Types Of Dracaena: Learn About Different Dracaena Plants

Dracaena is a popular houseplant for many reasons, not least of which is the spectacular foliage that comes in a number of shapes, colors, sizes, and even patterns, like stripes. There are many different dracaena plant varieties, so check them all out before you choose your next houseplant or two.

About Dracaena Plant Varieties

There are many kinds of dracaenas that are commonly used as houseplants. One reason that they are so popular indoors is that they are easy to grow and maintain. They accept low and indirect light and only need to be watered about once a week. A little fertilizer once or twice a year is all these plants need, and pruning isn’t necessary very often either.

These plants also became famous when a NASA study found that they can cleanse indoor air of toxins. There are many different dracaena plants to try, and by choosing a few for your home, you can get a great range of stunning foliage as well as cleaner, healthier air.

Popular Varieties of Dracaena

The number of dracaena plants available makes this a diverse and large group, distinguished from each other by the range of spectacular foliage features. Here are some of the more popular types of dracaena to choose from:

Corn Plant. This dracaena is often just called corn plant and is the type that was used in the NASA studies. There are several cultivars in this group. The name comes from the leaves that resemble those of corn – long, arching, and sometimes with a yellow stripe.

Lucky Bamboo. Most people are unaware that lucky bamboo, which isn’t a bamboo plant at all, is actually a type of dracaena. It is often grown in water or soil environments and considered an important Feng Shui plant.

Gold Dust. For a shorter, shrubbier dracaena, try Gold Dust. The leaves are green with yellow speckles that eventually turn white.

Madagascar Dragon Tree. This stunner is also called red-margined dracaena and has narrow leaves with reddish purple margins. Some cultivars, like ‘Tricolor,’ have red and cream stripes.

Ribbon Plant. The ribbon plant is a small dracaena, four to five inches (10 to 13 cm.) tall. The leaves are lance shaped and have white margins.

Deremensis. There are a few cultivars of this species of dracaena. ‘Janet Craig’ is common and has shiny, dark green leaves. ‘Lemon Lime’ is a newer cultivar with chartreuse, green, and white stripes on the leaves. ‘Warneckii’ has leathery leaves that are green with white stripes.

Song of India or Jamaica. These cultivars come from the reflexa species. ‘Song of India’ has thin leaves, with edges of cream or white, while ‘Song of Jamaica’ has darker green leaves with light green in the centers.

There are so many different types of dracaena, and they are so easy to grow that there is no excuse not to have one in each room of the house.


Maintaining dracaenas is fairly easy and worth the small effort. They are gorgeous and give a dramatic feel to an environment. The plants come in many varieties. Some have slender red green leaves that sprout out from long tall stalks. Others form round-about spirals of lemon-yellow leaves. A wonderful palette of forms and colors can be created through the different types of dracaena’s available. And in turn a carefree, healthy environment is brought to the indoors. They are a very popular in plantscaping due to their varieties and their ability to scrub out toxins in the air.

Dracaena marginata or Madagascar dragon tree have a long straight trunk with pointed mass of narrow leaves with red to purple stripes along edge.
Dracaena fragrans ‘massangeana‘ or cornplant can be grown in shrub or tree form. It’s long leaves have beautiful yellow variegation running down its middle.
Dracaena Warneckii or striped dracaena is a medium sized shurb with dramatic white strips on its green leaves. There is also a variety that has leaves with yellow edges.
Dracaena Rikki is highlighted with yellow bands down the length of its green leaves. It’s ability to grow under lower light conditions and its colorful leaves is a wonderful attribute for indoor plantscaping.
Dracaena Reflexa or Maylasian dracaena has dark green foliage and can have off-white to yellow-beige colored stripes; as well as a bright yellow variegation called Song of India.
Dracaena deremensis or Janet Craig is one of the more popular of dracaenas used indoors with its dark green leaves that gently cascade downwards from the stalk.

Dracaena marginata give indoor spaces a dramatic look.

BRIGHT TO MODERATE INDIRECT LIGHT is best for dracaenas. Sometimes it can be maintained in lower light levels. Yet it cannot tolerate hot direct sunlight. Brown leaf tips and spots show the plant is getting too much sun. When the leaves turn pale and the variegation fades, the plant isn’t getting enough light. Janet Craig is a variety that does well in low light and also tolerates less watering.

