How to Care for a Dracaena Marginata Tree

Dracaena marginata, also known as dragon tree, is an attractive, versatile plant that requires little time or effort to care for. Native to Madagascar, it is common as an outdoor landscape plant in moderate climates. With impressive variegated leaves edged in red, the dragon tree is typically grown as an indoor plant in offices and homes. Gardeners also use it as an efficient air cleaner, as it absorbs unwanted chemicals such as formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Organic potting soil
  • Tray with pebbles
  • Spray mister bottle


    • 1

      Place your Dracaena marginata in a location that receives moderate lighting but is out of direct sunlight. An east-facing window with blinds or shades will reduce the possibility of sunburn. Filtered light near a south or west window also works well. Dry or bleached leaves indicate that the plant is receiving too much light.

    • 2

      Maintain a constant warm temperature in an area free of drafts. Dracaenas prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 65 degrees cause stunted growth and can lead to plant death.

    • 3

      Increase humidity by placing the plant on a tray of pebbles filled with water. Mist the leaves lightly once a week until damp but not dripping. High humidity encourages strong growth.

    • 4

      Avoid over-watering. Dracaenas require less frequent watering than other tropical plants. Their leaves will yellow and wilt if given too much water. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Water when the top half of the soil feels dry when you press your finger into it.

    • 5

      Dust the leaves often with a soft dry rag to keep them clean and healthy. Remove any brown leaves by trimming them close to the base. If a leaf is only partially brown, trim the discolored portion with scissors, keeping the original shape intact.

    • 6

      Repot the plant every two years or when it appears to have outgrown its container. Use a nutrient-rich organic potting soil for transplanting. Ensure the container has plenty of drainage holes to avoid root rot.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dracaenas do not need to be fertilized.
  • Propagate new plants through tip cuttings.
  • Watch carefully for mites and thrips that cause leaf damage.
  • Water your dracaena with bottled or purified water if you live in an area where the tap water is fluoridated. Fluoride is toxic to dracaenas.
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  • Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

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