Dracaena Arborea [dra-SEE-nah, ar-BOR-ee-uh] is a small perennial, palm-like plant belonging to the Asparagaceae family.
The Dracaena genus is comprised of approximately forty species and most hail from South Africa and the Canary Islands.
All types of Dracaena plants grow naturally in a tropical setting such as Florida.
Dracaena arborea is known by the following common names:
- Dracaena Tree
- African Dragon Tree
- Dragon tree
- Cornstalk Plant
- Ribbon Plant
- Corn Plant
It’s sometimes simply called Dracaena or Arborea. Dracaena means dragon, and arborea means tree-like.
These common names are often interchanged amongst other, similar plants.
For example, Dracaena fragrans is a plant similar in appearance. The yellow striped variety Dracaena massangeana and commonly called the “Corn Plant” or Cornstalk Dracaena.
There are several forms of Dracaena, both in bush and tree form.
You may hear the bush form referred to as Arborea Tips.
Tree Dracaena Arborea Care
Size & Growth
Place your Dracaena Arborea in a setting where it will have plenty of room to grow.
Kept in a container indoors, Dracaena often grows to a height of 7’ – 8’ feet tal.
Outdoors these plants grow to be over 10’ – 15’ feet high.
Arborea provides an attractive, palm tree-like plant for home and office settings.
The leaves are long, lance-shaped, and dark green and grow atop a woody, smooth trunk.
If leaves fade overall, it may mean your plant is getting too much direct sunlight.
Relocate your plant to an area where it gets consistent, bright indirect light.
Flowering & Fragrance
Dracaena Arborea kept indoors rarely (if ever) blooms.
If and when this happens, flowers are frothy and white with a sweet, lilac-like fragrance.
Light & Temperature
These plants need good, consistent indirect lighting. Northern, Eastern or Southern exposure will all work well.
Dragon Tree is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8b-9.
Some people take Arborea kept as houseplants outdoors to enjoy the summer months, but be sure not to put them in direct sunlight as they will suffer.
These plants are comfortable in temperatures which people are comfortable as well, so they do very well in climate-controlled situations.
Daytime temperatures ranging from 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) and where nighttime temperatures do not drop below the low 60° degree Fahrenheit (15° C) are ideal.
Light and temperature are not the only factors to monitor to keep your Dracaena Arborea healthy.
These plants are very sensitive to both hot and cold drafts.
Position your plants in such a way they will not receive sudden bursts of air from doorways, windows or heating, and cooling vents.
If you keep your plant in a window, be sure it is not too close to the glass.
Glass can transfer both heat and cold, and this can damage your plant.
Remember, excessive sunlight is also damaging to Dragon Arborea Trees.
It’s also important not to place your Arborea right up against the wall or in a corner.
This type of setting will lead to uneven growth.
If you must have your plant near a wall or in a corner, be sure to turn it frequently so the entire plant gets equal exposure to light and good air circulation.
Watering & Feeding
Your circumstances will determine your exact watering schedule, but generally speaking, you may water 2 – 4 times a month.
As with most plants, water deeply and infrequently. Allow the soil to dry before watering again.
When you first receive your Dracaena Arborea plant, begin with a once a month watering schedule.
Water close to the trunk and slowly so the water is soaked up by the central roots.
Once a week, check the moisture level of the soil by poking your finger in about a half-inch.
If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water again.
Frequent monitoring of the moisture level of your plant’s soil will help you establish a regular watering schedule.
Fertilize your Dracaena arborea with a diluted household fertilizer monthly or at each watering.
If you fertilize once monthly, dilute the solution by 50%.
If you fertilize with every watering, dilute the solution to one-quarter strength.
Alternately, you may wish to use fertilizer spikes or a time-release fertilizer so you do not need to fertilize with each watering.
Soil & Transplanting
Arborea should be planted in light, airy, well-draining soil.
Good air circulation to the roots is very important.
Use a container allowing for good drainage, airflow, and evaporation.
Grooming & Maintenance
Lower leaves turn yellow periodically as a natural progression of growth.
Generally speaking, individual leaves may last for a couple of years and then begin to die.
When this happens, simply trim them away.
More on Why Dracaena Leaves Turn Yellow or Brown
How To Propagate Arborea Trees
When Dragon Tree starts to get leggy, just cut off the top, making sure there is a minimum of one node in place on the cutting.
A node is a round, white bump from which roots will grow.
New leaves will grow from the Dracaena arborea stump you have left behind, take the cut-off top and root it in a pot of good soil or even in a vase of fresh water.
Whichever you choose, place your cutting in a warm, sheltered area.
If you choose to root the cutting in water, change the water every couple of days to avoid stagnation.
In the summertime, the cutting should take root right away.
In winter, when the plant is semi-dormant, it may take a while.
If you root your cutting in water, transplant it to the soil when the roots are about an inch long.
Arborea Tree Pests and Diseases
One problem tending to plague Dracaena arborea is browning leaf tips.
You may hear this referred to as tipping.
When the leaf tips begin to dry and turn brown, examine your plant care routine to determine which of these factors is causing your problem:
- Insufficient Air Circulation
- Insufficient Humidity
- Excessive Watering
- Poor Water Quality
- Excessive Fertilizer
- Root Rot
Some types of tap water contain a great deal of fluoride, minerals, chlorine, and salts. This can cause tipping.
Excessive salt in the soil may cause leaves to become soft and brown overall and begin to curl.
Alternately, if you have a water filtration system in your home, your water may have too much sodium in it for proper plant care.
In this case, use distilled water.
It is unusual for these plants to have problems with insect infestation, but if they do, it’s usually a sign of excessive watering and fertilizing and insufficient air circulation.
Watch out for scale and mealybugs which tend to target all sorts of compromised plants.
To deal with these insects, spray your plant with insecticidal soap solution or a simple solution of rubbing alcohol and water.
Is Dracaena Toxic or Poisonous?
According to the American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals, Dracaena is toxic to both cats and dogs.
Get the Details on Poisonous Dracaena Plant
Is Dracaena Invasive?
This somewhat picky tropical plant is not considered invasive in the United States.
Suggested Uses For Tree Dracaena Arborea
Dracaena arborea are very popular tropical plants doing well in home and office settings with consistent temperature and light provided.
In tropical and semitropical settings, they also make good landscape plants.
This plant is a good choice for porches, terraces, and balconies because it is wind resistant and appreciates the bright, indirect light of an outdoor, covered setting.
It also does well in any indoor setting as long as it gets plenty of bright indirect light.
Arborea may be planted alone as a specimen plant, or you may find it planted two or more to a pot much like the corn plant (Dracaena fragrans).