How to grow and care for Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Indoors

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Dracaena marginata Care, Madagascar Dragon Tree Care

Botanical name: Dracaena marginata
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Common name: Madagascar Dragon Tree

Madagascar Dragon Tree Description

Dracaena marginata commonly called Madagascar Dragon Tree is a colorful houseplant that easily adapts to a wide range of indoor growing conditions.

Madagascar Dragon Tree is a tough, drought-resistant plant with aggressive root system and is considered to be one of the hard to kill plants.

The origin of the plant name comes from the word "drakaina" for "female dragon". Madagascar Dragon Tree produces a red gum-like resin in the stems that was likened to dragon blood.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree trunk is tall and snake-like trunk. It branches with age and can grow up to 10 ft high. Its narrow, arching leaves are edged with red.

Madagascar Dragon Tree can grow as single-stemmed plants or grouped or even braided together in the same pot.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Origin

Dracaena marginata has its origins in Madagascar and other Indian Ocean Islands.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Air Purifying

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dracaena marginata was found to remove common VOCs like xylene, toulene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloethylene.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Varieties

The most popular varieties of Madagascar Dragon Tree are the basic variety, Dracaena marginata, whose leaves are predominately green and edged with red.

The Dracaena marginata tricolor, in whose leaves a band of yellow separates the green and the red stripes and the overall color is greenish-gold.

In Dracaena marginata colorama, the red banding is more prominent and the leaves appear distinctly reddish.

Dracaena marginata for Sale

Buy beautiful and healthy Dracaena Plants from Etsy.

Dracaena marginata Care, Madagascar Dragon Tree Care

Photo Credit: Hortology

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Care Indoors

Madagascar Dragon Tree Light Requirements

Madagascar Dragon Tree grows best in light shade, about 5 feet away from an east- or west-facing window.

Madagascar Dragon Tree can also grow under low light but it grows slower and produces smaller leaves with the less intense color.

Keep your Madagascar Dragon Tree away from direct sunlight as it can lead to sun burn on the leaves. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Madagascar Dragon Tree

Water Madagascar Dragon Tree thoroughly and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Reduce watering for your Madagascar Dragon Tree during the cold season and maintain soil slightly moist.

Avoid soggy soil for your Madagascar Dragon Tree as it can lead to root-rot disease. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid soggy soil.

Use water that is at room temperature to water your plant to avoid shocking this tropical plant.

Ensure that the water is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips in your Madagascar Dragon Tree. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Madagascar Dragon Tree

The best temperature for Madagascar Dragon Tree is average warmth with a minumum of 130C.

Protect your Madagascar Dragon Tree from cold draughts. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Madagascar Dragon Tree

Madagascar Dragon Tree has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for Madagascar Dragon Tree.

However, if the air is too dry especially where temperature is too high set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Madagascar Dragon Tree. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the leaves of your Madagascar Dragon Tree by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Madagascar Dragon Tree

Feed Madagascar Dragon Tree every 4 weeks during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Withhold feeding for your Madagascar Dragon Tree during 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 for your Madagascar Dragon Tree 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. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to repot Madagascar Dragon Tree

Repot Madagascar Dragon Tree at the beginning of the growing season when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes as it prefers to be slightly root-bound.

Use a pot at least 2 in. wider than the tree-trunk for your Madagascar Dragon Tree. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil.

The best soil for your Madagascar Dragon Tree should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease.

How to Prune Madagascar Dragon Tree

Pruning Madagascar Dragon Tree involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree is a slow grower and does not require regular pruning.

To encourage bushy growth (branching) for your Madagascar Dragon Tree, cut the stem at the desired height.

A new sprout of stems will emerge below the cut. This will result in the Madagascar Dragon Tree producing several stems instead of having just one stem.

The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new Madagascar Dragon Tree plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Propagation

Madagascar Dragon Tree can be propagated at beginning of the growing season in three ways; by air layering, from stem cuttings or by use of the crown from old leggy canes.

How to Propagate Madagascar Dragon Tree by Air layering

Make a notch on the stem of a healthy Madagascar Dragon Tree plant and coat the notch with a rooting hormone.

Surround the notched area of your Madagascar Dragon Tree with damp moss and then cover it with a polythene film or clear plactic wrap.

