Dracaena dermensis compacta [dras-SEE-nuh der-eh-MEN-siss kom-PAK-tuh] belongs to the Agavaceae (agave) family and originates in tropical Africa and Asia.
Compacta is a slow growing sport of Dracaena dermensis ‘Janet Craig’. I remember seeing the plant over 40 years ago. My boss brought 10 small plants back from Hawaii.
Most people call the plant by many common names:
- Dracaena compacta
- Compacta Janet Craig
- Pineapple Dracaena
- Janet Craig compacta
- Dwarf Dracaena
The botanical name is “Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig compacta.”
There are over 100 varieties of this evergreen, woody plant. ‘Compacta’ gets its name from the fact that it is smaller and very different than most other plants in the dracaena family.
Due to its stylish appearance and ability to grow in dark rooms, the dwarf dracaena is a favorite among houseplants.
Dwarf Dracaena Care
How Big Does Dwarf Dracaena Grow?
Dracaenas are generally slow growing plants and as a result, are slow to change. Dracaena compacta has a growth rate of about 10cm or 4″ inches in a year.
It can reach a height of up to 3′ to 6′ feet when planted indoors with leaves spreading up to 2″ to 5″ inches in length.
Flowering and Fragrance
The Dracaena compacta plant is grown as a foliage plant characterized by thick, stiff, glossy dark green leaves, which spread out to form rosettes around the canes.
Though it is rare, sometimes ear-like white or pink flowers grow from the middle of the rosette and give out an intense honey scent.
Light and Temperature
This plant thrives best in low light conditions. However, if grown indoors, it can also tolerate high indoor light.
The only difference is that it will require frequent watering up to once a week. With more light, plants will use water at a higher rate.
The ideal room temperatures range for the dwarf dracaena lies between 65° and 80° degrees Fahrenheit, but it can tolerate colder temperatures up to 40° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering Needs and Feeding
The dwarf dracaena generally does best when grown on the “soil dry” end of the watering spectrum. The slow growth of the plant makes it difficult to determine symptoms of over or under watering.
Sometimes, symptoms such as brown tips or brown spots on the leaves can show up a few weeks after the initial damage has occurred.
This is why it’s best to keep weekly track of water application or consider using a self watering planter.
Changing factors in the environment such as light and temperature also affect the watering schedule of how frequently and how much you should water your plant.
When the soil has low moisture level and almost dried out is a good sign of your plant needs watering.
Dracaena plants are famous for displaying brown leaf tips from being sensitive to boron and fluoride. Indoor professionals who maintain plants indoors recommend avoiding tap water and use distilled water for watering Dracaenas.
Due to its slow growth rate, Dracaena Janet Craig compacta does not need a lot of feeding.
However, if the plant has not been repotted for a few years, you can feed some liquid fertilizer in summer and spring, every one to two months.
Soil and Transplanting
When potting or transplanting use a well-drained soil to avoid soil becoming heavily soaked when watering. Transplant when the plant grows too large for the pot. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.
Use a well-aerated potting mixture made up of at least 50% or more organic matter. Another option is planting in lava rock.
A bagged potting soil for house plants like an African violet soil mix works well.
Check up every spring to make sure that the roots of the plant aren’t filling the pot. If they are, repot your plant to a larger pot.
Grooming and Maintenance
The dracaena compacta is an easy plant to grow but slow growing and require some attention to stay in the best condition.
Remember – slow growing plants take time to replace damaged leaves.
Keep an eye on the level of air humidity and air circulation as it can affect the appearance and growth of the plant.
The ideal humidity level is at 25%. If the humidity is low, compacta can dry out. If it’s too high, you may end up overwatering the plant without realizing it.
To keep the leaves in their best shape, wipe them with a damp cloth once a month to remove dirt and dust.
How To Propagate Dracaena Compacta Janet Craig
Dwarf dracaena propagation works in two ways.
The first is by using tip cuttings.
- Take a 4″- 6″ tip cutting
- Strip some of the bottom leaves to expose the stem
- Dip the bottom of the stem in a rooting hormone
- Stick the cutting in a small 3″ inch pot
- Place the unrooted plant in a shaded location
- Roots should begin to appear in 4-6 weeks
- Grow the plant in the 3″ pot until well rooted and the root system develops
- Move the plant to a larger 4″ pot and into more light
- Enjoy your new plant
The other option is to use a piece of the stem that is roughly three inches long and allow it to root in humid temperatures by laying it on the soil.
Dwarf Dracaena Pest or Disease Problems
This plant is most commonly susceptible to mealy bug. These pests look like small pieces of cotton stuck on the plant. These bugs nestle down in the foliage crown.
Remove the mealybugs wiping them off the leaves with alcohol dipped on a wet paper towel, spraying them with a Neem oil solution.
However, if the problem persists, it is a good idea to cut out new growth crowns to remove the bugs nestled inside.
Avoid overwatering that can lead to root rot. Make sure the planter has a drainage hole.
Suggested Dwarf Dracaena Uses
Use Dracaena compact as an accent plant potted alone in an attractive decorative container. Group several together in a large pot for a leafy display.
Their compact habit makes them excellent, modern, contemporary additions to a credenza, in a kitchen or a new companion in the office.
Compacta makes a great companion indoor plant along with the Peace Lily, Chinese evergreen, cast iron plant, and others.
Learn about other types of dracaena plants here.