How To Care For A Dracaeana Marginata
I was an interior plantscaper many years ago – yes, I maintained plants in offices, lobbies, hotels and the likes. I saw and took care of my share of Dracaena marginatas. This plant, also known as Madagascar Dragon Tree, was favored by people who wanted an Asian, modern or architectural feel. As a floor plant, this one grows with a lot of cane (or trunk) and you can find it in many interesting forms. Dracaeana marginatas are as easy as can be to care for if follow the points below.
this is a candelabra marginata
I wrote another book, Keep Your Houseplants Alive, and this one is on houseplant care. It’s guide written in very simple terms with lots of tips and pictures. I guess this post a little warm up to that. Like all Dracaenas, this is a very easy care plant. The majority of interior plants are replaced because of two reasons. The first one is they are put in the wrong place and the is that they are overwatered. Head’s up – this is what you need to pay attention to:
Dracaena Marginata Care
Light: They like nice bright light but no direct, hot sun. On the other hand, keep it out of low light areas – no dark corners please.
Watering: Water when the top 2-3” of the soil is dry. I water mine every 2 weeks maybe a little more often if it’s really warm. Water less in the winter. These plants grow much slower in the cooler, darker months and need a little rest time. The tips of this plant will brown if you have salts and/or flourides in your water. The salts will settle to the bottom if you fill your pitcher or watering can and let it sit for a day or two. The flourides won’t settle nor will they evaporate. You need to use distilled water for houseplants if these two are a problem.
Fertilizing: Houseplants appreciate a little food once or twice a year. People over fertilize their plants which is worse that not doing it all. I would recommend Organics Rx Indoor Plant Food or Superthrive (this is not certified organic but it’s natural). Be sure to sure them at the recommended strength because if you up the ante, you’ll burn the poor babies.
Pests: Yep, your marginata will get spider mite and/or mealy bug at some point. For the spider mite, use a spray with a few drops of mild dish soap in water. You can use insecticidal soap for a bad infestation. Be sure to get the undersides of the leaves too because that’s where these critters hang out. You can use alcohol diluted by half with water dipped on a q-tip for the mealy or spray if your plant is larger. Be sure to get deep inside the nodes. If the infestation is not too bad, then a strong but gentle spraying off of the plant should do the trick. Any of these treatments need to be done at 7-10 days intervals for 4 weeks. Sorry, 1 treatment won’t knock them out.
Pruning/Cleaning: You can cut off the brown tips if you’d like. These plants are native to the humid tropics and tipping occurs because our homes are dry. Be sure your scissors are sharp otherwise the leaves will tear. The bottom leaves will yellow and die. That’s normal – it’s how the plant grows. Spray the leaves with water or take it to the sink, tub or outside to hose it down. It likes humidity and will love you for doing this.
By the way, kitties love to chomp on these tender, crispy leaves. This is my Oscar who is 14 years old and naps all day but gets the energy to gnaw away on this plant any chance he gets. The plant has been moved to safer grounds high atop a bookshelf where he stares at it daily with longing. Sorry Oscar.
This architectural, sculptural plant is a great addition to any home environment. Oh … be sure to keep an eye out for my houseplant book. It’s going to be a no nonsense guide to keeping 23 of the most reliable interior plants alive and kickin’. Confessions of an interiorscaper!