views: 6042

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rubie Ullrich

Birthday: 1998-02-02

Address: 743 Stoltenberg Center, Genovevaville, NJ 59925-3119

Phone: +2202978377583

Job: Administration Engineer

Hobby: Surfing, Sailing, Listening to music, Web surfing, Kitesurfing, Geocaching, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Rubie Ullrich, I am a enthusiastic, perfect, tender, vivacious, talented, famous, delightful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.