Maintain the area moist and allow some time for roots to develop in the notched area of your Madagascar Dragon Tree.

After the roots have formed sever the Madagascar Dragon Tree stem just below the covered part, remove the polythene and carefully pot the rooted cutting after which routine can begin.

New shoots will sprout from the shortened stem of the old Madagascar Dragon Tree plant.

How to propagate Madagascar Dragon Tree from the top crown of leaves

Remove the top crown of leaves from Madagascar Dragon Tree plant bearing about 3 in. of stem.

Apply a rooting hormone on the lower cut end of the stem of your Madagascar Dragon Tree.

Insert the crown of leaves of your Madagascar Dragon Tree in moist, free-draining rooting soil.

Place the set in a warm, shaded place and maintain the rooting soil moist until rooting occurs. Rooting will occur in about 3-6 weeks.

When you observe new growth, the new Madagascar Dragon Tree plant can be transplanted to its own pot after which routine can begin.

How to propagate Madagascar Dragon Tree from stem cuttings

Take 2-3 in. long stem cuttings from a healthy Madagascar Dragon Tree. Ensure each cutting has some leaf nodes as this is where new growth will come from.

Dip the lower cut-end of your Madagascar Dragon Tree cuttings in a rooting hormone.

Fill your rooting container with free-draining rooting soil. Lightly moisten the rooting mix.

With a pencil or similar object, make a hole in the moist rooting mix. The hole should be slightly wider than the diameter of the cutting.

Insert your Madagascar Dragon Tree cutting in the previously made hole in the moist rooting mix.

Cover the container with clear polythene sheet. Place the set up in a warm shaded place.

Maintain the soil moist through out until the new Madagascar Dragon Tree plants are well established after which routine can begin.

Dracaena marginata Care, Madagascar Dragon Tree Care

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Problems Indoors

Madagascar Dragon Tree brown leaf tips and yellow edges

There are four possible reasons for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Madagascar Dragon Tree.

One possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Madagascar Dragon Tree is dry air.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Madagascar Dragon Tree. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Madagascar Dragon Tree is underwatering.

Maintain the soil moist at all times for your Madagascar Dragon Tree and do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Madagascar Dragon Tree is chemical accumulation in the soil.

Use chemical free water and regularly flush out salts from the soil for your Madagascar Dragon Tree.

The fourth possible reason for leaves with brown tips and yellow edges in your Madagascar Dragon Tree is cold draughts.

Protect your Madagascar Dragon Tree from cold draughts or place the plant away from cold draughts.

Madagascar Dragon Tree yellowing lower leaves

Yellowing of the lower leaves is a natural process in your Madagascar Dragon Tree. As the plant matures it sheds the lower leaves.

Each lower leaf of your Madagascar Dragon Tree turns yellow and dries leaving a crown of leaves on top of the cane-like stem.

Madagascar Dragon Tree leaves soft, curled and have brown edges

If the temperature is too low your Madagascar Dragon Tree leaves become soft and curled and the edges turn brown.

Maintain an average room temperature and protect your Madagascar Dragon Tree from cold draughts.

Madagascar Dragon Tree brown leaf spots

Madagascar Dragon Tree will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered.

Maintain the soil moist at all times for your Madagascar Dragon Tree and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Madagascar Dragon Tree leaves have bleached dry patches

Direct sunlight will cause bleached dry patches on the leaves of Madagascar Dragon Tree.

Move your Madagascar Dragon Tree to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunlight.

Madagascar Dragon Tree dying

Madagascar Dragon Tree is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil.

Ensure the pot for your Madagascar Dragon Tree has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid soggy soil.

Reduce watering for your Madagascar Dragon Tree during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist.

Another possible cause of the death of your Madagascar Dragon Tree is keeping it too cold

Maintain an average room temperature for your Madagascar Dragon Tree and protect it from cold draughts.

Your Madagascar Dragon Tree could also be dying from accumulation of salts in the soil.

Regularly flush out accumulated salts in the soil for your Madagascar Dragon Tree 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.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Pests

The common pests in Madagascar Dragon Tree are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat it appropriately for these pests.

Is Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) toxic?

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) is toxic to both humans and pets.

The leaves of Madagascar Dragon Tree contain alkyds which are extremely toxic. If ingested they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite and depression.

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