Dracaena owes its popularity, obviously, to its resemblance to palm trees, to which the inhabitants of regions with a cold climate have developed a special, warm in every sense attitude. Dracaena looks spectacular as an element of interior design in various directions from minimalism and hi-tech to exotic romanticism. Caring for it is easy, thanks to which it can be grown not only at home but also in office premises, in which not all exotics are ready to grow. Dracaena is often called the dragon tree or even the dragon’s tail, although it is completely unknown what relation it has to these mythical creatures.
General description with photo
Dracaena is a species of evergreens of the family of the same name. Outwardly, it looks like a slender tree with a tree trunk uniform in thickness along its entire length. It can be either single or have rare branches. Leaves are lanceolate, long, may have longitudinal venation. They live for about 2 years, after which they die off, due to which the crown, like that of palms, gradually shifts upward, and the trunk lengthens. The roots of the plant are straight, smooth, with a characteristic yellow-orange hue. Despite all the external similarities, dracaena has no biological relationship to palms.
At home, the culture does not bloom, at least such cases are extremely rare. The flowers of this indoor plant are white-greenish, inconspicuous, and besides this, they also emit a pungent unpleasant odor. The exception is fragrant dracaena, blooming with pleasantly smelling whitish flowers. Its inflorescences have the shape of a loose panicle, after which one single drupe fruit is formed.
The plant with which this culture is often confused is cordilina.
The difference is easier to find in the root system, since the cordilina is white, not orange. The leaves are distinguished by a noticeably protruding central vein, which is never the case with dracaena.
Types with photos
Dracaena species diversity is very great. The genus is represented by shrubs, semi-shrubs, and tree-like forms. Foliage can be either monochrome green or variegated. In nature, there are real giants and dwarf representatives. But only a few varieties are grown at home, the most popular of which will be discussed below.
Perhaps the most unpretentious species, requiring a minimum of attention and care. It has a tree-like trunk and narrowed pointed green leaves with a purple-red border. In the wild, it can reach 5 m in height; as a houseplant, it has a more modest size.
The only fragrant blooming and the largest of its kind. It can grow up to 6-meter outgrowths. Even at home, reaching a height of 2 m is not uncommon for him. Has decorative wavy, relatively wide leaves. During flowering, it exudes the aroma of a freshly mown meadow.
It is very often offered by nurseries in the form of a compact neat tree. Leaves are variegated, bright green with longitudinal beige-yellow stripes.
The characteristic difference of the variety is the leaves, drooping down, which is why, as you can see in the photo, it looks a little curly. This is the most difficult and capricious “dragon tree” to care for, so it is much less often grown as a houseplant and does not live at home for a long time. Moreover, it survives very well in humid greenhouse conditions.
It is a semi-shrub that stands out among other varieties for its unusual appearance and color. Leaves are unusually wide, oval, speckled with white-cream patches. One of the most undemanding species for cultivation.
For beginners and those who are going to grow dracaena in an ordinary apartment and do not put much effort in growing it, it is worth opting for the bordered variety or Godsef dracaena.
How to care for dracaena
Below will be given tips on agricultural techniques for the unpretentious varieties listed above, since some species of this crop require special conditions of maintenance and care and are a topic for a separate conversation.
The indoor flower is undemanding to the temperature of the content and easily tolerates ordinary indoor conditions. But he does not react well to sudden and sharp temperature changes. A cooler content in winter will benefit dracaena, at this time it will feel great within + 13 … + 16C. What is highly discouraged to do is to put a flower pot near the radiators. At any time of the year, a temperature change that can be fatal for a flower can be a short-term jump of 10C in any direction. It is advisable to protect the plant from constant drafts, not placing it where a window opens for winter ventilation or an air conditioner works in summer.
The plant belongs to shade-tolerant crops, however, variegated varieties are an exception in this series. If they lack light, their color can fade and lose their bright decorative effect. But you should not put this flower on a windowsill in the open sun (and the size of adult specimens usually no longer allows this to be done). Dracaena leaves fade easily, especially the bordered variety is susceptible to this. In winter, it is better to move the pot with the plant closer to the window. It can completely replace daylight sunlight and artificial lighting.
Depends on the season. During the summer period, the soil in the pot should always remain permanently moist. In winter, the plant should be watered less often, especially in cool conditions, but the earthen coma should not be allowed to completely dry out. The water should not be cold or poured directly from the tap, it needs to settle and take the temperature of the room. There are differences in moisture requirements for different varieties of dracaena. More than others, the type of Sander loves water, the soil in this case should always be well moistened. The opposite is Dracaena Marginat, which reacts extremely negatively to excess moisture and may even die from this.