WATERING the dracaena starts with well-draining soil. The soil needs to be kept moist but not soggy. It’s best to water the dracaena when the soil is dry to about 2 inches below the soil. Water until it drains out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Pour out excess water that has accumulated in saucer. Water less often in the winter. For dry indoor conditions, mist frequently.

FLUORIDE is an accumulative poison to plants and dracaenas are particularly sensitive to it. Best to use filtered water for watering and misting. Many municipal water sources are injected with fluorine. The long-term results are destruction to photosynthesis and other plant processes that usually kill the leaves from the tips inward.

MODERATE TEMPERATURE between 60 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the plant happy, making it pretty forgiving of lower temperatures. It can tolerate night temperatures 10 degrees cooler.

FERTILIZING is an important part of maintaining dracaenas. Feed every two weeks in spring and summer using a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Reduce to once a month during fall. The plant benefits from a period of dormancy, so during the winter months discontinue fertilizing.

RE-POTTING often is not necessary since dracaenas love to be root-bound. When the pot becomes much too small to hold the plants and its roots, re-pot to the next largest pot size which usually ocurrs around 2 – 3 years.

PRUNING is necessary when the plants becomes too tall. To prune, dip a sharp pair of pruning shears in rubbing alcohol and cut at the desired height. Keep in mind, two to three shoots will develop at the top of the stem. Start a new plant with the cutting by rooting cut side down 1 to 1 1/2 ” into moistened soil with plenty of oxygen movement such as perlite, vermiculite, and/or sand combined with peat moss.

Yes, its underwatered, assuming the compost is really dry. Here’s the basic rules for houseplant watering, which are:-
1. water when the surface of the compost is dry to the touch, but not so dry that its shrunken from the sides of the pot.
2. When you do water, water well, but go back after 30 minutes and empty out any tray or outer pot in which the plant is standing. Very few plants appreciate having wet feet all the time, so if the compost is still sodden when you empty the tray the first time, go back and empty it again after another 30 minutes.
Over time you will come to learn how much water to give it so that you neither flood it completely, nor give insufficient water.
As your plant is in crisis (if the compost is bone dry), I suggest remedial ‘intensive care’ action immediately. Fill up a bucket or container that’s large enough, immerse the pot in the container, weighting it down if you have to. Leave it for an hour, then remove and stand somewhere it can drain down to let excess water disappear (on a rack in the sink or in the bath or similar). Once its stopped exuding water from the base, replace in its normal position, and in future, water as suggested above.

Plants of the Dracaena family are very easy houseplants to care for, but on occasion they present yellow leaves, a telling symptom of overwatering.

Here’s how to double-check that your plant has been getting too much water and care for it so the leaves turn back green again.

  • Shown here is an overwatered Dracaena massangeana.

Dracaena leaves turn yellow

Overwatering is the most common cause for Dracaena leaves to turn yellow.

  • Leaves of the dracaena lose their green color and turn pale.
  • They lose their crisp, semi-rigid bearing and start feeling soft and limp.
  • Instead of reaching for the sky, they droop down and sag towards the floor.
  • Yellow-brown spots develop at the center and edges of leaves which die off and dry up.
  • Younger, topmost dracaena leaves are less affected than older, lower leaves.
  • If you lift the plant out of its pot, roots are swollen, translucent and mushy or soft to the touch. These are the first stages of root rot.

Usually these telling signs develop over the course of a couple weeks to a month.

Note that tips of dracaena leaves turning brown is another problem unrelated to overwatering: plant necrosis due to fluoride and salts in water.

How to check for overwatering

Finger-check for moisture

First of all, you should check with your finger how wet the soil feels.

  • Soggy soil that smells moldy or foul is a clear indication.
  • Sometimes the first inch of soil seems fine but below that it’s very wet.
  • Soil gives a slimy sensation when you rub your fingers together.
  • If you use plant mulch or organic material, it tends to turn blackish in case of excess water (twigs and wood that never dry turn dark colors.

In some cases, you can even see that plants send roots up out of the soil like in the case of this rotting sunpatiens.

