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Caring For Dracaena Marginata; Dragon Tree

Updated on August 13, 2012
10", 3' Marginata
10", 3' Marginata | Source

Dracaena Marginata

The Marginata is a popular interior plant offering some intrigue with it's shape and alternating red, white, and green leaves. Marginata is also among the more economic choices when it comes to houseplants and is fairly easy to come by.

The Marginata is part of the Dracaena family and are obviously similar by way of their cane structure that presents a cluster of alternating strappy leaves at the end. Although similar a Marge is a bit less tolerant to varietion in watering and light conditions than it's familial counterparts such as the Lisa, and Mass Cane.

There are few things to know about care in order to enjoy a happy healthy Marginata.

Native Habitat of Dracaena Marginata Madagascar

Dracaena Marginata

Where Does a Dracaena Marginata Like To Live?

One of the first things to consider with a Marge is where it is going to live, Marginatas are much less tolerant of low light conditions and high light conditions than some of the other cane type Dracaenas, ideally moderate lighting is best. They have proven to survive well in artificial lighting conditions making them a great choice for office spaces lit with fluorescents.

In low light a Marginata tends to struggle and can easily rot as it will use water very, very slowly in such a situation. An early sign that a Marginata is not getting enough light is significant loss of healthy leaves. Some leaf loss is normal especially for a new plant adjusting to its environment, but if handfuls of leaves are coming off that have not changed in color or are a mosaic yellow you may want to consider moving your Marge to a spot with more Light.

High light conditions can work for Marginatas but they have an extraordinary tendency to be attacked by Spider Mite. Spider Mite thrive in hot dry conditions and a Marginata placed in such an environment will be almost guaranteed to erupt in a Mite infestation. Notably Spider Mite is also extremely common on a Marginata placed near a heat vent, it is well advised to avoid heating vents and windows or doors that open to the outside in order to avoid contracting mites.

Like most plants a Marge will manifest under watering by solid yellow or brown leaf loss. In extreme cases a the stalk of a Marge will become wrinkly as well. Over watering will manifest itself in brown leaf tips, and extreme cases of both over watering and lack of light the stalks may become sponge like and rotten.

Mealy bug is another pest that is commonly found on Marginatas. Like most Dracaena it usually gets its strong hold in the new leaf crown. The "leaf crown" if the new leaves that are tightly packed and sprouting out the center of each leaf tuft. The crown can be cut out if an out break of mealy bug arises. The best defense for any pest on a houseplant is to keep your houseplant in optimum health, this will make your plant much less vulnerable to attack and lessen the effects of an outbreak if one is to occur.

What Going On Under The Soil? Dracaena Marginata Potting & Root Structure.

Marginatas like the other cane Dracenas usually have multiple stalks in a pot. Margie plants that are 10" diameter or larger are usually tapered in height by stalk. The roots of these stalks are also tapered in their pots below the surface mirroring their depth above the pot, so the shortest stalk will have the most shallow roots in the pot, and the tallest stalk will have the deepest roots in the pot, and the rest staggered in a like fashion at different heights in between.

Given this understanding of the position of the roots it's a little easier to troubleshoot problems that may arise with the Marge.

If you are commonly finding that the shortest stalk is dying off from what appears to be under watering but the tall stalk is fine, the plant has most likely been watered deep but infrequently enough that the topsoil over dries while there is plenty to get keep the more deeply rooted stalk supplied with water.

If you are commonly finding that the tall stalk is "tipping" (getting lots of leaves with brown tips) more so than the other stalks your plant has most likely been receiving too much water too frequently so the deep roots have not been given a chance to dry out adequately.

There are numerous scenarios aside from these two examples but having a good understanding of the common symptoms of over or under watering and the root system of your Marginata give you a good advantage in troubleshooting any issues that may arise.


Dracaena Marginata: Other Items of Note

The Marginata if well kept will continue to grow its stalk out longer and longer. Many people are unaware that you can prune back the head of a Marginata, it is best to do this before it becomes leggy and spindly. When you cut back a marge it will often re sprout two or more heads off the tip of the one that you have cut back helping to preserve a nice full appearance, and helps to avoid the Dr. Sues plant look.

Regular rotation of a Marginata is necessary. A Marginata will grow noticeably toward its light source and become imbalanced if left in one spot, rotating helps to keep the plant growing in a balanced and esthetically pleasing way.

Wiping a Margie's leaves down with Baby wipes, or any damp cloth from time to time keeps the Margie clean and can eradicate any small colonies of Spider mite or Mealy bug that may be beginning to crop up. Regular cleaning of most all houseplants is always a good idea.

Enjoy your Margie, for whom I know you have selected the perfect home.


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