This Unfussy, Low-Maintenance Houseplant Is Popular for Good Reason (2024)

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow houseplant, dracaenas are always a great option. The lemon lime dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’) is a particularly popular choice within the genus thanks to its stunning lime green and yellow striped leaves. While this plant is often sold in small pots, it is technically a shrub that can grow up to five to seven feet tall indoors. This makes it a great choice if you are looking for an indoor tree that does well in a variety of different light conditions. With its luscious foliage and bright colors, the lemon lime dracaena is sure to add a touch of tropical flair to any space.

This dracaena is native to various tropical regions of Africa and Asia, where it grows in warm, humid conditions. For that reason, it is most commonly grown as a houseplant, although it can also be grown outdoors in containers or garden beds depending on your USDA zone. Pet owners and parents should be aware that like all plants in the dracaena genus, the lemon lime dracaena is considered toxic to pets and humans if ingested.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow and care for the lemon lime dracaena.

Common NameLemon lime dracaena, striped dracaena, dragon plant
Botanical NameDracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’
FamilyAsparagaceae
Plant TypePerennial, shrub
Mature Size5-7 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide (indoors); 5-10 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide (outdoors)
Sun ExposurePartial, shade
Soil TypeMoist but well-drained
Soil pHAcidic, neutral
Bloom TimeSpring, summer
Flower ColorGreen, white
Hardiness Zones10-11, USDA
Native AreaAfrica, Asia
ToxicityToxic to pets, toxic to humans

Lemon Lime Dracaena Care

Here are the basic requirements for growing lemon lime dracaena:

  • Provide this plant with medium to bright indirect light. It can also tolerate low light, but may not grow as profusely.
  • Allow the soil to partially dry between waterings.
  • Keep the plant away from cold temperatures and drafty, dry conditions. Average household humidity and temperature levels are perfect for this plant.
  • Fertilize once a month during the active growing season.

Tip

Pruning is not required for these dracaenas but can be useful if you are hoping to control the size of your plant. Simply use a pair of sharp pruning shears in spring or summer to trim your plant back to size. Don’t forget to repurpose any stem cuttings for propagation.

Light

Place your lemon lime dracaena in a location where it will receive several hours of bright to medium indirect light every day. This hardy plant can also tolerate low light, although it may become more leggy in appearance with dulled colors. Avoid exposing this dracaena to periods of harsh, direct light as it is susceptible to leaf burn.

Soil

The lemon lime dracaena should be grown in a potting mix that is well-draining yet rich in organic materials. A combination of equal parts indoor potting soil, coco coir, perlite, and sand is a great option.

Water

These plants are very sensitive to overwatering, so the soil should be allowed to dry at least halfway between waterings. When in doubt, it is always better to underwater these dracaenas rather than overwater them, as overwatering can quickly lead to root rot.

During the active growing season (spring and summer), watering your plant once a week is a good estimate, but be sure to check the soil moisture beforehand to be sure. Be prepared to cut back on watering slightly in the fall and winter months when the plant is dormant and not absorbing water as quickly.

Temperature and Humidity

Lemon lime dracaenas are native to tropical regions across Africa and Asia where they grow in warm, humid conditions. As a result, they grow well indoors as houseplants where temperatures are stable and dry conditions are generally uncommon. They can also be grown outdoors in garden beds or containers in warmer climates (USDA zones 10 and 11).

When growing these plants indoors, be sure to keep them away from cold, drafty windows or air vents which could negatively affect their growth. As a general rule of thumb, keep your lemon lime dracaena in temperatures between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 25 degrees Celsius) and avoid temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) at all costs—even for a short period.

Average household humidity levels are usually adequate for these plants, but if you have an extra humidifier lying around then they certainly won’t object to some added humidity.

Fertilizer

Apply a balanced indoor plant fertilizer once a month during spring and summer to encourage strong, healthy growth. Stop fertilizing entirely during the fall and winter months when the temperatures begin to drop.

Propagating Lemon Lime Dracaena

Propagating lemon lime dracaena is relatively straightforward and can be a great way to grow new plants or repurpose stem cuttings after pruning. Cuttings can be rooted in water, soil, or sphagnum moss depending on your personal preference. While propagation can be done at any time, it is the most successful (and fast) during spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.

Here’s how to propagate lemon lime dracaena in a few simple steps.

