These plants are not considered poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. to humans, but are extremely poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. to dogs and cats with a #2 toxicity levelThese are general guidelines that describe how poisonous certain houseplants are. It’s possible for an allergic reaction to occur from contact with any houseplant, toxic or non-toxic. If there is ever a concern, call: Poison Control Center: ******1-800-222-1222****** Level #1: Houseplants with low toxicity, may be mildly irritating, especially the sap of the plant. Level#2: Houseplants with medium to severe toxicity. Eating parts of these houseplants may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties. Level #3: These houseplants are very poisonous. When eaten, especially in large quantities, severe vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties can occur. Level #4: These houseplants are extremely poisonous. Eating parts of these houseplants can be be life threatening. Every plant listed in our Popular HousePlant guide has a section explaining whether or not it is poisonous and, if so, how poisonous. Amaryllis, alocasia, dieffenbachias, crotons, ivies, azaleas, lilies, and philodendrons are just a few of the highly poisonous plants we use in our homes and offices all of the time. If you don’t know whether your houseplant is poisonous, go to Ask Judy on the HousePlant411.com website, send her a picture of your plant, and she’ll let you know if the houseplant should be kept away from small children and pets. See colorful pictures and get more information about poisonous houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants .
There’s no better beginner houseplant than the Madagascar Dragon Tree, also known by its latin name as dracaena marginata.
It’s super easy to care for, requiring little light or water, and is quite hardy in most temperatures.
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about dracaena marginata care, propagation, and troubleshooting.
Let’s get started!
- Dracaena Marginata Overview
- Varieties of Dracaena Marginata
- Dracaena Marginata Care
- Pruning Dracaena Plants: Tips For Dracaena Trimming
- How to Prune a Dracaena
- Starting a New Plant with Dracaena Cuttings
- Dracaena Marginata (Madagascar Dragon Tree)
- Dragon Plant Care Guide
- How to Care for a Dragon Tree Summary
- Dragon Tree Problems
- Community Comments
- Dracaena Marginata Care For All ‘Dragon Tree Plant’ Varieties
- Dracaena Marginata Cultivars
- Other Dracaena Species Grown For Use Indoors:
- Dracaena Marginata Propagation
- Pruning And Repotting A Madagascar Dragon Tree
- Here’s One I Pruned And Repotted
- Repotting and Pruning Tips
Dracaena Marginata Overview
|Common Name||Madagascar Dragon Tree|
|Height||15-20′, 6-8′ indoors|
|Bloom Time||Seasonal bloomer|
The Madagascar Dragon Tree looks quite like palm trees, which is why many gardeners falsely assume it’s a member of the palm family. This couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s actually closely related to lilies!
The name dracaena comes from a Greek word meaning female dragon. It gets this name due to the red sticky gum-like sap that comes out of the stems when cut. When it dries and thickens up, the gum looks a bit like dragon’s blood. But who really knows what dragon’s blood actually looks like, right?
In ancient Roman and Medieval times the gum was used in alchemy and magical arts. Today, it’s used in more practical pursuits like photo engraving and as a varnish.
The Madagascar Dragon Tree is characterized by long, narrow leaves that are extremely spiky. The foliage is generally dark green with edges that are adorned with a reddish purple and can grow up to 16 inches in length. As the tree grows, it will naturally lose it’s lowest leaves leaving tufts of leaves atop a bare woody cane.
Although species vary, this variety can grow as tall as 20 feet in height. But, when kept as a houseplant, it generally only reaches around 6 to 8 feet. The size can be controlled by cutting the tops off.
The cane can be cut at any height and within weeks you will begin to see a new tuft of leaves growing at the cut area. It’s better on the plants health to cut the cane during spring or early summer.
Varieties of Dracaena Marginata
Dracaena Marginata Tricolor vs. Colorama Varieties
Even within this sub-species of dracaena, there are a few different varieties that you may want to consider:
- Dracaena marginata ‘tricolor’ — Tricolor is very similar to the standard dracaena marginata, however it has three colors in its leaves instead of two. There is a yellow band in between the red edges and green center.
- Dracaena marginata ‘colorama’ — Colorama is the coolest looking variety, in my opinion. It grows slower than the other varieties, but has a much more vibrant red / pink coloration.
