The Dracaena Marginata, also known as the bordered dragon tree, is a popular houseplant in Germany that comes from Madagascar. It owes its popularity to its elegant appearance with a long, slender trunk and narrow leaves that are only about 2 cm wide but up to 40 cm long. It owes its name to the narrow, brown-red border that surrounds each of the dark green leaves. Since it is also easy to care for, it does not require any special gardening expertise to decorate the rooms of the house with it.
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The Dracaena Marginata is ideally suited for beginners among hobby gardeners, because the much-vaunted “green thumb” is not a prerequisite for cultivating a representative specimen of this plant genus. Anyone who heeds the following care instructions will enjoy the dragon tree for a long time:
- normal potting soil as a substrate;
- sunny to semi-shady location;
- protect from the blazing sun;
- a temperature of around 20° Celsius all year round;
- water sparingly every 5 days;
- in summer spray the leaves;
- water only every 14 days in winter;
- pour off excess water;
- fertilize from spring to autumn;
- no fertilizer during the winter break;
- rotate plant regularly;
- repot in spring.
The dragon tree always grows in the direction of the light. Therefore, even growth is encouraged if the plant is rotated once in a while. Since the Dracaena Marginata is a vigorous plant, it is usually necessary to repot it at least every one to two years.
Properly repot Dracaena Marginata
The best time for this is spring, after the hibernation; at the latest when the previous planter is completely rooted. The diameter of the new pot is ideally around 10 cm to 15 cm larger than the previous pot. If it goes well beyond these dimensions, the dragon tree will first put all its energy into rooting, which is at the expense of the growth height. The repotting takes place in the following steps:
- The new planter should have a drainage hole so that no waterlogging can form later. This drainage hole is covered with a drainage made of expanded clay, gravel or broken potsherds. An air- and water-permeable fleece is laid over this.
- A first layer of substrate, consisting of conventional compost-based potting soil, is placed over the drainage.
- To make it easier for the Dracaena Marginata to be removed from the old pot, place it in a bucket of water with the root ball for about 2 minutes. When this is exposed, the opportunity is taken to carefully inspect it for dead roots, diseases and pests.
- The dragon tree is now placed in the middle of the new planter and the fresh substrate is distributed around the root ball and gently pressed down. If a few centimeters are left free up to the edge of the pot, nothing can spill over later when watering.
Propagating Dracaena Marginata
Once you have gotten to know the convincing advantages of the dragon tree, you usually want to multiply it. Various procedures are suitable for this purpose, all of which are promising:
Propagation by stem cuttings or head cuttings
If another small shoot shows up next to the main shoot, it can be used for propagation. The tiny thing is first carefully freed from the earth with your fingers. Then it is cut off a piece under the ground with sharp pruning shears. The wound on the main shoot is immediately sealed with tree wax or candle wax. Alternatively, it is possible to cut a moderately overgrown head cutting from the main shoot to a length of 8 cm. In this case, too, the resulting plant wound is immediately treated with wax. If the hobby gardener holds the cutting in his hand, he has the choice between two methods that have proven themselves in the propagation of indoor plants:
Multiply in a glass of water:
- Put cuttings in a glass with water;
- pour fresh water over and over again;
- when roots form, potting is done.
Multiply in the sand-soil mixture:
- fill the planter with potting soil;
- put cuttings in;
- put plastic bag over it;
- ventilate from time to time;
- keep potting soil slightly moist;
- repot after rooting.
In order for the propagation to be successful, it is of great importance that the cuttings are placed in the water glass or in the potting soil in the correct direction. Sometimes this is not obvious at first glance.
Depending on the location and fertilizer, the Dracaena Marginata can grow quite large or so high that it touches the ceiling. Therefore, pruning this plant not only serves to propagate, but also helps to keep growth under control.
Spring and summer are the best times for cutting, because the resulting cuts heal faster and better then. Although the fringed dragon tree can be cut anywhere, the shoot tips and trunk above a dormant eye are best. A dormant eye can be recognized by a slight bulge under the bark. Since the interfaces make the plant susceptible to diseases and pests, they should be coated with tree wax immediately. The clippings are far too good to just throw away in the compost. The cut pieces are suitable for propagation or serve as a gift to friends who are hobby gardeners, because with a little luck new, magnificent Dracaena Marginata will grow out of them.
