January 2018: Dracaena Houseplant of the month


Indoor classic with a flamboyant streak

Beautiful leaves in fashionable colours on a sturdy trunk: Dracaena is a statement plant with an exotic look.


Dracaena is a tall, full houseplant or tree with one or more trunks from which fantastic leaves in green, yellow and gold emerge that can have touches of pink or red around the edges. There is a wide choice of leaves, ranging from small, narrow and pointy, to large and soft. What all the species have in common is that they’re amazing plants that suit any interior style, and they’re easy to look after. The plant stores moisture in its trunk and can therefore cope with you forgetting to water it occasionally. The somewhat palm-like shape means that this houseplant adds a rugged, tropical feel and lends an exotic touch to any interior and it mixes well with other indoor trees with smaller leaves. The plant also helps to keep things clean in your home. According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dracaena is a powerful air purifier and is available as a smaller houseplant, but also as an indoor tree. Dracaena is also used as a garden plant in the tropics.

Dracaena fits well with the popular interiors trend for creating a green atmosphere with botanicals. Create a lively display by mixing various varieties and sizes of Dracaena together. The tropical look is reinforced by pots made of wood or ceramic with a bark motif, supplemented with some exotic accessories.


The name Dracaena is derived from the Greek ‘drákaina’, which means female dragon. This refers to the resin of the draco variety, which is bright red and from the names such as dragon tree and dragon’s blood plant come. The resin is used in the paint industry. The plant is the botanical symbol of Tenerife. Icod de los Vinos is home to one of the largest and oldest dragon trees in the world called El Drago Milenario (the thousand year old dragon). That’s a slight exaggeration, as the plant is probably between 250 and 350 years old.


In the wild Dracaena grows well in Africa and adjacent islands such as Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the Cape Verde Islands, although there are also a couple of species in southern Asia and one in Central America. There are varieties which definitely look like a tree with a trunk, but there are also robust bush shapes. They can reach a ripe old age, and some species develop a very unusual shape in the wild that look positively primeval. The plant has been around in the West since 1752 and has been popular as a houseplant since 1880


Dracaena offers a wide choice of around 80 species and cultivars in various forms. Hence there are plants with a single stem, top cutting, tuft (several plants of one species in a single pot), Ti plant (double-headed plant), branched or woven trunk, plant with underplanting, stump, etc. Dracaena also offers various leaf shapes from narrow to broad and colours from yellow to dark red.

These are the best known varieties of Dracaena:

  1. Dracaena marginata cultivars, with narrow 1-2 cm leaves
  2. Dracaena fragrans cultivars, with broad 5-7 cm leaves
  3. Dracaena fragrans Compacta Grp, compact structure with 2-3 cm wide leaves
  4. Dracaena fragrans Deremenis Grp, with 2-3 cm wide leaves
  5. Dracaena reflexa cultivars, somewhat curved leaves, 2-3 cm wide
  6. Dracaena sanderiana cultivars, with 2-3 cm wide leaves
  7. Dracaena surculosa cultivars, with oval spotted leaves.

Care tips: 

  • Dracaena prefers not to be in direct sunlight but they do need a light position in order to keep the markings attractive.
  • Only water when the soil dries out. Dracaena cannot tolerate wet feet.
  • Spraying from time to time keeps the leaves attractive and fresh.
  • Give houseplant food once every six weeks in spring and summer. Do not feed in autumn and winter.
  • Dracaena cannot tolerate cold. Do not allow the temperature to drop below 10-13°C.

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