- Dracaena marginata ‘tarzan’ — Tarzan is unique not because of its color (it’s the same as the original dracaena marginata), but because of the shape of the plant. It’s much spikier and spherical, and as it grows has a very unique and alien look to it.
Dracaena Marginata Care
Overall, Madagascar Dragon Tree is really easy to care for. However, that doesn’t mean you can just set it and forget it like succulents! There are a few considerations you should take into account with this plant that we’ll get into.
A Dracaena Marginata Kokedama. source
Strangely enough, madagascar dragon trees do well when they are root bound. Don’t rush to re-pot it when you purchase it from a nursery like you would with many other types of houseplants.
Dragon trees do best in partial shade. This means that if you’re growing indoors, you should have it on a north-facing windowsill, near one facing east or west, and further away from one facing south.
You will know you’re giving the plant too much light if the leaves burn. On the flip side, you’ll know you aren’t giving it enough light when the accent colors on the leaves start to fade.
Dragon trees prefer medium amounts of water. One good way to determine if your plant needs water is to wait until the soil is dry to about 1/3 of the depth of the pot. Then give it a healthy drink so the soil is moist all the way to the top.
The leaves will give you a good idea whether you are providing too little or too much water. If you have a lot of leaves that are turning yellow and falling off, you’re probably not giving the plant enough water. If the leaves are starting to turn yellow at the tips, it could be a sign of too much water.
To prevent root rot, make sure that you provide good drainage and be careful not to over water.
Dracaena marginata can tolerate a variety of temperatures, but does best in between 65ºF and 80ºF. If it gets too cold, they will suffer greatly, so make sure you can keep your temperatures within that range for best results.
While the Dragon Tree will tolerate most average home conditions, you can provide it with a little extra humidity through regular misting. Misting the tree regularly will also help prevent insect infestations.
Nothing special here. They just need well-draining potting soil. Use a pot with drainage holes and a saucer to prevent root rot, or add rocks to the bottom of your pot to make sure water doesn’t pool.
They don’t need much fertilizer, but if you do want to fertilize, do it once a month in the growth season (spring, summer) with a standard houseplant fertilizer at 50% strength.
Propagation of dracaena marginata is so simple that retail nurseries often propagate it themselves rather than order more from wholesale nurseries. What does this mean for you? It means you can buy one plant and propagate from it to have an entire army of dragon trees!
- Cut off a stem of one of your mature plants
- Trim some of the lower leaves
- Allow cuttings to dry for about an hour
- Wet the soil you will plant them in
- Plant cuttings in the soil and they will start rooting after 1-2 weeks
You don’t have to prune your dragon tree, but it’s definitely fun! You have a lot of control over how your dracaena marginata looks, which is why nurseries will often sell them in twisted shapes – they’re easy to train!
You can either just let it grow naturally, or you can twist several stalks together. They can even be trained to grow in spirals and can easily be bent to grow in various ways. It’s sort of the alternative to a small bonsai tree!
Dracaena marginata is pretty hardy, but the classic pests and diseases that affect most houseplants can also affect your dragon tree.
Spider mites, scales, and mealy bugs can attack your dragon tree if you’re not careful. To prevent them from ever getting near it, mist the leaves of your plant with water every so often. If you notice an infestation, add some liquid soap to the water and mist more aggressively. That should kill them all.
For serious infestations, either rid yourself of the plant or get an systemic insecticide.
Aside from root rot and leaf spot, both of which are standard houseplant issues, dracaena marginata is quite sensitive to flouride. This means you should water it with distilled water if possible to avoid any flouride toxicity. You’ll know your plant is suffering from toxicity if the leaves start to die at the tips, the color starts to warp, or there are large brown areas in the middle of your leaves.
Q. The leaves of my dracaena marginata are dropping off like crazy. The stalks feel a bit mushy, too. What is going on?
A. The most common problem here is over-watering or soggy soil. This is such a common problem that almost all houseplant owners suffer from. Make sure to get a well-draining soil, don’t water too much, and make sure your pot has drainage holes. Get one with a saucer underneath to capture extra water,l but also as a reminder not to over water. If you see too much water in the saucer…water less!
