How to water dracaena

Dracaena marginata, often thought to be a palm tree, is a truly magnificent indoor plant.

Key Dracaena marginata facts

Name – Dracaena marginata (horticulture)
Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia (scientific classification)
Family – Agavoideae (formerly Agavaceae)

Type – indoor plant
Height – 3 to 6 ½ feet (1 to 2 meters)
Exposure – very well-lit, or even full sun

Soil – soil mix
Foliage – evergreen

Here is advice on caring for your Dracaena marginata.

Growing Dracaena marginata

Potted dracaena marginata

Growing Dracaena marginata in a pot requires good soil mix that can be amended with ⅓ compost, if you’ve got some at hand.

In order to enhance drainage, pour clay pebbles or small stones into the pot to form a layer at the bottom.
This will help ensure roots won’t wallow in water, which could be fatal to it.

  • Set your Dracaena marginata up in a fair-sized pot filled with special indoor plant or green plant soil mix.
  • It may be necessary to repot it in spring every 2 or 3 years.
  • When not repotting then go for regular topdressing. This should perfectly answer growing needs of the plant.

Outdoor dracaena marginata

Growing dracaena marginata outdoors is only possible in warm climates because this plant can’t stand the cold.

  • Generally speaking, dracaena marginata is intolerant to the cold and will only grow outside in places where the temperature never drops below 63 to 65°F (17 to 18°C), even in winter.

Just as is practiced for plants in pots, feel free to place a bed of gravel, small stones or clay pebbles to drain the water better.

  • Atop this layer, you’ll be using a potting blend of soil mix, garden soil and sand.

Exposure for Dracaena marginata

Under temperate climates, Dracaena marginata adapts well to living indoors in our apartments and homes.
It grows best when surrounding temperatures hold at around 70 to 72°F (20 to 22°C) and requires very good light, even direct sunlight. In tropical climates, Dracaena marginata can grow very large!

  • Select a place for it near a window facing to the South or West in the Northern hemisphere, and North or West if you live in the Southern hemisphere.
  • This ensures it would bathe in a good deal of both indirect light and sunlight.

If you live in a house that is quite dark, avoid dracaena because it won’t cope with the low luminosity.

If you live in tropical climates, closer to the equator, Dracaena marginata will thrive outdoors with little or even no care.

  • Read on: Dracaena marginata in the wild

Dracaena marginata watering

All year long, mist water on the leaves, preferably soft water.

Dracaena marginata watering in spring and summer

This is usually the time of the year when Dracaena marginata grows most.
Water regularly while letting the soil mix dry in the surface before watering again.

Watering must be regular but limited, in order to not suffocate the plant’s roots.
Every 5 to 7 days is largely sufficient.

More or less every two weeks during the growth phase (spring-summer-early fall), you can offer it liquid fertilizer, taking great care to moisten the soil mix beforehand.

  • Fermented tea – wonderful home-made, natural fertilizer

Dracaena marginata watering in fall and winter

Start reducing the watering because the plant’s water needs start decreasing.
Only when the soil is dry down to the first inch or so (a couple centimeters), water to moisten the entire soil mix clump again.

Again, one might contend that watering one or 2 times a month is enough.
But this also depends on where your dracaena is placed: if it is in full sun, its needs will surely be higher.

  • This season is also when to stop adding fertilizer, from October all the way to March and April.

Watering mistakes to avoid

  • Overwatering – Dracaena yellow leaves are the consequence of overwatering.
  • Underwatering – Drying stems and dropping leaves result from underwatering.

Multiplying and propagating your Dracaena marginata with cuttings

As time passes, your Dracaena marginata will grow tall and spindly. You can easily give it renewed youth and make it branch out. In the process, you’ll even be able to create a second specimen! All you have to do is:

  • cut the leafy tip off the stem. Don’t cut too high: include at least one or two nodes in the dracaena marginata cutting.
  • a node is the swollen bump that forms rings at regular intervals along the stem.
  • place the cutting in a stout vase or glass of water. The nodes must be immersed.
  • roots will sprout from the nodes within a few weeks (months if in winter).
  • transplant your new dracaena marginata to a pot when the roots are about an inch (2.5 cm) long.