The plant is very fond of spraying, reacts to them with freshness and high tone of foliage. In the summer, you can do this every day and even several times. In too dry rooms, foliage may begin to turn yellow, starting at the tips. This culture feels great near large aquariums; trays with water or damp material can replace them.
Care should be taken with fertilization. Dracaena has an increased sensitivity to the element fluorine, the excess of which strongly inhibits the plant, leads to the appearance of necrotic spots and drying out of the foliage. Top dressing time is April-November. The optimal frequency is 2 times a month. In retail outlets, there is usually no shortage of offers of mineral complexes designed specifically for this culture.
The plant does not make high demands on the soil mixture, the soil can be quite heavy, leafy soil, sand and well-rotted manure can be added to it (taking into account placement in a residential building). The root system has a superficial location, therefore, it is advisable to equip high-quality drainage in the lower part of the pot.
The first transplant will take place approximately 2 weeks after the purchase. The cut does not need to do this in order to allow the plant to acclimate and adapt to the new conditions of detention. Transfer to a permanent container should be carried out by transshipment, after which the remaining free space in the container is filled with a new earth mixture. In the future, young specimens need to be transplanted every spring, and adults – as the container is filled with roots, on average this period takes 3 years.
How to propagate dracaena at home?
First of all, you need to know that this is not necessary at all to increase the number of plants, but to preserve decorativeness, since over the years the trunk is pulled out, the rosette rises up, and it does not look very beautiful. With all the resemblance to a palm tree, its leaves, dying off, fall off completely, and the remaining petioles cannot give a special characteristic decorative effect to the trunk. The dracaena has a thin and bare trunk, so the plant needs updating. Reproduction of dracaena at home is available in two vegetative options.
You need to cut off the top in compliance with certain rules. The optimal size of the apical petiole is 10-15 cm. It does not matter whether it is cut straight or obliquely, but the cut must be even and smooth, so a sharp instrument must be used. After that, the tip can be put in the air for a short time to dry the cut, but this is not necessary.
For rooting, you can use a container of water or a substrate. In its capacity, you can use perlite, sand, hydrogel, or you can buy a ready-made soil mixture intended for palms and succulents. The water in which the top is located should not be cold; you can put it next to a radiator or in the sun. Its transparency should be monitored. If the water becomes cloudy, and this happens about once a week, it must be replaced immediately (remember to avoid temperature differences). You can throw a tablet of pharmacy activated carbon into the water, this will help keep the water fresh longer and will have a beneficial effect on biological processes. If the cutting is rooting in the ground, it is recommended to pre-moisten it with water and dip it into a powder root stimulator.
The dracaena apical stalk is much more capricious than an independent plant. With improper care, it easily rots and dies. Waterlogging of the substrate is equally harmful (putrefactive microorganisms are activated), and its drying out (young fragile roots dry up and die). The desired temperature range is + 20 … + 23C. The process can be accelerated by creating greenhouse conditions by covering the cutting with a transparent bag. It is not necessary to place the container itself in it; it is enough to cover it from above.
The leaves of the rooting tip should be nourished with weekly sprays with the addition of palm food. Until the root system is formed, they feed the plant.
If the apical part is damaged or wilted, and if you need to get more new plants, you can apply the method of planting with stem cuttings. The stem should be healthy and, if possible, not very old, retaining elasticity to the touch. Its thickness should be less than 2 cm. Using a sharp tool, it is divided into cuttings of at least 5, but not more than 20 cm. The cut line should run along the sheet scar. The soil mixture is selected in the same way as in the previous paragraph. Further, one of two rooting methods is used.
- Vertical. In this case, the substrate is made two-layer, pouring the top layer of sand about 5 cm thick. Cuttings are vertically buried into it to a depth of no more than 3 cm.This is done so that the newly formed roots do not reach the earthen layer immediately, but as they grow back.
- Horizontal. In this case, the cuttings are spread on the groove and pressed into it by about half. From above, everything is covered with a film and placed in a warm, but not hot place, providing timely moisture.
The fundamental difference between apical and stem cuttings is that in the second case, in addition to the formation of roots, new leaf rosettes are formed. In this case, the stem cutting itself is a source of nutrients and as a result dies. Young plants can be planted when there are signs that they began to feed not from an outlet or cutting, but from their own roots. It takes approximately 1.5 months. If 2 months have passed, and the root system has not formed, then a mistake was made somewhere and it hardly makes sense to wait longer for the result.
Important! It is not recommended to dig out the ground to check the abundance of young roots!