Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Red-Margined Dracaena, Dragon Tree
Dracaena marginata

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Dracaena (dra-SEE-nah) (Info)
Species: marginata (mar-jen-AY-tuh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

27 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Green
White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 43 photos.
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22 positives
10 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive SSheehan On Feb 4, 2013, SSheehan from Glendale, AZ wrote:

I have four of these plants which I keep in my outdoor patio garden. We had a freeze a few weeks back here in our area, and the leaves were severely damaged. How do I encourage the plants to recover from the damage? I have removed as much of the damaged leaves as possible. Do I remove the crowns that were damaged? Do I cut back the stalks?

Positive donnacreation On Nov 12, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have several dracaenas that I incorporate in my outdoor garden spots from early April until temps dip into the 20's, and they always look great when I bring them back indoors. I just brought 3 in yesterday, because temp dipped to 28 overnight. Mine are always unfazed by the first several light freeze/frost events. A great indoor/outdoor plant.

Neutral IHeartPlanties On Oct 16, 2010, IHeartPlanties from Eagle-Vail, CO (Zone 4b) wrote:

Beautiful indoor plant. I did read on-line that all dracaenas are poisoness to both dogs and cats. Something for you pet owners to keep in mind with your curious critters. Also, supposed to be one of the best plants out there for removing toxins from indoor air. Dry winters and my lack of memory to water it on a regular basis should keep it going strong!

Positive jskyieeyes3 On Sep 12, 2010, jskyieeyes3 from Saint Cloud, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

my husband had one of these trees when i met him. we originally were told it was a "pencil palm" until i did some research and discovered it was a dracaena marginata. they're beautiful trees, and look really neat when the stalks get tall and start to get twisted and bendy from the weight of the heads. they do well here in central florida. we water ours about twice a week in the summer (unless it rains; and only so frequently because it's in full sun, in a pot). i fertilize it with milorganite once every 3 months, and fish emulsion once a month during the growing season, and it's doing wonderful. has grown 5 new stalks this year! a great, easy to care for plant!

Positive dmtom On Aug 19, 2010, dmtom from Deep South, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

I had this plant as a house plant before I moved here 9 years ago. I planted it outside and it done well. When it freezes I cut back the damaged part and it will regrow otherwise it comes back from root.

Positive Richishere On Apr 5, 2010, Richishere from Wales
United Kingdom wrote:

Well i have a dragon and it is a very easy plant to care for, i aint no green fingered man but the main reason for this plant to die is to much care(yes to much care)WATER WATER WATER DONT OVER DO IT... just leave it and water very little. i use miricle grow all purpose plat food once every 2-3 weeks in spring through to summer . in the winter monthes i just leave it no water unless it starts to really dry out.... i have just taken cuttings from this plant and willl post pics in few weeks if all goes well...GR8 site by the way dave keep it up....Rich

Positive sweetish On Dec 3, 2009, sweetish from (Zone 6b) wrote:

I really enjoy this plant, originally it was purchased with the stems twisted into a heart shape, i think it was for valentines day or something, i tried staking and pulling the branches apart for a few months so it would spread out a bit more but could only get them to stay about half way. About a month ago i cut one of the heads off trying to get a new shoot to form that would go straight up but nothing has sprouted yet. Wondering if its going to do anything or if i should cut the branch all the way back to the original break so it doesn't look so weird?

Also it had alot of fungus gnats so i drenched it with a water/soap combo, waiting to see if that got rid of them.

Neutral wormfood On Jan 22, 2009, wormfood from Lecanto, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

My first plant was lost at 45*

Positive tashmoore On Dec 8, 2008, tashmoore from Fort George G Meade, MD wrote:

I have had several of these in my life. I find them very easy to care for. But the biggest thing is DO NOT OVER WATER. I feel that the water recommendation here should be changed from "Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not over water" to "let dry between waterings". I watered it according to the basic house plant rule of dry to first kuckle-time to water. until the stem went soft and I got fungus knats and the plant died. so the next one I got I rarely water. It is the least watered plant in my house, and that includes the succulents. It has been doing fine for almost two years.

Last year I moved and unfortunately one of the tops broke off (I have one with a single stem that was chopped and three more came out) last year when I moved. From that brake point it has grown 3-4 inches (maybe more) in the last twelve months.

Sun to Partial Shade might be ideal. But if you don't have a place with lots of sun you can still keep this plant. Mine has lived on top of a bookshelf for the past year. The shelf is about 15' from a large but northwest facing window. It never gets any direct sunlight. In the evening it gets artificial light from our lamps. I also used to work in a shop where my boss kept a very large dragon tree in the lobby area. It was 20-25' from the window and behind a shelf so it also did not receive any direct sunlight. This plant was taller then me including the pot. I do not know how old it was.

