How To Care For And Grow Your Dragon Tree

Areca Palm-Plntd-Seamless

Dragon Tree

NEAR-UNKILLABLE | AIR PURIFIER | LOW MAINTENANCE

Native to: Madagascar, Costa Rica, and more!

Watering needs: Low (allow soil to dry-out completely before watering)

Lighting needs: Prefers more light but tolerates most light conditions (just not total darkness!)

Difficulty: Near-unkillable

Great for: Beginners. As long as it sits in a bright place and isn't watered too often, this plant will remain by your side for years.

Pet-Safe: No

Looking for a quick introduction?

We've summarized all the essentials in our short Dragon Tree video, here:

1.0 Choosing your Dragon Tree

With so many varieties of Dragon Trees, you're bound to find one you like.

It’s Alright If You See:

Different Leaves

There are literally thousands of different varieties of Dragon Tree, so it’s likely the Dragon Tree in the store will look different from the ones you see on your first Google Search.

Brown or Green Stem

Some varieties have brown stems, some have green.

Thinner, long leaves with red borders

One variety of Dragon Tree called the Dracaena Marginata or Crimson Dragon Tree.

Thicker, plainer, all-green leaves

One variety of Dragon Tree called the Dracaena Janet Lind or Jade Dragon Tree.

White stripes on leaves

Another variety of Dragon Tree, called the Dracaena Warneckei or White Stripe Dragon Tree.

Light green stripes on dark green leaves

Yet another variety of Dragon Tree, called the Dracaena Lemon Lime.

Three or more stems coming out of the trunk

That means a healthy plant that was grown in a good environment.

One Pot, Two Plants (or more!)

Growers will often plant multiple Dragon Trees in the same pot at different heights to give a “fuller” look. If your plant is less than a meter, then it might have two Dragon Trees, go bigger to 1-1.5 m and you’ll see three stems, go further to 2 m tall Dragon Trees and expect four stems.

Stems tied up together

Multiple Dragon Trees tied up together for the ultimate Dragon Tree look. But watch out, so many stems will also mean it’ll cost more.

Thick stem

Just means it’s an older stem and so has had more care put into it, so be prepared to pay more.

Brown edge on a few leaves

A result of physical damage (such as transportation) that you can easily snip off yourself.

But, Watch Out For:

Less than three stems out of its trunk

Indicates that there’s something wrong with this Dragon Tree or it wasn’t brought up in the right environment. 

Yellow stems, leaves pulled out easily

This Dragon Tree has not been receiving enough sunlight.

Newer leaves are a different shade of green

The Dragon Tree may have a bug problem.

Removal of old leaves from the stem

Could indicate overwatering.

Too many brown leaves

Could indicate issues with the Dragon Tree.

Black stem or wilting leaves

Damaged roots or root-rot.

2.0 Picking The Right Spot (Lighting, Air Conditioning, Temperature)

Half of plant parenthood is choosing the perfect spot.

Lighting

Dragon Trees are low-light tolerant plants, not low-light loving. The more light it gets, the taller and faster your Dragon Tree will grow. So, how do you provide your Dragon Tree with as much light as you can, without overdoing it?

When you bring your Dragon Tree home, place it as close to a window as you can, making sure it has the largest possible view of the sky. Then, keep an eye on it for a few weeks. We highly recommend placing it near a window for the first month, so it gets acclimated to its new home.

If you see its stems turning yellow and its leaves becoming very easy to pull out, then that means it's getting too little sunlight, so move your Dragon Tree closer to the window.

If you start to see leaves slightly fading into a bright yellow, then that's an indication that they're getting too much direct sunlight so move them a little deeper into the room/away from the window.

If their leaves stay dark green and your variegated pattern remains the same, then you've found a happy spot — nice!

And remember, like all our plants, avoid more than 4hrs of direct sunlight per day.

Pro-tip: You don’t need to worry about UAE windows, most of them are tinted, so the sunlight coming through is already filtered indirect light, not direct. If you were to keep your Dragon Tree near a non-tinted window, you would see scorch marks on its leaves within the hour.

