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Dragon Plant Care

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Dragon Plant Care

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Overview

Dragon plants are from the genus Dracaena and often grown as houseplants. The species that is most often referred to as the dragon plant is the Dracaena marginata, or Madagascar dragon plant, desirable for its ability to grow in almost any conditions and for its attractive, long, graceful leaves that feature burgundy or pink edges. Some also have cream-colored variegation on the leaves. This hardy plant requires only basic culture.

Climate

Dracaenas in general cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. Dracaena marginata is native to Madagascar and thrives in warm, mild temperatures. This plant should only be grown outdoors in the ground in United States Department of Agriculture growing zones 10B and 11, according to the University of Florida. In cooler climates, it can be grown in a container and brought inside when cold weather arrives, or grown indoors year-round.

Light

Dracaenas grown to be sold as houseplants are not usually exposed to bright, direct sunlight. In fact, these plants prefer shady conditions, although they do need some indirect light, such as that provided by a south-facing window. Plants started and grown outdoors can be placed in the sun, but morning sun followed by afternoon shade is best; the direct rays of the sun can scorch the leaves.

Soil and Water

Dragon plants thrive in a wide variety of soil conditions, but they perform best in rich, organic soil, according to the University of Florida. The soil should be kept slightly moist at all times, but never waterlogged or soggy, because these plants can suffer from root rot, a fungal disease that occurs when the soil is overly wet. To avoid this, empty the water-catch tray immediately after watering in container plants, and make sure outdoor plants are not located in areas where standing water collects.

Maintenance

Keep your dragon plant in a location where it will not be exposed to temperature changes or cold or hot drafts, such as near a heating or air-conditioning vent. Such drafts can cause the leaves to drop. Dragon plants appreciate humid conditions, so grouping several of them together or placing one plant on a humidity tray (a tray filled with pebbles barely covered with water) can increase humidity in the air and benefit the plant. Pruning a stem will cause two (or even more) branches to form, according to the University of Florida, so this is an excellent way to shape or train your plant.

Problems

Dragon plants do not suffer from serious diseases, according to the University of Florida, but they can have problems with a common indoor insect pest: spider mites. Watch for signs of spider mites (tiny, reddish or white insects that usually gather under the leaves) and rinse them off with a strong spray of water or wash the leaves with an insecticidal soap.

Keywords: care dragon plants, growing dragon plants, Dracaena marginata care

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.