Dracaena is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs which often resemble palms. They are famed for their striking foliage, usually long, lance-shaped, and striped or blotched with white, yellow, cream, or red.
Brief care guide: Dracaenas require bright indirect sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Potted varieties should be watered. Keep them in low temperatures. Renew leggy plants by cutting back close to soil level in spring. Propagate from stem cuttings, seed, or via air-layering. Watch out for mealybugs.
Dracaena plants are widely cultivated as houseplants due to their air-purifying properties and tolerance for typical household conditions. Read on to learn about 20+ dracaena species and their cultivars.
- Dracaena Genus
- Meet Enchanting Dracaena Types
- Dracaena marginata
- Dracaena fragrans
- Dracaena trifasciata
- Dracaena sanderiana
- Dracaena draco
- Dracaena deremensis
- Dracaena „Janet Craig“
- Dracaena surculosa
- Dracaena cinnabari
- Dracaena godseffiana
- Dracaena Tarzan
- Dracaena americana
- Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Lime“
- Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Surprise“
- Dracaena deremensis „White Jewel“
- Dracaena „Hawaiian Sunshine“
- Dracaena goldieana
- Dracaena hyacinthoides
- Dracaena reflexa “Song of India“
- Dracaena Reflexa ‘Song of Jamaica’
- Dracaena cincta Tricolor
- Dracaena hookeriana
- Dracaena Lisa Cane
- How to Grow And Care for Dracaena Plants?
- Display Ideas
- Frequently Asked Questions
Dracaena genus is classified under the family Asparagaceae or the asparagus family and it comprises more than 40 species of evergreen trees and shrubs. They mainly originate from Africa, India, and Asia.
The dracaenas are members of the lily family grown for their ornamental foliage. The name comes from the Greek drakaina, which means “female dragon“.
Prized for their elegant and exotic leaves, they are often grown as houseplants. Interestingly, they are often confused with Cordyline species because of their cane-like stems and sword-like leaves.
Do dracaena plants flower?
Occasionally, a plant may bear fragrant flowers, followed by berries that can be harvested when ripe. However, they are more likely to flower if grown in tropical or subtropical areas, less so if you are cultivating them in the home environment.
Bring dracaenas indoors and breathe more easily
Some plants of this genus can be cultivated indoors for cleaner air since they thrive in conditions best suited for humans – moderate light, temperatures, and humidity. That’s because they originate from shady places in the tropics, so they are adapted to indoor gardening.
Some of the species that help to purify the air are Dracaena marginata, D. deremensis “Warneckii“, Janet Craig, D. fragrans “Massangeana“. NASA found that these plants clean the chemical called formaldehyde.
Meet Enchanting Dracaena Types
This species is a slow-growing, evergreen, and upright tree or shrub with narrow, strap-shaped, cream-striped dark green leaves with prominent red margins. Flowers are rarely produced.
It is a common houseplant that does very well outside when acclimated and it is very picturesque. You can use it as a silhouette plant, against walls and protect it from the wind.
Dracaena marginata can achieve a height of 2 to 6 m and it originates from Madagascar. It performs well in zones 10-12.
One cultivar of this species is Dragacaena marginata “Colorama“ which is red- or pink-leaved, variegated with white and green. It needs very bright light to achieve this striking coloration.
“Tricolor“ is an older cultivar of this species that was discovered in Japan, otherwise known as the Rainbow Tree. It has narrow, sword leaves in green, yellow, pink, and white. It looks best when provided bright light. This one is ideal for dish and bottle gardens, along with polka-dot Hypoestes and a creeper.
Bonus care tip: The minimum temperature should be 15-24 degrees C. It needs medium to bright light and regular moisture, low to moderate humidity. Apply a half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks from spring to autumn.
Synonymously called the Corn Plant, this is a slow-growing and sparsely branched shrub that looks like a palm. Dracaena fragrans performs best in zones 14-15 and can achieve a height of 2-6 meters.
