Houseplants in the Dracaena genus, like the endlessly popular Dracaena marginata, Dracaena ‘lemon-lime’ and ‘lucky bamboo’ are appreciated by houseplant lovers for their non-fussy nature and decorative looks. But did you know these plants aren’t just easy to care for? Propagating Dracaena is also super easy!
Is your Dracaena is getting leggy? Do you want to gift a piece to a friend or family member so they can grow a new plant? Keep reading for everything you need to know about Dracaena propagation!
Beheading | Propagating Dracaena from top cuttings
One of the easiest ways to achieve successful Dracaena propagation involves simply cutting off the top.
- Snip it just below the leaf line and be sure to include at least one node: roots grow from these round, white bumps on the stem.
- Then, either plant your cutting in some soil or place it in a nice vase filled with fresh water. I prefer the latter method, as it allows me to see how the cutting is doing and whether it has rooted yet.
- Place the container in a warmish spot and wait! This is a bit of a hobby for the patient.
- Roots and new growth should appear pretty quickly during the warm Summer months, while things can take a little longer during Wintertime.
- If you’re water-propagating, try moving the cutting to soil once the roots are about 1 inch/2.5 cm. Or don’t; the plant won’t mind and fresh green leaves look great in a pretty vase. I especially like the look of multiple thin-necked vases such as these filled with plant cuttings.
- If you’re worried removing the top of your Dracaena will result in a sad, headless plant, don’t worry. One or multiple nodes close to the top of the original should start sprouting new leaves soon. It will be back to looking its best in no time.
Propagating Dracaena from stem cuttings
If getting just one new plant isn’t enough for you, don’t worry. Propagating Dracaena to turn one plant into as many as you like is possible using the stem cutting method!
This is also the method many nurseries use to easily create more plants. Here’s how you do it:
- As with the top cutting method. you snip off the top of the plant and propagate that as you usually would. However, you also remove as many stem sections as you like (all should be at least around 8 inches/20cm and contain a few nodes). Be sure to leave a good section of the original plant so that can grow back as well.
- Place all your stem sections in water or soil and be patient, as it will take a little longer before these turn into proper plants.
- Roots should start appearing at the bottom nodes, while any nodes at the top will start swelling and producing new leaf shoots.
Voila! New plants.
Propagating Dracaena by air layering
Dracaena houseplants are great candidates for a propagation method called air layering. This basically involves taking a cutting, but before you do so, you trick the plant into developing a root system on the stem in question. A great way to avoid having to be nervous about whether your cutting will take or not!
Propagating Dracaena through air layering is super easy and all you need is a knife, some plastic wrap and some sphagnum moss (which you can buy as ‘orchid moss‘). Some rooting hormone also comes in handy.
- Select a spot on the stem that corresponds with the length you want your new plant to be.
- Sterilize your knife with some alcohol and carefully scrape away a layer of bark on the plant’s stem. The exposed band can be about half an inch (1.2 cm) wide and go around the whole stem. You basically want to create a wound.
- If you have rooting hormone, this is where you dust it onto the mark you just created. It’s not a must, but it can speed things up.
- Wet your sphagnum moss and wrap it around the wounded part of the stem. Cover it with plastic wrap and secure it in place to make your Dracaena think it has been planted in soil and should start producing roots.
- Be patient. Once you see new roots inside the plastic wrap, you can remove the construction and cut the stem just below the rooted part. You now have a brand new and already rooted Dracaena that you can pop right into a fresh planter. Yay!
- As mentioned before, the beheaded stem will soon start sprouting new leaves. In fact, it’ll generally produce more ‘heads’ than it had before.
Caring for Dracaena
When you’re done propagating Dracaena, you obviously want your brand new plants to thrive. Here are some general indoor Dracaena care tips to help make that happen.
Don’t worry, this is one of the easiest houseplants out there and you won’t need a green thumb to keep this one alive and thriving!
Dracaena plants love bright, indirect sunlight. If you have a nice spot by the window that your plants can call home, they’ll thank you for it.
