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Dracaena (Dracaena spp.)

Dracaena Overview

Scientific name:

Dracaena spp.



Water requirements:


Light requirements:

Partial Shade


Air Purifying, Low Maintenance

Table of Contents

With its striking foliage and resilient nature, the dracaena plant makes an excellent addition to any home or office. Though the name may not be familiar, you’ve likely seen these plants before – the dracaena marginata, or dragon tree plant, is a popular houseplant known for its red-edged leaves. But dracaenas encompass a diverse group of over 120 species, offering a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors to suit nearly any decor.

Undemanding Growth Habits

One of the reasons dracaena thrive as houseplants is their ability to adapt to a wide range of conditions. They tolerate low to bright, indirect light, irregular watering, and fluctuations in temperature and humidity. This makes them an ideal plant for beginner gardeners or anyone seeking sturdy, low-maintenance greenery.

Air Purifying Properties

With their expansive foliage, dracaenas effectively filter airborne toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from indoor spaces. This makes them especially well-suited to freshen stale office environments.

Visual Interest

From spear-shaped leaves to arching fronds, dracaenas offer incredible diversity in textures and forms. Variegated varieties showcase stripes, spots, and color gradients across their foliage for added visual drama. These plants can be trained into standards, spirals, spheres, and more unique shapes to become living works of art.

By understanding dracaenas’ versatility as houseplants, it’s easy to see why they’ve remained so popular for over a century.

Detailed Description of Dracaena

Dracaena plants are known for their long, narrow leaves that emerge from a central stalk or cane. The leaves are typically green or variegated with shades of yellow, white, or red. They grow in a rosette pattern, with the oldest leaves at the bottom and newer leaves appearing at the top.

One of the most popular Dracaena varieties is the Dracaena marginata, or Madagascar dragon tree. It has slender, arching leaves that can grow up to 3 feet long. The leaves have red edges that give the plant a very tropical look. The canes can reach up to 6 feet tall over time.

Another common variety is the Dracaena fragrans, which includes the popular ‘Corn Plant’ cultivar. This variety has thicker stalks and broader, straighter leaves than the marginata. The leaves are generally solid green in color. It’s a bushier plant that grows in a tree-like shape.

There are also many colorful Dracaena cultivars to choose from. Dracaena ‘Lemon Lime’ has green and yellow striped leaves, while Dracaena ‘Warneckei’ has white stripes on the leaf edges. Other varieties like Dracaena ‘Florida Beauty’ have leaves dotted with shades of cream, yellow, or white.

Growth Habits

Most Dracaena varieties are slow growing, only reaching 1-3 feet per year. However, with the proper care they can grow quite large over time. For example, in ideal conditions a Dracaena marginata may eventually reach up to 15 feet tall.

Dracaena add height by producing new leaves at the central stalk. The lower leaves gradually drop off, leaving scars on the canes. Outdoor Dracaena plants develop woody canes and branching structures, taking on a tree-like shape.

Distinctive Features

The long strap-like leaves of Dracaena give them a very distinctive tropical look, unlike any other common houseplant. The red resin that oozes from cut leaves on some varieties is also unique. This “dragon’s blood” resin inspired the common name Madagascar dragon tree.

In addition to their ornamental value, Dracaena are among the best houseplants for filtering indoor air pollutants. This makes them a great choice for improving air quality in homes or offices.

Optimal Care Guide for Dracaena

When it comes to caring for dracaena houseplants, providing the right growing conditions is key. Dracaena thrive in bright, indirect light, so place them near a sunny window where they will receive plenty of light without risking leaf scorch. South or west-facing windows tend to offer the best light exposure. Rotate plants occasionally so all sides receive equal lighting.

Watering Needs

Dracaena prefer less frequent, deeper waterings. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between waterings, then soak the soil thoroughly. Water less often in winter when growth slows. The most common cause of problems is overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Allow excess water to drain freely from the drainage holes at the bottom of pots.

Temperature & Humidity

Dracaena tolerate average home temperatures between 16-24°C quite well. Higher humidity is appreciated, especially in dry indoor environments. Place pots on pebble trays, mist leaves occasionally, or use a humidifier to boost moisture levels around plants.

Soil & Potting

A well-draining potting mix amended with perlite or bark is ideal. Good drainage is key to prevent soggy soil. Re-pot every 2-3 years in the spring, moving plants to a container one size larger. Add fresh potting mix and trim any circled roots before re-planting at the same level as before.

With the proper care, dracaena can thrive for years as low-maintenance houseplants. Just be sure not to overwater and provide adequate indirect sunlight. Following these basic guidelines will keep dracaena healthy and looking their best.

Benefits of Dracaena in the Office

Having Dracaena plants in your office can provide a number of benefits beyond simply decorating your workspace. Studies have shown that incorporating plants into office environments can have positive effects on concentration, productivity, and even happiness.

