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If you are looking for an easy-grow, low-maintenance evergreen house plant, dracaena reflexa should be one of your first choices! Dracaena reflexa or song of India, named after its area of origin – islands in the Indian Ocean, is a great house plant for beginners. It is an evergreen plant with yellowish variegation on the foliage. The leaves are glossy and long.
Here’s a short summary: Song of India likes filtered light, so keep it away from direct sunlight. It is drought-tolerant, so you shouldn’t overwater it in any case. On the other hand, it likes humidity, so an occasional misting is required. It likes well-drained soil, so make sure you provide good drainage. Average room temperatures from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius are great for dracaena reflexa. It doesn’t require any additional feeding, but if you insist, you can use a diluted liquid fertilizer once in a month and a half to two months, and only during the growing season. It is a slow grower, so you won’t need to re-pot it more often than once every two years. Song of India is a great air purifier, so it is a great office and bedroom plant!
Still not sure you could handle an exotic plant species like this one? There is no need to bang your head against a wall no more because in the following article you’ll find all the details you need to make you dracaena reflexa thrive!
Where Does This Exotic Plant Originate from?
Dracaena Reflexa lives in different islands throughout the Indian Ocean-thus the common name ‘Song of India’. It is found in Madagascar, Mauritius, and Mozambique.
The plant is very popular in one of the USA states as well – Hawaii. First introduced in 1786 by Jean-Baptist Lamarck, it has grown to be pretty popular over the years.
The origin of the name ‘dracaena’ is very interesting as well – it is developed from a Greek word for a female dragon, ‘drakaina’.
One might wonder why would a green plant be named after a dragon, just like Madagascar Dragon Tree AKA Dracaena Marginata. Well, there are varieties of dracaena whose leaves tend to spill red resin-like matter when cut.
Song of India belongs to the family of asparagus – Asparagaceae, alongside over 40 different varieties. It is interesting to mention that Dracaena plants have a secondary thickening tissue that allows them to grow succulent-like roots.
Song of India Appearance
Dracaena Reflexa has a unique appearance – the glossy leaves are thin, colored deep green with yellowish stripes. The stripes are thick at the leaves’ edges and the ones in the center are narrow and more subtle.
As for the leaves, they grow spirally around the stem, creating a crown-like shape. Also, foliage is pointy, pretty long, 30-90 cm, but narrow, 2-7 cm in width.
Song of India is an evergreen plant, so it will preserve the jungle vibe during the cold months, as well.
Keep in mind that this plant is a slow grower, so if you would like a bigger specimen, consider buying it when it is already large.
On the other hand, don’t let that “slower tempo” deceive you- this plant can grow up to a meter or two over the years!
If you are lucky enough to live in a tropical area, you can easily plant song of India outside in a partly shaded place. Planted this way, it can grow up to amazing five meters in height!
When kept indoors, it is a great desk plant, and it’s also an excellent choice for offices without windows.
Before we get down to care essentials, meet other members of Dracaena family:
Is Song of India a Flowering Plant?
Yes, it is, but much like with other dracaena species, for example Dracaena Fragrans, it has shy and unnoticeable flowers. They are small and whiteish, and tend to appear during the winter.
This may come as a surprise, but Song of India also bears fruit in the wild. They are pretty unusual and grow in reddish clusters.
Still, don’t expect any unless you are living in a tropical area (even then, the chances are pretty low if the plant is kept indoors).
What Are the Sunlight Requirements?
One of the most important things to memorize is that this plant doesn’t like being exposed to direct sunlight. Instead, place the pot somewhere bright, but under filtered light.
Too much exposure to direct sunlight will cause leaf burn. On the other hand, low light conditions will cause the fading of the yellow stripes on the leaves.
It is best to place the pot near a north, east, or west window.
Watering Requirements of Dracaena Reflexa
Song of India plant doesn’t like waterlogged soil. Therefore, always let the topcoat of the soil to dry out before you water the plant.
The best method to check whether the soil is dry enough is to place a finger in the soil and see how deep the dry layer goes.
In case you notice that, even though you are not watering the plant very often, the soil is still becoming waterlogged, it may be because you haven’t provided good enough drainage. So, good drainage is imperative for proper song of India plant care.
