If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow houseplant, Dracaena marginata, commonly called Madagascar dragon tree, is a tropical exotic grown for its attractive foliage. It has a reputation for being easy to grow and doesn't require much light. This plant cannot take cold weather, and you should not attempt to grow it outdoors unless you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10b through 12.
Madagascar dragon tree, sometimes called money tree, will grow at temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but grows best at temperatures between 65 and 80 F. Its growth will stall if the temperature drops below 65 F and it will be damaged if it is exposed for one to two days at 35 F or one week at 55 F. Exposure to wind can damage the tree at temperatures below 50 F.
If you grow a Madagascar dragon tree indoors it will reach about 12 feet tall, topped with attractive tufts of sword-shaped leaves. If your climate permits you to grow one outdoors, a Madagascar dragon tree will grow 15 to 20 feet tall with a spread of 3 to 5 feet. It will grow slowly -- less than 12 inches a year.
The narrow, smooth gray Madagascar dragon stems twist attractively as they grow. Its dark green, glossy leaves are edged with purple and grow about 1/2 inch wide and 2 feet long. The leaves of the “Tricolor” cultivar have ivory stripes with red edges, while the leaves of “Colorama” have bands of ivory and red. Because these cultivars have less chlorophyll in their leaves, you have to grow them in a bright indoor spot to keep their colors vibrant.
You can grow Madagascar dragon tree in the low light found in most homes or outdoors in full sun. It will grow well in a potting mix of 2 parts perlite or sand to 2 parts loam and 1 part sphagnum peat moss. The plant likes humidity and you can increase this indoors by placing your pots on a bed of wet pebbles. Water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist during the growing season but only enough in the winter to keep the leaves from falling off. Give Madagascar dragon about 1/3 ounce per 1 square foot of soil of 3-1-2 or 19-6-12 fertilizer each month. If you're growing your tree outdoors, increase the fertilizer during periods of heavy rain to compensate for leaching. Check the fertilizer package because rates vary by brand.
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