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Pruning Dracaena Plants: Tips For Dracaena Trimming
Dracaena is a genus of about 40 versatile, easy-to-grow plants with distinctive, strappy leaves. Although dracaena is suitable for growing outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, it is most often grown as a houseplant.
Depending on the cultivar, dracaena may reach heights of up to 10 feet (3 m.) or even more, which means that regular dracaena trimming will probably be necessary. The good news is that pruning dracaena plants isn’t difficult. These sturdy plants tolerate trims with little complaint, and you can cut back a dracaena to any height you like.
How to Prune a Dracaena
Pruning dracaena plants produces a full, healthy plant, as two or more new branches, each with its own cluster of leaves, will soon appear. Dracaena pruning isn’t at all difficult. Here’s some helpful tips on how to cut back a dracaena.
The best time for pruning dracaena plants is when the plant is actively growing in spring and summer. If possible, avoid dracaena trimming while the plant is dormant in fall and winter.
Be sure your cutting blade is sharp so cuts will be clean and even. Ragged cuts are unsightly and can invite disease. Dip your pruners or knife into a mixture of bleach and water to ensure it is free of disease-causing pathogens.
Cut the canes at an angle to reduce the risk of infection. Remove any damaged canes, brown leaves or weak growth.
Starting a New Plant with Dracaena Cuttings
When you cut back a dracaena, simply stick the cane in a pot filled with moist sand or perlite. Watch for new growth to appear in a few weeks, which indicates the plant has rooted.
Alternatively, stick the cane in a glass of water on your kitchen windowsill. When it has rooted, plant the cane in a container filled with potting mix.
Dracaena Marginata (Madagascar Dragon Tree)
Dragon Plant Care Guide
Light shade is best for your Dragon Tree plant. Sitting on a North facing window ledge, close to an East / West facing window or some distance away from a South facing one are all good locations. The leaves will scorch if it’s too bright, and if it’s too dark newer leaves will be small and limp looking.
Try to keep the soil moist (but never soggy or wet). A little dryness at the roots is better than risking overwatering. Make sure you cut back the watering in Winter as this is the prime time for plants to get the dreaded mushy soft stems.
Reasonable humidity is required. Often the humidity in the average home is perfect, but if you can, mist the leaves from time to time especially if the air is quite dry. The misting will also help remove any dust settling on the leaves.
To get new leaves sprouting on a regular basis you’ll need to feed your Dragon Tree
To get new leaves sprouting on a regular basis you’ll need to feed your Dragon Tree. Try and do it monthly in Spring and Summer. Sparsely in Autumn / Fall and none in Winter.
This plant does not like the cold. The room it lives in should never have temperatures lower than 10°C / 50°F. If you’ve put your plant outside for the Summer you must remember to bring it back indoors before any sign of frost. The temperature range for ideal growth is between 16°C – 24°C / 60°F – 75°F.
You only need to repot when the roots are are very congested and the plant is obviously suffering as a consequence. Unfortunately the roots of the Dragon Tree grow exceptionally fast so if you follow this definition exactly, you may end up repotting twice a year! Instead we would advising being a little cruel and only repotting every two years at most.
These plants can do really well with very little root room. Take a look at the first picture in the article and in the gallery where you can see how big the plant is, even though it’s in a small pot.
In our experience Dragon Trees aren’t fussy about the potting mix you choose to grow it in. Just make sure it’s fresh and not too heavy. We wrote an article about different Growing Mediums if you want to learn more about this topic.
On occasion you may find the large tap roots start to “coil” around and around the pot causing the root ball to rise up out of the container. If this happens, take the plant out of the pot and cut back some of the large thick tap roots before positioning what’s left back in the pot which should remove the “coil” effect.
There are three main ways to propagate a Dragon Tree and typically you can do all three methods at once to create multiple plants.
Propagation works best on an older plant because in time the canes will become longer or “leggy” as the leaf area shifts higher and higher up the plant. This gives you a lot of propagation material, which means you can:
Simply remove the crown and the top inch of stem and pot it up in potting compost to start a new plant.
Use a rooting hormone and to increase your chances of it working, keep the cutting warm by providing bottom heat.
- Tip – If you can’t provide bottom heat, only attempt this in Summer where it will be easier to keep it warm naturally.
Once the crown has been removed you can cut the remaining cane back to about half the original length (or more or less depending on what you’re trying to achieve visually).
