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Dracaena marginata

Dragon Tree Care Guide: How to Grow a Dragon Tree Indoors

The Dracaena marginata, commonly referred to as the Dragon Tree, is a popular, low-maintenance indoor plant that is known for its ability to thrive in various conditions.

Dracaena marginata

Other names for this plant...

Madagascar Dragon Tree Red-edged dracaena Ribbon plant Tree dracaena

About The Dragon Tree

The exotic-looking Dragon Tree plant is perfect for first-time or experienced indoor gardeners.

These easy-to-care-for plants are highly prized for their striking appearance. Their long, slender arching leaves make a fabulous addition to any home or office. In a nutshell: These easy-going plants make the perfect house guest!

Native to Madagascar, this air-purifying tree thrives in bright, indirect light. However, they can adapt to lower lighting conditions. Dragon Trees prefer moderate humidity and temperatures between 65 °F and 75 °F.

Growing and caring for a Dragon Tree is super easy as it's pretty indestructible. This slow-growing plant is fairly drought-tolerant and only needs water when the top inch of soil feels dry.

While these slow-growing plants are non-toxic to humans, a Dragon Tree is toxic, but not fatal, to pets (causing vomiting and salivation).


A Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) forms part of the Dracaena Genus species. It has several variations - which we'll look at next. The marginata is the most popular type seen indoors.

The Asparagaceae family is a large and diverse family of flowering plants that includes a wide range of species, such as Asparagus (i.e. edible asparagus), Sansevieria (i.e. snake plants), and Dracaena (Dracaena marginata and Lucky Bamboo) - to name a few.


Dragon Tree plants originated in Madagascar, an island located off the southeast coast of Africa. The natural habitat of this tree includes subtropical and tropical regions, where conditions range from arid landscapes to more humid environments.


As previously mentioned, there are a few Dragon Tree variations. They have arching leaves that cascade from the stems (canes). Some have dark green leaves with red edges, while others may have an entirely 'pink' appearance.

Types of Dragon Trees:

  • Dracaena marginata: The "original" Dragon Tree has dark green, red-edged leaves.

  • Dracaena marginata 'Bicolor': This variety has dark green leaves with an outer ivory stripe and red border.

  • Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor': Similar to the original but with three colors, hence the name. The leaves have a light green center, yellowish band, and red borders/edges.

  • Dracaena marginata 'Colorama': Again, similar to the original but with more prominent red edges, creating a reddish-pink appearance.

  • Dracaena marginata 'Tarzan': Separate from the others, this variety has tougher, wider, and slightly thicker leaves. They are arranged in a 'spiky ball' at the top of each stem. As the leaves grow, the 'balls' travel upward on the canes (stems).


A Madagascar Dragon Tree is an attractive plant and can be used effortlessly throughout your home or office. These easy-going slow-growers are used to brighten up living spaces (and also make the perfect gift for indoor gardening lovers).

Dragon Trees must be kept out of direct sunlight and thrive in corners of the home/office. They are a terrific potted plant and need minimal care.

Another great spot for your Dragon Trees is the bathroom, where humidity levels are high.

Things to consider:

  • Consider using a humidity tray or room humidifier if you live in a dry climate and/or lower humidity levels. You can occasionally mist your Dragon Tree to create this effect.

  • Dragon Trees prefer moderate temperatures (65-75 °F), so avoid placing them near radiators in winter or air conditioners in summer.

  • Do not move your Dragon Tree around too much. This causes the tree to become stressed by sudden changes in temperature, resulting in leaf drop, or discoloration.

Fun fact: In Feng Shui, Dragon Trees are linked to good fortune, prosperity, and emotional support!


Dragons Trees love bright, indirect light. Place these slow-growing plants close to a window but out of direct sunlight (to avoid scorching the leaves).


A Dragon Tree plant only needs watering when the top half of the soil is dry. The risk of overwatering can lead to root rot and soggy stems.

  • Water your Dragon Tree about once a week in summer/spring.

  • Cut back your watering routine to every second week in winter/fall.

Your watering routine should be based on several factors, such as:

  • Pot size: A rule of thumb is to water until you see water drain out the bottom of the pot. This shows that water has reached the root zone and prevents waterlogging.

  • Water distribution: Evenly distribute water across the surface of the soil so it reaches all the roots.

  • Seasons: Adjust watering routines during different times of the year. During spring and summer (i.e. growing season), your Dragon Tree will need more water. In the fall and winter (i.e. dormant season), your Dragon Tree will need less watering.

  • Environment: If your home/office has dry air (with little to no humidity), your Dragon plant will likely need more water. Dragon Trees will need less watering in homes that have higher humidity or cooler temperatures.

  • Water quality: Where possible, use distilled or filtered water. A Dragon Tree is sensitive to fluoride found in most tap waters.


Ideal temperatures are between 65-75 °F, but not lower than 59 °F.


