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Dracaena is a large group of popular houseplants that tolerates a wide variety of growing conditions. It is grown primarily for the upright, straplike foliage that is either green or variegated. Occasionally the plants set clusters of small, fragrant, white blossoms (but rarely indoors). The small, bushy form of young plants suits mantels, tabletops, and desks. In the right conditions, the plants eventually reach 5 to 6 feet tall, making it perfect for adding life to a corner of the living room, dining room, or solarium.
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Dracaena's narrow foliage may be completely green or may include stripes or edges of green, cream, red, and/or yellow. Leaves start as rings around the center stem and take on the appearance of bamboo as they age. (In fact, one of the most commonly grown dracaenas is marketed as Lucky Bamboo.) Use this plant outside as a colorful accent in mixed containers or seasonal displays.
Dracaena Care Must-Knows
Dracaena is extremely easy to grow indoors as long as you pay attention to a couple of details. It requires well-drained soil. Let the soil dry to the touch between waterings. Let it get completely dry out too often, though, and leaves begin to turn brown, especially at the tips. Soggy soil, on the other hand, may be fatal. Fertilize once or twice a year to keep this plant healthy, more often to promote growth. Any general-purpose houseplant fertilizer applied according to the package directions will do.
Dracaena is quite flexible about its lighting requirements—happy to live in anything from a dimly lit office building to the ledge of a brightly lit, south-facing window. Varieties sporting bright colors do best in bright light. If planted outdoors, this plant prefers part sun; full sun may burn the foliage.
When left to grow in the same pot for a long time indoors, the plant experiences problems that don't occur in a flower bed. The edges and tips of leaves may brown and die back as a reaction to a buildup of fertilizers and salts from softened water. One solution is to repot dracaena on a regular basis, replacing as much old soil as possible each time. Or make a regular habit of leaching the soil, which means flushing it with water until it runs clear from the bottom of the pot.
Keep your eyes open for spider mites, which love the hot, dry environment commonly found in household settings. You'll know your plant has unwelcome visitors if you see webbing and stippled foliage. Spider mites (which are arachnids, not insects) reproduce quickly and should be eradicated as soon as they are noticed. Periodically wetting the plant (especially the undersides of leaves) and the soil beneath it with neem oil spray helps control this pest. Prevent spider mites outdoors by rinsing dracaena regularly with water.