New growths should then form at the cut edge within a couple of months.
You can either leave the new growths on the existing stem as they are, or remove them after they’re big enough and carry out “One” again to create more plants.
- Tip – Because several new growths can form at the cut, you can create a multi caned plant. Look at the bottom three pictures in our photo gallery above to see how this looks in practice.
Assuming you’ve done both things above, you’ll now have a left over piece of stem / cane. This can be cut into bits around 3 inches long and used to create a “Ti Tree”.
To do this, allow the stem / cane to dry for a day before sticking the pieces straight up in potting compost or a small container filled with water.
If planted in soil keep warm and moist. If you’re trying to root in water, when a reasonable number of roots have appeared plant up in potting compost.
- Tip – The pieces of stem / cane need to face “up” in the direction they were growing when part of the parent plant, so you may want to mark the cutting with an arrow before you get started to avoid confusion later.
The final height of your Dragon Tree depends on how tall your ceiling is!
Speed of Growth
Dragon Trees are quite slow growing compared to other houseplants. However in Spring and early Summer they’ll have fast spurts of growth at the crown which you’ll definitely notice as the crown produces several leaves in succession.
Height / Spread
The final height of your plant depends on how tall your ceiling is! To be fair, while natively they can reach 3m / 10ft or more, indoors you will probably run out of large enough pots to allow the plant to reach that size. So expect yours to only reach 2m / 6ft after many (many) years. No wider than 1m / 3ft.
Dragon Tree flowers are very rare and almost never seen on indoor plants. This is a houseplant grown for its foliage and architectural looks only.
Are Dragon Trees Poisonous?
The sap found within the leaves and stems do have small levels of a toxic substance that, while unlikely to be fatal, can cause irritation in people and pets when ingested.
If you’ve followed all the Dragon Tree propagation methods to increase your chances of getting at least one viable new plant, you could get lucky and end up with too many! Rather than throw them away, source a nice pot and give them away to friends and family.
Having the opposite problem and finding it difficult to actually find somewhere selling Dragon Tree’s? You could always try Amazon or have a read of our where to buy houseplants article for more inspiration.
How to Care for a Dragon Tree Summary
Moderate Light Suitable plant for semi bright locations.
Moderate Watering Once or twice a week in Summer and once every three weeks in Winter.
Temperature Average indoor room temperatures.
Feeding Fertilise on a regular basis. None in Winter.
Dragon Tree Problems
New Dragon Tree leaves are very small
Almost certainly too little light. A Dragon Tree won’t give any thanks if you give it low light conditions over a long period of time.
Dragon Tree leaves falling off
If happening slowly over a number of weeks then this isn’t a sign your Dragon Tree is dying, in fact it’s showing you’re treating it well!
All Dracaenas are False Palms with a crown of leaves sitting at the top of their stems, new growth forms at the very tips of these stems, and the older leaves at the bottom of the crown will gradually yellow and fall.
This happens quite often, and can be a bit shocking if it’s the first time your plant has done it. But providing new leaves are forming too it’s perfectly normal.
Leaves going yellow and falling off very quickly
As with the problem above, yellowing and falling leaves aren’t usually an issue. However if you’re very concerned, have a feel of the stems. If they’re firm then it’s very likely you’ve nothing to worry about. If the stems are very soft or squishy then read on to the next problem.
Soggy Soft Cane / Stem
This has been caused either by giving far too much water over a prolonged period, or from being exposed to very cold temperatures. If this happens then your Dragon Tree is probably already dead and can’t be saved in its present form. If any parts of the stem feel firm, or the leaf crown is intact you could try and propagate a replacement plant.
Leaves with brown spots
Usually a sign of underwatering. Try to keep the soil moist much of the time. If you would call the the marks more like “blotches” than spots, it’s caused by overwatering.
Leaves have brown tips and yellow edges
Often this is a symptom of dry air or cold draughts blowing near your plant.
Bleached dry leaves
Scorched leaves caused by too much light.
Mealybugs / Red Spider Mite
Mealybugs need to be treated with something like a cotton wool bud soaked in methylated spirit. Gently rub over the insects with the soaked cotton wool bud to remove them.