A Dragon Tree thrives in moderate humidity. Most average homes have sufficient humidity. Avoid placing Dragon Trees near radiators in winter and/or air conditioners in spring/summer.


Well-draining, porous potting soil is ideal for Dragon plants with a 6.0–6.5 pH level (slightly acidic).

A potting mix that is used for cacti can work well for Dragon plants too. You can make your own potting mix of fine gravel, peat moss, and leaf humus (of equal ratios).


There's no need to prune the Madagascar Dragon Tree. But you'll want to remove any dead leaves and/or brown/yellow leaves. For height control, cut off the top bit of the main stem.


To initiate new growth during the growing season (spring/summer) feed your Dragon Tree with a balanced, liquid fertilizer or good-quality potting compost at least once a month. Reduce feeding to about every 6 weeks in the fall, and give it nothing during winter time.

Height & Growth

Think of growing a Dragon Tree indoors as a marathon and not a sprint. Don't be alarmed if you notice your Dragon Tree isn't gaining much height!

These are slow-growing plants and can take up to 10-15 years to mature (i.e. to become flower-producing, which is rarely seen indoors)! Dragon plants can reach up to 20 feet tall outside in warmer climates but can grow between 3 and 6 feet tall indoors (taking roughly 10 years).

Dragon Trees have a growth spurt during spring/summer and become dormant (i.e. slower growing) during cooler months.


Yes. Dragon Trees, when ingested, are toxic for dogs and cats. While not fatal, they can cause vomiting and excessive salivation in pets.

Dragon Trees are non-toxic to humans but it's advised to keep them out of reach of small children.


No. If the leaves (and or part of the tree) are ingested, it can result in vomiting and excessive salivation in pets. While not fatal, they are not safe for pets.

How To Propagate A Dragon Tree

Helpful hint: Springtime is the best time to propagate (grow) Dragon Trees.

  • To help your Dragon Tree grow a new plant (from the parent plant), cut an 8-inch long section from the stem.

  • Ensure your Dragon Tree cuttings are at least pencil-thick and are cut above the node.

  • Remove two-thirds of the lower leaves and place the cutting in a jar of water.

  • Change the water weekly to prevent bacteria/disease growth.

  • Once roots appear - typically after a few weeks - transfer the Dragon Tree cuttings into a pot filled with good-quality potting soil/compost.

  • Voila! You have successfully grown a new Dragon Tree!

Common Problems

  • Brown leaf tips: Brown leaf tips occur due to low humidity or from fluoride in tap water.

  • Yellow leaves: A common sign of overwatering or excessive light/sun exposure is when a few leaves turn yellow.

  • New leaves have spots: This could be a sign of a disease called Flecking Dracaena marginata. Lighting, watering, and humidity levels may need to be adjusted to fix this.

  • Leaves with red spots: This could indicate a leaf disease and can be fixed with fungicides and/or proper watering.

  • Lack of color: Not enough light may result in the loss of vibrancy in Dragon Tree leaves.

  • Leaves begin to drop: This can occur due to a sudden change in the temperature, light, or watering schedule.

  • Lower leaves drooping/falling off: If you have recently repotted Dragon Tree cuttings and have noticed that the lower leaves are sagging, this is usually a sign of root rot.

  • Root rot: Caused by overwatering and/or poor soil drainage.

  • Stunted growth: May result from not enough light, poor soil, or lack of fertilizer.

  • Pests: Dragon Trees may be susceptible to pests from the soil such as red spider mites, scale insects, mealybugs, and aphids (usually on younger trees than mature plants). If your Dragon Tree has a pest problem, washing the leaves with insecticidal soap/neem oil (a natural insecticide) can be helpful. Prune and remove all infected areas and isolate the plant to prevent the spread of pests.


Do Dragon Trees attract bugs?

Dragon plants are generally pest-resistant. They can, from time to time, attract bugs such as red spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and/or aphids.

Regularly check your Dragon plant every few weeks for any signs of bugs or infections. These are easily managed with insecticides.

Where is the best place to put a Dragon Tree?

The best spot for your Dragon Tree is out of direct sunlight. Rooms with stable temperatures and moderate humidity are the best environments; preferably near a north or east-facing window.

What's the difference between Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) and Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco)?

While both are part of the Dracaena genus, these two species have their differences.

The Dracaena marginata is a commonly grown houseplant that is native to Madagascar. It has slender, arching leaves with dark green leaves, usually with yellowish-red edges. These low-maintenance plants grow slowly and rarely flower indoors (white flowers).

The Dracaena draco, also known as the Canary Islands Dragon Tree, is a species native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and Madeira. It has a more tree-like appearance and can grow up to 25 feet in its native habitat. They have broader leaves and are usually only found outdoors. They produce an orange-red resin, known as "dragon's blood", that is often used for dyes and medicines.

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