How to care for a dragon tree

Written by sarah terry
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How to care for a dragon tree
(Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Also known as the dracaena or corn plant, the dragon tree is a popular indoor plant for its striking, tropical foliage, attractive stems and easy care. The species Dracaena marginata is often dubbed the dragon tree, growing up to 10 feet tall with arching, straplike leaves that have purple edges. Dragon trees are common houseplants because they prefer the lowlight and warm conditions of the indoors. Dragon trees are easy to care for and can withstand lots of abuse.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Liquid foliage-plant fertiliser
  • Water spray bottle
  • Pruning shears

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Position your dragon tree in bright indirect sunlight. Dragon trees can tolerate low light, but they must have some indirect light in order to produce healthy and attractive foliage.

  2. 2

    Maintain air temperatures around your dragon tree of 15.6 to 21.1 degrees Celsius during the day and about 10 degrees cooler at night. Position the dracaena away from heating and cooling vents or drafts to prevent temperature fluctuations.

  3. 3

    Water your dragon tree only when the topmost layer of potting mix feels dry to the touch. Provide room-temperature water until it begins to drain from the bottom of the pot. If possible, avoid watering your dragon tree with tap water from a municipal water supply, because it often contains fluoride, which can cause the leaf tips to yellow and die.

  4. 4

    Feed your dragon tree with a liquid fertiliser made for foliage houseplants that doesn't contain superphosphate, which has fluorine. Apply the fertiliser once each month from spring through summer. Follow the application instructions on the fertiliser label.

  5. 5

    Mist your dragon tree once every few days if the indoor air humidity is less than 30 to 40 per cent. Most homes and offices are below this humidity level during winter, so you may need to mist the dracaena's foliage with room-temperature or lukewarm water using a spray bottle.

Tips and warnings

  • Pot your dragon tree in very well-draining potting mix. Doing so will help prevent root rot.
  • If some of your dragon tree's stems grow long and stop producing leaves, cut the stems back to the height you desire to stimulate new leaf growth. You can also use these stem cuttings to propagate the dracaena.
  • Beware of spider mites and scale insects infesting your dragon tree. If your dragon tree develops dry leaf tips and margins, it's likely suffering from air humidity levels that are too low. Too much sunlight can cause round dry patches on the leaves or leaf streaking, while leaf tips and edges that yellow and burn are signs of over-fertilising.

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