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    Dracaena Plant Care: Complete Guide

    blog post authorVera Kutsenko
    Save For Later

    Dracaena is a genus that includes about 120 species of evergreen succulent shrubs and trees. In fact, Sansevieria (commonly known as Snake Plants) are now included in the Dracaena genus. 
    Dracaenas are part of the Asparagaceae family. Dracaena includes trees and succulent shrubs that contain a variety of shades of green leaves. They are commonly grown indoors as ornamental houseplants, but can also be grown outdoors to add a tropical feel to your space. They are fairly easy to care for and thrive on lack of attention as long as they get enough bright light! Read on about how to best care for dracaena plants and different varieties that are popular amongst plant parents.
    Note Icon
    Fun fact: Snake plants (Sansevieria) is now included in Dracaena family!
    Formerly part of Sansevieria, most common snake plants are now classified as part of Dracaena family.
    Dracaenas can oftentimes be confused with Cordylines, but they are considered two separate plant groups. Some common indoor, tree-like dracaena varieties include Dracaena reflexa, Dracaena sanderiana, and Dracaena marginata. In fact, what you commonly know as the Snake plant (Sansevieria) is now included in the Dracaena genus. In Africa, dracaenas are typically grown as hedge plants. 
    Dracaenas are great houseplants that thrive in lower light conditions and normally humid environments. These plants can tolerate drought but not prolonged neglect. They will wilt if overwatered or underwater and shrivel if deprived of light for even a few days. 
    Read on to learn about how to care for your Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana' so that it stays healthy and thriving all year round!

    What are Dracaenas?

    Dracaena plants are popular ornamental houseplants grown indoors and outdoors in subtropical climates. They can reach up to 3-6 feet indoors depending on the variety, and have a shrub-like look. Their glossy green leaves can grow up to one foot long themselves. Although most dracaena plants commonly sport green foliage, some varieties of dracaena produce reddish and orangish leaves or stalks.
    They are part of the Asparagaceae, or asparagus family, which is comprised of almost 120 dracaena cultivars. 
    Their stunning foliage with beautiful colors can make for great centerpieces of corner plants for a bedroom or office. They were also rated by NASA to help remove toxins from the air and improving air quality!
    Pro Tip Icon
    Warning: Dracaenas are toxic to cats and dogs!
    Unfortunately, Dracaena Massangeana contains saponins that make it toxic to cats and dogs as well as horses. We recommend growing her in a place where it’s not accessible to your furry friends!

    General Dracaena Care Guide

    Dracaena spp.
    Dragon Tree, Corn Plant, Cornstalk Plant, False Palm, Ribbon Plant, Money Tree
    Evergreen, succulent shrub or tree
    Slow, can take up to 10 years to reach maturity
    Up to 4-10 Ft indoors, Up to 15-30 Feet outdoors, 3-10 feet wide
    Slow-release, balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during growing season in late spring to early fall
    Bright, indirect light to partial shade. At least 3-4hrs of bright light.
    Low - 1x a week to bi-weekly. Wait till top 1-2 inches of soil are dry. Don't use tap water.
    Normal/Moderate - 40-60%
    Slightly acidic to neutral, 6-7
    70-80 degrees Fahrenheit
    West or east-facing windows ideal. A few feet away from south-facing (bright light).
    9, 10, 11, 12 depending on variety and cultivar
    Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses
    Botanical Name
    Common Name
    Plant Type
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Sun Exposure
    Humidity (Ideal)
    Soil Type
    Soil pH
    Temperature (Ideal)
    Window Locations (Ideal)
    USDA Hardiness Zones
    Companion Plants

    How to Grow and Care For Dracaenas

    Dracaena plants are easy to care for and low-maintenance plants which makes them great for beginner plant parents! They thrive in bright, diffused light and in lightly moistened soil in warm or ambient room temperatures. THey do well with an occasional pruning as they can grow fairly tall, and you may need to trim them to maintain their bushy appearance and control their height. 
    Like most other houseplants, Dracaenas can be susceptible to common issues like yellow leaves, browning leaves, root rot, and pests like spider mites, scale, and aphids. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to plant and grow Dracaena whether indoors or outside in your garden!
    Dracaena plants are low maintenance and very forgiving, making them great options for inexperienced indoor gardeners. If you have one of these plants, here are a few care tips for keeping it healthy and beautiful:

