Care of the Red Margined Dracaena


Red margined dracaena (Dracaena marginata) is a striking evergreen houseplant with narrow, red-edged, sword-shaped leaves and smooth, gray stems that twist as the plant grows and develops. Native to Madagascar, red margined dracaenas are sometimes known as Madagascar dragon trees. The plant's tolerance of low-light conditions makes indoor cultivation a breeze. A red margined dracaena houseplant can even help to purify the air inside your home, according to the University of Vermont Extension.

Sunlight Requirements

  • Red margined dracaena is incredibly versatile in its sunlight requirements. Though the plant grows in full sun locations in its native environment, it can also be cultivated successfully in windowless office buildings. For best results, try to find a happy medium between the two extremes. Position your red margined dracaena plant within 8 feet of a window that provides two or more hours of bright, filtered sunlight per day.

Indoor Climate

  • Another reason that red margined dracaena is so well-suited for indoor cultivation is that it thrives in typical household temperatures. Red margined dracaena enjoys daytime temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures approximately 10 degrees lower. Keep temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent your red margined dracaena from sustaining cold damage. Mist the plant's foliage with cool water from a spray bottle several times a week to raise the humidity around your dracaena; you can also run a cool mist humidifier in the room where the plant is kept.

Irrigation Requirements

  • Though red margined dracaenas appreciate frequent irrigation, cultivation complications such as root rot, browning leaves and leaf drop can occur when the plants are overwatered. Water your red margined dracaena every seven to 10 days and allow the surface of the soil to dry slightly between irrigations; aim for soil that's moist to the touch, but never saturated. Red margined dracaenas are sensitive to the chemicals in ordinary tap water; irrigate your plant with spring, filtered or bottled water, or allow tap water to stand for 24 hours to let chemicals dissipate.

Fertilization Requirements

  • Red margined dracaena houseplants have modest fertilization requirements. Feed your plant with a monthly application of a water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer to promote healthy growth and development. Alternatively, you can dilute the fertilizer to a quarter of its recommended strength and apply the solution each week when you water your red margined dracaena. Consult the application and rate instructions on the fertilizer packaging.

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