Dracaena [dra-SEE-nah] is a popular, easy to grow house and landscape plant boasting approximately a hundred and twenty different species of shrubs and trees.
These plants originate in a number of different tropical and subtropical settings including:
- Central America
- Canary Islands
- Southern Asia
- South Africa
- Cape Verde
The name, Dracaena, is derived from a Romanized version of the ancient Greek word, drakaina, which means female dragon.
In this article, we review some of the many ways to use Dracaena in your home and the landscape and provide a brief overview of eight of the most popular varieties.
Read on to learn more.
The Many Wonderful Features of Dracaena
These attractive, hardy plants, shrubs, and trees are mostly very easy to care for.
Young plants are leafy and verdant and make nice additions as indoor plants to any home or office on a tabletop, desktop or windowsill.
As they grow older, Dracaena becomes more treelike and develop woody stems.
Mature, healthy plants, of some varieties (corn plant), can grow to be 6′ feet high and make wonderful specimen plants in your home, sunroom, patio, or garden.
A collection consisting entirely of Dracaena can offer a surprising amount of variety and interest throughout your home and garden.
Leaves vary in shape from smallish and oval to long, sword-like, or strappy.
Colors range from solid pale green to yellow and green striped or variegated.
Some have interesting reddish stems and veins.
NOTE: If you can grow Dracaena you’ll enjoy its cousin the Cordyline plant.
How Do You Grow Dracaena?
All sorts of Dracaena make wonderful houseplants when they’re small because they thrive in normal household conditions.
They prefer bright, indirect sunlight; however, many types of Dracaena can tolerate low light settings.
These plants have moderate water demands and usually do well with a thorough, weekly watering.
Check to be sure the soil is almost completely dry before watering.
Fertilize a couple of times a year with a standard, all-purpose liquid indoor plants fertilizer.
The Dracaena plant have very few problems, but if you do experience trouble with brown leaf tips, it may be an indication your plant needs more water and a bit more humidity.
What Are Some of the Most Popular Types of Dracaena Plants?
Dracaena marginata is also known as Dragon Tree or Madagascar Dragon Tree.
This slow-growing species does very well with very little care.
It may take as long as three years to attain a height of about 4′ feet.
There are several different leaf variations within this species.
Dracaena Draco is also sometimes commonly called the Dragon Tree.
It is a succulent tree usually kept as a houseplant, but if you live in a tropical or subtropical area, plant it outdoors, and it will grow to be an impressively wide, thick, branched tree up to 25′ feet tall.
One very old specimen was measured at 70′ feet tall.
When allowed to grow in this manner, Draco’s sword-like, bluish-green leaves will grow to be about 2′ feet long.
In the summertime, the tree produces small, greenish-white flowers which transition into orange berries.
Dracaena arborea is another Dracaena, sometimes called Dragon Tree or Tree Dracaena.
As the name suggests, this variety is a genuine tree that is best suited to the outdoors.
In the wild, it grows in a semi-desert setting.
If you live in a hot, dry area and need a tall, palm-like tree for your yard or garden, tree Dracaena with its thick trunk with single or multiple heads and broad, stiff leaves may be just the plant for you.
Tree Dracaena can do well in settings ranging from shade to bright direct sunlight.
Although they are quite drought tolerant, you’ll get better results with regular watering and good quality of well-draining soil.
Dracaena fragrans | Dracaena massangeana
This slow-growing, easy-care species does well with a low light setting and doesn’t need much water.
It’s a good choice in a large, open space such as a sunroom, office reception area, mall, or wide hallway.
This tropical plant will grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.
Dracaena reflexa has dark green leaves and was formerly known as pleomele.
There are other reflexa varieties:
- Song of Jamaica
- Song of India (below)
This pretty plant is similar to marginata, but it’s leaves are a bit wider.
The green leaves have attractive cream-colored margins.
Like marginata, the plant may take quite a while to attain a maximum height of about 3′ feet.
It may occasionally produce small, insignificant flowers.
Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig
This very common houseplant has attractive, shiny, dark green leaves which grow in compact tufts.
It is an extremely easy plant to grow.
Several varieties or sports of Janet Craig include:
- Dracaena deremensis Lisa
- Dracaena deremensis Michiko
The plant is, in fact, a small tree and is an excellent choice for small apartments, bathrooms, office cubicles, and other areas where a single, extremely attractive, very easy-care plant is desirable.
Dracaena warneckii is sometimes called Dracaena Warnock or Striped Dracaena.
This variety of Dracaena deremensis is quite similar to Janet Craig because it, too, is a small tree or shrub.
The leaves differ, though.
They are pointy, narrow, and sport distinctive, lengthwise white stripes in the center.
Dracaena Lemon Lime is a very interesting variety of Dracaena deremensis.
Its leaves are an interesting shade of chartreuse with white stripes and grayish-green centers.
Dracaena sanderiana (Lucky Bamboo)
Dracaena sanderiana | Dracaena braunii is also known as the Lucky Bamboo plant.
This popular plant is not immediately recognizable is a Dracaena, and as the name suggests, it looks quite a bit like bamboo.
You’ll often see these plants for sale simply sitting in water.
Or plant them in soil, and they will live longer and do better if kept in this manner.
Lucky Bamboo may occasionally produce small, unremarkable flowers.