The dragon tree (Dracaena), native to Africa, grows both indoors and outdoors in tropical or subtropical regions. Currently, around 40 varieties of the dragon tree exist. The plant received its name due to the red sap it secretes when the stems of the plant sustain injury. The red resin substance is believed to resemble a female dragon's blood. The dragon tree is easy to care for and thrives within a house's low light environment.
The dragon tree grows as a single stem with no branches and the foliage appears as bright green or variegated leaves. Each leaf measures up to 2 feet in length and approximately 3 inches in width. The plant's appearance benefits when two or three individual dragon trees are planted within one container. The plant enjoys an average temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Fertilizing
The dragon tree has low watering requirements. Thoroughly water the plant, then allow the soil to dry out completely before watering it again. Overwatering and keeping the soil damp for extended time periods can result in the leaves of the dragon tree turning brown and the trunk rotting. When the plant does not receive ample water, its leaves will turn yellow and droop. If it is subjected to a lack of water for an extended period of time, its trunk will begin to wrinkle and shrivel. The plant prefers a light fertilizing in the spring with a weak water-soluble fertilizer.
The plant has versatile light needs that can fit into any home environment. It can withstand extremely low light situations, but its growth will be dramatically reduced. The dragon tree will also grow well in filtered sunlight from even a south-facing window. If the plant is placed in a low-light area, its need for water is lessened even more.
Pruning and Trimming
Removing the new growth as it appears from the middle of the plant will keep the plant's height controlled. If the foliage turns brown, it can be trimmed away and discarded. Remove any dead leaves that appear around the plant promptly. If only the ends of the leaves turn brown due to low humidity in the winter months, carefully cut the brown area away but leave the green foliage intact.
The dragon tree thrives outside in tropical and subtropical locations. It can attain a height of 15 feet depending on the variety planted outdoors. The plant prefers full sunlight or partial shade when planted outside. Plant in well-draining soil that offers ample organic material.
The abundant foliage of the dragon tree attracts dust. Remove dust weekly to help the plant maintain its overall health. Its foliage benefits from a simple wiping with a soft, moist cloth on the top and bottom of the leaves.