Dracaena Marginata Care

Dracaena marginata, or Dragon tree, are very interesting looking trees that you can find just about anywhere. In fact, you see them so often that you think “wow, these plants must be super easy to care for!” No. They are not. In fact, this plant can be a bit of a diva if you don't do things just the way they like them to be done. At least that has been my experience with them. I'd like to tell that you that I still have the first D. marginata that I got, but then I would be lying to you. Things did not go well for the first two that I had. In fact, I had decided that there was no way that I would even consider getting another one. It was never going to happen. Yeah, apparently I had forgotten to tell my then five year old son that.

We were grocery shopping in February, and lo and behold, they had a massive display of plants. Oh, did I say plants? I meant Dracaena marginatas. I’m talking at least 20 of them, and not one of them was a little one either - these were all at least two feet tall. So here we are with my son in the shopping cart (admit it, if you could fit you would be in there too), when we walk past this display. Next thing I know we are stopped right in front of the smallest D. marginata, my son is petting sad looking leaves, and he informs me that he has named the plant Nurray. He also says that because he named the plant that it has to come home with us, we just can't leave him all alone in the store because he will be sad, etc. He created a whole stole about how Nurray has no one and will be so sad and lonely, and all of this depressing stuff. Well, my son went home with his new Dracaena marginata that day.

Nurray lives in my son’s room, in front of his north facing window, which is perfect because the sun isn’t strong enough to scorch his leaves. I have since repotted him in the pot that my son picked out, in my typical potting mix, which is equal parts potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark. I have given Nurray a small amount of organic fertilizer mixed into the soil, and I only give him bottled water, because our local water has too many chemicals in it that will cause some brown leaf tips. I generally only water him about once every week and a half to every two weeks; however long it takes for the soil to dry out. So far this has been working well, and Nurray has grown quite a bit and has much healthier looking leaves.

I am glad that I let my son convince me that we had to take this specific Dracaena marginata home, and that I should try one more time to grow one. Thankfully now I know how to care for them the correct way. Now that I have said all of that, how about I give you a brief care guide.

D. marginata like bright indirect light, like the type of light that you get in a north facing window, or across the room from a south facing window. Just remember that direct sunlight will burn the leaves.

Let the soil dry out before you water again. These will get root rot if you let them stay in wet, or even damp, soil. Fluoride, and other chemicals that are added to your tap water, can cause the tips of the leaves to brown and get crispy. You can try rain water, distilled, or bottled water and water about once every two weeks. When we first got it, it was severely root bound, and even then I only watered it once a week. D. marginata really do not like wet roots.

Another thing that can cause the lead tips to get brown is if the humidity level in your house is too low. The humidity level in my house stays around 50%, which has been high enough to not cause brown leaf tips. If yours develops them, you can always put it near a humidifier for a while, or set it on a pebble tray. A lot of people will suggest misting, but this doesn’t work. If you mist a plant you are only raising the humidity level until that water has evaporated, which means that it doesn’t last very long. (Unless you want to sit there all day misting.)

Give fertilizer lightly, like about ½ the dose that you would typically give any other houseplant. These plants don’t need a bunch of fertilizer, unless you want a plant with fertilizer burn.

Make sure that you pot them in soil mix that is fast draining. The last thing you want is for your D. marginata to have rotting roots because the soil holds too much moisture. I know I have already mentioned it, but I use equal parts potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark. Also, make sure that the pot isn’t too much bigger than the root ball. Putting one of these in a pot that is too big is bound to cause some issues.

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The infamous Nurray