    Where to place your Dracaena

    Make sure to place your Dracaena in a spot with bright, indirect light when growing indoors. If growing outdoors, place in part shade and part sun.
    Dracaenas make for great plants for office corners and well-lit bedrooms. In feng shui, you can place lucky bamboo in your home's southeast or east area to attract positive energy.
    They make for great centerpieces in containers outdoors filled with trailing annuals or perennials nearby.

    Growing Dracaena Plants In Your Garden (Outdoors)

    Dracaenas can thrive in a variety of conditions but they prefer to be grown outdoors in warm climates. They are frequently used for landscaping in desert or Mediterranean climates thriving in USDA zones 9-12. Dracaenas are not frost-tolerant plants. If you’re growing in Zone 9, the winter temperatures may dip too low, and you’ll want to overwinter your Dracaena indoors or cover it with a tree cover to help protect it from cooler temperatures. 
    The most common Dracaenas used in the landscape are Dracaena draco, commonly known as Dragon Blood true due to its red sap. Dracaena marginata and Dracaena deremensis are also popular varieties to add a pop of color.

    When planting outdoors, you should place them in partial-shade and part sun where they can receive 2-4 hours of diffused sunlight. They can make great centerpieces for large containers surrounded by trailing annuals. They make a great pair with impatiens, purple sweet potato vines, coral bells, creeping jenny, and petunias. 
    If you’re planting amongst other large plants, you will want to plant 12-24 inches between plants to give them space to spread. They prefer nutrient-rich soil so we recommend adding compost or other organic material to let it thrive best. You can supplement nutrition with a balanced fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season in spring and summer to encourage more growth.

    💧 Water

    Dracaenas thrive in well-draining soil and love to be in consistently moist soil. We recommend you don’t let the soil dry out between waterings, but you can let the topsoil dry out. If you overwater the plant leaving the soil soggy, it can lead to fungal diseases and root rot which can kill the plant. On the other hand, if you leave your soil too dry too often, you’ll turn the leaves crispy brown. 
    As a general rule, watering once a week will probably do. If you’re unsure whether to water, better to wait a couple of days rather than potentially overwater.
    Pro Tip Icon
    Pro Tip: Use distilled, bottled, or filtered water!
    Dracaenas are sensitive to chemicals like fluoride in tap water. A build-up of these chemicals can cause root burn and other issues. If you’re regularly using tap water to water your plant, we recommend flushing your soil fully with rainwater, and distilled water every once in a while to drain out these chemicals.

    ☀️ Sunlight

    Dracaenas are fairly flexible in their light needs, happy to live in a dimly lit bedroom all the way near a brightly lit, south-facing window. For the most part, Dracaenas do prefer bright, diffused light so placing them near south-facing or west/east-facing windows will work best. Those varieties that have bright foliage tend to do better in brighter light.
    North-facing windows tend to receive the least light, so your Dracaena probably will survive when placed near a north-facing window, but we recommend supplementing with a grow light. They can tolerate partial shade, but lack of light can lead the foliage patterns to start fading.
    Avoid direct sunlight as exposure to full sun for too long may burn the plant’s foliage.

