Madagascar Dragon Tree

The Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) is characterized by long, narrow leaves that are extremely spiked. The foliage is generally dark green with edges that are adorned with a reddish purple and can grow up to 16 inches in length. As the tree grows it will naturally lose it’s lowest leaves leaving tufts of leaves atop a bare woody cane.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

Madagascar Dragon Tree

Although species vary, this variety can grow as tall as 20 feet in height. But, when kept as a houseplant, it generally only reaches around 6 to 8 feet. The size can be controlled by cutting the tops off. The cane can be cut at any height and within weeks you will begin to see a new tuft of leaves growing at the cut area. It’s better on the plants health to cut the cane during spring or early summer.

One of the fun things about this plant is that you can control how it looks. You can either just let it grow naturally, or you can twist several stalks together. They can even be trained to grow in spirals and can easily be bent to grow in various ways. It’s sort of the alternative to a small bonsai tree!

This houseplant does best in areas where there is low or moderate lighting. Like many other varieties of Dracaena, the Dragon Tree will give you a hint when it’s not getting enough light! If you notice that the accenting colors on the leaves are fading, you need to move it to an area where it will get a little more light.

The Dragon Tree will do much better with moderate levels of water. The soil should be allowed to dry out about one third the depth of the pot between watering. While the Dragon Tree will tolerate most average home conditions, you can provide it with a little extra humidity through regular misting. Misting the tree regularly will also help prevent insect infestations.

The leaves will give you a good idea whether you are providing too little or too much water. If you have a lot of leaves that are turning yellow and falling off, you’re probably not giving the plant enough water. If the leaves are starting to turn yellow at the tips, it could be a sign of too much water.

This houseplant can tolerate a variety of temperatures, humidity levels and conditions. But, water can be it’s worst enemy. Make sure that you provide good drainage and don’t water it too much to prevent root rot. It can be planted in any good quality potting soil and fertilize it every two weeks through the spring and summer. The cane can be cut and rooted to produce new plants.

Dragon Tree Fun Facts

While many people think that the Dragon Tree is a member of the palm family, it’s actually closely related to lilies!

The name “Dracaena” comes from a Greek word meaning female dragon. The name was derived from a red gum that comes from the cut stem of the tree. When the gum is thickened, it is said that it closely resembles dragon blood. In ancient Roman and Medieval times the gum was used in alchemy and magic. Today, it is used in photo engraving and as a varnish.

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2010


  1. Anna
    Jul 18, 2010

    I have been enjoying my madagascar dragon tree, but in the past month or 2 months, the leaves have begun to droop. I’m not finding much online help. Can you give me some tips? Too much water? Too little? Sunlight? Disease? It’s still producing new foilage on top. Thanks for your thoughts! Blessings. Anna. 🙂

  2. ali
    Nov 3, 2010

    i have the leaves falling off my tree any advice on this as i cant find any help via the internet please help

  3. PlantLady
    May 8, 2011

    It’s normal for the plant to lose some leaves. But, a lot of leaf loss is usually caused by watering, either too much or not enough. When the plant isn’t getting enough water the dropping leaves are generally all yellow. Too much water will cause the leaves to start yellowing at the tip and eventually die and fall off.

  4. Mary Stanley
    Sep 13, 2012

    Can this Madascar plant be harmful to my kittens?

  5. Adam James
    Dec 15, 2012

    My cat has eaten several leaves off my plant and I was woundering if there was a possibility of them growing back because the plant was given to me by a good friend and I really hope it dosent die

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