Don’t panic if you spot the low foliage layers become yellow. It is a natural process of making a place for fresh new growth.
Still, if the upper leaves are becoming yellow as well, it is because you have been overwatering your plant. By doing this for too long, you will cause eventual root rot.
If you want me to give you the best instructions for watering song of India, the golden rules would be as follows:
- Keep the soil wet (but not too wet) during spring and autumn.
- Enhance the watering a little during the summer.
- Leave the soil dryer during the winter.
On average, you should water the plant once every 10 to 14 days (but not during the winter, as I have already stated).
Pro-Tip: Although it is a low-maintenance plant, you should pay attention to the quality of water you are using. Namely, most dracaena varieties are very sensitive to fluoride found in tap water. So, you can either collect rainwater or fill plastic or glass bottles and leave them out in the sun without the caps. This way, the harmful particles will evaporate in a couple of days.
Does it Thrive in Humid Environment?
Dracaena song of India likes moderate humidity, even though it doesn’t like often watering. An occasional misting is required, not only for maintaining the needed level of humidity but also for keeping the foliage shiny and healthy.
A store-bought humidifier is always an option, but it’s not the only one. If you want to save some money, you can always place the pot in a container filled with rock pebbles and add some water. The evaporation will do the trick.
What Kind of Soil is the Best for Dracaena Reflexa?
Just like other plants from this family, song of India likes well-drained soil. It is best to make a mixture of regular potting soil and some sand and perlite.
Place some rocks at the bottom of the pot, and then put the soil mix. Those rocks will prevent waterlogging and ensure better drainage.
Related: Best Potting Soil For Indoor Plants
Kept as a houseplant, song of India prefers moderate temperatures – from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius during the day. As for the night, don’t let the temperature go below 10 degrees Celsius.
Of course, like most other house plants, dracaena reflexa doesn’t like hot nor cold drafts.
So, when choosing the perfect spot for your new green fiend, keep in mind that dracaena reflexa is better at tolerating high than lower temperatures.
It’s pretty logical, isn’t it? This is a tropical plant, after all.
How Often Do I Need to Fertilize My Dracaena?
Song of India doesn’t like overfeeding, but you can add some fertilizer during the growing months – late spring and summer. It is best to use liquid fertilizer since it is the mildest. Make sure you dilute it with some water.
Fertilizing once every month and a half to two months will be enough, you shouldn’t fertilize it more often than that. Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t feed it too much, as it may cause foliage tips browning.
Do I Have to Repot My Song of India Annually?
Song of India is a slow grower, so you won’t have to worry about repotting it every year. Instead, wait for it to outgrow the pot. When repotting, always use a container bigger only by size.
How will you know it is time to re-pot?
The roots will fill the whole pot and start getting out through drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Gently shake the plant to separate the roots from the pot walls and then simply place the plant in another, bigger container.
Pro-Tip: The average repotting tempo of Dracaena Reflexa is every two years. That’s the rule for the majority of Song of India plants which grow in the optimal conditions for indoor plants. The best time of year to do this is spring.
How Complicated is Pruning?
Since song of India is rich in leaves, you can prune it to get the shape you like. The most common look is a tree-like form.
If kept outdoors, it is usually left to grow freely and it develops a bush-like shape.
Song of India likes pruning and will pay you back by additional growth. The more you prune it, the more often young sprouts will appear.
Also, pruning is done not only for beautification but for the plant’s well-being as well. Once you notice the lower leaves become yellow, you can gently remove them and let the plant ‘breathe’ better.
Dracaena Reflexa Propagating
Song of India is very easy to propagate – another reason why it is recommended for newbies. The best way to propagate it is by stem cuttings.
To prevent rotting or any other diseases, always use a sharp sterilized tool (a knife or scissors if you don’t feel confident enough with the knife). The cutting should be 7 to 12 cm long.
Once you cut, remove the lower foliage layers and simply place the cutting in a glass or jar of water. Leave the jar in a semi-shaded area and wait for the roots to appear.
It will take a few weeks for them to grow. After that, simply plant the stem cutting in moist soil.
Still, make sure you don’t use a too-large container since it will cause the roots to develop and the upper parts of the plant to stagnate.
