Taking Care of the Madagascar Dragon Tree

With its long, narrow, spiky leaves and bright coloring, the Madagascar Dragon Tree is the show-off of the Dracaena family. This plant, which originated in the jungles of, you guessed it, Madagascar, has stalks you can curve or shape in just about any position you desire.

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It requires little water or light and can survive in all temperatures except extreme cold. Although it looks like a small palm tree, the Madagascar Dragon Tree belongs to the Asparagaceae, or lily, plant family. It’s easy to propagate from the stems of a mature plant, so there’s no need to buy a new plant from the store if you want more of these colorful mini-trees.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Facts

A Madascagar Dragon tree, also called a red-edged dracaena, has narrow green leaves with red or pink streaks resting on thin stems. This tall plant is good as a framing piece at the end of a sofa, or to shield prying eyes from a window. A young Madascagar Dragon tabletop tree is an attractive accent on a desk or shelf, and smaller dragon trees are eye-catching accents in dish gardens.

Madagascar Dragon Tree

Photo by ScubaBear68 CC By 2.0

You can create your own version of the Madagascar Dragon Tree. Twist or brace up the stalks or decorate them for a special occasion. Note the tabletop dragon tree decorated as a Christmas tree above. OK, that’s a rather dramatic example, but it shows that the Madagascar Dragon plant withstands a lot without wilting or dying.

Caring for the Madagascar Dragon Tree

Easy to grow and care for, the Madagascar Dragon Tree blooms with little watering. These ubiquitous indoor plants grow up to eight feet. In outdoor gardens, they can shoot up to 20 feet.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree loves bright light but will grow in filtered light or even dim light. It will lose some of its bright purple-pink colorings and grow slower in a dark spot. You won’t need to water it as much if you put it in a basement area or other secluded spot. If you want the plant to retain its dramatic coloring, you’ll need to put it by your living room window or near another window that gets lots of diffused sunlight.

Take a look at this “Dragon Tree Time-Lapse” video from Nigel White at the Nigel White YouTube Channel to get an idea of how the Madagascar Dragon Tree matures.

Watering and Soil

Water the red-edged dracaena when the top inch of soil starts to dry. It will hold up pretty well if you skip a few days of watering if you’re busy and tend to forget this is a good plant for you. Remember, they will grow faster and taller with regular watering.

Don’t water much during winter months. If you notice leaf tips turning brown, water a little more.

Brown leaf tips mean you plant more moisture move it near a bathroom or group it near other plants. Set it on a tray filled with pebbles and water. The bottom of the plant should be on pebbles on top of the closed lid tray with water underneath the pebbles. Or you can simply soak pebbles in water (leaving some water underneath) and put the plant on top. The trick is to keep near warm water without drenching the plant in water.

A plant from the jungles of Madagascar, it makes sense that they thrive when placed in or near bathrooms or laundry rooms or put it near a humidifier or mister if you already have one you don’t need to buy one specifically for the plant.

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Let plants dry and retain some moisture. Wait until there’s dry soil in one-third of the pot, then water until it is moist (not drenched) up to the top of the pot. Reduce watering from fall to late winter.

The Dragon Tree will survive without fertilizer, but you can use it sparingly if you want. Fertilize once a month from the beginning of spring until September with conventional plant fertilizer at half-strength.

While being root bound is a death knell for many plants, the Madagascar Dragon Tree does well when roots are moderately overgrown.

Light and Temperature

Although the Madagascar Dragon Tree isn’t picky about sunlight, it does need warm temperatures to thrive. Between 65-80 degrees, it will perish in freezing temperatures. A week of 55 degrees temperature will damage the plant. Keep your room temperature to 65 for the plant’s room, and set controls if you leave your house for an extended time during cold weather. Avoid placing a plant in front of air conditioning vents.

For extensive details on how to care for a Madagascar Dragon Tree plant, check out this video “How To Look After A Dragon Tree Plant” from the Videojug Youtube Channel.

Leave the plant in dim light and high temperatures it will develop white of yellow spots For optimal results grown in 63 percent to about 75 percent shade. Spots may develop on leaves if left in full sunlight, although some gardeners report it doesn’t do much harm to their dragon tree plants.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree does more than look good. It removes xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air, making your home healthier.

Propagate a New Madagascar Dragon Tree

Cut a stem off a fully-grown plant, and trim off some of the lower leaves. You can leave a few of the smaller leaves. When cutting cane, snip it to half the original length. It’ll grow out from the cutting edge. Take pieces of the cane and cut them into three-inch strips. Then place them in potting compost. They need to face up in the direction they grew on the original plant, so you might want to mark the growing side before you cut.

Let the cuttings dry for about an hour. Water the soil you’re using for the new plant. Place cuttings in the soil, and add rooting hormones to help the cuttings grow faster. Propagate in the summer if you’re not sure the plant can retain its’ bottom heat. (source)

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Insects and Precautions

Once you’ve propagated new Dragon Trees, they shuld grow without problems. While insect infestations aren’t a great concern for Madagascar Dragon Trees, watch out for mealy bugs or spider mites on indoor plants, which are usually brought in from outside. Wash leaves with light soapy water to get rid of the pests. Like many other houseplants, it’s toxic to cats and dogs so keep it away from pets.

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