Keep the older specimen as is: it will start sprouting leaves at nodes that are located towards the tip, just like its waterbound counterpart will be sprouting roots!

Learn more about Dracaena marginata

Although some varieties look very similar to them, Dracaena marginata isn’t a palm tree. It’s in a houseplant category that’s called “false palm”, which looks similar to real palms like the Areca palm or the saw palmetto.

But the similarity is confusing and the care it needs is often close to that of a palm tree.

All in one aesthetic, resilient and very easy to grow, this is one of the most appreciated and purchased indoor plants the world over.

Its foliage is particularly elegant and unique, and its shape and bearing brings a touch of exotic life to a living room, dining area, or any other room of the house that is well-lit.

  • The lifespan of a dracaena can be long, provided it isn’t infected with the diseases that sometimes impact these trees.
  • When grown in containers or pots, it can last years, even up to a decade, if properly repotted, topdressed and cared for.

Proper name for Dracaena marginata

Like the florist’s Arum and other plants, Dracaena marginata has a troubled name history. The scientific name for the dragon plant is Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia. However, in horticulture and in garden stores, the simpler name “Dracaena marginata” was used. Originally, Dracaena marginata Lam. was the name associated to the plant, “Lam” being short for “Lamoureux“. Charles Lamoureux was one of the first to describe the plant.

Seeing the “reflexa” in the classification name shows how close a relative dracaena marginata is to the famed “Song of India”.

The Dracaena genus is extensive and many cousins of Dracaena marginata are also grown as houseplants, like the Dracaena massangeana.

Dracaena marginata varieties

Occasionally Dracaena marginata will go to seed and new hybrids will appear. Mutations also may appear in cells that grow into a branch with new characteristics. From these, dracaena cuttings can be prepared and this leads to a new type of Dracaena marginata.

Here are a few of the dracaena marginata varieties

  • Plain Dracaena marginata – this is the regular ‘type variety‘ against which other varieties are compared
  • Dracaena marginata ‘colorama’
  • Dracaena marginata ‘tricolor’
  • Dracaena marginata ‘tarzan’ – this cultivar has a plant patent on it.
  • Dracaena marginata ‘bicolor’
  • Dracaena marginata ‘magenta’

Dracaena marginata diseases & parasites

Falling or withering leaves on Dracaena marginata

This is undoubtedly due to lack of light or excess water.

  • Find a more exposed location for it and reduce watering to match our recommendations above.
  • In case you’ve forgotten to water your plant altogether, the Dracaena marginata drought reaction is to shed its lower leaves.

Dracaena marginata loses its leaves

This is what happens when the dracaena is too cold.

  • Find a more appropriate location for it, it requires minimum temperatures of 65-66°F (18-19°C) and ideally 70 to 72°F (20 to 22°C).

Dracaena marginata leaves turn yellow

If the plant continues to produce new leaves, this is part of your dracaena’s natural cycle. All plants, even evergreen trees, lose their leaves to renew them. The yellowing shows that nutrients are being pulled back into the tree before the leaf detaches and falls.

  • However, if no new shoots appear and your dracaena looks a bit sad, it might have fallen victim to red spider mites due to an excessively dry atmosphere.
    If so, you must treat the plant with an insecticide.

If more than just one or two leaves are turning yellow and drooping over, you might want to check if you’re not overwatering the dracaena.

White velvety spots appear, leaves turn pale and lose their colors

This is surely due to an onslaught of scale insects.