Just so you know- this is not the only way to propagate dracaena reflexa.
You can also take the stem cutting and dip it into a rooting powder to enhance the growth. Place the cutting in the new soil immediately. Accommodate the pot in a shaded area and let it develop roots.
Once the roots have established, place the pot in a brighter place (but, remember – always keep it away from direct sunlight).
What Are the Health Benefits of Song of India Plant?
In Madagascar, it is believed that tea made of song of India mixed with other herbs has many health benefits and it is often used in traditional medicine. It is used for treating symptoms of malaria, poisoning, as well as for curing dysentery, diarrhea, and dysmenorrhea.
Besides that, dracaena plants are known worldwide as one of the best air-purifying plants. They are also known to be beneficial in fighting colds.
Common Problems (and How to Solve Them?)
Issues Caused by Improper Watering
As I have already said, the song of India is pretty drought tolerant, especially when fully grown. So, the biggest problem that goes along with dracaena reflexa care is inadequate watering.
If a plant sits in waterlogged soil for a long time, its roots will start rotting. In the case of overwatering, make sure you conclude the damage you have done. Sometimes it is enough to simply let the soil dry out nicely.
Unfortunately, if you have been overwatering the plant for too long, you may have to re-pot it to fresh dry soil.
On the other hand, not enough water will cause limp and dry leaves.
In the case of underwatering, the best method is to place the whole pot in a container filled with lukewarm water and let it sit like that for a few hours. This way, you’ll let the roots soak up as much water as they need.
If the plant is too big and you can’t place the pot in water, water it normally, but a couple of times during an hour. If the soil is too dry, the water will just pass through, and you need a part of it to stay in the pot.
What’s with the Leaf Browning?
If you notice leaf tips getting brown, it is most probably because your plant isn’t getting enough humidity. This is why occasional misting does the magic, and keeps it in optimal condition.
Also, to prevent this, place some wet pebbles at the bottom of the pot.
On the other hand, if you notice brown areas on the leaves combined with yellow edges, it is most probably because of the harmful impact of fluoride.
How to Deal with Leaf Yellowing?
In case the bottom foliage layers became yellow and falling off, do not worry! This is a completely normal and healthy process.
The plant is releasing the old leaves so it could create new ones. Song of India is a kind of a self-pruning plant– which is great news for those among you who forget that plants need occasional “hairstyling” as well.
Treating the Nasty Pests
The most common pest that may appear is the fusarium leaf spot. Brownish-red spots appear on the leaves and enlarge through time. Remove all the injured foliage to stop the pest from spreading.
Also, any dracaena plants can experience troubles with spider mites and mealybugs. To get rid of them, mist them with plain water or dissolved pest chemicals.
Still, other common pests that appear with any other house plants, such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale can be found near your song of India, as well. To fight mealybugs and scale, use a regular insecticide that has pyrethrin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dracaena Reflexa Poisonous?
Unfortunately, yes, it is. Song of India is considered to be toxic for cats and dogs, so make sure you keep the pot away, especially if you find your furry friends to be curious about the greenery around the house. Chewing any part of the plant will cause vomiting, intensified saliva, and a lack of appetite for both dogs and cats.
Cats may react in form of enlarged pupils, as well. As for humans, only those with allergies or those who are overly sensitive should pay attention, due to saponins. That’s the compound found in all Dracaena plants.
Should I Put Dracaena Reflexa in My Bedroom?
Dracaena Song of India is a great plant to be kept in your bedroom, especially if you are a smoker. It is a great air purifier and it is known to absorb harmful smoke particles.
As you can see, Dracaena reflexa aka song of India is not a demanding plant to take care of.
If you keep it in bright places away from direct sunlight and don’t water it excessively, your plant will be more than happy. Well-drained soil and moderate room temperatures (from 18 to 24 degrees Celsius) are recommended, and it doesn’t require frequent fertilizing.
A huge plus is that it has air-purifying properties, but do pay attention not to place it within the reach of your tiny four-legged friends. In general, if you want a plant that will tolerate being neglected from time to time, look no more because the song of India is a fantastic option!
How often do you prune your Dracaena Reflexa? Hit the comments section below, I can’t wait to hear from you!