- TEMPERATURE: 65 to 75 degrees F (18 – 24 degrees C)
- LIGHT: Low to Bright, indirect
- HUMIDITY: Low to Moderate
- SAFETY: Toxic to cats and dogs when ingested
- DIFFICULTY: Easy
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata), or Madagascar dragon tree, is one of the most popular houseplants around. If you haven’t seen it at a friend or family’s house, you’ve probably seen it in your local garden center. It’s beautiful, inexpensive, widely available, and low maintenance.
Also known as money plant or money tree, this easy-to-grow houseplant is believed to bring good fortune to its owners.
Growing to about six feet tall indoors, this small indoor tree makes an impressive display in your home. The trunks become twisted and contorted over time, and tufts of strappy leaves with pinkish-red margins grow from the ends of the stems.
Dragon tree needs moderate water. For the best results, water only when the top 1-inch of soil becomes dry. I insert my finger into the soil to the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, I give the plant a thorough watering. You can reduce watering to once a week in the winter months.
This plant is sensitive to the fluoride in tap water. I recommend watering with filtered, distilled, or rain water to prevent the tips from browning.
Over-watering will cause the canes to rot, so try not to give your plant too much.
Although it tolerates dry air very well, dragon tree prefers and grows better with slightly higher humidity.
If the air in your home is dry, mist your plant daily with a spray bottle on the mist setting or use a handheld mister. If you have more humid air in your home, you can get by with misting only two or three times a week.
You can also place dragon tree on a humidity tray (shallow tray filled with pebbles and water), or place it near a high-quality humidifier. If you’re unsure about humidifiers, you can read my review of my favorite houseplant humidifier (the one I’m using right now) or click here to view it directly on Amazon.
Feed your dragon tree twice a year – once in early spring and again in summer. Dracaena marginata is not a heavy feeder. I feed mine in mid-March and again in mid-June, and that keeps it happy all year. It does not require feeding during fall and winter.
Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer. My favorite is Jack’s All-Purpose Fertilizer, but any all-purpose food will work. Read my review of Jack’s Fertilizer to see why I love it so much. I use it on almost all my houseplants except those that require special nutrients – like cacti and succulents.
Dragon tree can tolerate low light conditions, but it really thrives in medium to bright, indirect sunlight. Hot, direct sunlight will burn the leaves, especially of variegated cultivars.
However, variegated cultivars will also not perform well in low light. They need a much brighter spot to keep their color. For any cultivar, a half-day of sun from an east-facing window is ideal.
Optimal temperature is 65 – 75 degrees F (18 – 24 degrees C). Dragon tree can tolerate temperatures as low as 55 degrees F (12 degrees C) at night, but only for short periods. For the best results, try to keep temps above 60 degrees F (15 degrees F) at all times.
Plant dragon tree in any well-draining potting soil formulated for houseplants. I like this one by Happy Frog because it contains mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial soil microbes, but any good-quality potting mix will work.
When your plant outgrows its current container, replant in a pot 2 inches (5 cm) larger in diameter. Don’t use a pot that’s too much larger, as dragon tree is a slow grower.
The easiest way to propagate dragon tree is to clip off the stem tips and place them in a moist potting mix to root. The stem that’s been cut on the original plant will sprout new growth soon enough. This works well when your plant becomes too tall and needs to be cut back.
Stem cuttings can also be taken (without foliage). Plant with the bottom end of the cane in moist potting mix and wait for it to root.
The leaves of this plant get dusty easily. Clean the leaves regularly by wiping them with a soft sponge or cloth dipped in warm, soapy water. You can also give the plant a shower once in a while if needed. Just make sure to use warm water.
Here are some common problems you may experience when growing dragon tree and suggestions for how to fix them:
- Brown Leaf Tips – If leaf tips are turning brown, this is an indication that the air is too dry. Increase humidity by daily misting, placing near a humidifier, or placing the plant on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. Brown leaf tips can also indicate under-watering or watering with tap water containing fluoride. Switch to bottled or rainwater instead.
- Wilted Leaves – If the leaves of your dragon tree begin to wilt, you’re probably over-watering. Although tolerant of an unpredictable watering schedule, over-watering is the one thing that can easily kill or damage the plant. Reduce watering to only when the top 1-inch of soil dries out, and ensure your potting soil and pot drain well.
Where to Buy Dragon Tree
This houseplant is so common, it is widely available in nurseries and stores with garden centers like Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. Call around or stop into your local plant seller and you should have no problems picking up a dragon tree.
There are several plants with the common name of “dragon tree,” so make sure you bring the botanical name, Dracaena marginata. But this plant is so striking, you should be able to recognize it on the spot.
If for some reason you’re unable to find it locally, I always recommend buying houseplants on Etsy. I have had such a good experience buying hard-to-find houseplants from individuals on the site. I like shopping on Etsy because the growers really care about quality and their reputation.
Click here to see the current listings for dragon tree on Etsy.
You can also check out Amazon. Many large and small nurseries sell plants through the site. Click here to see the current dragon tree listings on Amazon.