The Dracaena genus comprises tropical evergreen trees and shrubs that are characterized by broad leaves. There are also other cultivars from an entirely different genus and are commonly referred to as dracaenas. Nevertheless, whatever genera your Dracaena plant belongs to, all dracaena species are usually characterized by grass-or spear-shaped leaves that extend off one or more thick cane-like stems.
There are also different types of Dracaena species that grow from rhizome-like roots and are commonly used as houseplants across the globe. In their native tropical surroundings, some dracaena plants can grow to maximum heights of 20 feet or more, but when grown as indoor houseplants, they are grown under heights of 8 feet. When dracaena plants are grown outdoors, they usually produce yellowish-white flowers with berries. In this guide, we will show you how to properly grow and care for your Dracaena Deremensis plant.
History of The Dracaena Deremensis plant
The Dracaena genus is part of the Asparagaceae family that includes about 120 species, varying in size from tiny houseplants to larger trees and shrubs. There are some sources that claim that there are approximately 40 named species in the Dracaena genus. The reason behind this difference in range is partially due to the fact that there is an ongoing debate on what varieties should be classified as part of the Dracaena genus. There has also been some confusion between the Cordyline and Dracaena plants since both of them are native to the tropics, in some parts of southern Asia, Africa, and northern Australia. However, the difference between the two species can be spotted in their roots, such that the Dracaena plants have orange roots while Cordylines have white roots.
The Dracaena Deremensis plant can be found in a wide array of colors, shapes, and sizes. In the 1700s, this plant was associated with the ancient Greek Drakaina, a mythical female spirit dragon with human-like features. Some of the Dracaena species contain a red pigment in their stems dubbed “dragon’s blood,” which has been used for decades to make medicine, dye, and incense. Since the 17th century, the plant has also been used to make varnish for several string instruments, including violins. The Dracaena plant began to appear in Europe in the mid-1800s, and by the end of the century, it had grown to become a relatively common houseplant.
What are the Main Types of Dracaena species?
According to The Spruce, there are about 120 species of Dracaena shrubs and trees. These plant species can grow to maximum heights of more than 20 feet, which can be easily maintained by trimming the top part of the plant. Out of the 120 species in the Dracaena genus, only a small number are commonly sold as houseplants. Below are some of the Dracaena species that are normally sold as houseplants:
- Dracaena sanderiana- Also known as lucky bamboo and is often characterized by beautiful curly stems when grown in the right conditions. This plant is usually grown only a few inches tall and is easy to maintain.
- Cordyline australis- Also known as cabbage palm and is characterized by thin grass-like colorful leaves with a fountain-like appearance. Only immature plants are commonly used as houseplants.
- Dracaena fragrans- Also known as a corn plant and is characterized by strap-like leaves that emerge in a fountain-like cluster from a thick woody stem. This plant can grow to maximum heights of 6 feet when grown as a potted plant. When grown outdoors, it can grow as much as 20 feet.
- Cordyline fruticose- Also known as ti plant, cabbage tree, or ti-tree. It is a palm-like plant with thicker strappy leaves that appear in a fountain-like arrangement emerging from thin woody stems.
- Dracaena marginata- Also known as the dragon tree and is characterized by grass-like leaves that emerge from multiple thick stems.
- Dracaena deremensis- This is a widely cultivated species with a wide variety of excellent named varieties. When grown indoors, they can reach heights of 10 feet and more than 20 feet when grown outdoors.
Dracaena Deremensis Care
According to Masterclass, the Dracaena Deremensis species are commonly grown as a houseplant and are generally quite easy to grow. The following are some of the suitable growing conditions for your Dracaena Deremensis plant;
The Dracaena Deremensis plant grows best in bright, filtered, or indirect sunlight, but it can still survive in areas with short periods of direct light. There are some Dracaena species, such as the D. fassangeana and D. fragrans, that can grow in low light. Exposure to direct sunlight can damage the leaves of your Dracaena Deremensis plant.
Most Dracaena species, especially those grown indoors, prefer any peat-based commercial potting mix, which is slightly acidic. If grown outdoors in tropical regions, they do well in rich, well-drained soils. The potting soil should also be rich in nutrients and allows adequate moisture to reach the plant’s roots for a few days. Although most pre-mixed soils can still work, make sure the soil is rich in organic matter by containing increased quantities of shredded leaves, coco-coir, or peat moss. If your soil drains at a high rate, it would be best if you considered repotting your Dracaena cultivar into a compost-rich soil mixture with reduced drainage materials.
The Dracaena Deremensis plant should be kept consistently moist, especially during the growing season, which is from spring to fall. Water your Dracaena plant thoroughly every week during the active growing season and allow excess water to drain through the pot into a basin or tray underneath. During the dormant winter season, the rate of watering should be moderated to once every two weeks.
While most Dracaena species are known for not requiring plenty of water, they do need a thorough soaking when the soil becomes dry to prevent the risk of fungus, root rot, and stunted growth. According to Planterina, all Dracaena plants grown in six-inch pots should be watered when the soil becomes dry four inches from the top. It is also recommended that you water with rainwater, distilled water, or filtered water, as Dracaenas do not like minerals or salts.
