Dracaena Marginata Care: Growing The Red Edged Madagascar Dragon Tree

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The Dracaena marginata is a member of the Dracaena family (Asparagaceae), a family that provides some of the most durable indoor foliage plants used indoors in offices, buildings, hotels, and malls but also as an everyday house plant.

Of all the Dracaenas, Dracaena marginata is probably the most versatile. Some confuse this Dracaena houseplant with a palm, which is why you’ll often see the reference to Dracaena palm.

dracaena marginata care with different forms - character, stump, staggered, tree, colorama and dracaena flowerPin
Different forms of Dracaena marginata – character, stump, staggered, tree, colorama and dracaena flower

Although it may look palm-like as a larger specimen, it is in the same family as the popular Yucca plant.

Dracaena Marginata plant goes by many different common names:

  • Dracaena marginata
  • Red edged dracaena
  • Madagascar dragon tree Dracaena marginata
  • Dragon blood tree
  • Dragon plant
  • Tree Dracaena plant

Add to that the marginata also has a few different ‘cultivars’:

Throw in a few forms the versatile, popular tropical Dracaena marginata houseplant is grown in:

  • Bush
  • Straight cane
  • Staggered cane
  • Tree form
  • Character forms

… And it’s easy to see why the Dracaena is one popular plant for indoor use, but outdoors as well. 

dracaena marginata 14 inch CandelabraPin
Dracaena Marginata Candelabra

In general, the Dracaena marginata is rugged and carefree as an indoor plant, adding a tropical appearance to any room it graces.

When Dracaena marginata is planted outdoors in the South Florida landscape in direct sunlight, a Dracaena marginata can grow to heights of approximately 15′ foot tall.

The leaves with red to purple stripes running along the edge find themselves sitting atop long, slender “canes.” As new leaves emerge, the oldest mature leaves are yellow and fall off.

Related: Details on Yellowing Leaves on Dracaena

Propagating Dracaena Plants

When Dracaena marginata is grown for indoor use, fields of “stock” plants are planted, and the growing tips or long thin stem cuttings called “canes” are cut and rooted in well-drained soil.

These plants are slow growers, so you won’t have too much pruning. But if your tree starts to get a little big or unruly, simply use clean shears to cut it back to your desired shape and size. 

Indoor plant in sunlight by windowPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @houseplantjournal

To start a new plant, simply remove the crown and the top inch of the stem and plant them in potting compost.  

The rooted plants of the Madagascar dragon tree are planted into a variety of forms and grown for use as a houseplant or for use in commercial applications by interiorscapers or plantscapers.

The Dracaena (all types of Dragon plants) make a great focal point in a room, and many designers use staggered forms or character forms to create interest.

A small footprint is one big advantage most Dracaenas provide for use as indoor plants.

Dracaena Marginata stump
Potted Dracaena Marginata with bends and curves.

You can get a tall, upright 6′ foot character indoor plant or other different and unique looks that use very little floor space. Examples below:

Using Dracaena marginata canes of various lengths, either straight, with bends and curves, or multiple heads, and planting the canes together allows growers to produce fuller plants.

Dracaena Marginata Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena Marginata
  • Common Name(s): Dragon Tree, Madagascar Dragon Tree
  • Synonyms: Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia, Pleomele reflexa
  • Family & Origin: Asparagaceae family, native to Madagascar
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-12
  • Size: Grows up to 6-8 feet tall indoors
  • Flowering: Rarely flowers indoors
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
  • Temperature: Prefers temperatures between 60-75°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Allow soil to dry out slightly between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize once a month during growing season with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs, can also be affected by root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagated through stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Popular as a houseplant, can also be used as a decorative plant in offices and public spaces.

From the book “Tropical Foliage Plants Growers Guide“:

In Hawaii, Dracaena marginata has been called the “money tree” because the first Dracaena marginata planted there were placed around the Bank of Hawaii.

Today, most people refer to Pachira aquatica as the Money Tree plant.

Dracaena Marginata Care For All ‘Dragon Tree Plant’ Varieties

Like most Dracaenas, Dracaena marginata will give the best results indoors in bright yet indirect sunlight. Although bright indirect light is the preference, it will handle low light situations, but the green leaves will be thinner and darker.

This well-liked indoor plant has long, elongated green leaves with red edges. Dracaena marginata is a great choice for beginners who want a striking statement plant to brighten up their space. 

Potted plant by a wicker chair and mirror.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plantasboutique.cl

Repot your dragon tree into larger pots as necessary. Because these trees grow so slowly, they generally require repotting only every second—or even third—year.  

