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How To Care For A Madagascar Dragon Tree?

The Madagascar Dragon Tree, or Dracaena marginata, is a wonderful houseplant for those who want beauty with little maintenance. These plants don’t require much to keep them happy and recover fairly easily when neglected. In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on dragon tree upkeep and teach you how to make them thrive. Read on to learn more on how to care for a Madagascar dragon tree.

How Do You Take Care of a Madagascar Tree?

How do you take care of a Madagascar tree

Madagascar dragon trees are easygoing and great for beginners. But, like most other plants, there are a few conditions that they won’t tolerate. Here’s what you’ll need to focus on to care for this plant:

Water

These plants are known for being fairly drought-tolerant, but they’ll do best when you keep their soil somewhat moist. Don’t let the soil dry out completely, or you might notice signs of distress.

You’ll know your dragon tree needs to be watered when the top inch or so of soil becomes dry. Depending on how much sunlight it receives, you’ll notice that it only needs to be watered once every 2-3 weeks – and even less in the winter. 

If possible, water your dragon tree with distilled water. Like many other Dracaena plants, these plants are not huge fans of the fluoride that is present in most tap water. 

Another great option is to collect rainwater to use on your dragon tree. Your other houseplants will appreciate it, too. 

Light

Dragon trees do best in bright, indirect light. Placing the plant in a sun-filled southern window, for example, might lead to burnt, crispy leaves. 

On the flip side, it won’t perform as well if left completely in the shade. Lack of light can lead to less growth and pale leaves. 

Choose a spot that is out of direct sunlight, but has a moderate amount of natural light. 

Soil

Choose a soil that is well-draining for your dragon plant. They don’t like to be in soil that retains a ton of moisture. 

Any all-purpose potting mix should be adequate for your plant. 

Pruning

Dragon trees are some of the easier plants to prune. The plants also grow slowly, so many plant owners find that pruning is not needed often.  

In their native Madagascar, dragon trees can reach heights of 20 feet, but houseplants generally grow up to 6 feet when fully grown. 

If your tree is getting too tall for your preferences, simply trim and shape it however you’d like to control its growth. When you cut the cane, a new cluster of leaves will usually appear within a few weeks. 

Keep in mind that it’s normal for dragon trees to shed their dead leaves here and there. To keep the plant looking tidy, you can remove leaves from the tree as soon as they die, or wait to collect them when they fall off. 

If any of the leaves on your dragon tree are browning at the tips, you can trim the ends with scissors or garden shears. 

Pests

Dragon trees are pretty tough and don’t typically have issues with pests or diseases. In certain conditions, however, they are susceptible to mealybugs, mites, and thrips. 

It’s also common for pests to catch a ride home with you from the nursery. When picking out houseplants, a good rule of thumb is to check for signs of insect damage and bugs on the plant. 

If your dragon tree has a case of mealybugs, you can try spraying the plant with a solution of dish detergent and water

You can try washing the foliage or bringing it outside for a more forceful spray for spider mites and thrips. Heavy infestations that have caused a lot of damage are best dealt with by scrapping the plant, unfortunately.  

What Do You Feed a Dragon Tree?

What do you feed a dragon tree

Madagascar dragon trees don’t require fertilizer to thrive, but you may notice faster growth and more vibrant leaves with regular feedings.

You can give your dragon tree an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer up to once per month during spring and summer. Since growth naturally slows in the winter, they don’t need feedings then.

For more information on fertilizing your dragon tree, as well as general care, check out this video on YouTube:

Compared to other houseplants, keeping your Madagascar dragon tree happy should be relatively drama-free.

As long as you remember to check in on it from time to time, your plant should continue to produce gorgeous leaves. It helps to set yourself a calendar alert to remind yourself to check on your easy-to-forget-about plants. 

Madagascar Dragon Tree Key Facts

Botanical NameDracaena marginata
Common NamesMadagascar dragon tree, dragon plant, dragon tree, red-edged Darcaena
Type of PlantBroadleaf evergreen
OriginMadagascar, Mauritius
Sun RequirementsBright, indirect sun
Water RequirementsLightly moist soil, but never soaked. Water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch.
SoilWell-draining all-purpose potting mix
Bloom TimeSpring flowers outdoors, but flowers rarely appear on houseplants. 
Common PestsThrips, spider mites, mealybugs, scale bugs

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