Air Conditioning

Place your Dragon Tree as far away as possible from the direct air escaping from your AC vent. The dry air may cause its leaf-tips to brown.

Temperature

Like most houseplants, Dragon Trees are happiest between 18 °C – 27 °C.

3.0 Caring For Your Dragon Tree (Watering, Dusting, Re-potting)

How to keep your plant alive (and also show your love).

Watering

Water when the soil is completely dry

The most important care tip when it comes to Dragon Trees is to let their soil dry out completely between waterings. This could take anywhere between 2–4 weeks, depending on how much light it gets (the more light, the faster it will dry out) and how high the temperature is (the hotter it is, the faster it will dry out). An easy way to check if it's time to water is to insert your finger into the soil. If you feel even a little moisture, then it's best to wait a bit longer.

And never leave excess water in the Dragon Tree’s soil. Do not leave it “standing in water” as this can be deadly for your Dragon Tree. Instead, flush out the excess water.

Pruning

Give it a trim regularly

Regularly prune your Dragon Tree at the stems if you want to avoid it getting too tall Try to prune in autumn or spring because that’s when your Dragon Tree is at its peak :)

Dusting

Once a month, gently wipe away any dust on your plant

Wiping your Dragon Tree free of dust with a damp rag once a month will help it soak in light and breathe through the little pores on its leaves (stomata).

Re-potting

Leave it in its nursery pot

You can leave your Dragon Tree in its nursery pot for years without needing to re-pot.

But if you do want to re-pot, make sure its root system is fully developed first, i.e. able to hold the soil together.

Time to re-pot

Try to re-pot in early spring or early autumn since this is when your Dragon Tree is at its peak and not stressed out by the extreme weather.

When re-potting, use a high-quality potting mix and transfer your Dragon Tree into a pot that's about 1–2 inches in diameter larger than its current one (or one or two sizes up). Dragon Trees are highly susceptible to overwatering; so the right mix must have a high percentage of aggregate materials (such as perlite and pine bark) that will provide adequate drainage and prevent the soil from absorbing too much moisture and holding it for too long.

Whatever you do, avoid a bag of pure peat moss. This is what you’ll get in most bags that say “potting soil” or “gardening soil”. When in doubt, reach out to our team at hello@plntd.ae, and we’ll help you identify whether the soil bag you’re considering will work for your Dragon Tree.

Remember, always go for a pot with drainage holes.

Pro-tip: To keep watering simple and easy, you can simply re-pot your Dragon Tree into a larger nursery pot and place that nursery pot in a larger planter.

4.0 Beginner questions

Ask away, grasshopper.

Will AC harm my Dragon Tree? What temperature should I set it to?

Dragon Trees are plants native to warm, humid, climates.

ACs achieve the opposite results: they make the temperature colder, and the air dryer, and so it's not surprising that Dragon Trees are sensitive to this.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when setting your AC temperature and deciding where to place your Dragon Tree in a room:

  • The ideal temperature for Dragon Tree, as with most indoor plants, is between 18°C - 22°C at night, and 22°C - 27°C during the day. Though they can tolerate lower temperatures, you'll need to reduce your watering drastically, as the risk of overwatering increases as the temperature goes lower.
  • Whenever possible, place your Dragon Tree (this applies to all plants) as far away from the AC vent as possible.
  • To combat the drying effect of the AC, mist your Dragon Tree with water and a mister to replicate its native climate. Once a day is ideal!

Alternatively, you can also take a shallow plate/saucer, fill it with pebbles, place some water into the saucer, and place your plant on top of the pebbles, making sure the water doesn't come in contact with the drainage holes. As the water evaporates from the saucer, it will raise the humidity around the leaves quite effectively — just make sure to keep an eye on the water and replace it regularly.

How much light does my Dragon Tree need?

