In this article, we will be discussing how to grow and to get the best from your dracaenas. Dracaenas are wonderful large growing foliage plants that often arching with colourful leaves and an upright habit. Dracaena are popular houseplants that originate from Asia.
The name itself shows how much the plant is wrapped up in ancient mythology, as the name is derived from the Greek ‘Drakaina’ meaning female dragon. This is because it is thought that the resin that flows in dracaenas look like dragon blood. Strange as nobody has ever seen dragon blood, but then they probably assumed that all blood is red in colour and that the name sounds spectacular.
In the past, it had many uses from dying clothes and medicines and even today it has some uses in producing colourful varnishes.
Although it is a plant that has many uses, it is fairly easy to look after.
In this article, you will find how to look after your dracaenas, what varieties to grow and what the potential pitfalls they are and how to avoid them.
WHAT ARE DRACAENAS?
They are popular houseplants that make excellent specimen plants that are their best when the bold outline is displayed against a plain background and not surrounded by furniture or other houseplants.
It is actually a member of the Asparagaceae (the Asparagus family), where 40 known species exists.
There is quite a range of habits, leaf shapes and colours available in this genus. Some with quite colourful leaves that can grow up to 30cm in length and 5cm wide.
The plant have an array of growing heights from small 1m plants to 3m or more giants, so you do have a range of dracaenas that can be grown in your home.
What must be remembered is that Dracaena that are all green can tolerate a little shade but those with variegated foliage need to be grown in good light or their colours will fade. The leaves are the main talking point but they do produce flowers in summer but these are insignificant and not worth noting. A plant that is great in filling a large vacant area in your home.
HOW TO CARE FOR DRACAENAS
Grow Dracaenas in a bright, filtered light (light that is obtained through a net curtain) in front of a sunny window) or in light shade. Never place a dracaena plant in direct sun as the rays will scorch its foliage. Too much bright light can also bleach the colourful variegated leaves of the plant.
Dracaenas require less water than you think and it needs the compost to be fairly moist during the growing season. This means watering fairly well whilst in active growth, sparingly in winter. The compost must be slightly moist at all times, allowing the top 5cm of the compost to dry out between waterings. The best way to gauge this is by sticking your finger in and seeing if the compost feels dry or wet.
Do not overwater at all, as this could lead to root rot and the slow death of your plant.
Overwatering can be noticed if the leaves turn yellow and brown, which will indicate to you that you will need to reduce the frequency and amount of water that you give to the plant.
If the leaves are older and at the bottom of the plant are turning yellow then it is as nature intended, as the plant is diverting all its energy and resources into the production of new leaves. All houseplants will do this to some extent or another, but as long as the plant is producing new leaves there is nothing to worry about.
Dracaenas like to grow in the temperature range of 20 to 25 degree Celsius, but they can take a minimum night time temperature of 10 degrees in winter. Any temperature below this will harm the plant, causing the leaves to drop and the plant to sulk. It does not like to be too close to the central heating, as this will cause the plant to dehydrate quickly and look sad.
As the plant originates from the rainforest then they prefer a high humidity atmosphere. You can improve the humidity by misting or by placing the plant on a tray of moist expanded clay balls that will naturally increase the humidity in the vicinity of the plant.
To feed the plant, it is best to use a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertiliser (such as Baby Bio) once a month during the growing season from March to September. During winter do not feed at all.
Dracaenas, in general, are pest-free only suffering from mealybugs, spider mites and scale insects. These are often dealt with by spraying with a systemic insecticide.
VARIETIES TO GROW
There are several varieties to grow and include in the home, but the most common are:
This is a cultivar that has broad, pointed strap-like palm-like leaves that are often striped or variegated. It is not an easy plant to look after as leaves will be lost, if temperatures fluctuate, if there is a chill or draughts, or if the atmosphere becomes too dry. Grows up to 1.2m in height. One plant that hates to be overwatered as this will lead to root rot.
DRACAENA DRACO (Dragon Tree)
This 90cm tall plant has palm-like, narrow, strap-shaped leaves that are red at the edge. An easy plant to look after, more tolerant of low temperatures. It can be a long-lasting houseplant.
DRACAENA FRAGRANS (Corn Plant)
There are several varieties of this species that are sold as a houseplant. The leaves have a corn-like appearance that is often striped and have much variegation, where they can grow up to 1.2m in height.
A plant that does not do well unless the room it is in is warm and the humidity is high. Can be difficult to control in most homes, as it can be rampant in growth.
It will lose leaves at the bottom of the plant as they age and this is not a bad thing, as it gives the plant an attractive palm-like shape. Any dead leaves should be cut close to the stem and removed. You can cut the leafy tops and root it in compost if the plant becomes too tall and unruly. Keep the plant warm and in high humidity until the plant establishes and roots.
DRACAENA MARGINATA (Madagascar Dragon Tree)
This looks similar to D. draco, but the leaves are narrower. It also sheds its lower leaves, so that the palm-like appearance comes sooner than later. It is a small dracaena that only grows up to 90cm in height.
DRACAENA SANDERIANA (Lucky Bamboo)
This 45cm tall, compact Dracaena has long narrow leaves that are white and green variegated. The leaves are also slightly wavy, adding to the appeal of this plant. They require less humidity than most dracaenas and often does much better than other types in centrally heated homes. It also prefers light shade.
In this article, we have discovered the best way of growing Dracaenas from how to care for them and the varieties to grow. They are an easy plant to look after and you do have plenty of choice as to what variety you can use.
They are colourful plants, graceful plants and if you are looking for a tall plant to have in your home, then you cannot go wrong with dracaenas.
If you have any questions or comments that you want to raise on dracaenas, then please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Dracaena growing.