These potted plants sold as houseplants usually begin their start as tip cuttings or cane cuttings. Once rooted and growing, they are acclimated to low light conditions where the foliage color becomes a darker green. 

Beware, if you place an acclimated marginata plant in direct sunlight for a period of time, the green leaves may get sunburned with bleach spots or patches.

Related: How and When To Water Dracaena Plants

Care Instructions For Watering Your “Red-Edged Dracaena”


When growing indoors, I like to use sub-irrigation on Dracaena plants. 

Self-watering planters like ones from Lechuza deliver water evenly to the soil and allow Dracaenas to also dry out evenly between refilling the reservoir.

Allow the top half of the soil to dry out a little between waterings. When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch – water the Dracaena marginata plant thoroughly and allow the excess water to exit through the drainage holes.

NOTE: Avoid using tap water when watering your Dracaena to reduce common problems. Use non-fluoridated water, distilled water, or rainwater that is free of chemicals.

What Temperatures Are Best For Marginata?

The Dracaena marginata is much like you – enjoying comfortable room temperatures of 75° degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for this top-notch “plant air cleaner” to remove pollutants like Formaldehyde from the air.

Related: What Are Some Cold-Tolerant Houseplants?

NOTE: Dracaena plants were part of the NASA Clean Air Study

Dracaena marginata - Dragon Tree- used indoors in an Alabama  hotel lobby.Pin
Dragon tree Dracaena marginata is used indoors in the Alabama hotel lobby.

The leaves of any Dracaena over time will grab their share of dust. Clean these house plants regularly and remove the dust by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth.

Most plants you buy for the home will have enough plant food in the potting mix to last a long time – in general, stay away from fertilizing indoor plants, but if you must, use a weak liquid fertilizer at 1/4 to 1/3 strength will do.

Feed Dracaena marginata plants when they are actively putting on new growth during the spring and summer growing seasons.

Related: Details on Dracaena Fertilizer: Using Liquid or Granular Fertilizers

If the plant’s stems become too long and bare, cut them off at the desired height, and new leaves will soon appear.

Potted plant in sunlight with shadows.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @foliageliving

Dracaena Marginata Pests Problems?

Dracaenas are tough plants, but they are susceptible to spider mites and occasionally mealybugs. 

If you notice insects, remove as many as you can by picking them off or spraying them off with a hose or kitchen faucet, then spray down the plant with Leaf Armor to protect the leaves and ward off insects. 

Fortunately, indoor plant disease is a rare problem with the Dracaena family as a whole. The biggest problem normally comes from improper watering – too much or too little causes brown tips and yellow leaves – that’s why I like sub-irrigation

The next problem comes from pests like mealy bugs or spider mites.

Related: Details on getting rid of mealybugs on Dracaena.


Root rot usually finds its way into the Dracaena problem camp when the potting soil is overwatered on a frequent basis, or the potting mix does not drain quickly enough.

For most new to houseplant care, it’s the overwatering that hurts the plant.

When the humidity gets too low, like during the winter months, leaf tips can brown. This is where a humidifier can help with plant care.

If your Madagascar Dragon trees suffer from a sudden loss of leaves, look for a number of possible causes:

  • Exposure to temperature changes
  • Cool drafts
  • Overwatering or too much water
  • Poor drainage (e.g., sitting in a saucer full of water)
  • Allowing the soil to dry too much
  • Heavy insect infestations

Another reason to stay away from fertilizing is fertilizer burn. Just like a lawn can burn with fertilizer, so can a Dracaena. The leaf tips and margins can become yellow or burn from over-fertilizing.

Dracaenas are also very fluoride sensitive. This often shows up in yellowing or brown tips on the leaves. Avoid perlite in the soil mix to reduce potential fluoride issues.

Dracaena Marginata Cultivars

‘Tarzan’ USPP #15,065

Dracaena Tarzan New King Of Marginata

Dracaena tarzan in several formsPin

Dracaena marginata Tarzan looks like the new “King” in the Dracaena Marginata world. Dracaena ‘Tarzan’ held U.S. Plant Patent #15,065 and was discovered in 1998 as a single plant by Sunshine Tropical Foliage in South Florida.

Dracaena Tarzan tips in a planterPin

‘Tarzan’ grows pretty much like a marginata, but its leaves are distinctively wider, longer with a dark purple-colored margin.

In lower light levels, ‘Tarzan’ will hold more leaves better (lower leaves) and even grow, setting itself apart from the regular marginata.

