Dracaena (Dragon plant) watering

Watering dracaena

Watering is the single most important factor to make sure your Dracaena marginata survives… and thrives!

Pay attention to light levels and season to figure out if you need to water often or not.

All year long, mist water on the leaves, preferably soft water.

As a general rule, try to increase humidity in the air around the plant.

Note: all varieties have similar water needs (bicolor, kiwi…)

Exposure and Season, two key factors

Dragon plants in low light and cool weather grow slowly. As a result, they need less water. With full light and warmth, on the other hand, they’ll need a lot more watering.

There are 2 techniques to water a dragon plant:

  • either pour water from a bottle or watering can,
  • or dunk the whole pot in a pail or sink filled with water.

Only water when soil has turned completely dry.

To check, stick your finger down to a depth of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm). It should come out dusty and dry. If there’s even just a little moisture left, don’t water yet.

Watering from a bottle or can

A study for Dracaena marginata has shown that the best watering schedule for dracaena is every 5 to 7 days.

Here’s a short table to show how often and how much to water Dracaena marginata:

  • hot summer, full light → daily or every other day, 1/2 glass of water
  • hot weather, low light → 1 glass every week
  • cool weather, full light → 1 glass a week
  • wintertime, low light → 1/2 glass a fortnight

This is especially important if your plant is potted. Potted plants don’t get any water other than that which you give them.

Also, you can adjust this to the size of your potted plant. Usually, at first, the plant isn’t so big. That’s what the amounts above refer to. Later on, as it doubles in size, you can also double the amounts you give it (but not how often: that stays the same).

Drenching a dragon tree to water it

A good way to water this plant is the “dunk & drip-dry” method. It only works for pots. Do this once a week in summer and twice a month in winter.

  • Partly fill a sink or large pail with water.
  • Place the pot in the sink or large pail. Water should reach soil level.
  • Let the pot sit in water for about 10 minutes.
  • Lift the pot out and rest it near the sink or outside so excess water can drain out.
  • When the dripping has stopped, return the plant to its place. Voilà!

Dracaena watering: spring and summer

dracaena watering summerThis is usually the time of the year when Dracaena marginata grows most.
Water regularly while letting the soil mix dry in the surface before watering again.

Watering must be regular but limited, in order to not suffocate the plant’s roots.
Every 3 to 7 days is largely sufficient.

More or less every two weeks during the growth phase (spring-summer-early fall), you can offer it liquid fertilizer, taking great care to moisten the soil mix beforehand.

Dracaena watering in fall and winter

Leaves of the dracaena marginata plant.Winter triggers dormancy in plants of the Dracaena family. The same rules as above apply, except that it may take up to a month for the soil to dry from the previous watering. Water every 15 to 30 days, no need to water weekly when the plant is in this rest phase.

  • Start reducing the watering because the plant’s water needs are lower.
  • Only when the soil is dry down to the first inch or so (a couple centimeters), water to moisten the entire soil mix clump again.

But this also depends on where your dracaena is placed: if it is in full sun, its needs will surely be higher.

  • This season is also when to stop adding fertilizer, from October all the way to March and April.

Watering mistakes to avoid

There’s no limit to air moisture. The higher you can get it, the happier the plant. High air moisture helps the plant keep its lower leaves for longer. In drier air, it tends to lose leaves along the lower part of the stem.

Lastly, it’s important to clean the leaves of your plant if ever the environment is dusty. It’s actually as important as fertilizing and watering, believe it or not! For example, you can move it to your bathtub or shower and hose it down occasionally.

Smart tip about watering your dragon plant

It helps to spread a layer of houseplant mulch on top of the soil. This will help retain soil moisture, reducing the need to water by a day or more.


Images: adobestock: Marta, CC BY-SA 2.0: Katy Warner, Pixabay: Gabriele Lässer, shutterstock: Maria Kovalets