Many tropical plants are temperate and usually well-suited to growing in household conditions and environments. One such woody species is Dracaena draco.
This umbrella-like tree needs full or dappled sun outdoors or a sunny room indoors if you are growing it in a large pot. Avoid overwatering and fertilize monthly during the warm months. Aphids and scale insects can be a nuisance. Propagate from cuttings or air layering.
Do you plan to get Dracaena draco and add a powerful statement to your room or garden? Continue reading to find all pieces of information that you need.
The Dracaena Genus
Dracaena plants belong to the plant family Asparagaceae usually treated as shrubby plants, yet some varieties like Dracaena draco are considered to be trees. Their distinctive features are long and lance-shaped ornamental leaves that are striped or blotched with white, cream, pink, red, or purple.
Not only are they attractive, but dracaena plants are also among the most tolerant of houseplants; they can grow in low light and they aren’t sensitive to drafts or hot air.
It is a genus of more than 50 exotic plants with architectural habits that bring color and interest to any landscape. What’s more, every species has so many variants, so there are many shapes, sizes, and leaf coloration patterns to choose from.
You can spot dracaenas anywhere you look since they are the most common evergreens grown in homes, offices or public places because they require very little special care, save for a good weekly watering. Plus, they help to purify indoor air (NASA).
They are found throughout the tropical regions of the Old World, especially India and Africa. Some of the Dracaena species include:
How Big Do Dracaenas Get?
The size ranges from under 30 cm to 3.6 meters in height. Mature shrubby dracaenas can grow to heights of 2 meters, while trees like Dracaena draco can grow from 3 to 10 meters tall, or even more. Bear that in mind when selecting the site for it.
Dracaena Draco General Information
This tree is a slow-growing and evergreen tree with wide branches, a crown of rosettes of very stiff, lance-shaped leaves that are gray- or blue-green, around 60 cm long and 5 cm wide.
The plant itself is otherwise known as “Dragon Tree” or “Dragon’s Blood Tree”. It originates from the Canary Islands and performs best in zones 10 and 11. It may be 9 m high with a trunk that is 1m in diameter.
If grown in tropical climates, this tree can produce clusters of red-orange seedpods from mid- to late summer, along with sweetly fragrant fine yellow flowers. The berries can be harvested when ripe in spring in well-moistened soil.
The tree trunk is thick and gray, gnarly, chunky and slick to the touch.
Fun fact: The bark of Dracaena draco is said to bleed a blood-red liquid when cut, thought to resemble dragon’s blood.
Where and When to Plant Dracaena Draco
Choose a site that receives dappled sun outdoors or a room indoors that receives ample light. Unless you are living in a tropical area, grow the plant in a container and keep it outdoors and overwinter the plant by moving it inside your home before the freezing months.
It is best to plant or repot the plant in spring or early summer because the plant will need some time to adapt and recover from the shock. And a sunny period is the best time for it.
How to plant Dracaena Draco – Soil Requirements
Humusy potting soil with compost is ideal for Dracaena draco. You can opt for your garden soil, but in most cases, you will have to amend it by adding compost or ground bark. This is the ideal soil for “Dragon Tree” because it is organic, fertile, and well-drained.
Choose a clay pot around 10 inches in size, add some soil and make a hole in the center. Place the plant inside and firm the soil around it. Mulch lightly, but make sure no more than 1 inch of organic matter.
Over time, the plant will become a large and heavy plant, eventually outgrowing the container. To repot, move it to a larger one and add fresh soil annually in late winter as needed. You can use rolling plant saucers or a hand truck to move the plant without damage.
Repotting is necessary in case of overwatering. If that happens, you should dig up flooded plants and repot immediately in fresh soil.
Temperature Requirements for Dracaena Draco Care
The minimum temperature for “Dragon Tree” is 12 degrees C, both during the winter and night. Keep the summer and daytime temperature around 21-25 degrees C.
Avoid positioning the plant close to the heaters or air conditioners if you are growing the plant indoors and increase humidity if it is too hot.
Does Dracaena Draco Need a Lot of Sunlight?
If grown indoors, provide bright indirect light, such as near a west- or east-facing window, but outdoors, the plant can absorb even some direct sunlight.
The tree should not be exposed to constant direct sun, however, so when selecting a site, choose the one where it will receive dappled shade most of the day.
Humidity Requirements for Dracaena Draco Care
High humidity is especially important for Dracaena draco and it requires around 50 percent. To increase it, set potted plants on gravel and when you water the saucer you will increase the humidity level.
Or, you can introduce another big-leaved companion to your Dracaena draco because the humidity is higher around big-leaved plants.
Alternatively, incorporate humidifiers into heating systems or use them as standalone appliances.
Watering Dracaena Draco
Water the plant consistently and thoroughly from spring to fall or the leaves will turn brown and die progressively.