  • You can eliminate scale insects with a rag dipped in methylated spirits, carefully rinsing the leaves with water afterwards.
  • Other strong spirits or alcohols also work, like vodka, gin or rhum.
  • If there are only a few bugs, use a cotton bud to pinpoint the pests without dousing the whole plant.
  • Read the tips you need to fight mealybugs

Dracaena marginata leaves turn pale without any pests

Leaves are pale but still feel firm. Lack of light usually is the cause of this.

  • Transfer your Dracaena marginata to a window facing full sun, or at least a well-lit room.

Dracaena marginata leaves has brown spots

Too much sun or dry air can lead to leaves showing signs of water stress.

  • Check if the plant has been watered recently
  • Follow watering recommendations listed above

If necessary, place the pot of the dracaena on a tray filled with clay pebbles or gravel. Douse the gravel or clay with water. Evaporation will create an atmosphere of higher moisture around the plant. Ensure the pot itself doesn’t sit in water, but rests above it.

Dracaena marginata brown tips

If you water your dragon plant with tap water, sometimes excessive fluoride may disturb the plant’s normal functions.

  • Fluoride causes necrosis and discoloration and inhibits leaf growth
  • Use rainwater to water your plant

Smart tip about Dracaena marginata, the dragon plant

When propagating your plant, you can actually prepare several cuttings at a time!

Simply chop the stem into as many one foot (25 cm) pieces as you can. Carefully mark which end goes up.

Place stems in a separate glass of water and you’ll see roots and leaves sprout for each cutting!

Read also:

  • Where does the drought resistance of Dracaena marginata come from?
  • Did you know that plants cleanse indoor air from pollutants?
  • Discover the natural habitat of the Dracaena marginata houseplant

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Dracaena marginata leaf crown by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Droplets on Dracaena marginata by Katy Warner under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Dracaena marginata outdoors by Glenn Brown under © CC BY-NC 2.0
D. marginata at home by Flower Council Holland / the joy of plants

The Dracaena Marginata, also known as the Madagascar Dragon Tree, presents itself quite palm-like. It conjures a tropical atmosphere in every living room and captivates with a rich leaf green. When it comes to the care, it shows itself as an undemanding indoor plant, which can also forgive if watering has been forgotten from time to time. You can meet its few demands with our professional advice in the cutting and care instruction.

Plant Profile

  • Plant family: Agavaceae
  • Genus: Dracaena
  • Species: Dracaena Marginata
  • Popular name: Dragon Tree
  • Origin: Madagascar
  • Growth height: up to 200 cm
  • Evergreen, shiny leaves 30 to 40 cm long
  • With two-colored leaf marks
  • Not hardy
  • Poisonous for cats!

The dragon trees (Dracaena Marginata) are the perfect beginner’s plant, because they will hold no grudge when at first the care is not sufficient. Especially the Dracaena Marginata are popular for its low maintenance. The two-colored leaves set colorful contrasts in living rooms, gardens and on balconies. Due to its exotic appearance, it creates a harmonic atmosphere in its environment.

It shows to be very robust and is easy to bring to the correct height through pruning. Even without expert knowledge, it is possible to multiply them if you know how to do it. We will explain everything in detail in our professional care instructions.

Dracaena marginata


You do not need the green thumb of a professional gardener to please the demands of the dragon tree. Simply follow our care instructions and tips, and you will enjoy this plant for a long time.


As a tropical plant, the dragon tree (Dracaena Marginata) needs bright conditions. A place with lots of sun but without direct sunlight is its favorite. It tolerates semi-shade to a shady place but it will grow slower. Therefore, it should be circulated once a week when put in front of a bright window, so she will receive the same light intensity on all sides and grow evenly.

This kind of plant prefers warm temperatures between 19 and 25 degree Celsius. It reacts with damages on its leaves to lasting temperatures below 15 degree Celsius. The absolute limit is below 5 degree Celsius. The plant will freeze, entirely stop supply circulation and die.

