How to Care for Madagascar Dragon Trees

Written by Gabrielle Smith

The Dracaena marginata, also known as the Madagascar Dragon Tree, is an annual tree that originates from Madagascar. The name Madagascar Dragon Tree stems from the combination of both its native Madagascar and the English translation of its plant cousin, Dracaena draco, to dragon.

This plant has thin, bright green leaves that sprout from a miniature palm tree-like trunk. This main trunk typically separates into three miniature branches that also have a palm tree-like resemblance.

The Madagascar tree care is considered a low maintenance plant, that is drought tolerant and considered extremely easy to grow. Although easy to grow, this plant is slow growing and will take about 10 years to reach its maximum height!

Botanical Name:Dracaena marginata
Common Name(s):Madagascar Dragon Tree, Sansevieria marginata
Plant TypeEvergreen tree
Place of Origin:Madagascar
Sun Exposure: Medium Light
Watering Schedule:Every 3-4 days 
Seasonality: Spring
Bloom Time: Spring
Toxicity:Unsafe for cats and dogs 

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE LIGHT REQUIREMENTS:

Your Madagascar Dragon Tree should be placed in a location where it receives medium light. Medium light is when your plant is placed in a location where it receives indirect or filtered sunlight. The ideal indoor location for your Madagascar Dragon Tree is about 7 to 10 feet away from a southern or western facing window. This location will provide indirect sunlight whilst protecting your plant from being scorched!

How to use artificial light for your Madagascar Dragon Tree
Try Fluorescent and LED Lights -  The Madagascar Dragon Tree requires light to survive! If your home does not have a lot of natural light, this can be supplemented with about 6 to 8 hours of artificial fluorescent or LED Lights per day.

The red and blue wavelengths provide the necessary light without the potential of becoming too hot and causing potential damage to your Madagascar Dragon Tree.

Ensure your Madagascar Dragon Tree is positioned about 12-24 inches below the fluorescent light to protect the leaves from becoming burnt from too high temperatures. The closer your plant is to the fluorescent or LED light, the more intense the temperature your plant will be exposed to. Depending on the climate of your home, adjust your grow light accordingly.

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE WATER REQUIREMENTS:

Water your Madagascar Dragon Tree every 3 to 4 days in its spring and summer growth season; you can reduce watering to every 12 to 14 days in the dormant months of fall and winter. When watering, ensure the soil of your Madagascar Dragon Tree remains consistently moist.

Your plant will be the healthiest when you water your plant using purified or rainwater. The Madagascar Dragon Tree can be irritated by tap water, due to the higher levels of salt and fluoride.

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS:

An ideal temperature for your Madagascar Dragon Tree is between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the Madagascar Dragon Tree prefers high temperatures, it can handle moderate to lower temperatures at night. This means that the average house temperature will be ideal. 

How cold can a Madagascar Dragon Tree tolerate? Nothing below 55 Degrees Fahrenheit! The Madagascar Dragon Tree is not resistant to long term cold temperatures. Cold temperatures will cause damage to your Madagascar Dragon Tree or death.

Rule of (Green) Thumb: When kept in an outdoor environment and exposed to higher temperatures, the Madagascar Dragon Tree can grow up to 20 feet tall. 

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE HUMIDITY REQUIREMENTS:

In addition to high temperatures the Madagascar Dragon Tree also prefers average humidity. Average humidity is between levels of 30 and 50 percent.

If your home is prone to lower humidity levels, make sure to mist your plant occasionally and position your plant around others to increase humidity levels.

If your home is prone to higher levels of humidity, make sure to set up a fan or dehumidifier near your plant, this will increase air circulation and lower the humidity levels. Both of these methods will ensure your Madagascar Dragon Tree is maintaining average humidity levels and able to thrive in it’s indoor environment.

How to higher humidity for your Madagascar Dragon Tree Plant
01. Spray plants with mist - A great way to increase humidity for your plant is by spraying with a mist of water. The best water to use is room temperature rain water because it contains minimal chemicals.

02. Add gravel or stones - Find a shallow ceramic bowl and fill with gravel or stones and stand the plant in the gravel. The gravel will encourage a damp environment that will increase humidity for your plant. Always ensure the gravel is kept moist to keep the humidity high. Be sure to not overwater your gravel because this can cause damage to your plant. 

Rule of (Green) Thumb:  Although your Madagascar Dragon Tree typically prefers average humidity, slightly higher humidity levels during the growth seasons of spring and summer will support plant growth!

