Dracaena marginata, also known as red-edge dracaena or Madagascar dragon tree, is an attractive plant grown for its foliage. A relative of the yucca plant, the dracaena marginata comes from the Dragon tree, a plant native to the Canary Islands. Like its ancestor, it prefers a tropical or semi-tropical environment. However, it is also easily grown indoors in any climate.
The dracaena marginata has narrow leaves with red or purple edges. As new leaves emerge from the top, bottom leaves fall away. The plant can be shaped using bonsai wire to provide interesting curves or can be grown straight. Several plants are usually planted together in one pot. Dracaena have been tested by NASA's Clean Air Study and have been proven to remove formaldehyde from the environment, making them a good plant for offices with new carpeting, furniture, or other building materials containing formaldehyde. Outdoors, in areas like Florida, the dracaena marginata will grow up to 15 feet tall. Indoors, it usually tops out about 6 ft. Dracaena marginata likes bright indirect light but can thrive in lower light although the leaves will be narrower.
Water your dracaena marginata thoroughly, then allow the plant to dry out until the soil is dry to the touch before watering again. The dracaena prefers a steady temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit so a sunny window may be the perfect. Dracaena marginata suffers most from problems related to watering. Overwatering can cause roots to rot. If leaves start to drop, you may be over-watering or the soil may not be draining properly. Other causes may be dramatic temperature changes or cold drafts. If your tap water has fluoride in it, use distilled water for watering as flouride causes the root tips to yellow.
They would also do well inside under a skylight. The leaves collect dust and need occasional wiping with a damp cloth. The dracaena marginata comes in single spikes or branching varieties. If yours is a single spike, you can clip out the top foliage to the height desired. Within a few months, the wound will heal and new branches will form.Dracaena raised for sale as indoor plants do not require much fertilization. If you do fertilize, use a water soluble liquid fertilizer. During the winter dormant period, you can add slow release fertilizer pellets to the pot. If the leaf edges or tips become yellow, you may be over fertilizing.
The easiest way to propagate a dracaena marginata is to take a stem cutting, dip the base in root hormone, and push it into potting mix. Water thoroughly and fertilize with liquid fertilizer when the new leaves start to appear. Dracaena are susceptible to mealy bugs, spider mites, and scale. These can be treated with pesticides.