Dracaena - An Introduction
Dracaena is one of the easiest to care for houseplants with over 120 species of plants and shrubs that are almost succulent in nature, the formerly known species of plants classified under sansevieria is also now a part of the dracaena family. The name dracaena is derived from Ancient Greek – drakaina, or "female dragon" and it is testament to the hardiness of the plant.
The dracaena family is majorly native to Africa and tolerates a wide variety of growing conditions. Majorly grown for its thickened cane-like stem with a cluster of fleshy spear or grass shaped leaves at the crown. The dracaena plants vary in size and can be grown as both tabletop and floor plants.
These broadleaf evergreens are generally grown as indoor plants and love partial shade and bright-filtered light. While in the outdoors, in their native habitat, they grow to large sizes, as a houseplant the dracaena varieties stay well under 10 feet of height.
Common dracaena varieties: Striped Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis warneckii ulyses), Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata), Cornstalk (Dracaena fragrans), Corn Plant (Dracaena deremensis), Song of India (Dracaena reflexa), Gold Dust (Dracaena surculosa), Mass Cane (Dracaena fragrans massangeana), Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana), Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
Types of Dracaena plantThis hardy air purifying plant gets its name from the red sap, or the dragon’s blood, that bleeds out of most of its cultivars and with over 60 varieties there are plenty to choose from as the best fit for your home. Here are some dracaena varieties that do great indoors as houseplants.
- Striped Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis warneckii ulyses): Perfect for beginners, it's an easy no-fuss indoor plant with long, dark-green, and white-striped leaves growing atop sturdy stalks.
- Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata): The dragon tree is an easy-to-care for indoor plant that thrives in a range of conditions. It has tall, skinny trunks that are topped with green sprouts of long, elegant, red-tipped leaves.
- Cornstalk (Dracaena fragrans): This variety is relatively easy to grow and thrives in a variety of scenarios with its thick stems draped with long, broad, and glossy green leaves
- Song of India (Dracaena reflexa): Extremely easy to grow and perfect for beginners, this variety has thick stems topped with striking evergreen leaves featuring sweeps of light and dark green stripes.
- Mass Cane (Dracaena fragrans massangeana): It's very low-maintenance and perfect for beginners as an indoor plant, The variety features cane-like branches that shoot from its trunk and sprout green-and-yellow-striped leaves.
Dracaena plant care
The dracaena is one of the best beginner-friendly plants for Indian homes, they love the light and humidity that the Indian weather affords them and grows stunningly with minimal care. However, they are toxic to pets and care needs to be taken if you have furry friends at home. Let's take a detailed look at the care for dracaena plants.
The dracaena varieties love the brightest indirect light they can get. While some varieties will tolerate the sun happily they do better with partial shade or a few hours of sunlight throughout the day. Place them next to south-facing windows where they can receive filtered light (through a curtain) all through the day, or place them in an east or west-facing corner where they can receive direct light for a few hours and bright indirect light through the day.
Water your dracaena houseplant regularly to avoid drying out the potting mix completely. Keep the soil moist at all times but not soggy wet, here it becomes extremely important to use the right kind of soil to avoid root rot due to constant moisture. To err on the side of caution and avoid overwatering your plants, water the dracaena indoors only when the top inch of the topsoil is dry to touch.However, when watering your dried potting mix, water it in batches to ensure that the soil absorbs all the water and it just doesn’t run out of the planter. Water a little and then wait for a while for the soil to soak up the water before watering it again till it drains out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter.
Since the red dracaena, massangeana plant, marginata plant, and also other varieties love their potting mix to be moist at all times, it is extremely important to have a very-well draining potting mix. Use a good mix of vermicompost, cocopeat, and garden soil for this plant. One easy potting mix for the dracaena plants is equal parts Ugaoo pot-o-mix mixed with equal parts Ugaoo Garden soil, and Ugaoo Vermicompost for the right drainage and nutrition.
If you are using soil available at home, check for how loamy it is and mix perlite in addition to the other components mentioned above to get a well-draining potting mix for healthy plants.
Fertiliser for Dracaena
Use a well-balanced and generic houseplant fertiliser for your dracaena plant. They love a slow release fertiliser added at the beginning of the season or a generic indoor plant fertiliser like the Ugaoo Plant Tonic for both root and foliar application every 15 days. Using NPK is also a good idea. Dilute the fertiliser as instructed and apply directly to roots once in 15 days and put it in a misting spray and do a foliar application too once in 15 days. The foliar application guarantees bigger and showier leaves. However, don't overfeed the plant as it causes the leaves to lose their variegations.
When the dracaena plant is allowed to grow in the same planter/pot for a long time it might show signs of stress, like browning tips and die back of leaves. This occurs mainly due to the buildup of salts from fertiliser and watering. Change the soil of your dracaena plant every year to avoid this, even if you are using the same pot again. Remove as much soil as you can and repot with a fresh potting mix. To avoid repotting frequently, leech out the salts from your dracaena plant every 3 to 4 months, this simply means flushing your dracaena plant’s potting mix with water until it runs clear from the drainage holes.
Propagating DracaenaDracaena plants can be sprouted from stem cuttings. Take at least a 6-inch stem cutting and plant it in a well-draining potting mix and keep the medium moist but not wet at all times. In due time you will see new growth sprouting along the stem.
How to deal with problems with dracaena plantsWhile the dracaena plants are extremely easy to care for and one of the most beginner-friendly plants you could ever find, there are some tips to be kept in mind for the plant’s overall health
- They hate cold air drafts, so keep them out of direct AC draft or heater draft. If you stay in extremely cold areas, keep them out of cold air coming in from windows and doors.
- When kept in aisles and walkways where people keep brushing against the leaves, the leaves tend to start developing brown tips, keep the plant in a spot where the accidental brushing can be kept to a minimum
- Keep your eyes open for spider mites, which love the hot, dry environment commonly found in household settings. Clean your dracaena foliage with water and a soft cloth regularly and spray it with neem oil solution every 15 days as a preventive measure.
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