Air Purification

One of the top reasons to add Dracaena plants to your office is that they work to purify indoor air. Like many houseplants, Dracaena absorbs harmful pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. By removing these toxins from the air, Dracaena creates a healthier work environment.

Increased Productivity

Research has demonstrated that employees who work in spaces with natural elements like plants tend to be more productive and focused. In one study, offices with plants saw increases of 15% in productivity and higher scores on tests of concentration and memory retention.

It’s believed that having living plants around helps restore mental vitality and allows workers to concentrate better on tasks. The natural presence is calming and refreshing.

Reduced Stress

In the same vein, several studies have shown that office plants can decrease stress levels and create positive emotional responses. Workers report lower levels of anxiety, fatigue, and negative feelings when their office space contains plants.

The visual presence and air-purifying abilities of plants like Dracaena combine to create a more relaxing environment, which translates to happier, healthier employees.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Dracaena

Dracaenas are generally low-maintenance houseplants, but they can develop issues like leaf spot, soft rot, and fusarium if care isn’t taken to provide the right growing conditions. By familiarising yourself with the signs of these common problems and making a few adjustments, you can keep your Dracaena healthy and thriving.

Preventing and Treating Leaf Spot

Leaf spot can occur if moisture sits on the Dracaena’s foliage for extended periods. To prevent leaf spot:

  • Water Dracaena from below, avoiding wetting the leaves
  • Ensure good air circulation around the plant
  • Mist Dracaena instead of pouring water over the leaves

If leaf spot does develop, remove and destroy affected leaves. Then allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings to discourage fungal growth.

Avoiding Soft Rot

Soft rot manifests as soft, mushy stems and leaves. It’s caused by overwatering. To prevent soft rot:

  1. Allow the top inch of soil to dry between waterings
  2. Water less frequently in low light or cool conditions
  3. Ensure the pot and soil allow adequate drainage

If soft rot occurs, remove and destroy affected plant parts, let the soil dry completely, and reduce watering frequency.

Controlling Fusarium

Fusarium causes yellowing leaves and stunted growth. It thrives in cool, damp conditions. Prevent fusarium by:

  • Keeping indoor temperatures above 60°F
  • Allowing soil to dry adequately between waterings
  • Using well-draining soil and pot with drainage holes
  • Increasing air circulation around the Dracaena

If fusarium occurs, prune off affected leaves and stems. Let the soil dry between waterings and apply a fungicide if the issue persists.

By familiarising yourself with common Dracaena problems and making a few easy care adjustments, you can maintain the health and beauty of these easy-going plants.

Fun Facts and Trivia about Dracaena

Dracaena plants have a long and storied history. In Africa, Dracaena plants were used to mark property lines and gravesites, symbolising peace and tranquility. Ancient Hawaiian people incorporated Dracaena into religious rituals and believed the plants had magical properties. Even today, Dracaena is sometimes called the “money tree” in China and Japan for its supposed ability to bring financial luck.

Unique Properties

  • The thickened stems of Dracaena give it an exotic, tropical look, almost like a palm tree.
  • The leaves of some Dracaena varieties can reach up to 4 feet long!
  • Dracaena produces small fragrant flower clusters, though they’re rarely seen on indoor plants.
  • Some Dracaena can live for over 50 years with proper care.

Intriguing Trivia

  1. NASA research found Dracaena to be an excellent air purifying plant, removing xylene, formaldehyde, and even trichloroethylene from the air.
  2. The name “Dracaena” comes from the Greek word drakaina meaning female dragon. It refers to the blood-red resin that seeps from cut stems.
  3. Dracaena marginatas were used as props in classic sci-fi and horror movies like Alien, Predator 2, and The Ruins.
  4. A 100-year old Dracaena fragrans named “Baby” lives at Koko Crater Botanical Garden in Hawaii.

This tough, adaptable plant has certainly earned its mythical status over time! Whether you want to add intrigue to your home or purify your office air, Dracaena’s versatility and resilience make it a captivating choice.


After learning all about the versatile and easy-to-care-for Dracaena houseplant, it’s time to take action! Adding a Dracaena or two to your home or office décor can provide many benefits. Dracaenas purify indoor air by removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. Their lush green foliage also boosts moods and reduces stress in indoor spaces.

Bring Nature Indoors

Dracaenas are perfect for bringing a little nature inside. With their tropical look, Dracaenas create a relaxing oasis and connect us to the calming power of plants. Their graceful arching leaves add peaceful vibes to any room. Dracaenas thrive in offices near bright windows, filtering sunlight through their broad leaves.

Hire Professionals

While Dracaenas are easy to maintain, hiring professionals ensures your plants stay healthy and bring joy for years to come. Consider contracting with a plant hire service like Aztec Plants. Aztec Plants specialises in servicing corporate offices, hotels, restaurants, malls, and more. Contact us today!

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