Dracaena marginata is an attractive, stiff-leaved plant with colorful foliage that sometimes goes by the name dragon tree. Most of the time, though, it’s sold simply as “Dracaena marginata” or just “Dracaena.” These are tough, drought-tolerant plants with aggressive root systems that make excellent houseplants—they are a little more forgiving than some of the other dracaena. It helps that they’re attractive and varied. They are sometimes grown as single-stemmed plants; other times grouped or even braided together in the same pot.
Light: Relatively bright light.
Water: Allow the plants to dry between waterings, but not completely. These are more susceptible to root rot, so be very careful never to allow them to sit in water.
Temperature: They thrive between 65ºF and 80ºF. They will suffer if it gets too cold and cannot tolerate freezing.
Soil: Loose, well-drained potting mix.
Fertilizer: They have a lower need for fertilizer, so fertilizer lightly at the beginning of spring or twice a year with controlled-release fertilizer.
D. marginata roots easily from root tip cuttings—so easily that it’s often used in dish gardens and readily propagated by nurseries and retailers. It takes about three weeks for a cutting to sprout roots, and rooting hormone isn’t generally necessary.
Repot as necessary into larger pots, but since they grow so slowly, they might not need to be repotted more than every second or even every third year. Refresh potting soil annually with fresh soil to replace any that has compacted.
Although there are several varieties, the most commonly found include:
- D. marginata ‘Tricolor,’ which has dark red margins, green leaves, and an ivory stripe down the leaf center
- D. marginata ‘Bicolor,’ with red and green stripes
- D. marginata, the basic form with dark green leaves and thin red leaf margins
D. marginata is not a difficult plant to care for indoors. Keep it on the dry and warm side, and give it plenty of light, and the plant should respond. Like other plants in its genus, D. marginata is sensitive to fluoride, which can cause discoloration. Water with distilled or nonfluoridated water. Although they are usually disease resistant, D. marginata are susceptible to scale, mealybugs and thrips.