Maybe you first saw one at a friend’s house or perhaps one caught your eye while passing by a store window. Whatever the location, the Dracaena can be a show-stopping plant.
Compact plants with beautiful foliage, the Dracaena variety is well suited to the modern lifestyle. A Dracaena can thrive with little care and maintenance, making it perfect for both beginners as well as professional gardeners.
But don’t go buying a Dracaena just yet! You need to know your options!
Read on to learn what makes the Dracaena so special and the different varieties you should consider before you make the appropriate choice for your collection.
What Are Dracaena?
Derived from the Greek word “drakaina,” the Dracaena plant name literally means “female dragon.” The plant gets its name due to the red substance that oozes out of its stems when they are cut, reminding many people of dragon’s blood.
Dracaena is a genus of tropical palm-like shrubs and trees and a distant cousin to the asparagus. Approximately 40 varieties of the Dracaena are succulents relative to the agave.
Dracaena trees or shrubs have ornamental foliage, which explains why they are so popular in the houseplant category. People most commonly use them as a greenhouse plant, landscape plant, or indoor plant. However, the plant thrives best in tropical outdoors.
How Many Different Species of Dracaena Are There?
There are around 120 different species of Dracaena shrubs and trees. The species are known to originate in tropical and subtropical regions.
Some of the regions where the Dracaena is found are:
- Central America
- Southern Asia
- South Africa
- Canary Islands
- Cape Verde
Characteristics of Dracaena
A variety of hardy tropical plants, shrubs, trees, and succulents, Dracaena comes in a range of patterns, colors, shapes, and sizes. Some varieties of the plant even grow up to be 6 feet tall.
The Dracaena has beautiful, bright, and dense foliage. Its leaves can be small and oval or long and sword-like, lancing, or strappy.
The plants also come in a variety of colors such as pale green, green with yellow stripes, or variegated. Some may even have reddish veins and stems.
When young, the Dracaena plants are grassy and make a nice addition to indoor settings like an office, sunroom, or patio. The older Dracaena plants, however, develop thick woody stems that give them a tree-like appearance.
This is due to the secondary meristem present in the Dracaena plants. A secondary meristem allows secondary growth in plants that can result in thick stems.
A Dracaena planted in its native habitat regions, like the dense woodlands, can live up to 100 years.
The Dracaena plant is also known to remove harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, and trichloroethylene from the air. This is why it is commonly used for natural indoor air purification techniques.
Long exposure to these chemicals is known to cause numerous health issues such as headaches, respiratory problems, kidney disease, bone marrow disease, anemia, etc.
Did you know, the red sap from Dracaena stems was used to prepare varnish by 18th-century Italian violin makers? However, the sap, stems, and leaves of the Dracaena are known to be toxic to humans and animals. So, you might want to be extra careful if you have pets in the house.
Dracaena General Care Guide
Dracaena plants are low maintenance and very easy to care for.
They’re also drought-tolerant, so you’re less likely to kill them if you forget to water them. The plant has minimal watering needs with a weekly watering routine being enough.
Ensure the soil is fully dry before watering it though. Water deprivation and a decrease in humidity may also cause the leaf tips to turn brown. So, keep an eye out for any such abnormal signs.
The Dracaena prefers bright and indirect sunlight, but depending on the variety, some may thrive in lower light conditions as well.
You can also use an all-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer to keep your Dracaena healthy. Using the fertilizer one to two times a year should be enough.
*Find more dracaena care tips here!
Popular Types of Dracaena Plants
If you’re planning to add a Dracaena to your indoor garden, here are the popular Dracaena species you’ve got to check out.
1. Dracaena Marginata
The Dracaena Marginata, also known as the Dragon Tree or the Madagascar Dragon Tree, is a houseplant variety.
It is a low-maintenance plant that grows up to 5 feet. A slow-growing variety of the Dracaena, it thrives without any special care or attention. The leaves on this plant are long and thin with red edges.
The Dracaena Marginata comes in three varieties with variations in their leaves:
The Tricolor is another low-maintenance variety of Dracaena. Its distinct feature is the narrow sword/ribbon-like leaves that are yellow or green in the middle with pinkish-red stripes on the edges.
It has a maximum growth of 13 feet.
The Magenta variety has leaves similar to the Tricolor. However, it grows up to 20 feet tall.
Dracaena Marginata Colorama
The Colorama is another Dracaena with pinkish-red striped leaves. This is the smallest among the Marginata variety and has a maximum height of 8 feet.
2. Dracaena Fragrans
Also known as Corn Plant or Mass Cane, this is a slow-growing variety of the Dracaena plant. It gets its name “Corn Plant” because its leaves look a lot like corn leaves.
