Dragon’s Tongue Plant Care Tips: Growing The Hemigraphis Repanda

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Dragon’s Tongue, also called Hemigraphis Repanda, belongs to the Acanthaceae family and is native to Malaysia and India.

The first half of the scientific name, “Hemigraphis,” is a Greek word – hemi means “half,” and graphis means a “stylus or paintbrush.”

Dragon's Tongue PlantPin

On the other hand, “repanda” refers to the plant’s wavy leaf edges.

The common name dragon plant is one of several the Hemigraphis Repanda is called. Others include:

  • Dragon’s breath
  • Waffle plant
  • Narrow-leaf hemigraphis
  • Ruellia repanda

Other Plants in The Acanthaceae Family include:

Hemigraphis Repanda Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Hemigraphis Repanda
  • Common Name(s): Dragon’s Tongue, Dragon’s breath, Waffle plant, Narrow-leaf hemigraphis, Ruellia repanda
  • Synonyms: None
  • Pronunciation: hem-ee-GRAF-iss, REP-an-duh
  • Family & Origin: Acanthaceae family, native to Malaysia and India
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 11-12
  • Size: Can grow up to 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide
  • Flowering: Produces pink or white flowers with five petals in early spring or summer
  • Light: Prefers filtered, medium or high light, or partial shade
  • Humidity: Thrives in high-humidity environments
  • Temperature: Ideal temperature range is 40° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Moist, porous, and well-drained soil
  • Water: Occasional watering to keep the soil moist
  • Fertilizer: Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer every month in the blooming season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to aphids, whiteflies, bean weevils, Mexican bean beetles, mealybugs, and spider mites; can also be affected by root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Can be propagated by root division or by stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Makes a great indoor plant, can also be used as ground covers, hanging baskets, color container gardens, window boxes, garden borders, terrariums, and other enclosures

Dragon Tongue Plant Care

Dragon’s Tongue Plant Size and Growth

Dragon’s tongue is a slow-growing perennial with a low-growing growth habit reaching 6″ inches tall and 12″ inches wide.

Close-up of a vibrant purple plant.Pin
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The green leaves are thin and narrow with a crinkly texture and boast hints of a dark purple or maroon color.

The fine, colorful leaves usually reach 2” inches in length.

Flowering and Fragrance

When provided with the ideal growing condition, the small Hemigraphis Repanda plant produces pink or white flowers with five petals.

The clear, vivid white flowers add a beautiful contrast to the earthy foliage plant.

The tiny, delicate flowers of the dragon’s tongue usually bloom in early spring or summer, producing a light scent that attracts pollinators.

Light and Temperature

The Dragon Tongue prefers filtered, medium or high light to develop fully. It also grows best in indirect light but can also tolerate some partial shade.

Bright, direct sunlight will burn the foliage, so avoid placing Hemigraphis Repanda in full sun.

The perennial Dragon’s Repanda is adaptable to low light. However, growing in low lighting slows down growth.

Dragon’s tongue enjoys being in a warm location, with average to high temperatures ranging from 40° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit (4° – 15° C).

The USDA hardiness zone of the plant is from 11 to 12.

Make sure not to expose the dragon’s tongue plant to temperatures below 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C).

Watering and Feeding

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Photo Credit: Instagram @ruanghijau__
  • Ruellia repanda prefers occasional watering to keep the soil moist. Remember overwatering is of the most common problems of this plant.
  • Water when the soil feels dry, as this evergreen perennial does not do well in extensive dry spells.
  • Provide high humidity levels. You can place it on top of a pebble tray or next to a humidifier. Adding mulch from the base of the plant will also help.
  • When it comes to feeding, use a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Apply a proper dose of the balanced liquid fertilizer every month in the blooming season, preferably in late spring.
  • During fall and winter, do not fertilize the plant as it is dormant.


Dragon’s Tongue prefers evenly moist, porous, and well-drained soil to grow well.

Water Hemigraphis regularly but never allow the soil to stay wet.

If you have poor soil conditions, you can add organic matter, such as garden compost, manure, bark, or peat moss.

Dragon’s Tongue Grooming and Maintenance

Ensure the dragon’s tongue plant receives bright light for the best results.

Even though the plant may survive in low light, it will grow better when placed in a bright location.

Light pruning is essential to keep the tropical plant in its best shape and size.

Cut away old, dead flowers and leaves to keep the Hemigraphis healthy and encourage new growth.

Moreover, keep this plant away from AV cents, radiators, or heaters.

How to Propagate Hemigraphis Repanda

Dragon’s tongue is typically propagated by root divisions or stem cuttings.

In the root division technique:

  • Dig up the plant and divide the crown and root ball into multiple sections.
  • Once divided, remove the excess soil and unwanted materials.
  • Replant in a new pot/container in a bright, warm location.
  • Consider root division in fall or winter when the perennial is at rest.

In the cutting propagation method:

  • Cut a small 4″ inch stem
  • Remove all the lower leaves from the stem.
  • Dip the cutting into a rooting hormone
  • Plant in a new pot with well-draining soil or potting mix.
  • Make sure the pot has proper drainage holes in them.
Close-up of vibrant purple and green foliage.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @the_plantaholic_

Hemigraphis Repanda Pests and Diseases

The Dragon tongue’s plant is susceptible to a few insects, including:

  • Aphids
  • Whiteflies
  • Bean weevils
  • Mexican bean beetles
  • Mealybugs
  • Spider mites

Due to a lack of watering, the leaves become thin and lanky.

They may also develop white spots. Moreover, pay close attention to other signs of fungal diseases, such as root rot.

Dragon’s Tongue Uses

The stunning purple foliage of the dragon’s tongue makes the small houseplant an excellent choice for ground covers, hanging baskets, color container gardens, window boxes, garden borders, terrariums, and other enclosures.

This plant also makes an excellent aquarium plant and aquascapers, but it won’t survive underwater for long.

Close-up of dark-hued, textured plant leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @cjs_zoo

Hemigraphis Repandais also best planted in a paludarium that provides marsh-like habitat or semi-aquatic environment.

The evergreen plant also produces nectar in the blooming months and attracts pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.

Dragon tongue beans are often combined with herbs, spices, and vegetables for food.

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