    🌡️ Temperature and Humidity

    Dracaenas grow in warm temperatures and moderate humidity environments. The most ideal indoor temperatures are between 65 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Most ambient indoor temperatures will do. You will want to keep your Dracaenas away from cold drafts so void placing them near exterior doors or windows or air conditioners.
    Pro Tip Icon
    Pro Tip: Avoid cold or hot drafts!
    Dracaenas are sensitive to drastic environmental and temperature shifts. You will want to keep your Dracaena Massangeana away from cold or hot drafts so avoid placing them near exterior doors or windows or air conditioners. 
    For humidity, Dracaenas can grow in average humidity (40-60%). If you live in a particularly dry environment, we recommend you supplement with a small humidifier or group your plants together. You can also increase humidity by placing your plant atop a pebble tray filled with water. Occasionally misting your Dracaena also can help especially during the hotter summer months.
    Dracaena massangeana in a white pot
    Image Source:Photo by rohmanman from Shutterstock.Dracaenas are generally a forgiving plants that can tolerate most soil mixes. However, for best results, add perlite or lava rocks to ensure proper drainage.

    🌱 Best Soil for Dracaenas

    Dracaenas prefer well-draining, nutrient rich soil. Most houseplant potting mixes will do, but you can always supplement with perlite, pumice, or vermiculite to encourage draining. Adding coco coir and peat moss can encourage moisture retention while maintaining aeration without weighing down the soil down. You can also add organic matter like compost or orchid bark to increase nutrition and further drainage.
    It’s important to make sure you plant your Dracaena in a pot with drainage holes to encourage excess water to drain from the pot.

    🌻 Best Fertilizer for Dracaenas

    Dracaenas aren’t heavy feeders, so you don’t have to feed your Dracaena. However, they are slow growers, so if you want to boost their foliage and growth rate, we recommend fertilizing them with balanced houseplant fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing seasons in spring and summer time.
    Dracaenas can be sensitive to salt and chemical build-up in their soil, so be cautious with over-fertilizing. Too much fertilizer can cause leaf-tip burn due to salt build-up. If you think you’ve been fertilizing too much, you can always flush the soil by allowing water to continuously run through the soil for a couple of minutes. Try to use rain water or distilled water to avoid tap water chemicals further building up in the soil.

    😎 Pruning and Maintenance

    Dracaenas do really well with pruning to encourage new growth and maintain a clean, bushy appearance. The most ideal time to prune your Dracaena is during its growth season in Spring and Summer so that it can recover quickly. These plants go dormant in Fall and Winter, so they’re slower to recover when pruned during this time. 
    You may also need to prune your Dracaena if you’re seeing yellow, brown or dying foliage so that the plant can direct its energy towards healthy growth.

    You will want to use a sterilized garden shear or knife to prune your Dracaena otherwise you can unintentionally invite diseases and pests.
    When you’re ready to prune, you can trim any dead foliage. Then, you can trim the leaves to your liking and cut the leaves at an angle.
    You can also trim any stems off the dracaena if you want to control the size of the plant. This can be a great time to consider propagating your Dracaena.
    Pro Tip Icon
    Tip: Wipe Dracaena's leaves every once in a while with a damp cloth!
    Since their leaves can get quite long, we also recommend occasionally wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth to wipe off dust and make them glossy.
    Propagating dracaenas can be done by air layering or stem cuttings.
    Image Source:Photo by Jedsada Naeprai on Shutterstock.Pruning is a great time to consider propagating your Dracaena. The easiest way to do it is through stem cuttings or by air layering!

    How to Propagate Dracaenas

    Propagating Dracaenas is quite easy to do and there are several ways you can propagate: from top cuttings, by layering, by stem cuttings! We’ll cover how you can best propagate your Dracaena through each of these ways.

    Propagating your Dracaena From Top Cuttings

    This is a simple way to propagate any Dracaena! Using sterilized gardening shears or a knife, you can completely remove the top portion of the mother plant below the bush (rosette) of leaves. This may seem alarming, but the Dracaena mother plant will regrow its top shrub quite quickly especially if you're doing this during its growing season.

    Propagating your Dracaena From Stem Cuttings

    This is the most common way to propagate most houseplants including Dracaena. This is a great way to clone multiple plants at once.
    The process is similar to that of top cuttings. The difference is that you can remove as many stem sections as you’d like. Using a sterilized knife or scissors, you will want to trim stems making sure they’re at least 8 inches in length and contain a few nodes. Make sure to keep track of which part of the stem is the top and bottom. Be careful about pruning too much of your mother plant – it needs to be full enough to grow back healthy.
    Once you've pruned your stems, you can dip the bottom in rooting hormone (although not required).
    Then, you can either place your stems in water or soil and wait for them to root. If you’re using water, make sure to refresh your water every couple of days.

