Maintaining dracaenas is fairly easy and worth the small effort. They are gorgeous and give a dramatic feel to an environment. The plants come in many varieties. Some have slender red green leaves that sprout out from long tall stalks. Others form round-about spirals of lemon-yellow leaves. A wonderful palette of forms and colors can be created through the different types of dracaena’s available. And in turn a carefree, healthy environment is brought to the indoors. They are a very popular in plantscaping due to their varieties and their ability to scrub out toxins in the air.
TYPES OF DRACAENA
Dracaena marginata or Madagascar dragon tree have a long straight trunk with pointed mass of narrow leaves with red to purple stripes along edge.
Dracaena fragrans ‘massangeana‘ or cornplant can be grown in shrub or tree form. It’s long leaves have beautiful yellow variegation running down its middle.
Dracaena Warneckii or striped dracaena is a medium sized shurb with dramatic white strips on its green leaves. There is also a variety that has leaves with yellow edges.
Dracaena Rikki is highlighted with yellow bands down the length of its green leaves. It’s ability to grow under lower light conditions and its colorful leaves is a wonderful attribute for indoor plantscaping.
Dracaena Reflexa or Maylasian dracaena has dark green foliage and can have off-white to yellow-beige colored stripes; as well as a bright yellow variegation called Song of India.
Dracaena deremensis or Janet Craig is one of the more popular of dracaenas used indoors with its dark green leaves that gently cascade downwards from the stalk.
BRIGHT TO MODERATE INDIRECT LIGHT is best for dracaenas. Sometimes it can be maintained in lower light levels. Yet it cannot tolerate hot direct sunlight. Brown leaf tips and spots show the plant is getting too much sun. When the leaves turn pale and the variegation fades, the plant isn’t getting enough light. Janet Craig is a variety that does well in low light and also tolerates less watering.
WATERING the dracaena starts with well-draining soil. The soil needs to be kept moist but not soggy. It’s best to water the dracaena when the soil is dry to about 2 inches below the soil. Water until it drains out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Pour out excess water that has accumulated in saucer. Water less often in the winter. For dry indoor conditions, mist frequently.
FLUORIDE is an accumulative poison to plants and dracaenas are particularly sensitive to it. Best to use filtered water for watering and misting. Many municipal water sources are injected with fluorine. The long-term results are destruction to photosynthesis and other plant processes that usually kill the leaves from the tips inward.
MODERATE TEMPERATURE between 60 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the plant happy, making it pretty forgiving of lower temperatures. It can tolerate night temperatures 10 degrees cooler.
FERTILIZING is an important part of maintaining dracaenas. Feed every two weeks in spring and summer using a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Reduce to once a month during fall. The plant benefits from a period of dormancy, so during the winter months discontinue fertilizing.
RE-POTTING often is not necessary since dracaenas love to be root-bound. When the pot becomes much too small to hold the plants and its roots, re-pot to the next largest pot size which usually ocurrs around 2 – 3 years.
PRUNING is necessary when the plants becomes too tall. To prune, dip a sharp pair of pruning shears in rubbing alcohol and cut at the desired height. Keep in mind, two to three shoots will develop at the top of the stem. Start a new plant with the cutting by rooting cut side down 1 to 1 1/2 ” into moistened soil with plenty of oxygen movement such as perlite, vermiculite, and/or sand combined with peat moss.