The dragon tree (Dracaena Marginata) enjoys standing outside on a balcony, the patio or in the flower patch if the outside temperatures are warm enough. Though, it does need to get acclimated slowly to the unfiltered sunlight. Here as well, a place outside the blazing sun is a wise choice. Basically, the Dracaena Marginata does not tolerate a cold draft nor strong storms. Please take this into consideration when choosing the right spot.

Ground Conditions

The ground and soil conditions are the basis of existence for many plant species. But this plant shows particularly undemanding. She thrives will in standard soil. Only important factor: the soil should have a pH-level of around 6.0. It is ideal when the ground is mixed with a little sand or clay. The components improve the permeability of the ground and minimize the risk of water-logging.


As well as the soil conditions, the substrate should have a pH-level of around 6.0. Optimal would be cacti soil or a special substrate for indoor plants for smaller dragon trees. Big dragon trees on the other hand are happy about palm tree substrate or tub soil.

Dracaena fragrans

Additionally, clay granules in a ratio of 2:1 prevents mold growth and supports with water permeability because it lightens the substrate.

Planting Season

If the dragon tree (Dracaena Marginata) is supposed to be planted in the flower patch or in a balcony tub, the optimal planting season is basically dependent on the outside temperatures. Because it is not very well equipped for locations below 15 degree Celsius are, the night temperatures should be above that before bringing it outside.

These temperatures are usually a given around end of June/beginning of July. Re-potting can happen year-round. But it is advisable to wait after winter break in the early spring shortly before the growth of shoots begins.

Planting in the Flower Patch

When the perfect spot has been found and the ground conditions meet the Dracaena’s demands, it can be planted without much effort.

You should only focus on a few things:

  • the planting hole needs to be at least twice as big as the plant bale
  • a ground drainage made from gravel, quartz sand reduces the risk of water-logging
  • mix compost under the soil, this way the nutrient level increases for strong growth
  • plant apart at least 1.5 times of the plant’s circumference
  • the root basis needs to be at least 3 cm underneath the surface after planting

Planting in the Tub

Planting in a bucket or tub works in almost the same way as described under the section “Planting in the Flower Patch”. Fill the bucket or tub only op to at least two cm under the rim. This way, you will prevent over flowing when watering. Re-potting needs to usually be done every two to three years or even later, when root penetration throughout the entire planter occurs. When re-potting, always choose a planter of 10 to 15 cm to allow the roots to grow sufficiently.

Dracaena massangeana

It should have a drain hole for excess water to drain. It is important that you do not damage the roots when loosening the plant from the pot. You can prevent this by dipping the pot in a fully water-filled container for about two minutes. When the soil is completely soaked, the plant including its root will be easier to be pulled off the pot.


The demand for water of the Dracaena Marginata is in the low or moderate areas. It can tolerate lasting drought better than too much moisture.

If you follow these watering instructions, you will meet the plants demand perfectly:

  • water moderately every three to four days from November to February: when the ground surface has dried a little
  • during the growth period from spring to late summer, water moderately daily or every two days
  • avoid water-logging
  • do not let the root bale dry out
  • during the hot summer days or the heating period, spray the leaves daily with lime-free water


The dragon tree (Dracaena Marginata) should be fertilized once a week from March to October. Ideal is complete fertilizer for green plants which noticeably improves growth. When the plant reach the desired height, less fertilizer should be provided.

Fertilization every six or eight weeks is sufficient. For dosage, strictly follow producer’s instructions. After fertilization, the plant needs to be watered for the fertilizer to evenly spread in the soil or substrate.


With good care and fertilization, the dragon tree will quickly gain in circumference and height. You can keep this under control by pruning. The perfect time is from spring to summer, shortly before and during the growth period.

Situated at the upper stem is the so-called “sleeping eye” a bulge underneath the stem bark. You can cut all shoot tips on top of that to reduce the plant’s height. Shoots at the side can be cut right underneath the junction of the stem. After pruning, several young shoots will usually sprout right under the cut, these are the reason of a thick foliage.

