Dracaenas, numerous species within the genus of the same name, are evergreen trees and shrubs enjoyed for their sword-shaped leaves and a variety of different growth habits and leaf characteristics. Many dracaenas, such as the the Madagascar dragon-tree (Dracaena marginata), are tender and survive outdoors only in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11 unless cultivated as houseplants. Some dracaena specimens display a tendency to grow tall and spindly with bare stems as lower, older foliage drops off the plant. A simple pruning method will encourage branching and leaf growth at the desired height.
Things You'll Need
- Household disinfectant
- Sharp, clean knife or other cutting tool
Dip the blade of a sharp knife or other cutting tool in household disinfectant for five minutes, and then rinse it in clear water or let it air dry. Disinfect the cutting tool in this manner between uses, and if you are making cuts into plants that may be diseased, after each cut.
Cut through one or two dracaena stems cleanly at the desired height, removing the top portion of each stem, or cane. Two or more branches or leaf clusters will grow out of the cane just below where you made the cut.
Water the dracaena deeply and infrequently, supplying it with lukewarm distilled water or rainwater whenever the soil surface around the plant feels dry to the touch. Keep the dracaena in a spot with bright, indirect light and daytime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime temperatures 10 degrees cooler. Providing the dracaena with excellent care will encourage vigorous new growth.
Rotate the container of a trimmed dracaena regularly, once new sprouts begin to emerge below the point at which you trimmed the cane. This will encourage even branching and keep the new sprouts from all leaning in one direction toward the light.
Tips & Warnings
- It is possible to propagate dracaena vegetatively using the portion of the cane you trimmed off the plant: Cut the cane into 6-inch sections and insert each partway into a container with ample drain holes and well-drained growing medium. Keep the cuttings in a warm spot with bright, indirect light and make sure the medium remains constantly moist, but not soaking, to encourage root and shoot growth.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Dracaena Marginata
- University of Washington Botanic Gardens: Gardening Answers Knowledgebase, Search Results for ' Pruning'
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Dracaena
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Disinfecting Pruning Tools
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service: Dracaena
- Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images