Home Plant guides How to care for a Dracaena

"Dracaena"

How to care for a Dracaena

Dracaenas are easy plants, but there are a few things you need to remember when taking care of one. In this post, we're going through some essential aspects of taking care of a Dracaena and some mistakes we've personally made to help you avoid those mistakes.

There are many types of Dracaena out there, not all of them look like the Dracaena Marginata, the plant in the image at the top. The different Dracaenas might not look alike all the time, but they're very similar to care for.

In this guide we'll go over these aspects of Dracaena plant care:

  1. Watering
  2. Light requirements
  3. Soil
  4. Fertilizer
  5. Repotting
  6. Propagation
  7. Pests and diseases

You can click on the links to take you to the right section.

Watering

Back to top

When it comes to watering, the Dracaena might be one of the easiest plants you can imagine. When comparing the water needs, it's very similar to a succulent. Dracaenas need very little water and too much water will actually harm them. So when you're watering the Dracaena you want to let the soil dry out in between waterings. When you do water them, do it throroughly. However, make sure no excess water stays behind in the pot. A pot with draining holes would be ideal in this situation, but if you don't have one, just water it a little bit less.

In the growing seasons, spring and summer, you should water the Dracaena every 2-4 weeks, depending on the moisture levels of the soil. In the slower months, you should water the Dracaena every 4 weeks. Make sure the soil dried out completely when you do so.

Overwatering symptoms

Overwatering the plant will cause the leaves to yellow and brown and fall off. Luckily this happens early on, so you will know quite soon that you've overwatered the plant. When this happens, try to get rid of the drain the moisture and wait with further watering.

Under watering symptoms

When your dracaena is under watered, it'll start to show wrinkles on its stems and the tips of the leaves with start to dry out, turning crispy and brown. When this happens, water your plant as soon as you can and watch the wrinkles disappear on your dracaena.

Light requirements

Back to top

If you don't have a bright house, this plant will suit you perfectly. The Dracaena can't be in direct sunlight, so make sure you find a shaded, but bright spot. Technically, these plants will also do well in darker places, but then the Dracaenas will grow towards the light. To ensure that your Dracaena grows as straight as possible, make sure you give it enough light or rotate the plant regularly.

During the winter months, when the sun isn't as powerful, it's perfectly fine to put a Dracaena closer to a big window. The direct sunlight won't leave burn spots. When spring starts and the sun gets stronger again, move the plant back to a more shady spot in your house.

Soil

Back to top

As Dracaenas are plants that love to dry out, go with a soil that's very well draining. Soil that retains too much water could harm the plant and cause root rot. A mix of succulent soil and potting soil is a good fit for a Dracaena.

Fertilizer

Back to top

Dracaenas are very slow growing plants, both in the summer months and the winter months. Because of this, they require very little fertilizer. If you do want to add some fertilizer, it's a good idea to do this every 6-8 weeks. This way you're not giving too much, but you're still helping it grow better.

Repotting

Back to top

As mentioned in the previous section, Dracaenas grow very slowly. This means that you'll rarely have to repot the plant. Normally, you would repot this plant into a bigger pot every 2-3 years. That's really how slow they grow. Because there is so much time between repotting this plant, it's good to check your soil once per year. Look if it's still loose enough for the plant to grow properly. If the soil has compacted too much, adding some fresh soil is a great choice.

Propagation

Back to top

Propagating a Dracaena is very easy. As you can see in the picture at the to, all leaves grow out of the ends of stems on the Dracaena. All you have to do is cut the stem about 3 inches under the leaves at the top and put that back in the soil. This stem will start to grow roots. At the same time, the now exposed stem on the parent plant will start to grow new leaves, and eventually stems as well. The plants might grow slowly, but by propagating them, you can very quickly have a lot of them.

Pests and diseases

Back to top

The Dracaena is quite well protected against pests and diseases. That doesn't mean pests and diseases won't happen. When the plant is too dry for too long it's susceptible to mealy bugs and spider mites. To prevent this, it's a good idea to mist your plant every once in a while or any other way to raise the humidity a bit more. Do you need ideas for this? Have a look at 10 ways to raise the humidity in your house.

When you're dealing with mealy bugs, the stick cotton like spots, it's easiest to kill them with rubbing alcohol. You can do this by dabbing them with a q-tip that has soaked in the rubbing alcohol. If this doesn't work, you can also use a plant spray and cover the whole plant that way.

Placing the plant in a room with poor air circulation will cause black spots to appear the the leaves. This is a pretty tough thing to get rid of. If it's not going away by itself, a way to get rid of it is by cutting all of the leaves off. It's a sad thing to do, because you can't use those leaves for propagation anymore, but at least the pest will be gone. Keep the plant in a larger room, like the living room, where people are a lot of the time and fresh air from outside can come in.

Conclusion

Dracaenas are wonderful plants and generally quite easy to take care of. However, as with any plant there are a few tricks that could make taking care of these plants even easier. The biggest things you have to keep in mind when taking care of these plants is that you should make sure that the Dracaena has the ability to dry out between waterings and that you don't place it in direct sunlight.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: dracaena, dry, beginner friendly

Posted on: November 29th, 2019 Last updated on: August 14th, 2020

Are you ready to put your new knowledge into practice?

Get your own products from the link below and support us in our mission to help people take care of plants like this.

When you order through these links, we receive a small commission. This doesn't cost you anything and helps to keep our plant guides free. Win-win!

Frequently asked questions

Why are the tips of the dracaena leaves turning crispy and brown?
What kind of soil does a dracaena need?
Is a dracaena susceptible to pests?
Does a dracaena need fertilizer?

More relevant resources

You can find more relevant information about this topic here:

More guides by Plant care for Beginners

Pin this plant guide

Sanseveiras on Leca

Stay up-to-date

Never miss a plant guide by signing up for my mailing list.