How to grow and care for Song of India Indoors

Houseplant, Song of India, Dracaena reflexa

Botanical name: Dracaena reflexa
Synonym: Pleomele reflexa Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae

Song of India also called Pleomele or Song of Jamaica is a spectacular houseplant with yellow-banded, short, narrow, pointed, green leaves which are arranged spiraly and are tufted at the end of the branches. It is a weak-stemmed plant which requires moist air. The stems are about 3 ft high. This spectacular plant is ideal as a specimen plant or as a table-top plant. It is easy to grow and can survive in low light but the variegation develops best when under bright light. The plant is native to Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and other nearby islands of the Indian Ocean.

How to Grow Song of India

Light

Song of India prefers bright filtered light; close to an east- or west-facing window. In low light the plant will lose its variegation. Protect the plant from direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Keep soil moist at all times for Song of India but reduce watering in the cold months and maintain the soil fairly moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Use water that is at room temperature and 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 Song of India. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Song of India require high humidity. Brown leaf tips is an indication of low humidity. Raise humidity by more frequent misting or set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust.

Feeding

Feed Song of India every 2-3 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 Song of India at the beginning of the growing season when the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes; the plant prefers to be slightly root-bound. Use a pot 1 size larger 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 Song of India

Pruning Song of India involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy and compact growth, cutback the stems and new stems will sprout below the cut. The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Song of India

Propagation of Song of India can be done by stem-tip cuttings. Insert the cuttings in moist free-draining soil and place in cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing Song of India

  • Leaves with brown tips and yellow edges
  • There are four reasons for these in Song of India. 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 Song of India, 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 stems.

  • Soft and curled leaves with brown edges
  • If the temperature is too low Song of India 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
  • Song of India will form brown leaf spots if it is underwatered. Maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil ball to dry out.

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

  • Plant death
  • Song of India is prone to root-rot which is promoted by waterlogging. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering in the cold season. Keeping Song of India too cold will also kill it; maintain average room temperature and protect it from cold draughts. Another reason for the death of Song of India is accumulation of salts in the soil; regularly flush out salts from the soil.

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

Toxicity

Song of India (Dracaena reflexa) is toxic to both humans and pets. The leaves contain a substance which is toxic. If ingested they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite and depression.

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