The stems are large and woody with tufts of new leaves that grow out from the main trunk and can be used as cuttings. The leaves are thin, lance-shaped, erect, glossy, and deep green with pointed tips. Mature plants might bear small, red-and-white flowers in the summer, extremely fragrant.
Where to display it?
It is often used in office settings since it can tolerate low light and some neglect, but it makes a dramatic statement. Another idea is to grow it as a living fence.
The cultivars of this species are Dracaena fragrans “Massangeana“which has yellow stripes along the central main vein and large, woody stems, “Victoria“ which has shorter and wider leaves with a yellow margin in the center and Dracaena fragrans “Limelight“ – a cultivar that has uniform glossy leaves in bright lime green color with no margins or variegated tints.
Fun fact: It is aptly named so because of its close resemblance to the actual corn plant with its tall stature and strappy leaves.
Bonus care tips: Keep the long leaves dusted and clean. This species can tolerate low light but prefers bright light. Water it evenly over the entire potting medium. Propagate it by cutting the tip of the plant and root it or cut the tall brown cane to a shorter height. After doing so, allow it to dry, and place in a moist potting medium kept warm. The bottom of the cane should be in touch with the medium. Keep the temperatures 15-24 degrees C, filtered light, low to moderate humidity.
This is a perennial succulent plant that has dull green leaves and golden margins on the edges, pointed at the tip and arranged in such a way that the plant resembles a rosette.
Dracaena trifasciata is an ideal ornamental houseplant that is more tolerant of windy spots than other dracaenas.
Fun fact: It is also known as the Snake Plant because of its upright wavy leaves.
Bonus care tip: Plant it in sandy, well-drained soil and be wary of overwatering which can lead to rot. It prefers semi-shade and can be propagated by division or cuttings, though the leaf coloration might not be the same as on the parent plant.
Dracaena sanderiana, known as Dracaena braunii or Lucky Bamboo or the ribbon plant it an upright and graceful plant that makes an ideal plant for your living space. It is called so because it resembles bamboo with the raised rings that are prominent on the stems.
This one has white-striped green leaves that grow along the stems. It is a favorite plant for combined dish gardens.
Fun fact: It originates from Southeast Asia and it is used in the practice of feng shui because it is considered to bring luck, happiness, and prosperity if kept as a houseplant.
Bonus care tips: It prefers medium to bright light and if you grow it in water, change it often. Try to use water without chlorine or fluorine, but bottled water or rainwater will also work. Additionally, grow it in a well-draining potting medium, but in that case, don’t allow it to stand in water. Ironic, isn’t it? Take cuttings and root them in a moist potting medium. The temperature should be 16-24 degrees C and above 10 degrees C in winter, though it is not quite as tender as other plants and will take a winter minimum of 7 degrees C.
Otherwise called the Dragon Tree or Dracaena Dragon’s blood tree, this is an upright, steadfast, slow-growing, evergreen tree from the Canary Islands. This variety has a wide-branched head, sword-shaped leaves held close on very short stems. It looks as though it belongs in a fantasy novel.
It has stiff, lanceolate, gray, or blue-green leaves that grow in clusters at the ends of branches and hefty limbs. Tints of red can also appear on the stripes. It can achieve a height of 3-10m or more.
When grown in tropical areas outdoors, mature plants bear very fine and fragrant yellow flowers and clusters of orange berries from mid to late summer.
A single tree of this kind makes a strong statement and stunning, low-maintenance addition to any indoor or outdoor garden.
Fun fact: The bark of a dragon’s blood tree “bleeds“ a blood-red sap when wounded.
Bonus care tip: It requires a minimum temperature above 10 degrees C and it performs well in zones 10-11. It likes full sun and regular moisture. In the wild, it grows in nutrient-poor soils.
This species is one of the most popular and easiest to grow. Dracaena deremensis has many cultivars, too, so you can choose the one you like the most.
One cultivar is Dracaena deremensis “Dorado“ with dark green leaves and thin edges that thrives in the shade, “Rikki“ which has thinner deep green foliage with a light green stripe down the middle
Another cultivar is Dracaena deremensis “Warneckii” prized for its green leaves with two white stripes near the edge. It is an extremely popular compact form that grows slowly and makes an ideal tabletop plant for a 13cm pot or basket.
