How to Care for Dragon Tree
I’m sure it would surprise no one to know that I’m a big proponent of houseplants. Ask any houseplant “parent” and they’ll admit that being a plant enthusiast is a lot like being a “cat lady”—collecting them becomes an obsession, albeit much more socially acceptable and better-smelling. A well-rounded collection should have plants of all different sizes—from tiny succulents to towering trees. Dragon tree is one of those glorious houseplants that can occupy nearly any size on that scale.
The dragon tree is beloved in Edmonton, probably because it seems so happy and tropical when the world around us is grey, urban tundra. If this spritely houseplant is about to be the newest in your collection, here’s what you need to know about keeping a dragon tree in Edmonton, Alberta.
About the Dragon Tree
Dragon tree is also known as Madagascar dragon tree, red-edge dracaena, or Dracaena marginata. This trendy houseplant is so hot right now that it could probably breathe actual fire.
Most of the dragon tree’s fans seem to love it for the texture of its foliage. The young plants resemble a wild mound of wide-bladed grass. As they age, they can take on a tree form, often with attractive, braided wood topped with a shock of foliage, like a miniature palm tree. The leaves can be solid green or variegated with a cool shade of deep red.
Since they’re so diverse in height, they’re a popular plant for adding texture to your home decor at precisely the height you need it. Some people keep them in a pot as a desk ornament, whereas others prefer the taller ones that break up the levels in their living rooms. Their foliage is also pretty dense, which makes them ideal for popping in front of a window to politely prevent neighbours from seeing your business. There’s also evidence that dragon tree, like other dracaenas, has air-cleaning properties that can relieve anxiety.
Dragon Tree Care
Members of the Dracaena family tend to be fairly low-maintenance houseplants, and dragon tree is no different.
While the dragon tree’s colours are at their brightest when placed near a sunny window, they can also survive in a dim lair (see what I did there?). In all seriousness, though, dragon tree is rather tolerant of low-light conditions, even through a sun-starved winter in Edmonton. Provided there’s some natural light in its environment, yours will likely manage.
Dragon tree isn’t especially picky with soil types, but boy does it like to grow. Unchecked, your dragon tree can reach a height of 6 feet tall. If that’s what you want, all the power to you. If not, you may want to clip off the top growth a few times per year to keep its height in check.
Due to its aggressive growth habits, re-potting is probably the most labour intensive task your dragon tree will require of you. The root system is vigorous and will happily snake through the drainage holes of your pots throughout the year. In the spring, re-pot your dragon tree to a larger pot that can handle the size of its root ball.
Dragon tree isn’t actually a fire-breather (much to my Game-of-Thrones-loving chagrin) but it still hates to be waterlogged. When you do water, water it well so its deep root system can get a good drink. Then, wait until the top inch or so of soil has dried out before watering again. It’s better to slightly under-water your dragon tree than to overwater it—soggy soil will do more damage than anything else you can throw at it.
Finally, this dragon likes to look dapper. A few times per year, give it a nice shower in the bathtub to clean the dust off its leaves. If it’s too big to drag to the bathroom, at least give the leaves a wipe with a damp cloth. As well as keeping it looking fresh, this will also make sure dust doesn’t interfere with its ability to synthesize what little light it gets.
If you’ve been clamouring for one of your own, you can find just about any size of dragon tree for sale at Salisbury Greenhouse.