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Dracaena

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  • Indoor Plants
Dracaena marginata
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Most dracaenas, including Dracaena deremensis, are from the tropical forests of Africa; however, some species are also native to Asia and Central America. These woody plants grow in the shade of trees in hot and humid climates. Dracaena deremensis can reach a height of over five meters in the wild. Its long shiny leaves grow at the ends of erect stems, which lose their lower leaves over the years. The cultivar ‘Warneckii’ rarely exceeds two meters high indoors. Its green leaves are separated by two pure white lines.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Dracaena deremensis ‘Bausei’ is a variegated cultivar, 1.20 meters in height. Its leaves are dark green, marked with a center white stripe. Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ differs from the rest of the species through its dark green leaves with slightly wavy edges. Dracaena deremensis ‘Lemon Lime’ has central green leaves bordered by a thin white line and a yellowish stripe on each side. Dracaena cincta, often cultivated under the name Dracaena marginata, has stems topped with tufts of narrow, linear leaves, erect or drooping, colored dark green with reddish-brown stripes. The bare trunk shows leaf scars. Dracaena cincta ‘Tricolor’ is a lovely cultivar with foliage striped pink, cream and green. It requires a little more light than the species to maintain its color. Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’ has longer and wider leaves than those of Dracaena deremensis. Dracaena sanderiana is a small plant whose leaves are streaked with white, yellow and silver. It requires bright light.

Toxicity

As a precaution, place this plant out of the reach of children and pets.

Common name

Dracaena / Dracena

Latin name (genus)

Dracaena deremensis

French common name

Botanical family

  • Agavaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Dracaena requires bright light without direct sun. It tolerates low light, but it will be less compact and provide duller colors. Place it near a window facing west or at a distance from a south-facing window. It needs warmth, around 18 to 24°C, otherwise the leaves droop and fall. The temperature should never fall below 16°C. This plant enjoys a good level of humidity but it is not demanding and will also tolerate a relatively dry atmosphere.

Easy to grow?

Growing Dracaena is easy as long as it receives enough light. It readily adapts to a variety of conditions. It does not flower as a houseplant.

Watering and fertilizer

During the growth period (March to October), water to moisten the whole root ball and then let the soil surface dry out slightly between waterings. Never leave water in the saucer. Watering should be reduced if the plant receives reduced light. Water less frequently in winter. Fertilize three or four times during the period of active growth, with a balanced fertilizer for houseplants or an all-purpose fertilizer such as 20-20-20.

Pruning and maintenance

Clean dusty foliage in the shower with warm water or with a damp cloth. Dracaena may need to be staked. When it becomes too big, prune it back severely in the spring to encourage branching, or make new cuttings.

Repotting

Transplant Dracaena in the spring when the roots outgrow the pot, using a potting mixture that is light and porous and that drains well. In general, tropical plant potting soils are suitable if they drain well.

Propagation

By offshoots or suckers, air layering, stem cuttings and woody cuttings.

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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