Problem with Dracaena marginata? Solve it here!

dracaena marginata problems

Dragon plants are among the rare plants that are perfectly happy indoors. However, they do get their fair share of problems.

From leaves changing colors to stems bending over, find what ails your dracaena marginata and fix the issue!

Make note of the symptoms on your dracaena marginata, and read on.

Falling / withering leaves on a dragon plant

Dracaena leaves dry out and fall in case of long droughtThis is either due to lack of light or excess water.

Note: In case you’ve forgotten to water your plant for more than 2 weeks, the dragon plant’s first reaction is to shed its lowest leaves.

Also, having lower leaves wither and die is normal for this plant, as long as leaves higher up are healthy. As a side note, some varieties are better than others at keeping their lower leaves.

However, they all benefit from having more moisture in the air around them.

Dracaena marginata loses its leaves

This is what happens when the dracaena is too cold.

  • Find a more appropriate location for it: minimum temperatures of 65-66°F (18-19°C) and ideally 70 to 72°F (20 to 22°C).

Dracaena marginata leaves turn yellow

Problem with dracaena marginata leaves turning yellowIf new leaves still appear at the top, losing a few bottom leaves is part of your dracaena’s natural cycle. Most plants drop older inefficient leaves. Before the leaf detaches and falls, it turns yellow: nutrients are being recycled back into the plant for new growth.

  • However, if no new shoots appear and your dracaena looks droopy, it might suffer from red spider mite. This is frequent in dry air. Treat with an insecticide, but the article linked describes organic solutions to deal with this mite.

If many or all leaves turn yellow and droop over, again, check whether you’re overwatering or not. In extreme cases, the stem softens and bends over.

Cottony white spots appear

White spots on dracaena dragon plant leavesThis is symptomatic of an onslaught of scale insects.

  • Eliminate scale with a rag dipped in methylated spirits, carefully rinsing the leaves with water afterwards.
  • Other strong spirits or alcohols also work: vodka, gin, rhum…
  • If only a few bugs, use a cotton bud to pinpoint each one without dousing the whole plant.
  • Tips against mealybugs

You’ll reduce probability of this happening if you clean the plant’s leaves often (monthly).

Dracaena marginata leaves turn pale but no pests

Leaves are pale but still feel firm. Lack of light usually is the cause of this.

  • Transfer your Dracaena marginata to a window facing full sun, or at least a well-lit room.

Dracaena marginata leaves have brown spots

Brown leaf tips on dracaena marginata plantToo much sun or dry air can lead to leaves showing signs of water stress.

  • Check if the plant has been watered recently
  • Follow watering recommendations listed above

If necessary, place the pot of the dracaena on a tray filled with clay pebbles or gravel. Douse the gravel or clay with water. Evaporation creates extra moisture around the plant. Ensure the pot itself doesn’t sit in water, but rests above it. Tips on using clay balls as air humidifiers.

Brown tips on dragon plant leaves

If you water your dragon plant with tap water, too much fluoride may disturb the plant’s normal functions.

  • Fluoride causes necrosis and discoloration and inhibits leaf growth
  • Use rainwater to water your plant

Dracaena stem bends over

This can happen in either of three cases:

  • overwatering together with lack of drainage. Root rot has settled in and roots can’t send water up to the plant any more. Leaves turn yellow and stem collapses within a couple weeks. If this is the case, see our page on overwatering dracaena.

Dracaena stem falling overThe other two cases are related: Under its own weight, a tall branch will slowly start bending over.

  • If growing indoors, this is because the dragon plant doesn’t get much “shaking and swaying” because there’s no wind. It grows straight towards the light and doesn’t try to grow thick or strong. At some point, the head gets heavy and it starts sagging.
  • If growing outdoors, a long period of fast growth (sun+rain) is followed by a time of duress: drought. The plant grew too fast, and, as above, starts sagging under its own weight.

For both of these two last cases, simply stake the plant and tether it to solve the problem. Some advocate to give the plant a “shake” every now and then, which surely helps, but not significantly if it’s only a few seconds at a time.

Drops at the tips of my dragon plant’s leaves

This is perfectly normal, and the sign of a healthy plant. What’s happening here is guttation. It’s a way for the plant to eliminate excess water.

→ Read also: care for dracaena marginata the right way

Images: CC BY 2.0: Conall, Kim & Forest Starr, dreamstime: Chawakal Neeracharanusorn, Public Domain: Scot Nelson