Bonus care tip: Provide medium light, and even moisture. To propagate it, use cuttings and root hem in a moist potting medium.
Dracaena „Janet Craig“
This is another cultivar of Dracaena fragrans, a shrub that bears glossy green leaves and as the plant grows, it starts dropping from the stem, thus exposing the main stem.
But what’s more, Dracaena Janet Craig has one cultivar itself, Dracaena Janet Craig Compacta. This one is distinguished from its mother by its thicker and shorter growth and leaves that form a rosette. This plant makes a perfect bedroom plant because that light exposure is best for it.
Bonus care tip: Water when the soil becomes dry.
This is a slow-growing and evergreen variety with upright stems and dark green leaves heavily spotted with creamy white to yellow. The flowers of Dracaena surculosa are small and white, fragrant and fruits are betties.
It is native to Africa and makes an ideal indoor plant because it tolerates household conditions
Fun fact: It is otherwise known as the Gold Dust Dracaena which stays permanently small and even when it is 5 years old it can be up to 1m tall.
Bonus care tip: Provide medium light, well-drained soil and water it once or twice a week and it will show signs of happiness. Fertilize it once a month and propagate it from stem cuttings.
This is a species similar to Dracaena draco. It originates from the island of Socotra, known as the island of the strange plants, so it is also called the Socotra Dragon Tree. Dracaena cinnabari is very densely branched and resembles an upturned umbrella.
? Sad fact: Dracaena cinnabari and Dracaena draco are at risk of losing around 50% of their natural habitat by 2070 unless some changes are made to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Bonus care tip: It prefers full sun but moderate watering.
This one is quite different from all other species since it is a naturally long-growing shrubby kind of plant with oval, dark-green, and thin-textured leaves heavily spotted with cream.
Another variety of Dracaena godseffiana called “Florida Beauty“ is so heavily spotted that is nearly white. Another striking feature is that the leaves are round instead of sword-like. Both plants are perfect for novice gardeners since they are somewhat tolerant of neglect.
Bonus care tip: Provide bright indirect light, and water when the soil becomes dry. Fertilize on a monthly basis during the season of active growth.
Dracaena Tarzan is the cultivar of Dracaena marginata with thick leaves and trunk but has the same sword-like leaves with tints of pink.
Fun fact: Even though tropical, this one belongs to low-maintenance houseplants, making it a great choice even for beginners.
Bonus care tip: Provide bright light and water judiciously, only when the top starts looking dry. It is better to let it dry than to overwater it.
Another species that is native to Costa Rica and has longer, narrower leaves. This is another architectural plant that has erect stems and green leaves adorned with red or purple margins.
Place Dracaena americana in a container or a basket and display it against a plain background. It is an ideal houseplant.
Bonus care tip: Provide bright light, water moderately and the plant enjoys indoor temperatures, so you won’t have to worry about this species that much.
Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Lime“
This is yet another cultivar of Dracaena deremensis that has greenish-white flowers, sometimes followed by red or orange fruit perfect for indoor cultivation.
It is a beautiful variegated form with leaves that are lime green and vertical stripes down the middle in golden, greenish, pure white, and dark olive green, and sometimes yellow edges. Strong light is best for the Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Lime“ color.
Bonus care tip: Expose it to the light near an east or west window and maintain temperature around 15-21 degrees C. Soil should be humusy and well-drained. Fertilize in early spring to late autumn.
Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Surprise“
This cultivar is shorter than the “Lemon Lime“. Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Surprise“ has lime green edges with a central stripe that goes down the middle in dark green.
Bonus care tip: It is tolerant of low light and lower humidity, so it performs quite well as a houseplant.
Dracaena deremensis „White Jewel“
This is another perennial variety that has very deep green leaves with two white stripes near the edges. Dracaena deremensis „White Jewel“ grows to be a very compact houseplant.
