Dracaena Marginata: How to Care for a Dragon Tree

What is a Dracaena Marginata (Dragon Tree)?

This striking houseplant goes by many names, including Madagascar Dragon tree, Dragon tree, and Dragon plant, but its botanical name is Dracaena marginata.

Dracaena plants are native to Madagascar and are popular house plants seen in many households due to their bright green leaves.

The Dracaena family includes many popular plants, including the Dracaena Massangeana and Dracaena Sanderiana (lucky bamboo).

Many people confuse the Dracaena Marginata with the Dracaena Reflexa.

They look similar, but the Reflexa variety has broader leaves than the Dracaena Marginata.

Related posts: 12 Most Common Dracaena Varieties


There are three main sub-varieties of the Dracaena marginata, these include:

  • Dracaena Marginata Colorama
  • Dracaena Magenta
  • Dracaena Tricolor

The Dracaena Marginata can grow up to 3–10 ft. wide and 15–20 ft. tall once this house plant has matured.

The Madagascar Dragon tree is a stunning plant known for its spiky green foliage with red edges.

Although it is a rare occurrence, this attractive plant can produce beautiful blooming bundles of white flowers.

Interestingly, NASA conducted a study on the best air purifying plants, and Dracaena Marginata is the best at removing harmful chemicals from the surrounding air.

How to Care for a Dracaena Marginata

Temperature and Climate

Dracaena Marginata grows well in warmer temperatures and is hardy enough to grow in USDA zones 10–12.

It thrives in average room temperatures ranging between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius).

Dragon plants are not frost-resistant and will not survive in temperatures lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).

Light Conditions

The Dracaena Marginata grows well under bright indirect light but not direct sunlight.

Bright light can be provided by keeping your plant near a south-facing window. This plant can tolerate partial shade – but definitely provide it some light.

One thing to note is that providing it partial shade will cause it to grow slower, causing it to only produce small leaves.

Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible as its leaves will burn if exposed to it for too long.


Dracaena Marginata is pretty drought tolerant as it needs to be watered only once a week.

But depending on the weather, it may only need to be watered once every three weeks.

An easy rule to follow is to water your plant once the top 3-4 inches of the soil is dry.

The majority of new Dragon plant parents are unaware of this fact, and they end up overwatering the plant.

If your home happens to be on the dry side, you can mist the plant every other day with a spray bottle.

If your Dracaena Marginata plant starts to develop brown spots on its leaves, this is a sign of being overwatered.

If the leaf tips have brown spots, this could indicate that the water being used has too much fluoride.

Avoid using tap water and shift to non fluoridated water like distilled water or filtered drinking water.

On the other hand, if your Dracaena Marginata develops yellow leaves, this may indicate it needs more water.


a woman repotting Dracaena-MarginataPin

Dracaena Marginata plants need to be potted in soil that is loose and well-draining. The best soil mix is loamy soil with a blend of peat moss.

The soil must also have a pH level of 6.0 (slightly acidic) for optimum growth.

Having well-draining soil is essential since this plant’s roots can rot if they remain in the water for extended periods.


Dracaena Marginata plants require a fertilizer that has high nitrogen levels.

Generally, any all-purpose plant fertilizer works well for this plant, but an NPK ratio of 24-8-16 works best.

Dracaena Marginata only needs to be fertilized once a week during its growing season, which lasts from March to October.

Do not fertilize this plant during winters as it goes dormant.


Dracaena Marginata is a slow-growing plant. Thus, it does not need to be repotted often.

Generally speaking, your Dracaena Marginata will only need to be repotted after two to three years.

But over the years, keep replacing the soil so that the plant has access to ample soil nutrients and does not dwell in compacted soil.



The Dracaena Marginata plants can be propagated using stem cuttings that can be placed in water.

The optimum time to do this is during its growing season, spring or early summer. Follow these steps to propagate your Dracaena Marginata.

  1. Take a stem cutting from the bottom half of your plant. Make sure you cut the stem 1 or 2 inches above the node.
  2. When cutting your stem, use sterilized shears or scissors.
  3. Remove excess leaves close to the cut end of the stem.
  4. Place the stem in water and keep it there until it grows roots – no more than a few weeks.
  5. Once the root sprout and you see new growth, place the stem in potting soil.
  6. Water the plant and place it under bright, indirect sunlight.

Then continue to take care of your Dracaena Marginata plant like you usually do, and eventually, you will see new foliage growing on the stem.


The majority of the time, Dracaena Marginata usually end up shedding their dead leaves. All you have to do then is pick them up and throw them out.

However, if your plant still has several dead leaves stuck to it, it is time to prune.

While pruning, use sterilized tools and cut off all dead leaves from your Dracaena Marginata.

You can also prune your Dracaena Marginata when it has outgrown the preferred size.

Pests and Disease

The Dracaena Marginata is a disease-resistant plant, but mealybugs, scales, and thrips can attack it.

These pests attack the leaves and cause damage to them, hence making them more susceptible to diseases.

Mealybugs are common, but they are easy to get rid of as all you need is some Neem Oil.

Rub a mild Neem Oil/water mix on each of the leaves of your plant, and eventually, all the mealybugs will disappear.

Scales and thrips can be eliminated by simply targeting the infested site with high-pressure water or spraying some mild insecticide.

When using high-pressure water, make sure you do not damage any parts of your Dracaena Marginata.


Is Dracaena Marginata toxic for pets?

The Dracaena Marginata plant is toxic for animals and should also be kept away from the reach of children.

How long will it take for my Dracaena Marginata to mature?

The Dracaena Marginata plant is an extremely slow-growing plant.

It can take 5-10 years for the plant to mature, as its growth depends on the care it’s given.


As with all other Dracaena plants, the Dracaena Marginatas are virtually impossible to kill and grow for many years if proper care is given.

Dracaena Marginata plants are great indoor plants to purify the air from harmful toxins.

All it needs is bright light and adequate water, and it will continue to add that dramatic look to your space for a long time.

If you are interested in other Dracaena varieties, such as the ever-popular Dracaena Fragrans, take a look at more of our posts on the Dracaena plants.


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