Dracaena marginata, a striking tall house plant

Dracaeana marginata tricolor exploding in full color.

Dracaena marginata, often thought to be a palm tree, is a truly magnificent indoor plant.

Dracaena marginata facts

NameDracaena marginata (horticulture)
Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia (scientific)
FamilyAgavoideae (formerly Agavaceae)

Type – indoor plant
Height – 3 to 6 ½ feet (1 to 2 meters)
Exposure – very well-lit, even full sun

Soil – soil mix
Foliage – evergreen

Here is advice on caring for your Dracaena marginata.

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Growing and care for Dracaena marginata

Potted dracaena marginata

Growing Dracaena marginata in a pot requires good soil mix that can be amended with ⅓ compost, if you’ve got some at hand.

Dracaena marginata in a potIn order to enhance drainage, pour clay pebbles or small stones into the pot to form a layer at the bottom.
This will help ensure roots won’t wallow in water, which could be fatal to it.

  • Set your Dracaena marginata up in a fair-sized pot filled with special indoor plant or green plant soil mix.
  • It may be necessary to repot it in spring every 2 or 3 years.
  • When not repotting then go for regular topdressing. This should perfectly answer growing needs of the plant.

Outdoor dracaena marginata

Growing dracaena marginata outdoors is only possible in warm climates because this plant can’t stand the cold.

  • Generally speaking, dracaena marginata is intolerant to the cold and will only grow outside in places where the temperature never drops below 63 to 65°F (17 to 18°C), even in winter.

Just as is practiced for plants in pots, feel free to place a bed of gravel, small stones or clay pebbles to drain the water better.

  • Atop this layer, you’ll be using a potting blend of soil mix, garden soil and sand.

Exposure for Dracaena marginata

Beautiful Dracaena marginata with blue sky.Under temperate climates, Dracaena marginata adapts well to living indoors in our apartments and homes.
It grows best when surrounding temperatures hold at around 70 to 72°F (20 to 22°C) and requires very good light, even direct sunlight. In tropical climates, Dracaena marginata can grow very large!

  • Select a place for it near a window facing to the South or West in the Northern hemisphere, and North or West if you live in the Southern hemisphere.
  • This ensures it would bathe in a good deal of both indirect light and sunlight.

If you live in a house that is quite dark, avoid dracaena because it won’t cope with the low luminosity if you water too much.


If the soil is allowed to dry well – almost like a cactus – between waterings, all of these Dracaenas do well for years and years in low light.

– Marlie Graves, interior landscaper

If you live in tropical climates, closer to the equator, Dracaena marginata will thrive outdoors with little or even no care.

Dracaena marginata watering

Outdoors, you won’t have to worry very much: as long as the soil drains well, rainfall will cover the plant’s needs.

Inside, as a houseplant, the biggest trap is overwatering: your dracaena will get yellow leaves and die. Make sure the soil dries out entirely before watering again.

Multiplying and propagating Dracaena marginata

Learn more about Dracaena marginata

Though clearly a look-alike, Dracaena marginata isn’t a palm tree. It’s in a category that’s called “false palms”, plants similar to real palms like the Areca palm and saw palmetto.

Dracaena marginata with background of ethnic African objects.Luckily, the care it needs is nearly identical to that of a palm tree.

All in one aesthetic, resilient and very easy to grow, this is one of the most appreciated and successful houseplants ever.

Foliage is wispy, elegant and unique, and its shape and bearing brings a touch of exotic life to a living room, dining area, and any other room of the house that is well-lit.

  • The lifespan of a dracena plant can extend over decades if it doesn’t fall sick.
  • In pots this is shorter: about 10-15 years if properly repotted, topdressed and cared for.

Proper name for Dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata has a confusing name history. The scientific name for the dragon plant is Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia.  In garden stores, the simpler name “Dracaena marginata” prevails. Originally, Dracaena marginata Lam. was associated to the plant, after botanist Charles Lamoureux. He was first to describe the plant.

Seeing the “reflexa” in the classification name shows how close a relative dracaena marginata is to the famed “Song of India”.

The Dracaena genus is extensive. Many cousins of Dracaena marginata are also grown as houseplants, like the Dracaena massangeana.

Dracaena marginata varieties

Occasionally Dracaena marginata will bear seeds: new hybrids appear. Mutations also may appear in cells that grow into a branch with new characteristics. From these, dracaena cuttings can be prepared and this leads to a new type of Dracaena marginata.

Here are a few of the dracaena marginata varieties

  • Plain Dracaena marginata – the ‘type variety‘, serves as reference
  • Dracaena marginata ‘colorama’
  • Dracaena marginata ‘tricolor’
  • D. marginata ‘tarzan’ – this cultivar has a plant patent on it.
  • Dracaena marginata ‘bicolor’
  • Dracaena marginata ‘magenta’

And in recent years:

Dracaena marginata diseases & parasites

Dracaena marginata, like most houseplants, often falls victim to various diseases. Troubleshoot what’s happening with your plant here:

Read also:

Smart tip about Dracaena marginata, the dragon plant

When propagating dracaena, you can actually prepare several cuttings at a time! Chop the stem into as many one foot (30 cm) pieces as you can. Place stems in a separate glass of water and you’ll see roots and leaves sprout for each cutting.

Dracaena marginata on social media

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Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
own work: Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois
CC BY-NC 2.0: Glenn Brown
Unsplash: Mike Marquez