Red Spider Mite can be treated with an insecticide or if you’d prefer not to use chemicals, you can consider increasing the humidity for a few weeks or so, i.e. by daily misting.
About the Author
Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.
Also on Ourhouseplants.com
Credit for Dracaena marginata ‘Colorama’ – Article – Sunshine Tropical
Credit for Dracaena Marginata flower – Gallery – Forest & Kim Starr
Credit for compact Madagascar Dragon Tree – Gallery – BotBin
Credit for compact Madagascar Dragon Tree Tarzan – Gallery – Piotrus
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The Dracaena marginata is a member of the Dracaena family (Asparagaceae), a family that provides some of the most durable indoor foliage plants used indoors in offices building, hotels, and malls but also as an everyday house plant.
Of all the Dracaenas, Dracaena marginata is probably the most versatile. Some confuse this Dracena houseplant with a palm which is why you’ll often see dracaena palm referenced.
Different forms of Dracaena marginata – character, stump, staggered, tree, colorama and dracaena flower
Although it may look palm-like as a larger specimen it is in the same family as the popular Yucca plant.
Dracaena Marginata plant goes by many different common names:
- Dracaena marginata
- Red edged dracaena
- Madagascar dragon tree Dracaena marginata
- Dragon blood tree
- Tree Dracaena plant
Add to that the marginata also has a few different ‘cultivars’:
Throw in a few forms this versatile popular tropical Dracaena houseplant is grown in:
- Straight cane
- Staggered cane
- Tree form
- Character forms
… And it’s easy to see why the Dracaena is one popular plant for indoor use, but outdoors as well. In general, the Dracaena marginata is rugged and carefree as an indoor plant adding a tropical appearance to any room it graces.
When planted outdoors in the south Florida landscape in direct sunlight a Dracena marginata can grow to heights of approximately 15 foot tall.
The leaves with red to purple stripes running along the edge find themselves sitting atop long slender “canes.” As new leaves emerge the oldest mature leaves yellow and fall off.
When marginata is grown for indoor use fields of “stock” plants are planted and the growing tips or long thin stems called “canes” are cut and rooted in well-drained soil.
The rooted plants of the Madagascar dragon tree are planted into a variety of forms and grown on for use as a houseplant or for use in commercial applications by interiorscapers or plantscapers.
The Dracaena (all types of Dragon plants) make a great focal point in a room and many designers use staggered forms or character forms to create interest.
A small footprint is one big advantage most Dracaenas provide for use as indoor plants.
You can get a tall upright 6′ foot character indoor plant or other different and unique looks, which uses very little floor space. Examples below:
Using canes of various lengths either straight, with bends and curves or multiple heads and planting the canes together allows growers to produce fuller plants.
From the book “Tropical Foliage Plants Growers Guide“:
In Hawaii, Dracaena marginata has been called the “money tree” because the first marginatas planted there were placed around the Bank of Hawaii.
Today, most people refer to Pachira aquatica as the Money Tree plant.
Dracaena Marginata Care For All ‘Dragon Tree Plant’ Varieties
Like most Dracaenas, Dracaena marginata will give the best results indoors in bright yet indirect sunlight. Although bright indirect light is the preference, it will handle lower light situations, but the leaves will be thinner.
These potted plants sold as houseplants usually begin their start as tip cuttings or cane cuttings. Once rooted and growing they are acclimated to lower light conditions where the foliage color becomes a darker green. Beware if you place an acclimated marginata plant in direct sunlight for a period of time the leaves may get sunburned bleach spots or patches.
Care Instructions For Watering Your “Red-Edged Dracaena”
When growing indoors, I like to use sub-irrigation on Dracaena plants. Self-watering planters like ones from Lechuza deliver water evenly to the soil and allow Dracaenas to also dry out evenly between refilling the reservoir.
If you’re watering from the top allow the soil to dry out a little between waterings. When the soil surface is dry to the touch – water the plant thoroughly and allow the excess water to exit through the drainage holes.
What Temperatures Are Best For Marginata?
The Dracaena marginata much like you – enjoy comfortable room temperatures of 75° degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for this top-notch “plant air cleaner” to remove pollutants like Formaldehyde from the air.
The leaves of any Dracaena over time will grab their share of dust. Clean these house plants regularly and remove the dust by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth.