It also bears a resemblance to a palm tree, which is why it’s sometimes also called false palm.
The leaves are dense, glossy, and broad while the stems are like thick canes. The yellow stripe in the middle of the leaves gives this plant its unique appearance.
The D. Fragrans is easy to care for and loves low-light environments. It doesn’t need much water either.
You can place it indoors or outdoors with USDA hardiness zones of 10 or 11 and watch it thrive.
Here are the popular varieties of the Dracaena Fragrans:
This variety has leaves that are long and narrow when compared to the other varieties. It also has a thin yellow stripe running through the middle of the leaves.
The main difference between the Lindenii and other varieties is the placement of the yellow stripes. In the Lindenii, the stripes are on the edges of the leaves.
This variety has a bolder yellow stripe in the middle of the leaves. The leaves are also small, wide, and triangular-shaped.
3. Dracaena Deremensis
The Dracaena Deremensis also goes by the name Janet Craig.
The Deremensis has tapered and pleated dark green foliage with wavy edges. It is a small tree variety of the Dracaena and can be easily grown indoors or outdoors. It is commonly found planted in groups in garden beds.
A typical Deremensis plant will grow up to 3 feet when planted in containers. However, when planted in landscape beds, it can grow up to 8 feet tall.
This Dracaena variety cannot tolerate heat and is better suited to be in indirect light. If your plant shows signs of wilting, move it to a shaded cool area.
The Deremensis has many varieties, such as:
Janet Craig Compacta
The Dracaena Deremensis or Janet Craig variety has a compact version that goes by the name Janet Craig Compacta. It is also known as the pineapple Dracaena because of its long oval-shaped leaves with yellow-green hues. The plant is a bushy version of the Dracaena Deremensis.
The Janet Craig Compacta variety can grow up to a maximum of 6 feet. It is a unique Dracaena plant that can thrive in very dark areas.
Dracaena Deremensis Lisa
The Deremensis Lisa variety grows up to 5 feet and has leaves that spill over, thus taking up a lot of space.
This variety has broad and woody branches with tubular trunks. The leaves on the Deremensis Lisa are dark green and glossy.
Dracaena Deremensis Michiko
The Michiko variety grows slowly and has dark green, lance-shaped leaves. This variety grows up to 6 feet.
Dracaena Deremensis “Hawaiian Sunshine”
The Hawaiian Sunshine is a mutation of the Hilo Girl Dracaena. It has glossy sword-like leaves with light green stripes. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and occupies 30 inches of space.
4. Dracaena Reflexa
Image via Etsy where you can purchase this one!
The Dracaena Reflexa is an ornamental variety of Dracaena, also known as pleomele.
This variety is similar to the Dracaena Marginata but has distinctive wide dark green leaves that have cream-colored margins. The Reflexa can grow up to 3 feet tall. Your Dracaena Reflexa may also produce small flowers on occasion.
Some of the varieties of the Dracaena Reflexa are:
Song of India
A slow-growing, low-maintenance variety of the Dracaena, this plant can thrive both indoors and outdoors.
It needs minimal sunlight and water to grow well.
Song of Jamaica
A lime-green variety of Dracaena, the Song of Jamaica grows indoors and outdoors in well-drained soil.
This variety has an optimum growth of 16 feet.
5. Dracaena Sanderiana
The Sanderiana variety of Dracaena is also known as the Lucky Bamboo or Dracaena Braunii. This is because the canes are similar in appearance to bamboo stalks.
This plant grows in water and has a neat appearance, so it’s most commonly grown for its aesthetic and decorative quality.
6. Dracaena Draco
Image via Bloomscape
The Dracaena Draco is commonly known as the Dragon Tree.
It is a succulent variety that is well-suited for indoor gardens. However, when planted outdoors in a tropical climate, the plant is known to grow wide and thick, reaching up to 25 feet tall. The tropical climate suits the Dracaena Draco and can lead to the leaves growing up to 2 feet long. There’s also a recorded variety that had grown up to be 70 feet tall.
During summer, this variety will also produce small green and white flowers that later turn into orange berries.
7. Dracaena Warneckii
Image via Bloomscape
Also known as the Striped Dracaena, this variety has pointy, narrow leaves with cream stripes.
It can grow up to 2 feet and grows beautifully in low or minimal lighting conditions. Due to its small height, this one’s a favorite among the indoor Dracaena varieties.
Dracaena plants can be a great addition to your home or garden, especially if you are looking for a plant that doesn’t need a lot of attention. I hope this makes it easier to find the perfect variety to add to your houseplant collection!
Let me know which varieties of Dracaena you’re planning on bringing home in the comments below!