Negative josepg99 On Jan 23, 2008, josepg99 from Riverside, CA wrote:

I have never had a bad experience unti now.
HELP!!!! HELP!!!!!
I have a Madagascar Dragon Tree for 32 years, plant is dieing, leaves and trunks drying and withering. Soil was foul someone over watered, I flushed, no help, I changed most of the soil. I really need assistance. Anything I can do.

Neutral jlaurans On Jan 12, 2008, jlaurans from Edmonton
Canada wrote:

I bought my plant on sale on a "It's pretty feeling" but had to put it in the back of my truck in the canadian winter so now its drooping and I have no idea if its dead or if it can be saved. If any one has any info they can give on if it is savable that would be great.

Positive marjan On Jul 15, 2007, marjan from Winter Garden, FL wrote:

We have our dracaena in a pot, but I will tell you we went through a learning process with this one. It does not like to be overwatered, as many have mentioned. The secret is to not water it until the leaves wilt. We water ours no more than once a week. In Florida, we've learned to just water it as needed and like I mentioned, it will die if you overwater.

Positive tropbavard On Apr 25, 2007, tropbavard from Chicago, IL wrote:

I've had a Dracaena marginata since the fall of 2002. It's the only plant I have from college that is still alive. It's not the fastest growing plant on the block, but it is fun to watch it send out new leaves and drop the old ones. It's hard to kill this plant, as it can handle a wide variety of lighting situations. It accepts neglect well, but really appreciates some TLC from time to time.

It has dealt with a lot of poor treatment on my part, which ultimately killed one of the two stems I had growing. I've learned a lot about container gardening since then, and my marginata is the happiest of all my foliage plants.

Neutral Gabrielle On Apr 6, 2007, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

A.K.A Madagascar Dragon Tree.

Positive Mrs_M On Dec 7, 2006, Mrs_M from Amarillo, TX wrote:

I got mine just as a last minute grab on sale at some discount store. It was marked way down and I had no idea what it was. It thrived on the front porch, and like many posters here, my cats loved to chew on it. It survived a winter without me paying too much attention to it, back on the porch for another summer, then back inside for the winter at which time it finally grabbed my attention.

It dropped the bottom leaves. I have now read there can be several reasons for this. One, it's rooting out and natural for it to drop the bottom leaves. Two, it's overwatered, and three, it's underwatered.

My plant definitely does not like too much water. I did place it on the dryer, next to the washing machine next to a south window. The humidity from the washer is making it very happy and I have learned to water it just a little.

It is too tall now for my cats to reach the foliage. What really got me is my grandkids showed up for Thanksgiving this year and they all threw a fit over this exotic looking plant and had much discussion among themselves over what it may be. Now we are talking 8, 7, 5 and 3 years of age. If kids are impressed, it must be interesting. I love this plant and intend to re-pot it into a shiny red glass pot next spring. I'm tempted to cut it back to see if it will grow extra shoots, but I'm a little cautious as I don't want to ruin it's beauty. Maybe I'll just cut a notch in the side first.

AS a little extra note for you cat owners. I have learned to put lava rocks on the top of the soil in my houseplants to keep my cats from digging in the dirt. The lava is beneficial for the plants and the cats don't like to dig in it as it is rough on their little paws.

Positive AnaM149 On Oct 6, 2006, AnaM149 from Casselberry, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have had a green one for a few years now. It is potted in a small 6" pot and stays in my kitchen where it gets no direct sun at all. It has survived my once a month (if that) waterings, no sun, pure neglect. Granted, it is growing quite slowly, but is still looking well. I have purchased a quadruple braided one to put at my front door and that one is happy, too. Seeing how well the others have done, I have gotten some 6 or so more to put in my front yard landscaping. I havent planted them yet, but they should be just fine.
So, if you want something fluffy and nice and will still survive neglect, even as a houseplant, this will do just fine.

Positive K_Palm On Aug 26, 2006, K_Palm from Burbank, CA wrote:

A friend gave the Dragon over two years ago and it is THRIVING in full sun out in our yard. Why is it in full sun? When we moved to our new place about 1 year ago we didn't have room for it inside so it went out in the yard and I had NO CLUE about plants, but apparently it works in the sun too!

I don't think I have watered it more than twice (the sprinklers get it a bit) and it is doing fine. It is over 6' and we got it when it was 3.5'-4'

Positive lcaldwell78 On May 19, 2006, lcaldwell78 from Chicago, IL wrote:

I received this in a basket full of plants from a co-worker when she quit about a year ago. I have since separated it from the other plants because I thought it was so beautiful. I didn't even know what it actually was until today.