Check the underside of the pot

  • There should be a draining hole in the container so that excess water can flow out.
  • Sometimes roots have grown through the holes and thickened so much that the drainage holes are “clogged”.
  • Usually pots rest upon a saucer to collect excess water. In case of overwatering, this excess water remains in the saucer or pot-holder and is never thrown out.

Wrong watering schedule

  • Perhaps you water the plant every day or couple days.
  • Perhaps too many persons are involved and everyone waters the plant too often.

How to save a dracaena with yellowing leaves

Follow these simple steps to save your yellowing dracaena:

  • Stop watering daily. Make watering your dracaena a weekly task, no less. Check with other persons so that it isn’t done redundantly. Use a watering planner or simply a small calendar with marks on the date to show it’s been watered.
  • Check for holes at the bottom of the pot for optimum drainage. If it’s a plastic pot, sometimes the holes aren’t drilled yet or cut out. Use a drill or cutter and make at least three holes. If it’s a terra cotta or clay pot, use a ceramic drill bit for that, or simply protect the hole from clogging with a piece of mesh wire.
  • Change the soil mix of your dracaena to something that drains much better. You can use river sand for a third, potting soil mix for a third, and garden soil. River sand isn’t salty. If you only have sea sand at hand, set it out in a thin-meshed sieve for a couple months and rainwater will wash the salts out. Don’t add any perlite or hydrogel crystals.
  • Remove rotting roots that may already have started turning mushy. These won’t recover and will be an open invitation for root rot fungus and the like. You can leave yellowed leaves until you’re certain they’re dead. Sometimes pale leaves can recover.
  • Layer gravel or clay pebbles at the bottom of the pot over a good two inches (5 cm).
  • Remove the pot-holder and ensure that excess water is quickly thrown out. After watering the plant, promptly empty the saucer under the pot from any water that may have collected in it. A good solution is to spread gravel or clay pebbles in the saucer and rest the pot atop it. Not only will this keep excess water from touching the dracaena pot, it will also help the excess water evaporate, thus increasing air moisture which is good for the plant.

Learn more about Dracaena water needs

The Dracaena plant evolved in a context of arid droughts interspersed with flash floods and heavy rain. This led the plant to develop specific qualities that make dracaena resistant to underwatering.

However, these tweaks that nature gifted Dracaena for dry climates become a huge disadvantage when the plant sits in a constantly moist environment like marshes, swamps, or overwatered pots.

A study for Dracaena marginata has shown that the optimal watering schedule for dracaena is every 5 to 7 days.

A good way to water this plant is the “drench & drip-dry” method.

  • Partly fill a sink or large pail with water.
  • Place the pot in the sink or large pail. Water should reach soil level for the pot.
  • Let the pot sit in water for about 10 minutes.
  • Lift the pot out and rest it atop a grill or similar so that all excess water can drain out.
  • When the dripping has stopped, return the plant to its place. Voilà!

Only water when the soil has turned completely dry. To check, stick your finger down to a depth of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm). It should come out dusty and dry. If there’s even just a little moisture left, don’t water yet.

Winter watering of Dracaena:

Winter triggers dormancy in plants of the Dracaena family. The same rules as above apply, except that it may take up to a month for the soil to dry from the previous watering. Water every 15 to 30 days, no need to water weekly when the plant is in this rest phase.

Smart tip about watering your dracaena

Best is to use rain water that is collected as runoff from rain or from trees. Set basins under the drip line of trees or under the roof gutter spout. This water is free from municipal water additives which eliminates risk of leaf tip necrosis. Additionally, it’s loaded with nutrients from lichen, moss, bark, leaves and animal life that collect in dust that the rainwater picks up.

Read also

  • How to care for your Dracaena houseplant
  • Why Dracaena can survive underwatering
  • Dracaena marginata and Dracaena massangeana, the two most common Dracaena varieties.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Many thanks to Phishmcz for the image

Song Of India Dracaena – How To Grow Variegated Song Of India Plants

Dracaena is a popular houseplant because it is easy to grow and very forgiving of novice gardeners. It’s also a top pick because there are so many varieties with different sizes, leaf shape, and color. A variegated dracaena plant, like the Song of India dracaena, for instance, gives you beautiful, multicolored foliage.