Dracaena fragrans

Note when pruning that open cuts increase the vulnerability for diseases and pest infestation. For this reason, powdered Sulphur or grafting wax should be used for covering after cutting. You do not need to throw cut-offs away. You can use it for multiplication purposes. Find out more in the section” Multiplication”.


Dragon trees go on a winter period in which the water demand reduces and it is not necessary to fertilize after November. Overwintering in open land is not possible. The dragon tree needs to be put in the warmth at latest when the temperatures are constantly below 15 degree Celsius.

The palm-like plant likes a room temperature between 18 and 20 degree Celsius during the winter period. If the plant stands on cold ground, it is advisable to put the pot on thermal insulation. For example, Styrofoam or mat made from coconut fibers or cork work well. The winter break ends in February/March and the demand for water and fertilizer will rise again.


It is not rare that you can get dragon trees from factory farming which might have existing diseases or a weakened plant structure. If you want to receive a strong and healthy plant, it is best to grow it yourself. For this, a variety of multiplication methods exists but the cultivation of cuttings is the most successful.

Head Cuttings

If your Dracaena Marginata shows fresh shoots in its upper part, you can cut off the ones with a length of eight cm. Put them in a small planter with a mix of soil and sand, and in this way, grow a head cutting to a real plant. You should pay attention that the soil stays moderately wet all the time. It is recommended to cover the pot with a transparent foil to keep the humidity high additionally.

The ideal temperature for root development is between 22 and 24 degree Celsius. You should choose a bright spot without direct sunlight. After about two to three weeks, sufficient roots have developed and the young plants can be planted in to substrate for adult dragon trees. Because this method usually hurts the overall appearance of the plant, it is advisable to do this during spring when a cutting back is wanted to ensure rich volume and improved growth.

Stem Cuttings

In the same course of multiplying by head cuttings, you can additionally grow stem cuttings. Cut the leaf-less stem in multiple at least five cm long parts. Start right underneath a stem junction. Multiplication works best if you place the cut off stem in a dark, water-filled glass at a temperature between 22 and 24 degree Celsius.

Place the glass in a bright place and exchange the water every two to three days.After a few weeks, first roots will develop. Ideal is, if you put the young plants now in cultivation soil and cover it for increase humidity with a plastic foil. This way, a thick root system can develop to subsequently survive in normal substrate. The perfect time for the re-potting into substrate is when the first shoots on the stem have developed.

Dracaena fragrans


Even though the dragon tree presents itself with immense robustness, failures in care or choice of location can lead to diverse diseases.

Root Rot

When dragon trees are kept to moist or exposed to water-logging for a long time, they quickly react with root rot. This shows predominantly through an unpleasant smell of the soil, which at a later stage will often be covered with mold. This can usually also be found on the roots.

Now, that plant needs to be taken out of the wet soil and affected roots need to be cut up to the base. Heavily soaked root parts will need to be cut off to the extent of one third. Subsequently, the dragon tree can be planted in dry soil or substrate. For at least two days, the soil should not be watered. Afterwards you should water with a reduced water amount in over to prevent overwatering.

Fungal Infection

A fungal infection is usually the precursor of root rot. The botanist calls it soft decay, which shows with softening of the stem and will evenly spread to the stem tip. The only thing that helps now is a fungicide and draining as already described in the section “root rot”. But the chances of the dragon tree’s survival decrease the further progressed the soft decay is and end in the worst case with disposal of the plant including the bucket.


Pest Infestations

Too dry or too wet air environment can draw pests to this green plant.

Spider Mites

Predominantly during the heating period, spider mites will often find a new home on the dragon tree. You can find them on the bottoms of the leaves where they will form white webs which can extend up to the stem. Typical signs are also white spots on the leaves, curled up leaves as well as discoloration and finally dying of the leaves.

