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Dracaena Marginata: Care Tips for Indoor Dragon Trees

Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.

Dracaena marginata is a lovely plant that can grow quite tall, making it a fun addition to your indoor garden.

Dracaena marginata is a lovely plant that can grow quite tall, making it a fun addition to your indoor garden.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Care

The Madagascar dragon tree, also known as Dracaena marginata or red-edge dracaena, is the perfect houseplant for beginners. It's low maintenance and will tolerate low light levels and irregular water, lasting for years.

Provide Ample Light for Optimum Growth

This dracaena prefers a bright or lightly shaded spot out of direct light, but will also tolerate quite low light levels. But you should know that if it's kept at low light, it won't grow as quickly or use water as efficiently, so you'll need to take extra care not to overwater it.

Pro Tip: Rotate your plant every week or so to avoid it growing in one direction towards the light.

You can check your dracaena's soil moisture by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it's still moist, wait to water.

You can check your dracaena's soil moisture by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it's still moist, wait to water.

Water Only When the Top Inch of Soil Is Dry

Your plant should be watered whenever the top inch of soil has dried out completely. In a home environment, this will probably equate to once a week in summer, but as little as once or twice a month in winter.

The plant is tolerant of erratic watering, so if in doubt, don't water. If, however, your soil becomes very compacted, consider soaking the plant thoroughly on its next watering to loosen the soil and flush out any salt buildup.

Snipping isn't the only way to get rid of browned leaf tips, but it's probably the easiest!

Snipping isn't the only way to get rid of browned leaf tips, but it's probably the easiest!

Fertilize in Spring and Summer

Fertilize in spring and summer with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks or so. But don't worry if you forget; these plants seem to do well without it. This plant grows in spring and summer, and in winter slows down, becoming a little droopy. This is quite normal.

Keep Temperatures Above 60˚F

The Madagascar dragon tree thrives in normal household temperatures of 70–80˚F (that's 21–26˚C), but don't place it anywhere where temperatures go lower than 60˚F or it is subject to cold, desiccating drafts.

Occasionally wiping the dust from your dracaena's leaves can help keep it healthy.

Occasionally wiping the dust from your dracaena's leaves can help keep it healthy.

Clean Healthy Leaves and Remove Dried Ones

In terms of maintenance, wipe the leaves occasionally to keep them dust-free and to aid photosynthesis, and remove any dried lower leaves.

Underpot Rather Than Overpot

Your dracaena can do well for years in the same pot and prefers to be underpotted rather than overpotted. Choose the next size pot and a well-drained mix.

Pro Tip: If the root ball is congested, loosen the roots when repotting.

Enjoy your Madagascar dragon tree, and happy growing!

The Madagascar dragon tree has dark-green leaves edged in a deep reddish-brown.

The Madagascar dragon tree has dark-green leaves edged in a deep reddish-brown.

What Does the Madagascar Dragon Tree Look Like?

This evergreen shrub can grow tall and while it looks good on its own, it's also great for providing height among a group of houseplants. It has long, sword-shaped, dark green leaves, which are finely edged with a reddish brown.

When your dracaena's leaves dry up and fall off, its trunk will be left with these pretty markings.

When your dracaena's leaves dry up and fall off, its trunk will be left with these pretty markings.

The lower leaves gradually fall away to reveal a thin trunk with characteristic scarring. This is quite normal, so long as the plant is pushing out new growth from its tips.

More Care Tips for Indoor Plants

© 2021 Rachel Darlington