I watered it too much and the tips leaves started to turn brown. I have since cut back to watering mine once a week, about a half of a cup of water. The new leaves seem to be doing much better.

I keep the water away from the trunk so that it doesn't rot and I haven't had any problems.

About a week ago I repotted it in Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil and it seems to love it. There are already new leaves starting to form.

Positive debetta On Oct 31, 2005, debetta from Allen, TX wrote:

I had this plant indoors and was very happy with it. I liked how it added "texture" to my living room. Until... my baby was born and I forgot to water it (sniff). It has lost all of the leaves and the steams are soft. Is there still hope for it?

Positive KiMFDiM On Aug 30, 2005, KiMFDiM from Alden, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Grown as a houseplant here in the northwest, it is easy to care for. During the summer, it stays outside in the full sun all the time. During winter, it is grown by a south window with a growlight (periodically). It winters well indoors, I keep it a little drier in the winter, last year one of the cats started chewing on the bottom-most leaves and ruined the finely-tipped ends. I had to re-cut the ends to clean it up and will put it higher this winter.

Positive Breezymeadow On Dec 17, 2004, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a wonderful indoor plant that requires little care for a plant of its size.

Functions well under many different light situations, & tolerates dryness well. In fact, as others here have noted - it does best when not kept "soggy". You'll know when it's overdue for a drink, as the leaves witll start to turn downward. Not wilting, just turning downward like a folding umbrella.

Oh, & another poster here stated that this plant is "toxic to cats". Nothing could be further from the truth. I have 7 housecats who have grazed mercilessly on the lower leaves of my 6' Dracaena marginata's over a period of several years & have yet to have a fatality or one even sick. In addition, this plant does not appear on legitimate poison plant lists for pets.

Don't let this erroneous information keep you from trying one of these if they interest you.

Positive cjolene On Oct 20, 2004, cjolene from Emporia, KS (Zone 5b) wrote:

The dragon tree is a beautiful addition to my home. Mine is taller than me now and I'd have to go count how many heads it's got's gotten so many! I took a cutting recently to see how well it would grow without soil. But I wasn't able to just leave it in water because it started to rot, so I switched it to the hydroponics "wick system" using perlite and charcoal as a medium. So far, it's doing wonderfully. I put the main plant in the bathroom because it loves humidity (it keeps the leaves up) and water it about every 2 weeks or doesn't mind some neglect and I think it enjoys it. In fact, the soil should allow for drainage. Also, dracaena prefers the soil to be more acid than alkaline. Because the lighting is poor in my bathroom, I use a 13 watt flourescent light (a desklamp) for about 10 or more hours a day.
As for the gnats (also known as fungus gnats), if your plant is smaller, you can soak it in a small concentration of bleach and water for an hour and that will kill the gnats and will not harm your plant. But if your plant is larger, I would water your plant with soapy water and also spray (keep ventilated) with a bug killer especially designed to be used for plants. Try to make sure it lists "fungus gnats" on the label. Email me if you'd like a good brand.
The brown tips are most likely due to the soil being too alkaline. Try making your soil more acidic. I've heard of people doing this by adding iron sulfate or aluminum sulfate.

Negative Carapss On Aug 5, 2004, Carapss from Olho
Portugal wrote:

I've been very happy with this plant in my house. It was very healthy until some days ago. We've had some 44 C then, and the plant just left all leafs fell to the gronud. It looks alive though.

I don't know what to think of it. Was it the heat or is there any natural reaction to its age ? (It's four years old now) All the leafs turned yellow and twisted before falling. This also looks like it had to much water...

I'm a little confused. Can anybody give a hand, please ?

Positive greenbri On Jan 30, 2004, greenbri from Montreal, QC wrote:

I bought this plant a year ago but quickly found out the soil was infested with gnats. There were two plants growing from the same pot and I decided to do an experiment. I cut both plants at the base and let the cuttings sit in water. Several leaves died but rooted very quickly. After a year, both plants are still in the water which I feed with a few drops of hydroponic nutrients and both plants are lush and seem very happy and no leaves have died since then.

Positive smashedcricket On Dec 6, 2003, smashedcricket from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Native of Madagascar usually they like a wet peroid followed by marked drying. Humidity levels should be moderate. I dont ever water mine unless it starts to wilt.
Grows faster in moderate light than in shady conditions. mist often in winter.Feed regulrarly with palm fertilizer..also loves extra iron.

