Madagascar Dragon Tree Plant Care

Madagascar dragon tree sounds mystique as if it belongs in a fairy tale. Yet, when you look at the Dracaena marginata tall stemmed tree with its wispy growth, you know it looks like a dragon.

The best part is you can add this no-fuss tree to your houseplant collection to give some magic to your indoor space.

Not only will it look magical it also purifies the air you breathe. How great is that! So stay awhile longer to learn how to care for this dragon plant and find one to buy.

What are Dragon Trees?

madagascar dragon tree

The dragon tree goes by many names, with the common one being the Madagascar dragon tree. Other names are the dragon tree. In the group, you can find over 120 species, each with its beautiful characteristics.

Yet, the dragon plant has many other varieties as well with the common ones Dracaena marginata Colorama, Dracaena marginata bicolor, and Dracaena marginata tricolor. One thing is sure it makes for an outstanding houseplant for beginners.

The plant has green sword red-edge leaves and is native to Madagascar. The spikey tree is an excellent entry houseplant and easy to care for. Best of all, it is drought tolerant and slow-growing to plant all year round.

When it blooms, it has white flowers in spring but rarely flowers indoors. The plant is disease-resistant to some extent and grows with a substantial amount of cane and trunk. So create a magical fairytale in your living space with the dragon. But before you buy one, check out the information here:

Scientific Name: Dracaena marginata

Common Name: Madagascar dragon tree or dragon tree

Plant Type: Broadleaf evergreen

Native to: Madagascar and Mauritius

Shape: Cane and trunk with sword red-edge green leaves

Maximum Size: 15 to 20 feet (4.57 to 6 meters) tall and 3 to 10 feet (0.9 to 3.05 meters) wide

Watering Requirements: Medium drought-tolerant

Light Requirements: Part shade

Preferred Humidity: High

Preferred Temperature: 70° to 80°F (21-26°C)

Soil or Potting Medium: Loamy well-drained

Fertilizer: Controlled release or slow-release feeding

Propagation Method: Stem cutting

Toxicity: Toxic to pets

Madagascar Dragon Tree Care

dragon tree care

The dragon trees’ tolerance for different temperatures looks excellent in the home or office. The soil needs to be well-draining and watered well during the growing season. While they can thrive in vast lighting conditions, it thrives in indirect bright light.

Dragon Tree Soil Necessity

potting mix for dargon tree

For the overall growth of any plant, the type of soil you use is essential. The same applies to the Dracaena marginata as it enjoys an airy well-draining potting mix. On the other hand, your dragon loves a mixture of loamy potting mix with peat moss.

The combined material provides the best growing condition for your dragon tree. Further, it prefers a 6 to 7 pH solid that is acidic to neutral. If the pH drops too low, the dragon adversely reacts and starts shedding its leaves.

Yet, it has a vast root system, so the container needs to house the roots comfortably if grown indoors. Still, it needs well-draining holes to let the water drain out. But if you received your dragon tree from Hawaii, make sure to remove 1/3 of the lava rock, replacing it with a loamy potting mix.

Water Needs

While the dragon tree is disease and drought-resistant, it is still sensitive to under-watering. So it helps to maintain a balance for healthy development. You can water your tree and wait until the top half of the ground is dry.

When placed as an indoor plant in low light, you may find the soil drying out after three weeks. We recommend using lukewarm water. If you notice the leaves turning yellow, your dragon is thirsty. But if you see brown tips, you are overwatering your tree plants.

You can dry off the roots and hold back on the watering until you feel two inches of the soil is dry. Another concern is watering your indoor and outdoor plants with water containing fluoride. Where possible, use distilled water.

The Best Lighting Condition

plant lighting requirement

The dragon tree is an excellent indoor plant to have for one good reason. It does not have one light requirement and survives in low to indirect light. So keep your plant standing in indirect, filtered sunlight, and your dragon will be happy.

You can grow it in dim light, but the leaves lose that vibrant shade. The best place is in partially shaded spots in front of the window or on a tinted balcony. Please do not keep it standing in direct sun as it can burn the leaves.  

Temperature Necessity

Bring the dragon tree into your living space for one excellent reason. The plant thrives in human temperatures yet does not enjoy extreme temperature changes. The ideal temperature is 70° to 80° F (21° to 27° Celsius).

The likeliness is that your household already has these temperatures making it perfect for dragon trees to survive. Yet, if your tree is standing outside during the peak sun hours, please bring it inside. It is susceptible to light.

The same applies when it gets freezing to prevent fluctuating temperatures.

The Recommended Humidity Needs

In origin, Madagascar dragon trees thrive in high humidity. Yet, it can also grow in your average household humidity. The plant adapts to humidities ranging from 60% to 80%. You may find when it stands in humidity levels between 30%-60%, it thrives.

