Dracaenas are small, shrub-like plants, with slender stems and flexible strap-shaped leaves. They grow as understorey plants in rainforests.
The genus dracaena comprises of about 40 species!
An interesting fact about dracaena is that it possesses a secondary thickening meristem ( the tissue which helps the plant to grow). This meristem allows the dracaena to grow wide, thick and succulent roots.
There are many species of Dracaena which are kept as houseplants due to their tolerance of low light and sparse watering.
Commonly grown dracaena
The most common species of dracaena is the song of India also called Dracaena reflexa. It is one of the most visually striking houseplants due to its leaves.
The next common dracaena is dracaena marginata. They are also called as red-edged dracaena. They can grow up to 8-15 feet high and three to eight feet wide with proper care. They have beautiful purplish-red leaves.
Dracaena fragrans massangeana are another popular dracaenas grown as houseplants. It is also called as a corn plant. They are the least expensive of all dracaena species. They are characterized by the thick woody stem and long strap-like leaves.
Benefits of Indoor Dracaena Plant
Below are some benefits of keeping the dracaena plant in your houses or offices.
Dracaena is quite popular as an ornamental houseplant, grown both indoors and outdoors in subtropical climates. It grows into a bushy tree type look. Indoors, it reaches a height of about three feet.
Its glossy leaves add a tasteful touch to its aesthetic appeal. They grow up to one foot long and a few inches wide.
All varieties look amazing indoors
Clean the air inside your house/office
According to NASA clean air study, there are three varieties of dracaena which are very effective in removing harmful pollutants from indoor air.
The three species being dracaena marginata, dracaena fragrans and dracaena deremensis.
The pollutants they are effective against are benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Dracaena fragrans is quite effective in removing xylene and toluene as well.
Dracaena, like all plants, help improve air quality. They absorb our respiratory waste ( carbon dioxide) and exhale fresh oxygen. Wiping both the upper surface and underside of the leaves with a damp cloth allows the plant to exchange the air freely.
All these pollutants are linked with several health issues like headaches, respiratory problems, anemia, marrow disease, kidney disease, etc.
The recommended number of plants to improve air quality is one in every 129 square feet.
Controls the Humidity
Dracaena, like all plants, gives out moisture as a byproduct of respiration and photosynthesis. Plants are known to release about 97% of the water they take in.
Place a lot of dracaena in your homes to effectively increase humidity. This will help in respiratory problems and decrease incidences of cold, cough, sore throat.
Plants are known to provide a lot of physiological benefits. They help focus, help in improving memory, create a peaceful, positive environment and help tackle depression and loneliness.
They provide a happy zone. Once you enter and feast your eyes on the greens, it will uplift your mood, give you happiness and peace. Growing a living thing and taking care of it gives a sense of accomplishment. It also provides good companionship.
According to a study, plants are an inexpensive, noninvasive and an effective medicine for surgical patients.
They are found to improve memory and increase attention span. Another study conducted at Kansas state university found that viewing plants while recovering from surgery lead to an amazing and improved physiological response. It noted lower blood pressures and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue.
How to care for the Dracaena Plant?
Dracaena is very easy to care for. It is similar to caring for succulents.
These plants are extremely popular in America, not just because they look beautiful, but also because it takes a little work to keep it alive.
How much light?
Dracaena does very well in filtered light coming through a sheer curtain. A semi-shaded spot works very well. Never place a dracaena plant in direct sun, as the rays will damage its foliage.
keep them in partial shade indoors or outdoors. You can also keep them in bright areas but away from sunlight. They can also grow in low light areas however their growth will be a bit slow.
Soil and fertilizer
They require a well-draining soil such as a peaty commercial potting soil. Use organic soil and clay pot for best results. An ideal soil for dracaena will contain loam to add nutrients, peat to lower the ph and vermiculite or perlite to improve drainage. Add some organic matter such as bark or compost for a perfect mix. The soil pH should be slightly acidic. Soil pH outside of this range will interfere with nutrient uptake and cause leaf damage. Add limestone or wood ash to raise the pH. To lower the soil pH, add sulfur granules.
A general all-purpose fertilizer or an organic fertilizer about three times in the growing season works well. It is not a heavy feeder. Alternatively, look for a water-soluble fertilizer with a nitrogen phosphorus potassium ratio of 3:1:2. Apply every four weeks in spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing.
The plants don’t need fertilizing in fall and winter. The plant also needs time to adjust to a new location if shifted. Wait for a month and then fertilize your recently bought plant.
How much water?
Dracaena requires less water than most plants. Overwatering can cause root rot. The soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings. Once the soil feels dry to touch, water the plants thoroughly until water freely flows from the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. If you keep a saucer or plate under the pot, make sure to drain the saucer so the plant does not remain standing in water for long.
Usually watering is done once a week ( that’s the rough time after which the soil goes dry) depending on the size of dracaena and its location. Cut back on the water in fall and winter.
Dracaena is sensitive to fluoride. Use filtered water if fluoride is found in water. fluoride does not evaporate even when the water is kept open. A sign of fluoride toxicity is leaves with dead or dark brown areas with yellow edges.
Dracena prefers high humidity of its natural rainforest habitat. Improve the humidity with a commercial humidifier in the room or place a pebble tray with water under or near the plant. (make sure the water level is below the edge of the plant so the plant does not suck a lot of water).
Being a hardy plant, it does fine in natural room humidity as well although high humidity is preferred by it.
Cold drafts and temperatures below 55 degrees will harm the plant.
While pruning is not necessary for dracaena, it is a fun way of giving you control over the shape of the plant. You can trim the leaves and stems to keep the plant shorter and bushier.
It is better to prune them in spring once they come out of their dormant period. Dracaena comes out of its rest mode and gets ready to go into the growing period during that phase. Pruning them at this stage keeps them healthy and gives them shape.
Pruning also helps to encourage new, healthy growth. Alternatively, you can also prune them after their growth period is over and before their resting phase starts. Pruning them at this stage will also help the plant conserve nutrients and energy for winter. Use gardening scissors, sharp knife or garden shears to give it a beautiful trim.
Care should be taken to keep this plant away from pets as its toxic to cats and dogs when ingested. Symptoms according to ASPCA include vomiting (occasionally with blood), dilated pupils, excessive salivation, depression and lack of appetite.
Dracaena is fairly easy to grow as they are usually free from serious insect or disease problems. Keep an eye, however, for mealybugs, spider mites, and scales. Use insecticides containing pyrethrin for effectively for killing them. Another way is to spray the foliage with soapy water. Give your plants an occasional shower.
I hope by now you know how easy it is to grow dracaena, you are ready to grow it in your homes. Indoors or outdoors, make sure to keep it in the semi-shaded area for a thriving beautiful plant. Enjoy your dracaena!
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