House plant of the month: Dracaena
The story of Dracaena
Dracaena is a tall, voluminous houseplant or tree with one or more trunks, from which fabulous leaves grow in green, yellow and gold, sometimes with some pink or red. There are many types of leaf: small, delicate and pointy or large and soft. The choice of trunks is also varied: thick, thin, tall, branched and woven. In terms of size, it ranges from a houseplant to an indoor tree, all with a beautiful tropical look. As a statement plant, Dracaena is easy to look after. The plant stores water in the trunk, and can cope if you forget to water it occasionally. The plant also helps keep the air indoors clean. According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dracaena is one of the plants that helps improve the quality of the air in your home.
In the wild, Dracaena grows particularly in Africa and adjacent islands such as Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands. There are varieties that really do resemble a tree with a trunk, but there are also robust bushy forms which are used as hedges and dividers in hot countries. They can live for a long time, and some species develop a very distinctive shape in the wild which seems to come straight out of primaeval times.
What to look for when buying Dracaena
- The taller the plant, the older it is.
- With trunked Dracaenas check for good roots; the plant must be firmly rooted in the soil.
- Leaf tips should not be larger than 5 mm.
- The plant must be free of pests and diseases. Particularly look for mealybug and scale insects and possible stalk borers in the trunks.
- The tops of the trunk must be sealed in order to prevent rotting caused by moisture.
Dracaena offers a wide choice of around 80 species and cultivars in various forms. Hence there are plants with a single stem, top cutting, tuft (several plants of one species in a single pot), Ti plant (double-headed plant), branched or woven trunk, plant with underplanting, stump, etc. Dracaena also offers various leaf shapes from narrow to broad and colours from yellow to dark red.
These are the best known varieties:
– Dracaena marginata cultivars, with narrow 1-2 cm leaves
– Dracaena fragrans cultivars, with broad 5-7 cm leaves
– Dracaena fragrans Compacta Grp, compact structure with 2-3 cm wide leaves
– Dracaena fragrans Deremenis Grp, with 2-3 cm wide leaves
– Dracaena reflexa cultivars, somewhat curved leaves, 2-3 cm wide
– Dracaena sanderiana cultivars, with 2-3 cm wide leaves
– Dracaena surculosa cultivars, with oval spotted leaves.
Care tips for consumers
- Dracaena prefers not to be in direct sunlight, but does want a light position in order to keep the markings attractive.
- Only water when the soil dries out. Dracaena cannot tolerate wet feet.
- Spraying from time to time keeps the leaves attractive and fresh.
- Give house plant food once every six weeks in spring and summer. Do not feed in autumn and winter.
- Dracaena cannot tolerate cold. Do not allow the temperature to drop below 10-13°C.