Dracaena losing leaves? – Tips for leaf loss
If the Dracaena Marginata loses its leaves, this is a sure sign that it is unwell. The following tips can help to stop losing hands:
- Change location – A place that is too dark is just as bad for the dragon tree as blazing sunlight. The plant also does not like being right next to a radiator, especially not when it is suddenly heated in autumn or winter.
- Dose irrigation water more precisely – The Dracaena Marginata does not need a lot of water. It should therefore only be watered when the substrate feels dry. If the potting soil is too wet, this can lead to leaf loss, even if they are still lush green. In addition, the dragon tree does not like “wet feet”, which means that it also reacts to waterlogging by losing leaves.
- Increase humidity – the dragon tree endures dry air only for a short time; then the beautiful leaves fall off. It is therefore advisable to spray the plant with water at room temperature again and again throughout the year. Rainwater is better suited for this than calcareous tap water.
- Avoid Drafts – Just as people can be unhealthy if caught in a draft, so can the Dracaena Marginata.
- Increase room temperature – Even during hibernation, the fringed dragon tree needs a room temperature that is above 15° Celsius. A cooler environment can lead to leaf loss very quickly.
Insulating coasters in winter
Even if the room temperature is 20° Celsius and higher, the floor can still be quite cold, especially in winter, especially if it is a stone or tiled floor. The plant responds to cold from below and warmth from above by dropping leaves. Simply place an insulating coconut mat under the plant pot and the problem is solved.
Protect roots when repotting
A fast-growing plant like the Dracaena Marginata often needs to be repotted. The roots must not be injured under any circumstances, because then they wither and can no longer absorb enough nutrients. This can cause leaf loss from below.
If these tips don’t fix the problem, there’s a good chance the dragon tree has been afflicted by a disease or pest infestation.
diseases and pests
A noticeable indication that the plant is in serious trouble is a soft stem. In view of this damage, a fungal infection, also known as soft rot, can be assumed. The fungus spreads upwards from the roots. If the disease is detected in time, the healthy parts of the plant can be cut off and used as cuttings. The rest of the plant can only be disposed of in the garbage; never on the compost.
- Spider mites – Fine webs appear on the leaves, especially on the pointed ends. A simple but effective method of combating it is to regularly spray the leaves with a solution of 1 tablespoon of pure soft soap, 1 liter of water and 1 tablespoon of spirit.
- Mealybugs – Mealybugs – These pests are represented worldwide with more than 1,000 species and do not leave the Dracaena Marginata alone. As soon as the wool-like coating appears on the leaves, countermeasures should be taken. Anyone who does not want to bring their natural enemies, such as parasitic wasps or lacewings, into the house should use sprays containing neem oil. In addition, the soft soap solution described above can help. Since the eggs of the lice are also in the root ball, it is advisable to pot the plant, rinse the root ball vigorously and replant the Dracaena Marginata in new soil in a new planter.
- Thrips – These pests, also known as thunderstorm creatures, prefer to attack indoor plants such as the dragon tree. They are 1 to 3 mm long, dark brown or black. They are usually located on the underside of the leaf, where they attach themselves. If nothing is done about it, the plant will stop growing before slowly but surely dying. As a first aid measure, a vigorous shower can eliminate most of the pests. The pot must be protected with a plastic bag so that the little animals do not fall into it. In addition, products derived from the neem tree help combat it effectively.
Dracaena Marginata is poisonous to cats
Anyone who keeps cats in the house should keep them away from the dragon tree. The leaves of this plant contain saponins, a substance that causes stomach upset and diarrhea in cats. Since cats generally like to nibble on plants, they will also try this on the dragon tree. Wild cats recognize for themselves that this plant is not good for them. A pure house cat, on the other hand, does not have this knowledge and should therefore not be able to get to the dragon tree. Incidentally, the plant sap is completely harmless for humans.
The Dracaena Marginata, the fringed dragon tree, enjoys great popularity as a houseplant. With its slender trunk and long, narrow bordered leaves, this plant is an adornment in any room. Anyone who is just taking the first steps towards hobby gardening has a good chance of a successful start with this plant. The easy-care dragon tree with its good-natured plant character also forgives one or two small mistakes and does not require any gardening expertise in order for it to thrive magnificently.