You know your plant is happy when you notice healthy-looking vines with lush green foliage and white flowers. But if your dragon tree looks dull without much growth, then check the humidity levels present.

The best way to do this is to use a moisture meter to measure humidity levels in your home. If it is too low, then using a humidifier will help. Yet, if you have a limited budget using a pebble tray with water also does the trick.

Fertilizer Requirement

plant fertilizer requirement

Yes, the tree grows big, and you might think it needs a lot of feeding. But the good news is it has a small appetite. So you can feed your dragon trees at the beginning of spring and summer during the growing season.

There is no need for feeding your dragon trees in winter as it goes into a resting period. Still, for the ideal fertilizer, it helps to use a slow or controlled-release fertilizer. Using a controlled-release feed helps decrease toxicity and helps with gradual absorption.

We recommend using one in equal halves of nitrogen and phosphorous. Both encourage bloom and help the leaves grow. Fertilizing your Dracaena marginata only needs a controlled feeding twice a year.

For instant release feeding, you can give your tree fertilizer up to three times a week. Using a slow-release feeding apply it to moist roots as it helps absorb the fertilizer, preventing salt accumulation.

Dracaena Marginata Propagation

Propagating your indoor plants is possible even for the Madagascar dragon plant. You can steadily grow it with stem cuttings. Many gardeners grow it in a dish garden. But before you grab that pruning shears, your plant needs to be mature.

Stem Cutting Method

  1. Use your sterilized garden shears and cut off three vines from your mature plant.
  2. Please choose a vine with at least more than two nodes at the lower end.
  3. Take a pot and fill it up with your potting soil and cover it using a plastic bottle.
  4. Next, plant the cutting in the soil, and if you prefer, you can add some rooting hormone but optional.
  5. Add some water and fertilizer to the soil and wait for the roots to grow.

Once it roots, you have an exceptional housewarming gift to give to someone.

USDA Growth Zone

The good news is that if you live in the USDA zones 10 to 12, you can grow the tree and treat them as outdoor plants.

Potting the Dragon Tree Plant

Your Madagascar dragon plant has an extensive root system and takes up loads of space. Yet, it is a slow grower and leaves you with enough time before it needs repotting. You may find your tree needing transplanting after three years and will require a bigger pot.

Another important note is that the dragon tree does not do well in tight spaces, and the container needs good aeration and drainage. If you plan to use the Madagascar dragon tree for decorative purposes, it helps to choose a white pot.

Doing this brings out the vibrant green foliage with white flowers when it blooms.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Varieties

While the Madagascar dragon tree is a favorite among gardeners, you can find other varieties available as well as seen here:

Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor’

Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor'

Compared to the Madagascar dragon tree, this one has dark red margins with green blades and ivory stripes down the center of the leaf.

Dracaena marginata ‘Colorama’

Dracaena marginata 'Colorama'

You may find this dragon tree in a pinkish shade but is variegated with white green stripes. This is because the foliage needs bright light to help keep the unique colors.

Dracaena marginata ‘Bicolor’

Dracaena marginata 'Bicolor'

Yip, this dragon plant is true to its name as it has red and green leaves with stripes giving it a striking look.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Diseases & Pests

One thing you’ll find with this houseplant is that it is tolerant of most diseases and pests. Yet, you can still find some concerns with it as follow:

Yellow Leaves Falling

When you overwater your plant, you will see the foliage turning yellow. The problem is that your dragon plant, is the opposite and needs more water.

Brown Tip Leaves

When providing your plant with too much water, the leaves form brown tips. If this happens, the best is to refrain from watering until you feel the top two inches of dry soil.


Some known insects that can cause problems with your plant are mealybugs and spider mites. For a mealybug infestation, you will notice cotton deposits on your plant. Unfortunately, you will only see spider mites once it causes damage to the foliage. Then, you can get rid of them with a disinfectant spray.

Frequently Asked Questions

The main reason your tee might die is if you keep the plant in too much light. Too little light is also a concern but not as dramatic as getting too much direct sunlight. It will lose its color, and the foliage will turn to green leaves only. The other two problems are overwatering and underwatering, also leading to the death of your plant.

You can restore your dragon tree by moving it into a spot that gets indirect sunlight most of the day. You may even need to change your watering schedule by checking the dryness of the soil.

For your tree to thrive, it needs indirect bright light and cannot tolerate direct sun as it is harsh on the leaves. The sun causes the foliage to droop and become scorched. When you move your plant outdoors, make sure to bring it inside when it gets too much light. Also, check the watering needs that you’re not over or under-watering. If dry air is surrounding the plant, the heat can also cause the leaves to point down.

You can purchase from different nurseries or at online stores. Yet, there is no need to go browsing around online as Plantly has what you need here. The best part is you need not leave the comfort of your home as we deliver your houseplant right at your door.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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