Dracaena marginata

Dragon Tree Care Guide – An Indoor Tree!

How do you care for an indoor dragon tree?

The Dragon Tree is a moderately easy plant to take care of. This beautiful leafy plant has more than 100 different varieties. 

You’ve likely come across a variety without knowing it!

Common types include Dracaena marginata or Madagascar dragon tree, which stands out with its long, spiny green leaves with red edges, and Dracaena draco, with two-foot-long, sword-shaped blue-green leaves. 

Most of these varieties are available for you to grow in your garden or home. Our species, known as dracaena marginata, will grow up to 6 feet indoors!

If you decide to grow this tree outside, you’ll need a place in your garden that receives sunlight but not too much sun. You’ll want to aim for a few hours of full sun throughout the day, but indirect sunlight will be the most beneficial. 

Oh! And if you grow it outside, you can expect it to grow to around 20 feet over its lifetime!

Certain Dragon Tree varieties can tolerate much more sun than others but most only need the morning sun to grow sufficiently. Growing these near shrubs or against your home is a great way to provide it with enough sun, but not too much. 

Soil quality is also essential when growing the Dragon Trees; you’ll want to make sure you use enough fertilizer and plant it in a place that allows the soil to drain well.

Speaking of draining well…

How often do you water dragon trees?

Like with most drought-tolerant plants (I’m looking at you succulents), it’s easy to over-water the dragon tree. 

Using the soil as a gauge is an easy rule-of-thumb to prevent overwatering.

Wait until the top half of the soil is dry before watering, which can take a few weeks if the plant is indoors. 

If your plant develops brown tips on its leaves, that’s a good sign that something is up with the water.

Either it’s receiving too much water or the water you’re giving it has too much salt or fluoride – which can cause discoloration. 

To avoid fluoride, water your dragon tree with distilled or non-fluoridated water. 

Yes, plants can be pretty tricky about what water they like to drink.

If the plant’s leaves turn yellow, you probably just need to give it more water.


How to propagate a Dragon Tree

The Dragon Tree (AKA dracaena marginata) is a super simple plant to propagate. Though there are a couple of different ways to do this, water propagation is generally the easiest way to go about it. Use these instructions to propagate your Dragon Tree successfully:

  1. Select a healthy branch or stalk to propagate – Cut a branch off your Dragon Tree at a 45-degree angle using sharp scissors (you want a clean cut!).
  2. Place the branch in water – Find a clear glass and fill it with water. But only submerge it part way. The stem should be in, but the leaves should not be touching the water.
  3. Place in a bright area and have patience – Once again, the goal should be to have lots of indirect sunlight. And you may need to change the water out every couple of days to keep it fresh.
  4. Transfer to soil – After a few weeks, the roots should be out, and you can transfer the plant to some indoor potting soil. Depending on the size of the branch and its roots, make sure to choose an appropriate size pot.
  5. Keep your baby hydrated – During the first few weeks, or until your plant feels firmly rooted in its soil, regularly water and drain your Dragon Tree. The soil should be just barely moist to the touch at all times.

Why are my dragon tree leaves dying?

If you see your Dragon Tree leaves falling off left and right, do not worry! 

The Dragon Tree is one of many plants that naturally sheds its leaves. Finding leaves at the base on top of the soil or on the floor nearby isn’t a big deal.

If you want to avoid them falling to the ground, you can help your tree out by periodically pruning it to remove any dead leaves once every week or two. 

And, of course, remember to keep fertilizing your plant in the spring and summer to make sure there are enough nutrients to go around for many many leaves!

While losing some leaves is natural, your Dragon Tree shouldn’t be losing too many leaves.

If your plant is starting to look scarce and/or showing other signs of distress you may actually have a problem. 

It’s a possibility that the leaves are falling off because you are not overwatering.

Is the soil drying out in between waterings?


Probably overwatering it then Overwatering can lead to more severe ailments, and that may eventually require you to change the soil.  

Leaves Turning Brown

But what if the new leaves of your Dragon Tree are turning brown? 

This one probably isn’t due to water.

It’s likely due to drastic temperature fluctuations. Dragon Trees do not like drastic temperature changes like suddenly running the AC on high or direct sunlight.

Why Are My Tree’s Leaves Drooping?

If you see leaves dropping on your Dragon Tree, it’s very possible you are either overwatering or underwatering.

That’s right… another potential watering issue!

If you suspect it’s underwatering, give your Dragon Tree a thorough shower and let it completely drain out — it should perk up within 24 hours. 

If you suspect overwatering, check the soil at the bottom of the plant…

Is there moisture? 

Let the plant dry out before watering again, and if you expect a case of root rot, you will need to report the plant again with fresh soil.

An Easy-Going Plant With Big Dreams

The dracaena marginata is a unique tree with a spiky attitude. Adding this plant to your garden is a great way to diversify, add some texture, and provide you with an easy plant that doesn’t take much tending to. 

For help buying or planting your Dragon Tree, get in touch with our skilled landscape team today. 

Or come by our nursery in Sarasota and browse our selection of Dragon Trees!


Share this post