Positive frigid75 On Nov 7, 2003, frigid75 from Reno, NV (Zone 6a) wrote:

I love these plants, but I can attest to the fact that they don't like a lot of water. I drowned one earlier this year. The stem gets kind of soft. It's a cruel, cruel death for a plant. My new one seems to do well being watered only when it asks for some.

Positive suncatcheracres On Oct 23, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I recently purchased a red-margined dracaena very cheaply at a discount-store garden center, as one of the two tops was broken off. I potted it in a good quality potting soil and placed it in morning sun, and it has really grown nicely the last few months. The top just grew back without any "split."

I have friends...who recently salvaged a dozen very tall Dracaena. My friends told me they could just stick the six-foot-tall Dracaena plants in potting soil, in a pot, and they would root.

I was dubious, but I was over at their place a few days ago, and all of the dracaenas they got in the Keys have rooted and are looking great. Here in northcentral Florida, zone 8b, Dracaena have to be overwintered inside or in a greenhouse.

The Southern Living Garden Book notes that D. marginata will eventually grow to 12 feet tall, and that if the plant grows too tall, the crown can be cut off and it will reroot. Then new crowns will appear on the old stem. The book also mentions a cultivar called 'Candy Cane,' which has a gold stripe.

Neutral Karenn On Oct 22, 2003, Karenn from Mount Prospect, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I'm sure you can slit the stem for a new shoot. I have 'Tricolor' as a house plant, and accidentally snapped off the top of one of the three I have in a pot. It promptly grew a split new top (two stems). It can thrive in pretty low light, even indoors. And yes, it can (somewhat) dry between watering. It does NOT like to be "soggy".

Positive NANSUSHA On Oct 21, 2003, NANSUSHA wrote:

When I lived in Michigan I had great success with this plant indoors. Now I live in Florida and have two of them, both thriving outdoors in full sun to partial shade.

I seem to remember seeing an article years ago that said if you cut a small slice in the stem, a new shoot will grow.

Neutral madi_rae On Sep 21, 2003, madi_rae from Cumming, GA wrote:

I recently bought four Dracaenas to use in my science project, which involves studying how different types of music might affect plant life. I have never grown Dracaena before.

Neutral fixxer On Aug 11, 2003, fixxer wrote:

There are at least three varieties of Dracaena marginata commonly available.
D. marginata has green leaves with reddish-purple edges; D. marginata 'Tricolor' has green leaves striped with yellow and red; and D. marginata 'Colorama' has mostly red leaves with a thin green stripe along the middle.

Neutral DeannasDesign On Jul 13, 2003, DeannasDesign from Fort Benton, MT wrote:

I love this plant, but I have a lot of troble with the leaf tips. I have children, who love to touch them; however I have seen others growing in open areas where many people come in contact with the plant, so that can not be the problem, so I wonder if it could be planted too deeply.

I took one of the plants and inter-planted it with a Nephthytis (Syngonium species), and they look beautiful together.

I also examined the roots while I had a chance, there were some bulbs attached at the side of the base of the plant and tons of roots that I gingerly loosened. As for my other plants I planted them deeper, as I could not get them to stay upright.

My plants are only 18 inches high, with a 12-15 inch spread. Overall, I realy enjoy this plant but I sure need to know alot more about it.

Neutral ksue On Jun 5, 2003, ksue wrote:

My Dracaena has been difficult to figure out the correct amount of water: it seems to like drying out more than watering regularly. Every time I water it always has a number of leaves turn light brown and drop. I recently had two branches lose all their leaves. I don't know if they'll grow back.

This tree is inside and is tall (6 feet) but spindly at the top branches.The lower branches are full. I think it might need re-potting as it is very old.

I have rooted a small sprig in water, and I will experiment leaving it in water to see how long it will grow. I have lots of plants growing in water now, changeing the water every 2 weeks. They are thriving so well and no dropped leaves; I add two drops of Miracle-Gro (water-soluble fertilizer) now and then.

It is toxic to cats.

Neutral tiredwabbit On Aug 8, 2001, tiredwabbit from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grows very slowly, many different colors.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama
Glendale, Arizona
Burbank, California (2 reports)
Canoga Park, California
Folsom, California
Hayward, California
Merced, California
San Pedro, California
Stockton, California
Venice, California
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Garden, Florida
Chicago, Illinois (2 reports)
Rockwell City, Iowa
Fort George G Meade, Maryland
Garden City, Michigan
Woodstown, New Jersey
Alden, New York
Duncan, Oklahoma
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Knoxville, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Aransas Pass, Texas
Greenville, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah

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