    Propagating your Dracaena By Air Layering

    Due to their thick stems, Dracaenas make great candidates for propagating by air layering. To prepare, you'll need a sterilized knife, some plastic wrap, rooting hormone, and sphagnum moss.


    First, pick a stem that corresponds with the length you want your new plant to be.


    Alcoholically sterilize your blade and then carefully scrape away a layer of the bark around the plant’s stem to reveal a ring about half an inch to an inch wide.


    Use your rooting hormone and sprinkle it around the mark.


    Dampen your sphagnum moss to make it pliable enough to wrap around the open portion of the stem and cover it in plastic wrap to keep it in place.


    The Dracaenas are tricked into believing they are being propagated, causing them to begin producing roots.


    Once you start to see new roots form, you can use sterilized shears to cut the stem below the roots and replant into a new container!

    When and How to Repot Dracaena

    Dracaenas are fairly slow growers, growing fasters during the spring and summer months. Generally, repotting your Dracaena can be done every two to three years.  Another reason to repot would be to refresh soil nutrients since Dracaenas prefer nutrient-rich soil and if you’ve been using only tap water for a long time. You can also use fertilizer to replenish nutrients in your soil.


    Prepare a new, larger container than your last. Generally 2 inches bigger.


    Wearing gloves, fill your new container with Dracaena Massangeana friendly soil mix recommended above. You want to fill it up to roughly ⅓ of the pot. 


    Gently remove your old plant and softly release the root ball and the rest of the soil.


    Now is a good time to inspect the roots and do some root pruning. If you see any dead or mushy roots (sign of root rot), trim them with sterilized garden shears. 


    Place your plant in the new container and backfill with soil.


    Deep water the plant to let is settle in.

    Common Dracaena Pests and Disease

    Dracaenas are vulnerable to many of the common houseplant issues like yellow, browning leaves, or pests like spider mites, scales, and aphids. These issues usually are the result of improper water and light conditions. Below, we’ll cover the most common issues and how you can best diagnose and treat them.

    Dracaena Leaves are Turning Yellow

    Yellow leaves on a Dracaena. Sign of overwatering.
    Image Source:Photo by Shadow Inspiration on Shutterstock.The most common cause of yellow leaves is overwatering.

    Yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering your Dracaena. Your soil is either soggy, waterlogged and too moist. You will want to adjust your watering schedule and make sure the topsoil is dry in between waterings. We also recommend that you plant your calathea in well-draining soil supplemented with coco coir, peat, or perlite. 
    If you’re seeing brown leaf spots surrounded by a yellow halo, these are signs of a fungal infection (Fusarium leaf spot) due to too much moisture on the leaves. You will want to prune away damaged leaves and treat the entire plant with fungicide like neem oil and make sure you’re not overmisting your plant.

    Dracaena Leaves are Dropping

    Some leaves dropping off your Dracaena is natural as the plant matures. However, if you’re seeing consistent leaves dropping off your Dracaena can be a symptom of multiple issues, so you’ll need to try to narrow down which one it is. One of the most common reasons is overwatering. You will usually see yellow leaves as a secondary symptom if you’re overwatering.
    Dracaenas can be sensitive to drastic temperature changes as well. Watch that your Dracaena is placed away from exterior doors, windows, and air conditioners or heaters (during winter time). 
    Dropping leaves can also be a result of a pest infestation such as spider mites. You will want to inspect your plant’s stems and leaf undersides to spot such an infestation. Usually, there are other symptoms as well - such as yellow/brown leaves and drooping.