Here are a few unique characteristics distinguishing ‘Tarzan’:

  • Growth habit – Upright
  • Slender stems mature into a woody trunk
  • Fleshy leaves, glossy dark green in color with dark purple-colored margins
  • Durable with excellent keeping quality with lower leaves
  • Resistant to pests

The care for Dracaena ‘Tarzan’ is like most Dracaenas.

Dracaenas are woody plants and are recognized by most “in the know” as great houseplants, perfect choices for indoor environments, and excellent landscaping plants. 

Staggered tips of Dracaena TarzanPin

The popular Dracaena marginata, has many cultivars loved because of their foliage, and Dracaena Tarzan is a new favorite.

When growing a dragon tree as a potted plant, use a loose, well-drained potting mix—loamy soil amended with peat moss is ideal.

Blooming Dracaena marginata

The upright growth habit of Tarzan is very similar to Marginata. But compared to Dracaena Marginata, it has longer and wider leaves.

These fleshy leaves are held much better than Marginata. Each glossy leaf is rich green in color with deep purple colored margins. Tarzan has slender stems that mature into woody trunks.

Dracaena Tarzan grows well in lower light but prefers bright indirect light. Its durability makes it capable for many growers to have Tarzan in many forms – shrub or tree. 

It is pest-resistant and drought-tolerant. This plant thrives well indoors and/or outdoors, especially in areas or landscapes with full sun or shade.

Dracaena Tarzan like Marginata

Tree form of Dracaena TarzanPin

Any King deserves royal treatment. Fussy and luxurious pampering is needed to satisfy his royal highness. But our King of Marginata proves to be a very easy-to-grow plant. 

Any owner of King of Marginata, or called Dracaena Tarzan, does not have to fuss very much over this plant.

Tarzan is a distinct cultivar of Dracaena marginata that grows very similar to the Dracaena marginata. 

But unlike Marginata, Tarzan has an upright growth habit with slender stems that give support to the plant’s linear and fleshy leaves. The glossy leaves of Tarzan are dark green in color with deep purple colored margins.

Tarzan, just like Marginata, can be grown in various forms. It can make a standout accent when used as a tree form.

As a bush, its leaves would look full and fall less, thus making it an excellent centerpiece or accent plant for a dull and empty corner.

Our King is very adaptable to normal or almost adverse conditions, requiring little care.

Vibrant red and green plant in a pot.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plantifyhome

For optimum growth, it should be placed in an area with indirect light. Browning of leaves is less likely to occur if the plant is placed in a high-humidity environment.

Check your watering habits when too many yellow leaves are dropping from the plant. It will also help your plant to grow well if it feels a little care from you. 

So, if possible, check your Dracaena Tarzan’s leaves and ensure they’re dust-free.

Hail to the new ‘King of Dracaena Marginata’

Dracaena Magenta


The ‘Magenta’ cultivar gets its name from the almost burgundy or magenta foliage color down the leaf edge.

The variety is slowly seeing more production, but it takes time to build a large enough stock to produce as many different forms as you see in marginata.

I think Magenta’ has a ‘softer’ look than the regular marginata variety.

After ‘Tarzan,’ ‘Magenta’ would be my second choice.

Dracaena Marginata Tricolor

‘Tricolor’ with its red leaf margins and white band or stripe running down the green leaf, has been around for years but never quite caught on in popularity.

Most likely, the white band in the leaves requires more light indoors to maintain a healthy plant. This variety will require more light than regular marginata. 

Also, during the production phase, I noticed more brown spots on the leaves of Dracaena “tricolor.”

Dracaena marginata tricolor upclosePin
Close Up of Dracaena marginata tricolor leaves

Dragon Tree Dracaena Marginata Colorama

‘Colorama’ is similar in appearance and growth to `Tricolor’ except you’ll find red and ivory bands in the central section of the leaf.


Both ‘Tricolor’ and ‘Colorama’ have less chlorophyll than the common green species. They DO NOT grow as fast and require much more light to live indoors.

If you do not have a very bright area for ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Colorama’ dragon tree varieties, do not even attempt them indoors.

This versatile, easy-care, and unique-looking plant available in so many forms fit into almost any indoor area, making it easy to see why the Dracaena marginata is a popular and important plant for use indoors. 

You can find the Dracaena marginata in almost any nursery or garden center.

Other Dracaena Species Grown For Use Indoors:

Read our article on available Dracaena types.

NOTE: Dracaena Draco, the ‘dragon’s blood,’ is grown as a landscape plant.

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