Like most houseplants, Dragon Trees want a lot of bright indirect sunlight. Practically, this means giving them as large of a view of the sky as possible but not more than 2-3 hours of direct sunlight a day. Here are some guidelines for UAE homes:

  • If your window is facing north, east, or west, you should place your plant as close to the window as you can, as long as it doesn't get direct sunlight.
  • If you window faces south, then place your plant deeper into the room

Like most plants, Dragon Trees want lots of bright indirect lots, they can tolerate lower light levels and can be placed into a room/corner and don't need to be sitting too close to a window.

Once you find a spot for your Dragon Tree, monitor your its leaves for a few weeks

  • If you start to see them slightly fading into a bright yellow, then that's an indication that they're getting too much direct sunlight so move them a little deeper into the room/away from the window
  • If their leaves stay dark green and your variegated pattern remains the same, then you've found a happy spot — nice!
Can I use UAE tap water to water my Dragon Tree?

Yes. Dragon Trees can be fed using UAE tap water but, like most indoor plants, they are sensitive to the chlorine and calcium found in it.

If your tap water contains too many of these minerals, then the tips of your Dragon Tree leaves will start to burn/brown, and you will white crystals on the soil.

To combat this, make sure to:

  1. Leave tap water out for 24-48 hrs before using it. This will allow the chlorine time to evaporate.
  2. When watering your Dragon Tree make sure to water through the soil until it is dripping out the bottom of the nursery pot. This flushes out any excess build-up of calcium (and other minerals) from the soil.
Will AC harm my Dragon Tree? What temperature should I set it to?

Dragon Trees are plants native to warm, humid, climates.

ACs achieve the opposite results: they make the temperature colder, and the air dryer, and so it's not surprising that Dragon Trees are sensitive to this.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when setting your AC temperature and deciding where to place your Dragon Tree in a room:

  • The ideal temperature for Dragon Tree, as with most indoor plants, is between 18°C - 22°C at night, and 22°C - 27°C during the day. Though they can tolerate lower temperatures, you'll need to reduce your watering drastically, as the risk of overwatering increases as the temperature goes lower.
  • Whenever possible, place your Dragon Tree (this applies to all plants) as far away from the AC vent as possible.
  • To combat the drying effect of the AC, mist your Dragon Tree with water and a mister to replicate its native climate. Once a day is ideal!

Alternatively, you can also take a shallow plate/saucer, fill it with pebbles, place some water into the saucer, and place your plant on top of the pebbles, making sure the water doesn't come in contact with the drainage holes. As the water evaporates from the saucer, it will raise the humidity around the leaves quite effectively — just make sure to keep an eye on the water and replace it regularly.

5.0 Some Common Problems

Don't let this list scare you — trust us, Dragon Plants are easy to care for.

All leaves turn dull or faded

Cause 1: Too much sunlight

Suggestion: Move away from window or move it to a less bright spot.

Cause 2: Nutrient deficiency 

Suggestion: Add fertilizer to give your Dragon Tree the nutrients it needs.

Black or brown roots, with odor

Cause: Root rot or damage to roots

Suggestion: Let your plant dry out completely, then re-pot.

Black or dark brown or shriveling stems

Cause: Roots were broken off while transporting the plant, or root-rot

Suggestion: Remove all black stems. Let your plant dry out completely then re-pot.

Brown/black spots on the leaf with yellow around it

Cause: Fungus or leaf spot disease

Suggestion: Remove infected leaves and let your plant dry out completely before watering again.

If that doesn’t work, then go to a store to buy a remedy for leaf-spot disease.

Lastly, aerate the room your plant is in, or move it to a new room with better circulation.

Brown leaves

Cause: Underwatering

Suggestion: Remove the brown leaves and discard. Then, water your Dragon Tree till the soil is flushed out and draining from the planter.

Brown or black spots on leaf-tip or edges

Cause 1: Too much water has caused root damage

Suggestion: Let your plant completely dry out before watering again.

Cause 2: Excess salts due to fertilizer.

Suggestion: Flush out the salts by placing your plant under running water for 5-10 minutes.

Browning leaves or leaf-tips

After snipping away the tips with a clean pair of scissors, assess what could be the cause of the browning. 