Most plants you buy for the home will have enough plant food in the potting mix to last a long time – in general, stay away from fertilizing indoor plants but if you must, use a weak liquid fertilizer at 1/4 to 1/3 strength will do.
Feed plants when they are actively putting on new growth during the spring and summer growing season.
If the plant’s stems become too long and bare, cut them off at the desired height, and new leaves will soon appear.
Dragon tree Dracaena marginata used indoors in Alabama hotel lobby.
Dracaena Marginata Pests Problems?
Fortunately, indoors plant disease is a rare problem with the Dracaena family as a whole. The biggest problem normally comes from improper watering – too much or too little causes brown tips and yellow leaves – that’s why I like sub-irrigation. The next problem comes from pests like mealy bugs or spider mites.
Root rot usually finds its way into the Dracaena problem camp when the potting soil is overwatered on a frequent basis or the potting mix does not drain quickly enough.
For most new to houseplant care it’s the overwatering that hurts the plant.
When the humidity gets too low like during the winter months leaf tips can brown. This is where a humidifier can help with plant care.
If your Madagascar Dragon trees suffer from a sudden loss of leaves look for a number of possible causes:
- Exposure to temperature changes
- Cool drafts
- Overwatering or too much water
- Poor drainage (e.g. sitting in a saucer full of water)
- Allowing the soil to dry too much
- Heavy insect infestations
Another reason to stay away from fertilizing is due to fertilizer burn. Just like a lawn can burn with fertilizer so can a Dracaena. The leaf tips and margins can become yellow or burn from over fertilizing.
Dracaenas are also very fluoride sensitive. This often shows up in yellowing or brown tips on the leaves.
Dracaena Marginata Cultivars
‘Tarzan’ USPP #15,065
Dracaena Tarzan New King Of Marginata
Dracaena marginata Tarzan looks like the new “King” in the Dracaena Marginata world. Dracaena ‘Tarzan’ holds U.S. Plant Patent #15,065 and was discovered in 1998 as a single plant by Sunshine Tropical Foliage in South Florida.
‘Tarzan’ grows pretty much like a marginata, but its leaves are distinctively wider, longer with a dark purple colored margin.
In lower light levels ‘Tarzan’ will hold more leaves better (more lower leaves) and even grow setting itself apart from the regular marginata.
Here’s a few unique characteristics distinguishing ‘Tarzan’:
- Growth habit – Upright
- Slender stems mature to a woody trunk
- Fleshy leaves, glossy dark green in color with dark purple-colored margins
- Durable with excellent keeping quality with more lower leaves
- Resistant to pests
The care for Dracaena ‘Tarzan’ is like most Dracaenas.
Dracaenas are woody plants and recognized by most “in the know” as great houseplants, perfect choices for indoor environments, and excellent landscaping plants. The popular dracaena species Marginata, has many cultivars loved because of their foliage, and Dracaena Tarzan is a new favorite.
The upright growth habit of Tarzan is very similar to Marginata. But compared to Dracaena Marginata, it has longer and wider leaves.
These fleshy leaves are held much better than Marginata. Each glossy leaf is rich green in color with deep purple colored margins. Tarzan has slender stems that mature into woody trunks.
Dracaena Tarzan grows well in lower light but prefers bright indirect light. Its durability makes it capable for many growers to have Tarzan in many forms – shrub or tree. It is pest-resistant and drought tolerant. This plant thrives well indoors and/or outdoors especially in areas or landscapes with full sun or shade.
Dracaena Tarzan like Marginata
Any King deserves a royal treatment. Fussy and luxurious pampering is needed to satisfy his royal highness. But our King of Marginata proves to be a very easy to grow plant. Any owner of King of Marginata, or simply called, Dracaena Tarzan does not have to fuss very much over this plant.
Tarzan is a distinct cultivar of Dracaena that grows very similar to the Dracaena marginata. But unlike Marginata, Tarzan has upright growth habit with slender stems that give support to the plant’s linear and fleshy leaves. The glossy leaves of Tarzan are dark green in color with deep purple colored margins.
Tarzan just like Marginata can be grown in various forms. It can make a standout accent when used as a tree form.
As a bush, its leaves would look full and fall less thus making it an excellent centerpiece or as an accent plant to fill up a dull and empty corner.
