Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Indoor Care, Propagation and Problems with Solutions


Dracaena marginata commonly called Madagascar Dragon Tree is a colorful plant that easily adapts to a wide range of indoor growing conditions and is also a good indoor air cleaner.

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

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

Dracaena marginata, Madagascar Dragon Tree

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

Origin

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

Air Cleaning

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dracaena marginata was found to be a good indoor air cleaner and gets rid of common VOCs like xylene, toulene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloethylene.

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.

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

Toxicity

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) is toxic to both humans and pets as stated by ASPCA.

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

Where to Buy

Dracaena marginata is a magnificent plant to add to any plant collection. Check them out on Etsy.

Dracaena marginata Care Indoors

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) requires bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, average warmth and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Dracaena marginata has no need for high humidity but does well in average room humidity. Repotting is only necessary when the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.

Pruning is necessary to keep the plant neat, to minimize pests and diseases, to encourage a bushy growth and to rejuvenate growth. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Dracaena marginata, Madagascar Dragon Tree

Watering

Water Madagascar Dragon Tree thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.

Water less in the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry completely.

Avoid soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot; ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

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

Make sure that the water is free of chlorine, flourides and other chemicals to prevent brown leaf tips.

Light Requirements

Madagascar Dragon Tree grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight.

Dracaena marginata can also grow under lower light but it grows slower and produces smaller leaves with the less intense color.

Where the natural lighting is not adequate, instal grow lights to supplement it. Take a look at these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Regularly rotate the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

Temperature and Humidity

The best temperature for Madagascar Dragon Tree is an average warmth between 15-280C. Keep it away from cold draughts as the sudden changes it temperatures can cause leaf drop and brown leaf tips.

Dracaena marginata has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for the plant. However, if the air is too dry especially where temperature is too high, increase humidity.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or instal a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest and disease infestations.

Fertilizer

Feed Madagascar Dragon Tree every 4 weeks during the growing period with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer to encourage a lush growth.

Stop feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.

Regularly flush out accumulated salts from 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.

Potting Mix

The best soil for Madagascar Dragon Tree should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Buy quality Potting Mix from Amazon.

Repotting

Repot Madagascar Dragon Tree every 1-2 years at the beginning of the growing season when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes as it grows best when slightly root-bound.

Use a pot at least 2 in. wider than the tree-trunk and ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil. Check out these Pots with Multi Mesh Drainage Holes on Amazon.

Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and death of the plant.

Pruning

Pruning Madagascar Dragon Tree involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and discourage pests and diseases. The plant is a slow grower and does not require regular pruning.

To encourage a bushy, compact growth (branching), cut the stem at the desired height and a new sprout of stems will emerge below the cut.

This will result in the plant producing several stems instead of having just one stem.

The crown of leaves emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate a new plant.

Propagation

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) 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 and coat the notch with a rooting hormone.

Surround the notched area with damp moss and then cover it with a polythene film or clear plactic wrap.

Keep the area moist and allow some time for roots to develop in the notched area.

After the roots have formed sever the stem just below the covered part, remove the polythene and new shoots will sprout from the shortened stem of the old plant.

Carefully pot the rooted cutting and place in bright, indirect light and maintain the soil moist until well established after which you can begin routine.

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

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

Apply a rooting hormone on the lower cut end of the stem cutting to hasten rooting.

Insert the crown of leaves in moist, free-draining rooting soil and place the set in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight.

Maintain the rooting soil moist until rooting occurs. Rooting will occur in about 3-6 weeks.

When you observe new growth, the new Dracaena marginata 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 Dracaena marginata cuttings in a rooting hormone to promote rooting.

Fill the 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 the cutting in the previously made hole in the moist rooting mix and slightly firm the soil around the base of the cutting.

Cover the container with clear polythene sheet to increase warmth and humidity.

Posistion the set up in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching.

Maintain the soil moist through out until the new Dracaena marginata are well established after which routine can begin.

Dracaena marginata, Madagascar Dragon Tree

Dracaena marginata Common Problems

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) problems include brown leaf tips, yellow leaves, plant death, leaf spots and patches, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Pests

Common pests in Madagascar Dragon Tree are Spider Mites, Mealy Bugs and Scale Insects. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it with appropriate products like neem oil or insecticidal soap among others.

Yellowing leaves

Yellowing of the lower leaves is a natural process in Madagascar Dragon 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.

The Dracaena Plant may develop yellowing leaves if the growing conditions like lighting, watering, feeding, temperature and humidity are not met. Here are 14 Reasons why a Dracaena Leaves are Yellowing

Brown leaf tips and yellow edges

There are four possible causes of brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Madagascar Dragon Tree. One possible cause is dry air (low humidity).

To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

The second possible cause of brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Dracaena marginata is underwatering.

Maintain the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing period and slightly moist in the cold season but do not let the soil dry out completely.

The third possible cause of brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Madagascar Dragon Tree is chemical accumulation in the soil.

Use chemical free water only to water and regularly flush out salts from the soil.

The fourth possible cause of brown leaf tips and yellow edges in Dracaena marginata is cold drafts.

Shield the plant from cold draughts or keep it away from cold draughts to maintain average room warmth.

Plant death

The most common reason why Madagascar Dragon Tree is dying is root-rot. The plant is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil due to poor drainage.

Always ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid soggy soil.

In addition, decrease watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time.

The second possible cause of the death in Dracaena marginata is keeping it too cold as it requires average warmth to thrive.

Maintain an average room temperature and keep the plant away from cold drafts arising from drafty windows and doors, air conditioning units and others.

The third possible cause of death in Madagascar Dragon Tree is accumulation of salts in the soil.

Once in a while, 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.

Soft, curled and have brown edges

If the temperature is too low, the leaves in Madagascar Dragon Tree become soft and curled and the edges turn brown. Maintain an average room temperature and keep the plant away from cold draughts.

Brown leaf spots

Madagascar Dragon Tree will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered. Maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold season but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Bleached dry leaf patches

Bleached dry leaf patches in Madagascar Dragon Tree are to exposure to hot direct sunlight. Place the plant in a shadier spot or shield it from direct sunlight.

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