Red-edged Dracaena, Dracaena marginata – Details, Growing Tips

Red-edged Dracaena, Dracaena marginata details and growing tips.

The Red-edged Dracaena, Dracaena marginata is a great houseplant.

Common Names

Red-edged Dracaena, Dragon Tree, Madagascar Dragon Tree

Scientific Binomial Name

Dracaena marginata

Description of Red-edged Dracaena, Dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata is a synonym of Dracaena reflexa.

The marginata is without a doubt one of the most versatile Dracaenas and as a houseplant may be confused with a palm.  The impressive Red-edged Dracaena is an evergreen tree with curving multiple canes or stems, hundreds of long thin, glossy dark green leaves trimmed with red.   The stems are often thick, twisted and woody.   The stems can produce smaller stems allowing it to grow in all directions.  To avoid this, pruning is necessary.  Some varieties have been developed with red or pale yellow variegated leaves.   Although it is often confused with the palm it is actually in the same family as the Yucca plant.

A mature plant may grow to a height of 6 feet indoors or to 10 feet outdoors.  The leaves typically grow to 1 to 3 feet only and 1 to 3 inches wide.  The unusual snake-like cane or stem growth and the dramatic leaf patterns make this an extremely desirable plant for the home or office.   They are slow growing and one of the easiest plants to care for.  It will easily become the focal point in any room or office.  Because of its tree-like growth it can reach an impressive height in a small space.

Mature Size:  Indoors these can grow up to 6 feet tall.

Uses:  This plant looks great in any home or office.  It is a popular houseplant because it tolerates low light and survives neglect.

Growing Conditions for Red-edged Dracaena, Dracaena marginata

Light:  They prefer full sun but will tolerate low light conditions.  Too much direct sunlight may damage the leaves. Outside it needs partial shade from the afternoon sun.

Temperature:  Ideal temperatures are between 65°- 75°F (18°- 24 °C) or above. They will not do well if the temperature falls below 50°F (10°C).

Humidity:  Normal home humidity is fine but if it becomes too dry an occasional misting will help.

Soil:  Almost any all-purpose potting soil will work since they are not overly sensitive about soil conditions.

Hardiness Zones:

General Care for Red-edged Dracaena, Dracaena marginata

Water:  Allow it to dry slightly between watering. Avoid watering with cold water.  Do not allow the water to splash on the leaves.

Fertilizer:  This plant may not require fertilizer at all.  If needed apply a slow-release blend of 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 in the spring and again later in the summer.

Pests and Diseases:  Watch for thrips, mites, mealybugs and scale. Avoid watering these plants from overhead to avoid leaf spot diseases.

Pruning:  Prune the smaller stems that sprout on the bottom of the trunk.  The Red-edged Dracaena will often grow tall and lanky and may look too spindly and unbalanced.  You can achieve a more bushy look by cutting the taller canes.

Propagation:  Re-plant a stem cutting that is about 2 inches long.  You will have more success if you apply root hormones.  Rooting takes about 3 weeks.

Repotting:  If needed repot these every two years in the spring.

General Care:  Regularly wipe the dust from the leaves with a damp cloth.

Signs of Stress and Poor Health

Do not worry if the leaves start dying at the bottom of the plant.  This is just part of the growing process.

Medicinal and Other Uses

None

Cautions

Toxic to both cats and dogs.   Place where your plant is unavailable to your cat because some love to chew on the leaves.

Patent Information

Not patented.

Cultivars

‘Tarzan’, ‘Magenta’, ‘Tricolor’, ‘Colorama’

Native Distribution

Madagascar

Other Tips

If planted outdoors the Red-edged Dracaena will attract bees, butterflies and birds.

If your plant was imported from Hawaii it may have too much lava rock for ideal growth.  A simple fix is to remove from 1/3 to ½ of the soil and then replace with a standard potting mix.

The Red-edged Dracaena was shown to purify the inside air in the famous NASA Clean Air Study.  The Dracaena marginata will purify your home or office from a carcinogen called benzene.  Benzene is produced from cigarette smoke, synthetic materials and other household chemicals. Dracaena marginatas will also remove xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air.

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