Bonus care tip: It likes partial shade, regular humidity of 40%, very little water to keep the soil moist and it is a bit frost hardy.
Dracaena „Hawaiian Sunshine“
Another plant cultivar that adds a new dimension to the interior landscape. Dracaena ‘Hawaiian Sunshine’ has glossy green leaves with a lime-green margin down the middle.
Bonus care tip: Find a brightly lit spot for this leafy friend, water it once a week, and feed it from April to September.
This variety comes from Africa and it has bright green leaves cross-banded with silvery gray. Dracaena goldieana can grow up to 25 cm long and 14 cm wide.
Fun fact: This plant is otherwise called the Zebra Plant because of the leaf coloration and texture.
Bonus care tip: It performs best in a warm, humid, bright window and needs a porous growing medium. Water moderately.
This is a perennial exotic plant that has very wide lance-shaped leaves pointed at the tip with a wavy horizontal margin. It matures to form a vase-like structure of rosette leaves. The flowers of Dracaena hyacinthoides are white and fragrant.
Bonus care tip: A potting mix for succulent plants is an ideal option for this species. It prefers dry soil, semi-shade, and moderate watering.
Dracaena reflexa “Song of India“
Differently called the Song of India, this slow-growing evergreen plant is native to Madagascar and Mauritius. Dracaena reflexa “Song of India“ is a green-leaved and yellow-striped species with thick leaf edges and pointed tips.
Dracaena plants are naturally shy and unwilling to produce flowers if grown in typical household conditions. However, in tropical areas, they produce white flowers and even fruit in the wild.
Bonus care tip: Provide a warm position, high humidity, and bright or filtered light. Use rainwater for moisture, mist occasionally, and maintain moderate temperatures between 18 and 25 degrees C.
Dracaena Reflexa ‘Song of Jamaica’
Another variation of Dracaena reflexa, this cultivar has more stems than the former, though it retains the bright light-green margins in the middle of the darker green foliage. Dracaena Reflexa ‘Song of Jamaica’ requires the same care pattern as the Song of India.
Dracaena cincta Tricolor
This species comes from Africa and it is known as a rainbow plant because of its dramatic leaf coloration- green, striped cream, and edged red.
The lower leaves turn down and fall as the plant matures, leaving a tuft of leaves at the top of a gradually lengthening stem. Dracaena cincta Tricolor reaches a height of around 2 meters.
Bonus care tip: As with other varieties, provide bright light, water moderately and fertilize once a month during the growing period.
This species is ideal for growing in a pot or container. It is an evergreen perennial shrub with strappy leaves and tiny white flowers. If you are lucky, you might even see orange berries on Dracaena hookeriana.
Bonus care tip: It likes partial shade, well-drained soil with the addition of compost. It can grow up to 2m tall and 2m wide. with the addition of compost. It can grow up to 2m tall and 2m wide.
Dracaena Lisa Cane
Another variety from southeast Africa that will bring some oasis into your home. Dracaena Lisa Cane has long and glossy green leaves and if the tips become brown, feel free to prune them.
Bonus care tip: Find a location where it will receive bright indirect light and assess the plant’s watering needs before applying water. Be aware of the fact that dracaenas dislike salts, chlorine, and other minerals found in tap water, so it is best to use rainwater.
How to Grow And Care for Dracaena Plants?
Dracaenas are architectural houseplants with bold and dramatic leaves, so they are best situated in the center or rear of container arrangements so that they don’t cover up the shorter houseplants.
Light, temperature, and humidity
Dracaenas are among the most tolerant houseplants that can tolerate even low levels of light and are not sensitive to air conditioning, droughts, and hot air. However, they prefer bright, indirect sunlight to partial shade.
Indoor temperature is ideal for them, between 16 and 23 degrees C and winter temperature above 10 degrees C.
A humidity of 50% is preferable but even if it is lower, it will do the plant no harm. To increase it, you can mist leaves or place dracaena pots on a tray of moist pebbles.
In a nutshell, provide good warmth and humidity and you will have nothing to worry about.
