The Dracaena plant is also known as Dracaena reflexa. It belongs to the family of Asparagaceae and has originated from Madagascar and other Indian Ocean Islands. They are famous amongst many household plant collections because of their easy maintenance.
These plants have around 40 cultivated varieties, with different shapes, colors, and sizes, making them a perfect addition to any household. The most popular ones are Dracaena Reflexa, Dracaena Marginata, and Dracaena Massangeana.
During the growing season, outdoor plants can reach up to 20 feet tall, developing tiny, fragrant flowers, sometimes even followed by yellow-orange berries. Whereas when planted indoors, they can mature up to 6-10 feet tall.
Dracaena are easy to grow and suitable for both indoor and outdoor settings. Moreover, NASA has also listed them as an excellent plant for removing harmful chemicals from the air. These are a few tips that can help you to achieve a glossy and bushy plant/tree.
Soil and Fertilizer
Dracaena plants are not very specific about the soil. However, they require moist soil but should not be soggy. The ideal soil mix is a well-drained potting mix; loamy soil with peat moss is ideal. Adding compost or organic matter to the soil provides nutrients for the plant and enhances it for future use.
They generally have a low need for fertilizers; however, feeding them every two weeks in the growing season can be beneficial. Balanced household fertilizer or diluted liquid fertilizer can be used for the best results. During the fall season, reduce the frequency of fertilization and completely stop during winters.
Bright, indirect light is the ideal amount of light required for Dracaena. They can be placed on a window sill with sheet curtains or in a semi-shade spot in the house. Ensure the plant is not positioned in direct sunlight since it can burn the leaves.
Temperature and Humidity
Dracaena plants can thrive in temperatures above 65 ℉. Therefore, temperature changes can harm the leaves, keep your plants away from cold drafts and heating/cooling appliances. Due to its natural forest habitat, it prefers higher humidity. To improve the humidity levels, use a commercial humidifier or place the plant on a pebble tray.
In comparison to most indoor plants, Dracaena does not demand a lot of water. However, the soil must stay moist at all times. If you over water your plants, the leaves turn yellow and start to droop. When the leaves are dark brown with yellow edges and dead areas, it may indicate fluoride toxicity. Hence, it is preferred to use distilled water or rainwater because these plants don’t like salts or minerals.
Pests and Diseases
Dracaena plants are generally free from any pests or diseases. Even so, sometimes they might be infected with mealybugs, scales, aphids, and thrips. Mealybugs are fuzzy cotton deposits on the leaves; they can be treated with cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol. On the other hand, scales and aphids can be blasted with soapy water or insecticidal soap/spray.
Avoid feeding your plant with fertilizers high in nitrogen; they might attract thrips. These are small insects that damage the leaves; therefore, the infected leaves should be cut off immediately. These pests tend to suck the sap from the leaves, weakening the plant, and even kill them. Therefore, it is advised to check the base of your plant every few days.
Soft rot and Fusarium leaf spots can often attack the plant. To avoid this, also water the base and avoid wetting the leaves. Soft rot can be identified when the plant smells and looks like rotting. The plant should be discarded since soft rot cannot be cured. However, leaf spot can be treated with a fungicide.
Dracaenas come in a variety of colors which can suit any house, garden, or office. The most popular Dracaenas are; Corn Plants with solid green variegated leaves, Dracaena relfexa Variegata (Song of India) with green centers and yellow margins, and Dragon tree with dark green strappy leaves with a narrow band of dark red margin. They are a perfect choice for beginners to start gardening since it is an undemanding and trouble-free plant which can add a distinctive look to your plant collection.