In winter, apply water only to prevent the plant from drying out. Always water the soil, not the leaves and if they are dusty, clean them with a damp cloth. Use warm water to water the plant.
Be aware of overwatering which can cause “Dragon Tree” to rot. Always allow pots or plantings to dry out before you apply water again. Also, check the root system occasionally.
The plant can survive irregular watering to a certain extent, so it is best to keep it a bit dry than to overwater it.
Bear in mind that the season, the amount of sunlight the plant receives along with the type of the pot will also determine how often and how much you should be watering your plant.
Fertilizing Dracaena Draco
Dracaenas are sensitive to mineral salts from chemical fertilizers, so avoid them by all means. Instead, opt for organic ones.
Apply fertilizers every two weeks from spring to fall or once a month with a soluble, general-purpose formula as directed on the label in spring and summer, then at half strength in the fall.
If the minerals have already built up to form a white crust on the pot, rinse them with deep watering and clean the crusty material.
What you can do is brew your own compost tea and water the plant with it.
How to Propagate Dracaena Draco?
The best time to propagate Dracaena draco is in spring or early summer.
Take stem cuttings in the following way:
- Take tip cuttings that are 15 cm long from the soft basal shoots with sharp pruners, making sure that they have a growing point (a node)
- Remove the lower leaves from the stem
- Cut the base of the stem on a slant to increase its surface area
- Plunge the cut side of the stem in rooting hormone and dust it
- Insert the cutting into a small container of moist rooting medium mixed with fine ground bark, coarse sand or perlite
- Keep the pot moist, but not wet
- Keep away from direct sunlight
- Top the container with a plastic tent to increase humidity. You can also use a large plastic bottle with the cap removed to allow air exchange
Another popular method with larger houseplants is air layering. Air layering is a method of forming roots on a part of a plant (usually tree trunk) while it is still attached to the mother plant.
- Select a stem
- Make a notch just below a node with a sharp knife about a foot down from the growing tip
- Remove any leaves
- Peel or scrape away a small patch of the surface where you made a notch
- Apply rooting hormone
- Wrap moist sphagnum moss around the patch tightly with a plastic bag
- Seal it shut with a rubber band to retain moisture
- The roots will form within six weeks
- When the root system is established, you can cut the newly rooted cutting from the mother plant
- Pot it as you normally would
Keeping in Shape
If leaves become discolored, trim off the discolored leaf parts with scissors. The reason for that is probably overwatering.
Moreover, since dracaenas are not self-branching, you will have to prune a bit when they start to become leggy, so root the top in moist soil and the lower stub will send out new branches.
Groom the plant to remove old or brown leaves and keep the leaf clusters clean and free of debris by feather-dusting them frequently. For a healthy shine, put it in a tepid shower.
Pests and Other Issues
Some of the issues you may experience with “Dragon Tree” are tall plants without branching. Apart from that, lower leaves can turn brown. The most plausible reason for this is that the air is too dry or you may be underwatering. Alter your habits accordingly and increase humidity, too.
Overwatering and inadequate light are yet another concern – too much or too little light in terms of its intensity and duration, or even both. It is hard to tell with Dracaena draco because it has no flowers and it is a slow-growing plant, so you need to look for other signs.
Be on Guard Against Aphids and Scale Insects
Scale insects appear on the surface of stems and leaves, leaving reddish or brownish spots. Scrape them with your fingernail or spray some insecticidal soap or a solution of 1 tablespoon of dish soap to one gallon of water.
Aphids are insects that feed on the plant’s liquids and come in various colors. The leaves might become yellow and covered with honeydew which attracts other insects. Get rid of aphids by using horticultural sprays or oils, rubbing alcohol or using dish soap mixed with water.
To prevent any problem, inspect your plant regularly, wipe the leaves, check the roots, identify the pests when they appear and treat them immediately.
African violets, begonias, crotons, ficus, mosses and ivies make ideal companion plants for dracaenas. You can also grow them with bamboo palms and laufel figs. They look best if combined with plants that also have strong leaf shapes of snake and jade plants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dracaena Draco Care In a Nutshell
- Refrain from overwatering
- Use distilled, filtered, or rainwater as the plant is sensitive to the chemicals in tap water
- Use organic fertilizers since the plant is sensitive to the chemicals found in chemical ones
- Feed once or twice a month in spring
- Water when the compost has become slightly dry
- Reduce watering in winter and stop fertilizing
- Repot every 2 years
Dracaena draco is a surprisingly bold and the most dramatic tree of its family, it will attract attention wherever you plant it. Your guests will erupt into effusive compliments when they lay eyes on the plant.
It stands as an upright palace guard that is overlooking everything it surrounds. But it is by no means demanding as it looks. Rather, it is a low-maintenance plant and one that not everybody endeavors to grow.