Dracaena fragrans

A quick help are special insecticides or the “bag treatment”. For this shower off the Dracaena Marginata and put it in closed air-tight in a transparent plastic bag and place it in a bright place without direct sun light. After three days, the spider mite problem should be remedied.

Mealy Bugs

If bright cotton-ball-like structures appear on the top of the leaves, it is most likely a mealy bug infestations. You can work against this with an insecticide containing neem oil or a strong soap solution with a shot of spirit. To fight against potential eggs, exchange the soil additionally.


As a one to three mm long and dark-brown to lack-brown pests, the thripse presents itself at the bottoms of the dragon tree’s leaves. They suck their food from the leave insides which results in a slow death of the entire plant, if you do not fight against it.

Here as well a home remedy with showering off and the air-tight packing in a plastic bag is recommended, as already describes in the section “Spider Mites”.


In the dragon tree genus are about 100 different species. The most common Dracaena Marginata will be often considered a separate species, but is subcategorizes for some years now as Dracaena reflexa var. Marginata. It is available in two or three color. The two-colored type has dark-green and red-framed leaves while the three-colored type shows with leaves in green, pink and crème-stripped.

Dracaena marginata

Another less known type, the “Dracaena deremensis” in the species “Bausei” shows in monochrome and reaches a maximum growth height of 120 cm. Of the same species is the type “Warneckii” with two bright stripes on the leaf.

Other known types in Europe include:

  • Draco
  • Fragrans with the types Lindenii, Massangeana and Victoria
  • Goldieana
  • Hookerana with the types Latifolia and Variegata
  • Lexa with the type Variegata
  • Sanderiana
  • Surculosa (godseffiana) with the types Florida Beauty and Kelleri

Houseplant Dracaena: How To Care For A Dracaena Houseplant

You may already be growing a dracaena plant as part of your houseplant collection; in fact, you may have several of the easy-care houseplant dracaena. If so, you have probably learned that dracaena plant care is fairly simple. Colorful strap-like foliage appears on many dracaena houseplant varieties. Many cultivars are large, tree-like plants while others are smaller. The houseplant dracaena exhibits an upright form no matter the cultivar.

Growing a Dracaena Plant

Stems of the houseplant dracaena are called canes and can be pruned at any point to keep plants under control. Dracaena houseplant varieties D. fragrans and D. deremensis have cultivars that can reach from 6 to 10 feet (2-3 m.), so height control by pruning canes of older plants is useful when growing a dracaena plant. New foliage will sprout just below the cut in a few weeks. Propagate the removed cane for another plant.

Dracaena plant care involves keeping the soil of houseplant dracaena moist, but never soggy. Drooping or yellowing leaves indicate over-watering or poor drainage. Learning how to care for a dracaena includes finding well-draining soil in which to grow your houseplant dracaena.

Appropriate fertilization is also a part of how to care for a dracaena. Feed every two weeks in spring and summer with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Reduce fertilization to once a month during fall. When growing a dracaena plant, stop feeding during winter months, as the plant benefits from a period of dormancy.

When growing a dracaena plant, locate it in brightly filtered light, such as through a sheer curtain in front of a sunny window.

Room temperatures of 60-70 F. (15-21 C.) are best during the day, with night temperatures about 10 degrees cooler. However, the dracaena is forgiving of temperatures, as long as they are not too cold.

Now that you know the basics of dracaena plant care, why not grow one of the many dracaena houseplant varieties in your home today?

Dracaena Plant Irrigation Guide: Learn When To Water Dracaenas

In addition to adding a refreshing interior design touch, many houseplants can help improve air quality indoors. One such plant, dracaena, is a long-time favorite due to its vibrant and colorful foliage. This, in tandem with the plant’s ease of care and low light requirements, make it ideal for bringing lush foliage into the home all year long. In order for plants to truly thrive, it is important to take specific watering requirements into consideration. With a few simple guidelines, even a garden novice can enjoy beautiful dracaena houseplants. How much water does dracaena need? Keep reading to learn more.

