Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia 'Tricolor'
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Like most houseplants, bright indirect light is best for quality growth. Although a shadier location is acceptable, prepare for slowed growth and exaggerated phototropism. Never allow the Dracaena to endure all-day sun as it'll lead to sun-scorch, resulting in a 'washed-out' appearance. If it were up to us, we'd recommend situating it in a location that offers two hours of morning sun to counteract the high chance of over-watering - a regular problem with this species.
Allow half of the soil to dry out in between waters, reducing this further in the autumn and winter. Dracaena situated in darker locations must be watered far less than with those grown in brighter areas to counteract the high risk of mouldy soil and root rot. Their root systems are highly sensitive to temperature change, so applying cold water will weaken the plant's lower portion over time. If you decide to use tap water (instead of rainwater collected from outside or fresh bottled water), allow it to stand for at least 24hrs to eliminate the ironised chemicals and icy temperature. Under-watering symptoms include dry leaf-edges and slowed growth, which is usually the product of too much sunlight/heat or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include root/stem rot and rapidly declining health. Remove the plant's pot and inspect the lower portion of root rot; if the disease is present, head over to this article to learn more.
Create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding saturation is too low or the heat too high, its foliage may start to brown over and curl, especially in direct sunlight. Hose the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and keep the dust levels down.
Feed every four waters during the growing period and every six in the autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'Ready to Use’ product into the soil without a pre-water first, as it may burn the roots and lead to yellowed leaves.
Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although Dracaena can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this lin to learn more about root rot and how to address it.
Spider Mites are small, near-transparent critters, that'll slowly extract the chlorophyll from of its leaves. Have a check under the leaves, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about the eradicating Spider Mites, along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!
A further pest to look out for is Whitefly. Although these small airborne critters shouldn't produce too much damage, an infestation must be destroyed quickly to reduce the chance of them spreading. Click on this link to learn more about addressing these issues.
Too low humidity can cause browning tips with yellow halos on juvenile leaves. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray while the heaters are active to create a stable environment. The browning of leaf-tips on older leaves is wholly natural and is the product of extensive photosynthesis during its life.
Yellowing leaf-tips are the product of cold water or too much fluoride in the soil. This issue is caused by using tap water which hasn’t sat for 24hrs to alleviate the chemicals via evaporation. We’d recommend switching it for collected rainwater or fresh bottled water to improve its health, along with the reduction of its fluoride-count. The older leaves will always bear the scars of the past, but the new foliage should be as good as new within the next month.
Small, brown spots are typical traits of under-watering. Only allow half of the soil to dry out in summer, and liberally in winter - commonly caused by positions that are too bright or hot. If, however, the spots are deeper with yellow halos, it could be leaf-spot disease - often accompanied by a dark location and yellowing lower leaves. This disease is commonly caused by over-watering and could even kill the specimen over time. Click on this link to learn about how to address these issues.
When arranged in a 'trio' of different sizes, the death of the smaller trunk is a common issue among indoor gardeners - see image below. The obvious cause could be over-watering. If the soil has been rather heavy for a long time, consider relocating it to a drier, brighter environment with an inspection for root rot. In some cases, it may be to do with too little light and not enough water. As Dracaena tend to have smaller root systems (similar to the Yucca), their root systems won't penetrate the soil enough, thus leading to dehydration and death. If this has happened to you, be sure to remove the trunk once it fully dies off, as leaving it may cause a spread of disease over time. Fill the hole with a fresh batch of 'Houseplant' compost or gently resurface the soil to improve its appearance. Book a 1-to-1 Call with Joe if you're stuck with what to do next!
Failed stem cuttings are the product of several reasons, with the first being the time of year. Dracaena are best propagated during the spring, with cuttings taken in the autumn or winter rooting much slower.
The second reason could be the cultivation environment - is there enough light to read a newspaper? If not, improve the growing conditions by increasing the amount of indirect light, avoiding the threat of excessive direct sunlight.
Moreover, the size of the cutting will play a big part in its success; smaller specimens (3cm in length or less) won't root appropriately due to the lower amounts of stored energy.
For those rooting via water, the water must also be replaced weekly to ensure nasty pathogens cannot breed and decay on the cuttings. If the bottom of the stem is brown and mushy, discard immediately as the rot will spread onto unaffected specimens.
Maintaining too dry soil or over-exposure to the sun will also prove unsuccessful for those that haven't acclimatised to the drier environment. Although water-logging must be avoided at all costs, be sure to maintain moist soil throughout the rooting development (the initial six months) to quicken the process of establishment. To escape falling in the trap of dehydration, wrap the cutting and its pot in a transparent bag for the first couple of weeks. As there'll be a poor root system to soak-up vital water, its leaves will be able to absorb the excess moisture trapped within the bag for hydration.
The genus, Dracaena, belongs to the Asparagaceae family that holds plants such as Hyacinths, Asparagus Ferns, Spider Plants, Sansevieria & Yuccas. The name derives from the Greek for a female dragon 'Drakaina', referring to the red sap and green foliage. Today, the largest specimen in the world known as El Drago Milenario ('1,000-Year-Old Dragon'), exists in northwest Tenerife at Icod de Los Vinos. Its age is believed to be between 300 and 410 years old with a 13m-wide canopy and a magnificent ornate trunk. Dragon Tree uses over the years include red hair-dying and colouring violins by the Stradivarius thanks to its resinous sap.
The species, Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia, was first described by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1786 and is often referred to D. marginata due to the simplicity of the name. Many cultivars have since been created and documented, including 'Magenta', 'Tarzan' & 'Tricolor', that bare foliar-structure similarity to one another, except for the variegations and colours.
12° - 32°C (54° - 90°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Over 3m in height and 0.7m in width once they reach maturity. The ultimate height will take between 8 - 10 years to achieve, with around 12cm of new growth per season.
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed & Stem or Stub Cuttings.
Stem Cuttings (Easy)
For stub cuttings (Moderate), cut the thinner stem into 10cm (4 inches) intervals, and place in moist soil, with the bottom end around 2cm (0.8 inches) deep - think of a pencil's width and diameter. If possible, use a well-draining potting mix like 'Houseplant' compost and place the stub cuttings into a small-holed transparent bag with continual soil moisture. Once a flurry of new leaves appears, remove the bag and treat like a typical plant. Avoid direct sunlight and temperatures below for best results.
Small, globular white or pink flowers are arranged along a thick flower shaft that'll appear horizontally towards the top half of the stem, lasting several weeks. It's highly unlikely that a domestically grown specimen will bloom indoors due to the unfavored growing conditions of too low humidity and consistent temperature levels throughout the year.
Repot every three years in the spring, using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. If your specimen lives in a shady area of the home, you can use a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix to increase drainage and reduce the risk of over-watering. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. Add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base and the lower portion of the new compost to improve drainage & downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!
Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, scale, thrips & whitefly that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Common diseases are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.
This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly - acquire medical assistance for further information.
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