    Dracaena Has Brown Leaf Tips

    If you’re seeing crispy, brown leaf edges, this is likely a sign that your plant’s environment is too dry. This can mean you are underwatering your dracaena or there are low humidity levels. Make sure to keep your Dracaena’s soil consistently moist only allowing topsoil to dry between waterings. 
    Less common, brown leaf tips can also be a sign of over-fertilization. If you’ve been feeding your plant heavily the last couple of months, we recommend you pause and let the plant rest.
    Trim away the brown portions of the leaves and maintain a proper watering schedule.

    Root Rot

    If this is your first time experiencing root rot, read our full guide on root rot.
    Root rot is a common issue with most houseplants including Dracaena Massangeana. It’s usually caused by moist or waterlogged soil for prolonged periods of time. Symptoms can include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and a rotten brown base. In Dracaenas, severe symptoms could result in soft stems and bark flaking off. If you’re seeing these symptoms, here’s how to treat root rot.


    Remove the plant from the pot and gently remove the soil so you can see the root system.


    If the roots are brown and mushy, you must take action immediately. Clean off the roots with sterile water.


    Take sterilized scissors and trim any mushy roots.


    You can use a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect the roots.


    Once cleaned up, repot your plant in fresh houseplant soil mix. You will want to make sure it's well-draining so we recommend adding perlite or lava rocks.

    Spider Mites

    Spider mites are arthropods that live on plants and consume them. They prefer hot temperatures and dry weather, and they consume a diverse variety of plants. Spider mites are red, yellow, or orange, depending on the species.
    Even though they are tiny, you can spot them with your naked eye. Spider mites invade plants through their leaves and suck the nutritive juices from them.
    They leave behind stalks as they feed. As they feed, spider mites spin webs, which drain the life from plants and cause their leaves to turn yellow and brown. A whole plant may be destroyed in as little as a week if spider mites are not controlled in your garden.
    If this is your first time managing spider mites, read our in-depth guide on how to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants.
    How to spot a spider mite infestation on my Dracaena massangeana?
    Spider mite damage is different from that of cutting insects. There won’t be a hole in a leaf, but rather large discolored areas made up of tiny dots or stippling. You may notice that your plant leaves are covered in a web-like substance as previously stated or you may notice small specks on the leaves, or if the infestation has gone further you might see leaves or whole portions of your plant start to curl and wither.
    To treat spider mites, quarantine your plant to prevent spread. You can wash your plant with water to clear out some of the infestation initially. Then use insecticidal soap or neem oil to spray your plant and wipe off spider mites. Repeat this process daily until the infestation is gone.


    Scales are small insects that are brown to yellow in color. They usually live near stems or undersides of leaves, producing a honeydew-like substance that makes lower leaves shiny and sticky. If your plant is struggling to grow, has lost leaves, and has shiny, sticky leaves, you are probably dealing with a scale infestation.
    Once you spot a scale infestation, it’s best to quarantine the plant so the infestation doesn’t spread.
    First, you’ll want to rinse your plant with water to try to get rid of as many bugs as you can. You can use insecticidal soap or neem oil and spray your plant every 7-10 days until the infestation disappears.
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    FAQs on Dracaenas

    Is Dracaena a good indoor plant?
    Yes! Dracaenas are very easy to care for and forgiving plants. They can tolerate lower light conditions and are moderately drought tolerant.
    Are dracaenas good for bedroom?
    Dracaenas make great plants for a bedroom! According to NASA Clean Air Plant study, Dracaens purify toxins from the air. Beyond that, they are tolerant of lower light and drought conditions.
    How fast do Dracaena massangeana grow?
    Dracaena Massangeanas are slow growers. Growing only about 6 inches a year. It can take up to 10 years for them to reach their maximum size.
    Are Dracaena toxic to cats and other pets?
    The leaves are poisonous to dogs and cats. When ingested, the saponins in the leaves can cause vomiting, hyper salivation, and dilated pupils in cats.
    Can I put my dracaena outside?
    Dracaenas are hardy (can grow year-round) in USDA zones 9-12. The majority are safe in USDA zones 10-11. Generally, you'll want year-round temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your area drops below 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll need to bring your plant indoors.