Dracaena Water Requirements

Although dracaena plants are native to subtropical regions, these houseplants do not tolerate wet soils. When potting up dracaena, make certain that the plants are situated in a well-draining container. This step will help to prevent root rot and other stress-related diseases.

How much water does dracaena need and when to water dracaenas? A general rule of thumb is to only water dracaena when the soil feels dry to the touch. Water plants thoroughly, or until water freely flows from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Many growers choose to place a saucer under planting containers to collect excess water. Be sure to drain the saucer after watering so as not to leave any standing water.

It should also be noted that dracaena plants are sensitive to fluoride. Fluoride is often found in public water supplies. Exposure to fluoride through watering, use of perlite potting mix, or other fertilization method may also cause leaves to turn brown or yellow. If this issue becomes evident, consider watering the plants using bottled water once every few weeks.

Dracaena plants also benefit from a light misting of the leaves several times a week. This is especially important during periods of low humidity, such as that which occurs throughout the winter. Without sufficient moisture, growers may notice that leaf tips begin to yellow or turn brown.

Do you have a spot in your home that’s begging for a tall, narrow floor plant? Well let me please introduce to Lisa – she’s easy care and easy on the eyes. This houseplant’s a looker with all that dark glossy foliage spilling out of the top of each cane (stem). Coming up is all about Dracaena Lisa care and how to keep yours healthy and looking good.

When I was an interior plantscaper my 1st job following my exit from college ) Dracaena Janet Craig was the top dog in town where dark, glossy green foliage was desired. It was billed as the ultimate low light plant and was seen in almost every office and lobby in town. Dracaenas Lisa and Michiko are relatively new introductions. A much smaller variety, Janet Craig compacta, has been around for a while too. You’ll see pictures of them below and know that you care for them all in them same way.

Dracaena Lisa Care

Dracaena Lisa Plant Types

This is a floor plant. It grows in a compact, upright form as compared to other houseplants like ficus, palms & scheffleras which have a more spreading habit as they grow. It’s great for areas in your home where you don’t have a lot of space.


I’ve seen it sold in 10, 12 & 14″ grow pots. The height generally ranges from 5′-8′. My Dracaena Lisa is in a 10″ pot & stands about 5.5′ tall & about 2.5′ wide at the top.

Growth Rate

This plant has a moderate to slow growth rate. Mine is growing in good light & the temps are warm here in Tucson so the growth is on the moderate side. The lower the light & lower the temps, the slower the growth rate will be. Houseplants don’t grow much in the winter months by the way. It’s the time for them to rest (hey, don’t we all need a little hibernation!).

Dracaena Lisas in the greenhouse.


This plant is often sold as a light plant & we always billed the Dracaena Janet Craig as a low light houseplant too. The Dracaena Lisa does much better in medium light. Nice bright natural light but no direct sun because this plant will burn. This is an east or west exposure with 2-4 hours of the sun coming in the windows per day.

I use my instincts when it comes to light & houseplants. If a plant isn’t doing as well as it should, then I move it. Just know that if you have your Dracaena Lisa in low light (this isn’t no light; low light would be likened to a northern exposure with no direct sunlight) it won’t grow much if any at all. The plant will look a bit “droopy” & sad with the leaves getting smaller in size.

If your plant is in a corner, then rotate it so the light can reach all sides. When the light levels go low in winter, you might need to move your plant to a spot that gets more natural light.

You want to keep this 1 on the dry side. If your home is warmer, then you’ll have to water more often. On the average, every 2-3 weeks is fine. You want the top 2/3 of the soil to dry out before watering it again.

I live in the desert & water mine every 1-2 weeks in the warmer months. My Dracaena Lisa gets a fair amount of light in the living room & I prefer to keep my home on the warmer side with minimal air conditioning. Adjust the watering frequency according to your home’s conditions. Back off on the watering frequency in the winter months.