Cause 1: Physical damage

Suggestion: Move to a new spot where it won't face as much damage.

Cause 2: Low humidity or drafty environment 

Suggestion: Use a humidifier or mister once a day to increase the water levels around your plant.

Flowers

Some Dragon Trees you see online will show your flowers, so you may be looking forward to your own.

But Dragon Trees barely flower, every 6-8 yrs, for example. And when they do, those flowers suck nutrients away from the rest of the plant.

Our advice: Cut off the flower as soon as you spot it unless you know you’ve been taking care of the plant like a pro, in which case it’s up to you.

But if you know you and your Dragon Tree are having problems, then the flower will suck up remaining the nutrients and kill your plant.

Note: Flowers can cause migraines for some people and so it's better to remove them anyway.

Some or newer leaves turn pale/faded

Cause: Pest problem, probably  due to low humidity

Suggestion 1: Blast your plant with a water hose once a day for 2 weeks to get rid of pests.

Suggestion 2: Use pesticide that is specific for mites, as they are the most likely culprit

Yellow/brown burnt leaf tips

Cause: Too many impurities raising the pH level, such as chlorine from tap water.

Suggestion: To combat this, we recommend snipping off the tips with a clean pair of scissors first. Next, leave your tap water out for 24–48 hours before watering to give the minerals time to evaporate. You can also use bottled water, distilled water, or rainwater instead.

Yellow, soft, translucent leaves

Cause: Overwatering 

Suggestion: Allow soil time to dry out completely (sometimes this can take 2-4 weeks), then slowly re-water.

Yellow stems, leaves pull out easily

Cause: Not enough light

Suggestion: Move your plant to a place with more sunlight, such as a brighter spot nearer to a window, but not outdoors or under direct sunlight.

Yellow, stiff leaves

Cause: Underwatering

Suggestion: Maintain the same amount of water but increase how often you're watering.

Wilting leaves

Cause: Root rot or damage to roots

Suggestion: Let your plant dry out completely, then re-pot.

6.0 Buying Dragon Trees Online

When shopping for a plant online, look out for the following:

Height

If you're looking for a table-top plant, then go for one that's 40cm tall. A 60cm tall plant would work well on a low side-table. Plants about 1 meter or taller would work well as statement floor plants.

Note: Stated heights will always include the height of the plant AND planter.

Pot style

This is all about the vibe you're looking for, and you'll typically have a choice amongst different colors and shapes.

If you're looking for subtlety, we suggest a circular pot in white. To make more of a statement, look for contrasting shapes and colors!

Delivery

It goes without saying that your plant supplier should meticulously package all plants.

When you personally buy a plant from a store, you're able to rush it home, ensuring it stays outside for as little time as possible. But when you order online, your plant will ride-share with a lot of other plants all on their way to their new homes.

Depending on where you live, weather can play a big part in your plant's health along the way.

If possible, ask your plant shop what precautions they take to ensure your plants stay as safe as possible en route to you.

Reviews

Reading customer reviews is a good way to get an idea of the customer experience provided by the seller (here's ours, by the way), but you need to practice caution there.

Don't expect to be able to tell a fake review right away, some reviewers can be great con artists, and some negative reviews can be fake to harm the seller.

Your best bet is to zoom out and look at multiple comments from multiple categories to get a good overview of whether you can trust this company and/or their review section.

For example, look at how recent the reviews are, and how spread apart. Was there a sudden spike of comments in a short amount of time? Do they sound like they're all written by someone rehashing the same template? Do they all sound too positive to be real?

Yes, going all detective on reviews can be a chore, but Future You will thank you for it.

Returns and refund policies

Things can go wrong.

Sometimes it's no one's fault, and sometimes there's nothing anyone can do.

So the best practice is to offer (and honor) a no-questions asked return/refund policy. Check out the seller's policy before you make a purchase, so you know you're insured in case things don't work out.

You can check out our return/refund policy here.

Ready to adopt a Dragon Tree?

Your Dragon Tree can't wait to meet you — just choose a height and pot and let's introduce you two!