Our King is very adaptable to normal or almost adverse conditions, requiring little care. For optimum growth make sure that it is put in an area with indirect light. Browning of leaves is less likely to occur if the plant is put in a high humidity environment.
When you see too many yellow leaves dropping from the plant, check your watering habits. It would also help your plant to grow well if it feels a little care from you. So, if possible, check the leaves of your Dracaena Tarzan and make sure that they’re dust-free.
Hail to the new ‘King of Dracaena Marginata’
The ‘Magenta’ cultivar gets its name from the almost burgundy or magenta foliage color down the leaf edge.
The variety is slowly seeing more production, but takes time to build a large enough stock to produce as many different forms as you see in marginata.
‘Magenta’ in my opinion has a ‘softer’ look than the regular marginata variety.
After ‘Tarzan’, ‘Magenta’ would be my second choice.
‘Tricolor’ with its red leaf margins and white band or stripe running down the green leaf has been around for years but never quite caught on in popularity.
Most likely the white band in the leaves requires more light indoors to maintain a healthy plant. This variety will require more light than regular marginata. Also during the production phase I’ve noticed more leaf spot with Dracaena “tricolor.”
Dragon Tree Dracaena Marginata Colorama
‘Colorama’ similar in appearance and growth to `Tricolor’ except you’ll find red and ivory bands in the central section of the leaf.
Both ‘Tricolor’ and ‘Colorama’ have less chlorophyll than the common green species. They DO NOT grow as fast and require much more light to live indoors.
If you do not have a very bright area for ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Colorama’ dragon tree varieties do not even attempt them indoors.
This versatile, easy care and unique looking plant available in so many forms fits into most any indoor area making it easy to see why the Dracaena marginata is a popular and important plant for use indoors. You can find the Dracaena marginata is almost any nursery or garden center.
Other Dracaena Species Grown For Use Indoors:
- Dracaena Arborea
- Dracaena Fragrans – Corn Plant
- Dracaena massangeana cane
- Dracaena sanderiana – “Lucky bamboo”
- Dracaena deremensis “warneckii” – white with yellow stripes
- Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig” – all green
- Dracaena reflexa
- Dracaena surculosa – grown mainly for dish gardens
Read our article on available Dracaena types.
NOTE: Dracaena Draco the ‘dragon’s blood’ is grown as a landscape plant.
This plant is commonly known as Madagascar Dragon Tree, Dragon Tree or Red Edge Dracaena. Dracaena marginatas are extremely popular houseplants and rightfully so. They’re spiky, a bit edgy, fit in beautifully with modern, Asian or bohemian decor but sometimes they get a bit out of hand.
I inherited a Dracaena marginata “Tricolor” from the previous homeowner which needed to be pruned back before I transplant and bring it in for the winter. I’m sharing with you a few things to keep in mind when rooting the cuttings.
Dracaena Marginata Propagation
Dracaena marginata cuttings are very easy to propagate in water.
The long stems, which are called canes, reach and twist towards the light. Their normal growth habit is for the canes to become very long over time.
As this happens, they shed the lower leaves which turn yellow then brown and fall off. If the plant isn’t getting enough light then the canes become thin and leggy and the foliage has a droop to it. You can prune those canes down and take cuttings because Dracaena marginatas respond very well to this.
Tips on Rooting Dracaena Marginata Cuttings
If you’ve taken long cuttings, eventually you’ll see quite a few yellow leaves will appear at the base of the foliage head. No need to worry, this is normal. Just remove those leaves & recut the stems if necessary.
These are some of my Dracaena marginata cuttings before I cleaned off the yellow leaves & recut them the canes.
Make sure you change the water every 5-7 days.
You don’t water bacteria to build up in the water.
Fill your vase or jar 1/4 to 1/3 with water. You don’t want the level any higher than that because the roots will emerge too high up on the stem. Also, the stems will be more prone to rot if the vessel is completely full.
Keep your Dracaena marginata cuttings in bright light.
Low light isn’t good and neither is the direct hot sun. In that case, your cuttings will burn.
If you need to recut the canes, then make sure your pruners are clean & sharp. I always take my cuttings at an angle because that’s the way I was taught – it lessens the chance of infection.
