How to grow and care for Dragon Blood Tree Indoors

Houseplant, Dracaena draco

Botanical name: Dracaena draco
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae

Dragon Blood Tree also called Canary Islands Dragon Tree, Dragon Tree or Drago is a hardy houseplant which features a gray trunk topped with tough sword-shaped green leaves. It is native to Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira and western Morocco. In its natural habitat is is a giant tree but indoors it only grows to a height of about 4 ft. It is a slow grower, taking about 10 years to reach a height of 4 ft. If grown in good light, the leaves are red-edged. Naturally, the old foliage arches downwards. When the bark and leaves are cut, they secrete a reddish resin which is one of the substances known as "dragon's blood"; hence the common name.

How to Grow Dragon Blood Tree

Light

Dragon Blood Tree prefers bright filtered light; close to an east- or west-facing window is ideal for the development of the red-edged leaves. In low light the plant will lose its variegation. Keep it away from direct sunlight. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Dragon Blood Tree thoroughly and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in the cold months and maintain soil slightly moist. Avoid overwatering and wetting the tree trunk which may lead to stem rot at the soil level. Use water at room temperature that is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minumum of 130C is ideal for Dragon Blood Tree. Ptotect the plant from cold draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Dragon Blood Tree. Mist the leaves occasionally and clean them by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust. If the air is too dry especially where temperature is too high raise humidity by more frequent misting or set the pot on a wet pebble tray.

Feeding

Feed Dragon Blood Tree every 3-4 weeks during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Regularly flush out accumulated salts in the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow it to run for a few minutes and repeat several times. Find out more on feeding houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Dragon Blood Tree at the beginning of the growing season when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes; the plant prefers to be slightly root-bound. Use a pot at least 6 in. wider than the tree-trunk and one that has drainage holes. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in waterlogged soil as it may lead to root-rot.

How to Prune Dragon Blood Tree

Pruning Dragon Blood Tree involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. The plant is a slow grower and does not require regular pruning. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Dragon Blood Tree

Dragon Blood Tree can be propagated at beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings. Take 2-3 in. long stem-tip cuttings, dip the lower cut-end in a rooting hormone and stick it in moist free draining rooting soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place. Maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges. When the plant is well established, it can be transplanted.

Common Problems in Growing Dragon Blood Tree

  • Leaves with brown tips and yellow edges
  • There are four reasons for these in Dragon Blood Tree. One is dry air; raise humidity, by more frequent misting or set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Two is underwatering; maintain the soil moist at all times and do not let the soil to dry out. Three is chemical accumulation in the soil; use chemical free water and regularly flush out salts from the soil. Four is cold draughts; place the plant away from draughts.

  • Yellowing of lower leaves
  • This is a natural process in Dragon Blood Tree, as the plant matures it sheds the lower leaves. Each lower leaf turns yellow and dries leaving a crown of leaves on top of the cane-like stem.

  • Soft and curled leaves with brown edges
  • If the temperature is too low Dragon Blood Tree leaves become soft and curled and the edges turn brown. Maintain an average room temperature and protect the plant from cold draughts.

  • Brown leaf spots
  • Dragon Blood Tree will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered. Maintain the soil slightly moist at all times and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

  • Bleached dry patches on the leaves
  • Direct sunlight will cause bleached dry patches on the leaves of Dragon Blood Tree. Move the plant to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunlight.

  • Plant death
  • Dragon Blood Tree is highly resistant to diseases but may be attacked Stem-rot at the soil level if left to sit in waterlogged soil for too long. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering in the cold season. Keeping Dragon Blood Tree too cold will also kill it; maintain average room temperature and protect it from cold draughts. Another reason for the death of Dragon Blood Tree is accumulation of salts in the soil; regularly flush out salts from the soil.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Dragon Blood Tree are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants.

Toxicity

Dragon Blood Tree (Dracaena draco) is toxic to both humans and pets. The leaves contain alkyds. If ingested they may cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite and depression.

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