Dracaena marginata in the wild, a journey to the dragon’s lair

Dracaena marginata is one of the most common house and office plants, but when you encounter it in the wild, it’s a far cry from that tame, easy-going plant you’re familiar with.

It towers to over a dozen feet (3 ½ meters) tall and grows trunks as thick as a leg.

Wild Dracaeana marginata habitat

Dracaena marginata is native to Mauritius and Madagascar, along the Indian Ocean. The most common name for this plant is actually related to this: Madagascar dragon tree.

Even and constant temperatures

These large islands share a special, tropical climate. There, temperatures remain even, at their lowest hover around 75°F (25 °C) and cap off at about 95°F (35°C). Having such a regular temperature range in its natural habitat is one of the reasons the Dracaena marginata dragon plant is so successful as a houseplant. Indeed, indoor temperatures are often constant throughout the year.

Moisture required for Dracaena marginata

Moisture in these parts of the world is always high and never drops below 80% relative humidity. This is a key difference when compared to the air inside our homes and offices, which often tends to be dryer. It’s one of the reasons that explain slow dracaena marginata growth indoors in temperate regions of the globe. Lack of air moisture is also why the dragon tree only very rarely flowers indoors.

Precipitation and rain in Dracaena marginata native habitat

Precipitations and rain vary greatly both in Madagascar and Mauritius, as it does in all coastal areas of the Indian Ocean. Intermittent drought is not uncommon and, for weeks on end, not a single drop may fall. Alternating with these droughts are flooding rains that drench the land for days. Dracaena marginata is particularly well equipped to cope with these irregular rain cycles.

Massive Dracaena marginata plants

Dracaena marginata taller than a houseDragon plants can tower to heights of over a dozen feet, especially when their roots are in rich soil and they’re protected from stronger winds.

Any damage to the branches leads to new sprouts branching off to the sides at the topmost, unharmed nodes.

When two or more trunks and stems grow too close together, they start fusing and become a single trunk. This interesting capacity can help you produce thick stems for Dracaena marginata bonsai.

In many countries, from the Philippines to the Americas, Dracaena marginata has been introduced and now thrives outdoors. When abandoned and left to its own devices, it grows into thick, dense clumps that grow twice as tall as they are wide.

A thick trunk of a Dracaena marginata tree shows where stems fused together.Some of the largest Dracaena marginata plants have trunks that exceed a foot in diameter (30 cm across) and the typical pattern left by leaves falling off disappears to reveal thin, gray bark that peels off in slabs when damaged.

Proper care for outdoor Dracaena marginata

Pruning and watering are the only two considerations when caring for outdoor Dracaena marginata.

Pruning outdoor Dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata, when grown outdoors, can be pruned whenever needed to control size and shape the tree.

Pruning just before the rainy season will ensure roots have plenty of water to start sending new shoots up from nodes along the stem.

  • Control the height of your dragon tree by snipping the stem off at that point. New shoots will regenerate from the nodes just under the cut.
  • Depending on the season and the vigor of the dragon plant, up to four shoots will be triggered by this “beheading”.

Watering outdoor Dracaena marginata

Dense, top-heavy dracaena marginata shot from below.Although Dracaena marginata isn’t a desert plant, it still manages to cope well with drought when it doesn’t last too long.

  • If there’s no rain for a month and the weather is very hot, water abundantly once.
  • If temperatures don’t exceed 75°F (25 °C), no need to water until the drought is two months long.

Simply plant your Dracaena marginata outdoors in a place where it’ll receive normal rainfall. If you don’t want the chore of watering your dragon tree, just avoid planting it under overhung roofing that would deprive it of its natural rainwater.

Transplanting a Dracaena marginata outdoors

If temperatures in your area always remain above 65-68 °F (18 – 20 °C), you can plant your Dracaena marginata outside.

  • Beware of transplant shock and acclimatize the plant by simply setting the pot in its future position for increasing hours every day. This is similar to the hardening that is given seedlings before being transplanted out in the open.
  • Ensure that the new area drains very well and isn’t waterlogged or your Dracaena marginata leaves will turn yellow due to overwatering.

Smart tip about outdoor dracaena marginata

Extend the height of your fence or perimeter wall with a Dracaeana marginata hedge planted along the base.

The bushy tips will add privacy at the top and minimal pruning will ensure that the stems don’t grow thick at the base, preserving garden space.

Read also


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois, all pictures shared by Forest & Kim Starr under © CC BY 4.0):
Wild dracaena marginata, Dracaena marginata taller than house, Dracaena marginata trunk, Tall wild Dracaena marginata

Je souhaite poser une question sur le sujet

Poser ma question

Je souhaite apporter un commentaire

Laisser un commentaire

There aren't any comments yet. Be the first to share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *