Dracaena Marginata. Madagascar Dragon Tree. Dracaena Marginata, also known as the Madagascar Dragon tree has green leaves that shape like a sword. The leaves are stiff and the appearance is very attractive.
The leaves are thin, linear with a deep, glossy green color with red edges. The size of the leaves usually 30 to 90 cm long and 2 to 7 cm wide.
The Dragon trees are drought-tolerant or drought-resistance plants and have strong and aggressive root systems suitable for indoor plants.
The Dragon plant is grown as a house plant. The tree can be grown in the gardens in frost-free areas of USDA zones 10-12.
Madagascar Dragon tree profile
Growth and size
The Madagascar Dragon Tree is probably can be considered as an easy indoor plant to care, plant, grow and maintain. Dracaena Marginata trees can grow up to 6 feet high indoors. They are a slow-growing tree.
It takes about 8 to 10 years for the slow-growing Madagascar Dragon tree to reach just 50 centimeters to 1 meter (2 to 3 feet) of height. The time the tree takes to be in the mature stage is 30 years.
New leaves grow emerges from the end of the youngest branches and will spread between 1.5-2.5 meters.
The scientific name is Dracaena Marginata and Dracaena reflexa var. Angustifolia. The common name is the Madagascar Dragon tree because is a native of Madagascar, Dragon plant and Dragon tree.
The most common varieties of the tree include Dracaena Marginata ‘Tricolor’ (dark red margins, green leaves, and an ivory stripe down the leaf center), Dracaena Marginata ‘Bicolor’ (red and green stripes), Dracaena Marginata (dark green leaves and thin red leaf margins).
These plants are beautiful but poisonous. Fortunately, it is not poisonous to humans.
The leaves of the Madagascar Dragon tree are extremely toxic to dogs and cats. The leaves contain alkyds that may cause vomiting and salivation. This is especially for cats that may chew the leaves.
If your cat or dog ingest the toxic from the leaves, take them to the nearest animal doctor for quick assistance.
How to grow
The minimum temperature requirements for Dracaena Marginata tree is 15°C (59°F). If the temperature drops below 15°C, the tree might be damaged.
The best temperature for this tree is between 65°F (18°C) and a maximum of 90°F (32°C). The tree just grows poorly in cool temperature.
The Madagascar Dragon tree’s leaves may get brown spots because the leaves receive too much light. Dracaena Marginata is happy to be in medium indirect sunlight.
The tree eventually may thrive and survive in low light situations. The tree might produce small new leaves, slow growth, and pale leaves if it is not receiving enough light.
Do not let the tree to get direct sunlight, the leaves will get a sunburn.
Then tree can thrive in a basic house humidity which is 35%–50%. These numbers are the ideal relative humidity for health and comfort of the tree.
In the winter months, the lowest level should be 35% of humidity. You must keep the indoor humidity not more than 50%. If it reaches more than 50%, you will get issues including mold, mildew, and insect infestation.
You can use a humidifier to fix these issues and get the right humidity level.
Dracaena Marginata plants are happy and grow well to be in well-draining soil or well-draining potting mix. Loamy soil mixed with peat moss is ideal.
Loam is soil that contains about 52% sand, 30 to 50% silt, and 7 to 27% clay. It comprised of just about equal amounts of sand and silt and a little less clay. Sand is the largest amount. Sand provides good aeration and drainage for the Madagascar Dragon tree.
Because of the good balance of ingredients, loam soil is the ideal soil for Dracaena Marginata. The texture is porous that water to flow through for the plants to access it.
This will not get the soil waterlogged or become soggy soil that may cause root rot for the tree.
It has the necessary nutrient for optimal plant growth because it is nutrient-rich.
Peat moss is an important component to be added to potting soils. It releases moisture to the plant’s roots as needed. It holds the nutrients so they are not washed away out of the soil when you water the Madagascar Dragon tree.
Naturally, these trees are slow-growing plants that do not need too many fertilizers.
If you decide to give food to the tree, fertilize monthly in the spring months (March to June) and summer months (June to September).
Just fertilize the tree 2 times a year in spring and summer.
Use liquid well-balanced plant food and just use 1/2 of the recommended strength.
It is not recommended to fertilize the Madagascar Dragon tree in the fall months (September to December) or winter months (December to February).
Root rot can make the Dracaena Marginata dies. Root rot can happen because of overwatering the tree. Proper watering is the key to a healthy tree.
To make sure that you do not overwater the tree, stop watering when you notice the soil is still wet. You may water again when at least the top 50% of the soil is dry.
If the tree is placed in a low light location, the time for the soil to dry out at least 50%, it could take up to two to three weeks.
You may notice brown tips on the leaves, this is an indication of over-watering. The other cause would be the tree receiving too much fluoride or too much salt in from the water used.
The tree can suffer from discoloration if getting too much fluoride. To fix this problem, you can sit out the water overnight to get rid of chemicals. Or you can do it easily by using distilled water or non-fluoridated water.
You may also notice the lower leaves to turn yellow and fall off. This could be a sign of Dracaena Marginata requires more water.
Pot and repotting
Dracaena Marginata grows well when root-bound in small pots. Repot the Madagascar Dragon tree into larger pots. But do not rush it. Use a terracotta pot.
The slow-growing tree makes it require repotting in its third year or even more.
Each year, you have to check the soil. You have to make sure to avoid the soil of being compacted. Change the potting soil with new soil to replace soil that has become compacted.
How to propagate Dracaena Marginata tree
The best method to propagate Dracaena Marginata is by stem cuttings. The tree will roots easily from stem cuttings rooted in water.
So easily that the tree can easily found propagated by retailers, nurseries or used in dish gardens.
Prepare a clean and sharp hand pruning shears or razor blade or scissors.
Cut a 4” to 6” section from the end of a healthy stem just below a leaf node (node is where a leaf joins the stem).
Get rid of leaves from the bottom 1/3 of the stem.
Dip the stem to about 2 to 3 inches, into a small amount of rooting hormone that contains a fungicide.
Prepare a 4-inch terracotta pot that has one or more draining holes. Fill with moist potting soil.
Plant the stem in the pot. To increase humidity, cover the pot with clear plastic.
Always check regularly the soil from drying out. Make sure the soil stays moist.
Pull the stem cuttings after three weeks. If roots have established or sprouted roots, the plastic can be removed. The development of roots means that the propagation of the Madagascar Dragon tree was successful.
Pest and problems
Dracaena Marginata is susceptible to bugs and insects. They are scale, mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips.
If you see a small, sticky and cottony deposit, it is a sign of mealybugs infestation. You can get rid of mealybugs by spraying Neem oil.
Spider mites come when temperatures are warm and dry air. You will only notice the infestation when the tree is damaged. You can also kill spider mites by spraying Neem oil.
Frequently ask questions
Why does the tip turn to brown color?
Dracaena Marginata can get brown leaf tips when there are exposed to like fluoride, chlorine, and salt in the soil. Water containing chemicals, over-watered and over-fertilizing causes leaf burn.
Why does the bottom leaves turn to yellow color?
It is usually normal for the Dracaena Marginata tree to get yellow leaves at the bottom. It could be a sign the soil gets too dry and needs more water.
Why do the leaves become pale?
It is usually because the tree is infested by spider mites. Just spray them with Neem oil and it should kill them.
Why are the canes getting soft?
Overwatering the Dracaena Marginata will cause root rot, soft canes, and mushy canes. Root rot will kill the tree.
Proper watering is to stop watering when the soil is still wet. You can water again when 50% of the soil is dry. Get rid of all soft and mushy parts of the stems. Relocate the tree into bright indirect light.