Last Updated on March 10, 2023
Did you just receive this spiky wonder as a gift? Or perhaps you could not resist buying the plant when you visited the nursery. Either way, if you want to learn more about your Madagascar Dragon Tree, then this article is just for you. We cover everything that you need to know in order to give your plant a long and happy life.
Table of Contents
The Benefits of Choosing A Madagascar Dragon Tree
- One of the most affordable houseplants to purchase and keep.
- Very easy to care for.
- Purifies the air.
- Lives several years.
- Exotic appearance.
- Available in different colors.
Origins and Appearance
Hailing all the way from the island of Madagascar, this variety of dragon tree comes with its own set of charms. The unusual appearance makes this plant a great addition to the home and once mature enough, it can even be the focal point of the room.
The Madagascar Dragon Tree has a slender trunk, usually light gray, and a bushy top. The latter consists of long, ribbon-like leaves very similar to a palm (which this tree is not). The plant can also reach an impressive height of 20 feet (6 m) in the wild and roughly 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) when potted.
The Color Varieties
The most common Dracaena marginata has dark green leaves that are glossy and beautiful. However, this plant offers you three colorful varieties that are more pleasing if you desire a touch of flair for your houseplants. Let’s have a quick look at each!
- The “Tricolor” – This aptly named variety has three colors. Besides the usual green, each leaf also has bands of yellow and red edges.
- The “Colorama” – The plant is known for shades that are vibrantly pink or red.
- “Tarzan” – While the color is the same as the standard dragon tree, the shape is more spherical with a thicker trunk and leaves. The latter are sometimes tipped with pink.
Temperature and Humidity
While the Madagascar Dragon Tree is easy to care for, it can suffer severe damage when its temperature and humidity needs are not taken into consideration. Let’s cover your plant’s lighting, heat and moisture requirements. Following these simple suggestions will ensure that your tree flourishes for a long time!
Partial Shade is Best
This is probably a leftover from their wild cousins growing in the forests of Madagascar. They likely evolved to grow in conditions that included light filtering through the tree canopy above them. For this reason, it is important that your dragon tree is never left in direct sunlight.
In the beginning, you might need a period of adjustment to find the best spot in your home. In other words, move the plant back and forth to find the perfect amount of sunlight! Give too much and the leaves will burn. Provide too little light and the leaves will start to lose their coloration.
Dragon trees are hardy goobers and they will survive in a variety of conditions. But the perfect temperature for this species is mild, falling in the range of 65ºF and 80ºF (18ºC and 26ºC). As tough as these plants are, keep an eye on them during the cooler seasons. They can go downhill fast if the weather gets too chilly.
Normal Humidity is Fine
Despite hailing from a warm and often humid island, dragon trees will flourish in the average humidity levels that exist in your home. However, you can spoil your plant a little when the air gets too dry. It will appreciate the extra humidity (which you can provide through regular misting).
Watering and Feeding
Dragon trees have medium water requirements and will happily exist without constant drinks. Indeed, you can wait until the top third of the soil is dried out before you thoroughly water the plant again. Always make sure that the pot has enough draining holes to allow all the water to run through. If the pot becomes waterlogged, you risk giving the plant root rot.
The leaves can also guide your watering routine. If the plant is shedding a lot of yellow leaves, then you need to give the tree water more regularly. But when the tip of the leaves is the first thing to turn yellow, it is a sign of overwatering.
Dragon trees are the perfect potplants if feeding schedules give you a headache. Indeed, since these plants grow slowly, they do not require constant doses of fertilizer. If you want to make sure that your dragon tree gets a good feeding every now and again, you can use an organic liquid fertilizer once or twice during the growing season (spring and summer).
Soil and Repotting
Avoid Soil That Retains Water
Once again, you don’t have to worry about getting a special type of soil. Dragon trees are happy with anything as long as the soil is well-draining. You can even add rocks at the bottom of the pot to make the soil more accomodating.
Low Repotting Rate
Dragon trees do well when they are slightly rootbound. They will happily grow for a long time in the same pot that you bought the plant in. But as a general rule, you need to repot your dragon tree once or twice a year when the roots become too congested.
Get all the best tips on how to re-pot your house plants.
When to Prune a Dragon Tree
Considering how tall this tree can become, pruning is sometimes necessary to keep its height in check. You can also prune your dragon tree to remove old branches and leaves to give the plant a more manicured look. The good news is that dragon trees respond well to pruning as long as you use clean tools and do not overdo the cutting.
Pests and Diseases
The Madagascar Dragon Tree is suitable for beginners or those who need low-maintenance plants. This can not only be seen in their easy care requirements but also in their resistance to illness. But like all house plants, your tree might fall prey to certain pests and diseases. Let’s look at the most common issues that you can expect.
You can treat all the goobers below with a good, organic pesticide. If your dragon tree has a history of infestation but is clear for the time being, you can apply the pesticide as a preventative measure.
Spider mites – These mites are so small that it can be difficult to see them. The first sign is usually structures that appear like a spider web. These webs commonly appear under leaves or along the stem. Spider mites can also cause leaves to turn yellow or brown and fall off.
Scale insects – These critters are easy to spot. They look like raised bumps or scales along the stem of the plant. Scale insects tend to stay put (almost appearing dead) but in truth, they latch onto a spot and suck the juice from the plant.
Mealybugs – These bugs earned their name because they really look mealy. When you notice white puffs on your plant or these powdery bugs, then you have a mealybug problem. If left unchecked, they can make a dragon tree seriously ill.
Common Diseases and Problems
Root rot – This serious condition is caused by too much water. Prevention is best so from the start, make sure that the pot has enough drainage holes, that the soil drains well and does not become waterlogged – and that you do not overwater.
Fungal diseases – Most house plants are at risk of these issues and dragon trees are no different. Fungal problems cause discolored leaves, leaf fall, abnormal lumps and bumps and a general sick appearance. Use a good, organic fungicide when you suspect this is the case.
Fluoride toxicity – A lot of house plants suffer no problems when you water them straight from the tap. Dragon trees are a little different. They have a sensitivity to fluoride and if your water supply is being treated with this compound, rather give your tree distilled water. Signs that fluoride is making your plant sick include dead leaf tips, warping colors, and large brown areas on the leaves.
Q: Is the Madagascar Dragon Tree safe around kids and pets?
No, the Madagascar Dragon Tree is considered toxic. This is a cause for concern as many people love to position the plant on the ground as a corner display, giving children and pets easy access. Make sure that you put your plant safely out of reach.
Q: Can I propagate my Madagascar Dragon Tree at home?
Yes, you certainly can propagate your plant at home. This species roots readily in water as cuttings. You can also take a few cuttings and root them in the soil. They grow so easily that very often, no rooting hormone powder or gel is needed.
Q: How fast will my dragon tree grow?
The Madagascar Dragon Tree grows very slowly. This makes it a suitable choice for anyone who wants an unusual plant that won’t reach the roof in one year or two. Indeed, it can take your tree a decade to grow just a few feet.
Q: What’s the difference between dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) and dragon tree (Dracaena draco)?
We fully discussed the marginata tree in this article so you should have a relative understanding of the plant’s appearance. Now, imagine a plant that looks identical! However, draco is different in one way. It produces a red resin (called dragon’s blood) when you cut the leaves. Marginata does not have this feature.