You’ll especially want to make sure any variegated Dracaena plants (like Dracaena ‘Tricolor’ and ‘Lemon-Lime’) have lots of light or they’ll lose their beautiful colors, with any new leaves they produce reverting back to a regular green.
When caring for Dracaena plants, keep in mind that they do well at between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15 to 26 degrees Celsius). Because Dracaena is a tropical species, it won’t do well below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (or 10 degrees Celsius)!
Dracaena plants enjoy humidity, although luckily it’s not a must to have your home resemble a greenhouse. They can handle a bit of dry air, too.
Dracaena plants like loose, well-draining soil. General potting mixes tend to work fine when potting Dracaena plants, although they do prefer a more acidic mixture.
While peat moss is a popular choice, the sustainability of this resource is debatable. Thankfully, coconut coir is an excellent alternative. Mix some perlite or bark into the medium to make sure excess water can easily drain and won’t cause the roots of your plant to start rotting.
Part of what makes Dracaena so popular indoors is that they’re not all too demanding when it comes to watering. In fact, these plants like it when you let the soil almost dry out between waterings. As such, they’re pretty forgiving if you miss a watering or two (which, let’s admit it, we’re all guilty of from time to time).
Once you notice that the soil has gone dry, you just need to water the plant thoroughly and you’re good to go for another good while. Be sure to remove any excess water from the saucer underneath your Dracaena to avoid soggy soil.
Tip: Of course, we can’t give you an exact watering schedule for your Dracaena. How often you really need to water will depend on a number of factors: the humidity in your house, how much sun your plants get, the soil mixture, and so on.
When caring for Dracaena plants, you don’t need to worry too much about fertilizing since they don’t need a lot of food to thrive. In fact, you may only need to fertilize your plants once or twice a year!
When fertilizing, you can use a diluted liquid plant fertilizer or top the soil with an organic compost, such as one containing worm castings. For best results, use the fertilizer during the spring and summer months when your plant is actively putting out new growth.
Problems with Dracaena
If you notice your Dracaena plants aren’t looking so hot these days, here are some things to check for:
- Mineral buildup. If you notice just the tips of your plants turning brown, it can be a sign that there’s a mineral buildup in the soil, such as salt. You might also actually be able to see a white layer on the soil. To help get rid of the buildup, you can flush the affected plant out under a tap or, better yet, use distilled water.
- Brown or yellow leaves. If the leaves start changing color, it’s likely a sign that you’re either under- or overwatering your plants.
Sometimes it can be tricky knowing exactly which one it is, so you need to learn to keep a close eye on the plant’s soil. Don’t just randomly water, stick a finger or chopstick in there to assess the moisture level first!
- Dropped leaves. You may notice dry leaves dropping from the bottom of your plants once in a while. If so, this is normal because it simply doesn’t need those any more! However, if the leaves begin dropping from the top, for instance, you may be dealing with pests.
Keep an eye out for the usual culprits, like mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. Also, again, reassess your watering schedule to make sure you’re not over- or underdoing it.
There are tons of different Dracaena species and man-made cultivars out there to collect. A few of the most popular ones include Dracaena marginata (the dragon tree), Dracaena fragrans (the corn plant), Dracaena sanderiana (lucky bamboo) and Dracaena ‘Compacta’ (a compact cultivar of fragrans).
Most of these can be found at your local nursery. You can also buy tons of different types of Dracaena online, like on Amazon!
Is Dracaena toxic to cats and dogs?
Yes, unfortunately. According to the ASPCA, Dracaena is toxic to cats and dogs. It can cause vomiting (with blood), hypersalivation and weight loss. It can also cause cats’ pupils to dilate.
To avoid any heartache and steep vet bills, make sure you keep this plant away from pets and children.
If you have any more questions about propagating Dracaena or want to share your own experiences with this versatile plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
If you’d like to know more about propagating different houseplants to expand your collection for free, have a look at the Propagation category.