Temperature and Humidity
Most Dracaena varieties grow best in temperatures that range from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Sudden drops in temperatures or temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can damage the plant’s leaves. That said, keep your Deremensis plants away from drafty windows and doors during the colder months.
These tropical plants benefit from a fairly high humidity level during summer, which can prove to be a problem for indoor plants during the dry winter season. Using a room humidifier, misting, or growing in heated, forced-air environments may be necessary for dry-air conditions. Brittle and brown leaf tips can be an indication that your Dracaena plant is suffering from a lack of sufficient humidity. You can help increase your plant’s humidity levels by placing them in a pebble tray with water.
Dracaena deremensis plants grow best with a monthly application of a water-soluble fertilizer that is well formulated for houseplants during summer and spring. Feeding of fertilizer should be halted in fall and winter when the plant usually becomes dormant. It is not necessary to fertilize your Dracaena plant, but they significantly benefit from you applying fertilizer at least once a month during the growing season. It would be best if you considered top-dressing the plant at the start of the growing season with rich, organic compost into the top few inches of the soil.
While pruning your Dracaena Deremensis plant is not very essential, it works best in controlling their height and shape when grown indoors. Pruning is often done during the active growing periods of summer and spring. Pruning your Dracaena plant entails the removal of yellow and dead leaves to ensure your plant remains neat and tidy. Prune bare or thin stemmed Dracaena Deremensis plants during the growing period by trimming the top crown of leaves along the woody stems. The cut crown of leaves can be used to propagate a new Dracaena Deremensis plant.
Propagating Dracaena Deremensis plant
According to Proflowers, all Dracaena plants, including the Deremensis species, are relatively easy to propagate from stem cuttings, which is usually done in spring as the plant is beginning to become active. The Dracaena Deremensis can also be propagated in three ways such as; by using the top crown of leaves, from stem cuttings, or by air layering as explained below;
Propagating by Air layering
- On the stem of your Dracaena plant, make a notch and coat it with a rooting hormone.
- Enclose the notched area with wet moss and cover it with a clear plastic wrap or polythene film.
- Keep the area moist and allow some time for the roots to grow in the notched area.
- Once the roots have fully developed, remove the polythene film or plastic wrap.
- Carefully pot the rooted cutting, and within a few weeks, new shoots will emerge from the cut stem of the parent Dracaena Deremensis plant.
Propagating from the top crown of leaves
- Carefully trim the top crown of leaves from your Dracaena Deremensis plant leaving about 3-inches of the stem.
- Fix a rooting hormone on the lower cut end of the stem of your Deremensis plant.
- Insert the crown of leaves into a moist, well-drained rooting soil.
- Place this setup in a warm, shaded area and keep the rooting soil constantly moist until roots start to protrude. Rooting usually occurs between 3-6 weeks.
- Once you spot a new root growth, you can now transplant your plant to its pot.
Prop from stem cuttings
- Cut a long stem cutting of length 2-3 inches from your Deremensis plant. Make sure that each of the stem cuttings has some leaf nodes since this is where your new Dracaena plant will grow from.
- Fix the lower cut-end of the cut stem cuttings in a rooting hormone powder.
- Fill your rooting container with free-draining rooting soil and lightly moisten the rooting soil mix
- With a pencil or a similar object, make a hole in the moist rooting soil mix. You should make sure the hole is slightly wider than the diameter of the stem cutting.
- Carefully insert your Dracaena stem cutting in the hole in the now moist rooting mix.
- Cover the container with a clear polythene sheet and place it in a warm and shaded area
- Keep the soil moist until a new Dracaena Deremensis plant emerges. You can also suspend the cutting in a container of water and allow it to develop a good and strong network of roots.
Potting Dracaena Deremensis plant
The Dracaena Deremensis plant grows best in any commercial peat-based potting mix in a large pot that is well-drained. According to Houseplants Guide, repot your Deremensis plant at the start of the growing season since the roots start to grow through the drainage holes as this plant prefers to be slightly root-bound. It is often advisable to use a pot that is slightly larger and has plenty of drainage holes to make sure your Dracaena plants avoid getting waterlogged. It is also recommended that you place a tray or saucer beneath the pot; this will help fully drench the plant with each watering. The best soil for your Deremensis plant should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent the risk of root rot.
Can Dracaena be grown as a landscape plant?
Yes, dracaenas can be grown as permanent landscape plants in tropical areas. They may also be used as screening plants in these climates (zones 10 to 12).
How long does a dracaena plant live?
Dracaena plants are slow-growing tropical plants, which is one of the main reasons why they are preferred as houseplants. However, its individual leaves tend to die within 2-3 years, thus, requiring the plant to continuously renew itself.
Do dracaena plants really help clean indoor air?
According to Gardeningetc, Dracaenas are fairly efficient at cleaning the air in small and sealed spaces. The Deremensis plant is one of the several houseplants that provide an effective anti-pollution strategy.
Common pests attacking Dracaena deremensis
Common pests attacking the plant are; Spider Mites, Mealy Bugs, and Scale Insects. It is often advisable that you isolate the affected Dracaena plants to prevent the spread to other healthy plants.