Water and fertilizer
Dracaenas should be watered consistently or they tend to become stressed. What should be emphasized is that dracaenas are sensitive to salts and other minerals found in tap water, so avoid it by all means.
Keep the plants thoroughly moist from spring to fall and apply water only to prevent the soil from drying out in the winter. If not given enough water, the leaves will turn brown at the tips and die. Water the soil, not the leaves and be wary of overwatering that can lead to rot.
Dracaenas are moderate feeders. Provide standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks from spring to fall. Dracaenas are also sensitive to mineral salts from chemical fertilizers, so avoid using chemical fertilizers.
These plants should be grown in fertile, organic, and well-drained soil and add some coarse sand and perlite.
As you have seen, some succulent varieties can grow well in a standard succulent mix, but in any case, make sure it is well-aerated, porous, and rich enough to support the growth of your plants.
Pruning and cleaning
Dracaena plants will need cutting back sooner or later because they tend to grow upright and can get too tall.
They are not self-branching and when they start getting lefty, a pair of pruning shears will come in handy to head back. Root the top in moist soil and leave about 15 cm of the lower stub to send out new branches.
Keep the leaves clean and feather-dust them regularly. You can also put your dracaenas in a tepid shower for a fresh, healthy sheen. Remove brown leaves, too.
Propagate dracaenas from stem cuttings, offsets, or via air-layering. Another way is from stem cuttings partially buried horizontally, or by root cuttings of the fleshy roots – put in sandy peat in spring, all in considerable warmth.
Air layering is ideal for larger woody houseplants. Select a stem and make a notch with a sharp knife about a foot down from the growing tip. Remove any leaves. Peel a small patch of the surface and apply rooting hormone. Wrap moist sphagnum moss around the patch with a plastic bag and seal with a rubber band.
Overwatering is the usual reason why you need to repot your plants. Remove the plant from the soil and repot in fresh, well-drained soil.
If you want to make a container combo for the chic and stylish garden, you can pair:
Dracaena deremensis “Lemon Lime“ and “Limelight“ will provide a lush of lime green leaves with Hoya carnosa to contrast beautifully. This combo will require bright light, and average moisture and humidity.
Dracaena deremensis “Lemon lime“ with Chamaedorea elegans and Scindapsus pictus to create a dish garden of different hues of green contrasted with yellow of Dracaena.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are the leaves on my dracaena plants turning yellow and brown?
Well, the first thing you should do is amend your watering habits since you are most likely overwatering. When you first bring them into your house, they will need some time to adapt, so don’t be alarmed by that.
When should I repot my dracaena plants?
Observe how the plants are growing and unless you overwater, you can let your plants grow in the same container for at least a year. After the plants have outgrown the current pots, choose larger ones, sterilize them as well as fresh soil, and transplant the plants in spring or summer.
What are the common issues with dragon trees?
Aphids and scale insects can be a nuisance. Another thing is overwatering that can cause the tree to rot. To prevent that, allow pots or plantings to dry out. Dig up flooded plants and repot immediately in fresh, well-drained soil. Remove old leaves and keep the plant clean.
Where can I grow dragon trees?
Choose a site in full or dappled sun outdoors or a sunny room indoors. If you don’t live in the tropics, grow it in a larger container so that you can move the plant indoors in winter. Use organic, fertile, and well-drained soil by amending your garden soil. Alternatively, plant it in a clay pot, repot it to larger containers and fresh soil annually in late winter. Mulch plantings lightly.
There are about 40 dracaena species that are commonly cultivated, but each species has many cultivars that have different leaf patterns and textures, so the options are countless. What’s even better is that dracaenas develop these patterns without any special human intervention.
Moreover, dracaenas are among the most common evergreen plants grown in homes and offices, which is no wonder given that they thrive in room temperatures with little special care except a good weekly watering.
Having them in your home or office will add a strong statement and, as if that was not enough, it will purify your indoor air, too.
Indoor gardening is altogether a personal horticulture therapy and should be an enjoyable experience.
Which of these Dracaena types is your favorite one? I’d like to hear from you, so share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!