Roots started emerging from the bottom of the canes after 10 days or so.
The Dracaena marginata canes can be twisted, straight, long or short. The growers train them into some pretty crazy shapes and forms. I had a candelabra form (which I gave to a friend before I moved) which you can see here. I usually cut my taller Dracaena marginata back every 2 years or so and you probably will need to do so to.
And you’ll see that roots emerge from the base of the canes in no time. You can enjoy the cuttings in a beautiful vessel as I’m enjoying my “cutting arrangements” in my kitchen and dining room. When it comes time to transplant the mother plant, I’ll put a couple of these cuttings at the base. The other cuttings are all going to a friend. I’m spreading the Dracanea marginata love!
Happy indoor gardening,
This is my sweet kitty Riley. Oscar, his tuxedo wearing companion, can be seen in the lead photo.
Pruning And Repotting A Madagascar Dragon Tree
The Madagascar dragon tree is a fantastic resilient species from the Dracaena genus (botanical name: Dracaena marginata). This is one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain…..
The dragon tree will need to be pruned and repotted at times. It’s usually best to prune when growth appears to be strong at the beginning of spring. This is when you’re likely to see the lower leaves on a stem begin to yellow.
When the lower leaves yellow or begin to look unhealthy remove them (this is normal for this plant – its just preparing for new growth). Pull the leaves downwards on the stem and they will just peel off.
Here’s One I Pruned And Repotted
This plant (see picture below) is very low in height for a dracaena marginata. I cut it (topped it) this way because of not wanting it to grow tall.
Topping: You will see on the image below that the dragon trees main stem in the center has been cut at the top. This is called topping that is done with many plants that can grow tall. This helps a plant to branch out and restricts the height (this plant can never grow any taller).
The plant below had a fair bit of neglect and needs leaves and canes removed. It is also became pot bound and the soil needs renewing.
Seriously Needed Repotting
After Repotting and Pruning: This is the same plant as above after pruning and repotting, looking pretty healthy now.
Training growth: I’m really hoping I can train this one to grow its canes close to each other. The green tie is a soft plastic material that does not harm the bark, tied gently. After new growth has formed the plant will follow the direction I have trained it to grow. Tying to support a plant can be done at any time but to train a plant it must be done in spring or when new growth is appearing.
Repotting and Pruning Tips
Pruning: As mentioned above remove any lower leaves yellowing or looking unhealthy (just peel them off). For cutting a stem use a good cutting knife or secateurs….
You can remove a stem if it is growing out of form with the rest of the plant or remove a lower stem to encourage upper growth. I always cut it right back to the main stem/trunk but you can cut it to any length then this stem will produce a new branch.
The stem/cane cuttings can be used for propagating (you can propagate 2 -3 in stem cuttings or plant a whole stem with most the lower leaves removed). More info on propagating can be found here. Look at the section for stem and cane cuttings.
As mentioned previously you can top the plant by cutting the main stem/trunk with a good sharp knife to your desired height. Remember it will not grow taller than thecut though…but it will encourage new branches near the top of the new tip.
Don’t worry about over pruning or harming a dracaena marginata its a tough cookie and easy to prune and care for.
Repotting: Repotting should be done about once every two years or so. If they become root bound growth is likely to be very slow. You can check the bottom of the pot to see if roots are appearing through the drainage holes and if they are the plant is root bound.
To repot first get yourself a new pot that is 1 -3 inches bigger in width than the current pot. Lean the pot on its side holding the plants stem carefully and try to ease the plant out. You may need to tap the bottom or press and squeeze the sides of the pot to encourage the plant to come out (only plastic pots).
Loosen as much of the old soil from the roots as possible and check for any unhealthy roots (also remove them). Loosen all the roots so they are kind of hanging down rather than spiralling around (spiralling around is a sign the plant has become root bound).
Place enough potting mix in the pot so the plant is kind of sitting at the same level as it was previously. Cover the outer edges of the plant within the pot a couple of centimetres at least below the top of the pot. An all purpose potting mix is fine to use for this plant.
You are now ready to go! Water the plant thoroughly and place it back in the same position it was before treating it.
Same Plant Nine Months Later (looking healthy)
This Video Clip Is Useful About Repotting
Here you will find a description and care instructions for the Dracaena Marginata ”