Dracaena reflexa. Copyright: Plantarena
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Perfecting the amount of light a Song of India receives is crucial for a long-lasting specimen. During the spring and summer, be sure to provide a brightly lit spot away from any direct light. Excessive exposure during this time will negatively affect the plant in the likes of sun-scorch and dehydration. Once the autumn kicks in, be sure to include an hour or two of direct light per day to get it through the dormancy period, lasting until the following spring.
Allow half of the soil to dry out in between waters, reducing this further in the autumn and winter. Those situated in darker locations must be watered far less than with those grown in brighter areas to counteract the high risk of soil mould and root rot. 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.
Average room humidity is enough to satisfy this plant, as long as you don't live in an overly-dry climate. Never situate it within a few metres of an operating radiator due to the enriched chance of browning leaf-tips. If you are indeed worried about dry air, create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant, which will also have the added benefit of slowing the rates of drying soil!
Fertilise every four waters during the growing period before reducing this to every six in the autumn & winter. Although an 'All-Purpose' fertiliser will still do the job, we'd recommend using a specific 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser as it'll support the vital thirteen nutrients that this species will need to grow.
A loss of variegations is caused by too little light. Although Dracaena is an excellent choice for shady locations, it'll come at the cost of its variegations. Move the plant into a brighter area with bright, indirect light to allow the variegations to appear on the new growth. If you aren't entirely displeased about the loss, simply skip this step. Alternatively, extreme variegations that hinder the plant from developing chlorophyll (green pigmentation) is typically caused by too much sunlight.
Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) could be a sign of over-watering, but equally is a byproduct of maturity. If the older leaves rapidly become yellow in quick succession, over-watering could be to blame. 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 link 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!
When arranged in a 'trio' of different sizes, the death of the smaller trunk is a common issue among indoor gardeners. 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!
An array of simultaneous cultivation issues will increase the chance of developing yellowed leaf-sections with browned halos - see image below for visual reference. Firstly, the location may be too dark, with its compost staying too saturated in-between waters; if mould is growing across the soil, this is usually a bad sign. Further, you're potentially using too cold water or tap water that hasn't been allowed to sit for 24hrs. This period of rest will not only bunk-up its temperature, but the harsh chemicals used to preserve water hygiene (fluoride & chloride) will begin to settle after a few hours. If possible, use fresh bottled water from a shop or supermarket to prevent further chemical burns. The final culprit might be lack of fertilisation, with regular feeds being paramount for long-lasting, healthy leaves. If the specimen hasn't been nourished in over two months, it'll begin to show signs of nutrient deficiencies seen in this article.
If this common problem has occurred with your specimen, remove the affected leaves (not areas) and improve the growing conditions considerably. Fertilise regularly with lukewarm water and be sure to allow the top third to dry out in between hydrations. Its new growth should be problem-free, but if you'd like to speak to ukhouseplants in regards to this issue, be sure to book a 1-to-1 video call for more detailed advice.
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 presence. 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.
Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of 'Houseplant' compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.
The genus, Dracaena, belongs to the Asparagaceae family that holds plants such as Hyacinths, Spider Plants, Sansevieria & Yuccas. The name derives from the Greek for a female dragon 'Drakaina', referring to the red sap and green foliage. The species, Dracaena reflexa, was first described by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1786 and is often referred to D. marginata due to the simplicity of the name.
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 Cuttings.
Stem Cuttings (Easy)
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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