About Variegated Song of India Dracaena

The Song of India variety of dracaena (Dracaena reflexa ‘Variegata’), also known as pleomele, is native to islands in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. In the wild or in a garden with the right conditions, this dracaena will grow as tall as 18 feet (5.5 meters), with a spread out to eight feet (2.5 meters).

Indoors, as a houseplant, you can keep this variety much smaller, and, in fact, they generally only grow to about three feet (one meter) tall in containers. Song of India plants are described as variegated because the leaves are multicolored with bright green centers and yellow margins. The colors fade to lighter green and cream as individual leaves age. The leaves are lance-shaped and grow spirally around branches, up to one foot long.

Song of India Plant Care

Notoriously difficult to kill, dracaena will look best and be healthiest if you provide it with the right conditions and minimal care. These plants need indirect light and warm temperatures. They prefer humidity, so you can set the container on top of a dish of rocks in water, or you can mist your plant regularly. Make sure the pot drains well and keep the soil moist but not wet. Provide a balanced fertilizer once or twice a year.

As with all dracaena varieties, the pretty leaves of Song of India will turn yellow as they age. As the bottom leaves on the plant yellow, simply trim them off to keep the plant looking neat and tidy. You can also trim and shape as needed, and you may find that the plant need staking for support as it grows taller.

Ask a Question forum: Golden dragon tree dying!!!

Agree with Daisy..but there is still hope for that. Give it time. Just remove the rotted out leaves, and if you can add pumice to your media so it dries out faster. It is a low light plant, and at this point it needs to grow new roots, so do not put in direct sun. It did not really need a bigger container, it just needed the media to dry out faster. It is also a drought tolerant plant, so it needs the dry out part before watering again. Grown indoors, that drying out part at root zone takes much longer.
But just keep it in where it is now, if it seems to be recovering. Do not give any fertilizer. Just allow the plant to recover from all the over watering and repot shock. Hopefully it will try to grow new nubbins at the tip end. Some would try to chop off the tip a bit, don’t know if you can easily do a cut on the tip, so it will somehow trigger new leaf growth below the cut off part. Then you can put some candle wax on the exposed fresh cut part, to help seal it. New growth hopefully will come out one node below cut off part.

| Quote | Post #1366582 (3)

Growing Dracaena In The Garden – Can You Plant Dracaena Outdoors

Dracaena is one of the most commonly sold houseplants, but dracaena in the garden outside is much less common. This is a beloved houseplant but not everyone can grow it outdoors. It requires constant warmth, so only attempt this if you have a warm, near tropical climate.

Can You Plant Dracaena Outdoors?

Dracaena varieties are among the most popular houseplants because they have gorgeous foliage, come in a lot of different sizes and colors, and because they are difficult to kill. One sure way to kill your dracaena is to plant it outdoors in a climate that is too cold. Dracaena is a tropical plant that won’t tolerate frost.

If you live in zones 9, 10, or 11, though, go for it. Dracaena thrives outdoors in areas that are frost free. Zone 9 can be a little risky in the winter months. If you live somewhere that gets an occasional frost, be prepared to protect your outdoor dracaena plants with some kind of covering.

Growing Dracaena Outdoors

If you do have the right climate for it, dracaena in the landscape can add drama and beauty. There are so many varieties to choose from with different heights and shapes, leaf colors, and leaf patterns and textures. These plants aren’t too picky, so nearly any soil type will do. They do best in richer soils, though, so add compost or other organic material to give it the best conditions.

For light, choose a spot that is not in direct sun. Most dracaena do best with a lot of indirect light but not too much shade. Make sure your plant gets enough water but avoid standing water. It should be somewhere with soil that drains well. Use a basic fertilizer every couple weeks during the growing season to encourage more growth.

Be sure that you know the specific needs of any dracaena variety you choose. They should be very similar, but there may be some differences, especially in size and how much space the plants need. Some varieties stay low, while others grow up to several feet tall.

Once your dracaena is established outside, you won’t have to give it much attention or care. These plants are famously easy to grow, and this is true of growing them outdoors too as long as you give them the right conditions.

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