  1. Take a stem cutting from your plant using a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears. This is usually the top of one of the stems where a cluster of leaves is present. Cut just below the leaf line, ensuring there’s at least one node along the stem below the leaves.
  2. Prepare a container filled with either water, moist soil or moist sphagnum moss and plant the cutting in the rooting medium, ensuring the leaves remain above the surface and the bare stem or nodes are fully submerged in the soil.
  3. Place the container in a warm location that receives bright to medium indirect light.
  4. If you have planted the cutting in soil or sphagnum moss, it should stay consistently moist until roots are established (at least a month). If you have your cutting in water, be sure to refresh the water once a week. Roots should start to grow within a couple of weeks.
  5. For cuttings growing in water or sphagnum moss, once the roots are at least an inch long the cutting can be planted in soil. Ensure you keep the soil consistently moist for at least a week to help the roots acclimate to their new growing medium. If you have been rooting your cutting in soil, simply begin to cut back on watering once roots have established until you have resumed a normal watering schedule.

Potting and Repotting Lemon Lime Dracaena

Lemon lime dracaenas should be repotted once they have outgrown their previous potting containers. For smaller plants, this tends to be once every one to two years, while more established shrubs or trees may only need repotting once every three to five years.

If it's been five years since you last repotted your plant and you still don’t see signs of it outgrowing its potting container, it’s still a good idea to repot your plant so you can refresh the soil and check out the state of the roots.

Generally, it’s best to repot any houseplant during its active growing season, the spring or summer months. That being said, the task can also be completed in fall or winter if needed.

Here’s how to repot a lemon lime dracaena in a few simple steps.

  1. Prepare your supplies: choose a new pot that is only one to two inches larger in diameter than the previous container, and make sure you have plenty of fresh potting soil on hand.
  2. Remove your plant from its pot by gently wiggling the root ball out of the container.
  3. Remove as much of the old soil from around the roots as possible.
  4. Place the plant in its new container and fill in the excess space with fresh potting soil.
  5. Pat the soil down firmly around the plant’s roots and water thoroughly to help set it in place.
  6. Return your plant to its original location.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

When grown indoors, keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, scale, spider mites, and thrips. When grown outdoors, watch out for aphids which can quickly overtake a plant. Be sure to regularly check your plant for pests to prevent an infestation. The trunk, under the leaves, and the base of the petioles are particularly popular locations for pests to congregate.

As for diseases, the most common disease to watch out for is root rot. Usually, root rot occurs as a result of overwatering or lack of drainage, but it can also be caused by infected soil. Mushy roots and stems, waterlogged soil, incessantly browning leaves, and leaves that are wilted or curling are all indications that your plant may be suffering from root rot.

Common Problems With Lemon Lime Dracaena

For the most part, the lemon lime dracaena is pretty low-maintenance and simple to grow. However, it’s not uncommon to run into a few issues as you learn how to best care for your plant. Leaves turning brown and leaves yellowing are two common problems that plant owners most often run into.

Brown Leaves

Brown leaves are a common problem among most houseplants, including the lemon lime Dracaena. Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer when it comes to this issue. Brown leaves can be a result of a number of different environmental stressors including underwatering, a lack of humidity, too much sunlight (leaf burn), pests, and more.

Yellow Leaves

Just like brown leaves, there are a few potential reasons that your plant may be showing signs of yellow leaves. If one or two of the oldest leaves are turning yellow and falling off, you probably have nothing to worry about—all leaves go through a natural life cycle after all.

However, incessant yellowing can be a sign of a lack of light, underwatering, overwatering, pests, a lack of nutrients, or even over-fertilization. Examining your plant’s growing environment closely is the best way to determine what the potential culprit may be.

FAQ

  • How do you keep dracaenas happy?

    Dracaenas are generally low-maintenance and forgiving plants that are considered low-maintenance and ideal for beginners. One of the most important things to keep in mind when growing dracaenas is that they are sensitive to overwatering. Be sure to let the soil dry out about halfway between waterings, and when in doubt it’s always better to underwater than to overwater.

  • Why are the leaves on my dracaena lemon lime turning brown?

    Brown leaves on a lemon lime dracaenas can mean a few different things, but ultimately it’s a sign that something in your plant’s growing environment is off. If your plant is overwatered or underwatered you may notice the leaf tips starting to turn brown. Brown, crispy spots on the leaves can also be a sign of sun burn or an indication that your plant’s growing environment is too dry.

  • Is dracaena lemon lime an indoor plant?

    Lemon lime dracaenas are commonly grown as indoor plants because they are not cold-tolerant and require consistently warm temperatures and humid conditions to thrive. However, in warm climates, these dracaenas can also be grown outdoors in garden beds or containers.

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  1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Dracaena." aspca.org. N.p., n.d. Web.

This Unfussy, Low-Maintenance Houseplant Is Popular for Good Reason (2024)

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