This plant is sensitive to salts & minerals in the water. On these dark leaves, the yellow spots & significant brown tips really show. You may need to use distilled water if this applies to your tap water.

This is Dracaena Michiko. Its leaves are a little fatter & not as long as Lisa’s. It has even more of an upright, narrow form.


I don’t fertilize my Dracaena Lisa. Come early spring I top it with 1/4″ of worm compost & 1/4″ of compost over that. If you go this route, easy does it. Too much of an application of either can burn the roots of a houseplant. Worm compost is my favorite amendment which I use sparingly because it’s rich. Here’s why I like it so much. I’m currently using Worm Gold Plus.

I use Tank’s local compost. Give Dr. Earth’s a try if you can’t find anywhere you live. Both worm compost & compost enrich the soil naturally so the roots are healthy & the plants grow stronger.

Liquid kelp or fish emulsion would work fine too as well as a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower). Dilute any of these to half strength & apply in spring. If for some reason you think your Dracaena needs another application, do it again in summer. You don’t want to fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest.

I give most of my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2? layer of each for a larger sized houseplant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.


If your home is comfortable for you, then your plant will be fine. Just keep it away from any cold or hot drafts & away from heaters & air conditioner vents.

Dracaena Janet is the original. The leaves don’t stay as “neat” & the form is much more spreading than the other 2.

Not much is needed at all. If yours has a few brown tips, just leave them be. It’s common for dracaenas to have them. Pronounced brown edges are due to a watering issue so cut them off if you feel the need. Just make sure your scissors are clean & sharp.


And of course, you prune if you wish to propagate. I’ve found the 2 easiest ways of propagating this plant are by air layering & cuttings in water.

Soil / Transplanting

My Dracaena Lisa is planted in a combo of lava rock & potting soil. The Hawaii growers use lava rock to increase drainage & aeration. When I transplant it next spring, I’ll use a locally formulated potting soil which is nice & chunky, some of the lava rock & maybe some charcoal it I think it needs it. This is optional but what charcoal does is improve the drainage & absorb impurities & odors. For this reason, it’s great to mix it into your soil mix when doing any indoor potting project.

Spring & summer are the best times to transplant your Dracaena Lisa.

Dracaena Janet Craig compacta live up to its name. It’s much more compact & grows slower.

The Dracaena Lisa can be susceptible to mealybugs & scale. Click the links & you’ll see how to identify & control them. Many houseplants are susceptible to spider mites so I’ll include this 1 too.

Pests can travel from houseplant to houseplant fast so make you get them under control as soon as you see them.

Safe For Pets

All dracaenas are considered to be toxic to pets. I consult the ASPCA website for my info on this subject – here’s more info on this for you. Most houseplants are toxic to pets in some way & I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic.

I saw quite a few of these planters in a mall in La Jolla, CA. The dark, glossy foliage is pretty against a white wall & in a white planter.

Dracaena Lisa Tips

Your Dracaena Lisa will slowly lose its lower leaves. I just want to let you know this is normal. As the plant grows taller, the lowest leaves turn yellow & eventually brown. I wait until the leaves are dry & easily pull them off.

This is an easy houseplant to maintain. As I said, a bit of tipping is normal due to the dry air in our homes. If the tips are sizable, it’s due to a watering issue.

The bright natural light will make this plant happy. Overwatering will not.

Lisa’s large, glossy leaves are dust collectors. You can wipe off any gunk off with a soft, damp cloth once or twice a year. If you’re so inclined, put the plant in the shower & give it a showering off. Just be careful not to blast the soil out!

Don’t be tempted to use a commercial leaf shine up the ante on this plant’s glossiness. Those products will clog the pores of the leaves & just like us, they need to breathe.

Dracaena Lisa, you’re my kind of gal – easy to be around and low maintenance. Hopefully, she’ll become your bestie too!

Happy gardening,

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