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE SOIL:

The best soil type for your Madagascar Dragon Tree is a loamy soil, which is well-draining and fertile. This soil type is made up of equal parts sand, silt, and clay, and tends to be a bit higher in acidity. A good potting mix to use is all-purpose as it is a 2:1:1 ratio of soil, compost, and perlite. Your plant will get a great dose of nutrients and retain the perfect amount of moisture!

Rule of (Green) Thumb: The wrong fertilizer can cause your Madagascar Dragon Tree’s leaves to begin to turn brown. 

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE FERTILIZER:

Although considered low maintenance, the Madagascar Dragon Tree requires fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer growth seasons. During winter, only fertilize this plant once in the middle of the season. The best fertilizer to use for the Madagascar Dragon Tree is a liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

1-2-1 Liquid Fertilizer and your Madagascar Dragon Tree:
A 01-02-01 fertilizer is a ratio of 1:2:1 of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Due to the strength of the liquid fertilizer, it is important to dilute before applying to your plant. In order to dilute the fertilizer, with every tablespoon add 1 gallon of water, and mix. During the colder months of winter your Madagascar Dragon Tree is dormant and therefore only needs to be fertilized once in the middle of the season. 

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE REPOTTING:

The Madagascar Dragon Tree growth rate is relatively slow. When indoors, the Madagascar Dragon Tree grows between 1 and 2 feet every year. It is recommended that you repot this plant once every 2 years or once its pot is looking a little tight! 

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE PROPAGATION:

Have you fallen in love with your Madagascar Dragon Tree and want more? You're in luck! 

Propagation is the process of multiplying plants and can be split into two different categories. There is sexual propagation that is through seeds and planting seedlings and then there is asexual propagation which is through taking cuttings of your plant to place in soil or water to grow as it’s own plant.

Madagascar Dragon Tree Cutting and Water:
Many plant lovers choose to use the water method of propagation. The best time of year to start this propagation is during the warmer months of spring. Through the water method you are able to watch the roots develop and see your cuttings grow in real time. Similar to the cutting and soil method, ensure you cut about 20 to 30 cm of your Madagascar Dragon Tree. Once you have your cutting, place it in a pot of freshwater and under indirect light. It is essential that you change your water every few days in order to preserve oxygen levels.

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE DISEASES & PESTS:

Although sometimes considered an easy plant to take care of, the Madagascar Dragon Tree can still be affected by pests and diseases!  

01. Root Rot and Soft Rot- Madagascar Dragon Tree brown tips is one major sign that root and soft rot may be affecting your plant. Root rot is primarily caused by overwatering and not allowing your plant to properly drain.

Yellow leaves with reddish spots at the base of the plant is a sign of soft and root rot. Another sign of root rot is mushy roots and moldy soil.

In order to check for mushy roots, take your plant out of its pot and check the roots themselves! Healthy roots have a white appearance. If the roots appear a black or brown color and a slimy texture then they are definitely suffering from root rot!

Treating Soft and Root Rot by Repotting:
If your Madagascar Dragon Tree is suffering from root rot the best way to treat your plant is through repotting. Soak the Madagascar Dragon Tree in water for a few hours to loosen up the soil around the plant to ensure it is easy for your plant to be removed from its pot. Once you have carefully removed your plant from the pot, examine the roots and cut the roots off about 1 inch above the damaged areas.

Treating Soft and Root Rot Through Fungicide:
If your plant appears to be developing root rot one way to stop the fungus from spreading is by applying fungicide. Choosing a fungicide that focuses on fungal diseases will have the best chance of stopping the pathogens from spreading.

02. Scale, Mealybugs and Thrips - Scale, mealybugs, and thrips are common pests that can cause growth and health issues for your Madagascar Dragon Tree. These pests typically begin their infestation at the base of the plant’s leaves and feed on the fluids inside the leaves. The best way to protect your plant from these pests is by regularly removing all dead leaves from the pot and removing dust from leaves using a damp cloth or a direct spray of water to wash them off your plant. 

MADAGASCAR DRAGON TREE TOXICITY:

Unfortunately, the Madagascar Dragon Tree is toxic to both cats and dogs. If consumed, all parts of the Madagascar Dragon Tree are toxic to your pets and can cause digestive issues or even death. If you do not want to depart with your Madagascar Dragon Tree, be sure to place it in an area where it is not easily reached. 

Download the Flora App for more tips and tricks on how to take care of your Madagascar Dragon Tree! 

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