Propagating Dracaena | 3 ways to propagate your Dracaena plant

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.
Dracaena houseplant stem sprouting.
No worries about beheading your Dracaena mother plant. She’ll re-sprout just fine.

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.

Close up of Dracaena houseplant stem in glass vase.

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.
Dracaena houseplant.

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!

Light

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.

Temperature

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.

Soil

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.

Dracaena houseplant in vase - How to propagate Dracaena

Watering

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.

Fertilizing

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.
Dracaena houseplant.

Buying Dracaena

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.


42 thoughts on “Propagating Dracaena | 3 ways to propagate your Dracaena plant”

  1. I have a dracaena that I rescued from another area of the the office where no-one had taken care of it for a long while. There are green shoots and leaves at the top, but the large leaves along the stalk turned yellow/brown and dropped and the stalk is very hard and looking shriveled a bit. I’m concerned that my watering is not reaching the top bits because perhaps the main stalk is just dead at this point.. Should I just take a cutting from the top and put in water to try to save it that way, or is it possible that the my watering is able to get to the top via the (possibly) dead stalk?

    Reply
  2. I have a ~40 year old dracaena that’s getting pretty leggy. I know that it came from a cutting and has been propagated a couple times since. The canes are pretty thin, maybe 3/4” at most? I cannot find a single node on any of the 3 canes I have. Any advice on how I would have the best opportunity of cutting it back and propagating?

    Reply
  3. I cut my dracaena so I had the head and two leafless segments which I placed in water. All segments are about 12″. All including the mother plant are sprouting new growth. Each cut segment has root buds but no significant root growth after at least 4 months. I knew cutting the plant in the fall/winter might slow the process. I haven’t given up as they appear to be healthy. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hey! Yeah, it’s definitely not always a quick process, although 4 months is a bit extreme. However, if your cuttings look healthy, then I’d say to just keep doing what you’re doing. Or maybe take one of the cuttings and see if some rooting powder and soil propagation does the trick? If it does, you can always do the same with the other one. Good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  4. we have a dracenea that we purchased in about 1970. the main stalk is about 2 ft tall and has always had just 2 stems coming out of the very top it’s starting to look a little droopy, so i was wondering about restarting it. should that be a problem?

    Reply
  5. Do you need to keep watering the moss you’re using to propagate on the stem? And will a piece of stem root in water?
    Thank you, you’re very helpful, I’m saving the article.
    Donna

    Reply
    • Hello! Yes, a piece of stem will root in water. If you go for air layering then you should just regularly check the moss. You may not have to re-wet it again because the cling film keeps moisture in, but if you find it’s on the dry side then you can give it a good spray so it’s damp again. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hi, I have a dracaena that is roughly 10 years old. Recently a new plant appears to be growing through the soil quite close to the trunk, would it be possible to propagate this in a similar way to cutting from stems higher up?

    Reply
    • Hey! So you’re saying it’s growing an offshoot? Yeah, sure, that works the same way as the normal cutting method, although in some cases you can get lucky and your offshoot will have some roots of its own already 🙂

      Reply
  7. hello,

    I have a corn plant that was gifted to me by friends who moved across the country. It’s been doing well for about 4 years but I’ve been thinking about repotting it and also propagating it because it’s getting pretty tall. Would it be too stressful for the plant if I did both of those things at the same time?

    Reply
  8. Hello! I have an extremely old Dracena Fragrans- (31 years!) that is super leggy and has grown to the top of my vaulted ceiling and is now doing all kinds of interesting, twisting things. I’m interested in propagating the plant to take it down in height and produce new plants (children, so to speak). I had planned on doing air layering but would like to just do cuttings, if I can. Do you think I’m likely to get the same success with cuttings as I would with air layering? The plant already looks so incredibly funky that adding the air layering will be funkier than I’d like to be. If the plant is super old, do you recommend that I fertilize it again before I do cuttings or put root hormone in the water? Thanks for your thoughts!

    Reply
    • How cool! I think you should be fine with normal cuttings. Air layering is a bit of a guarantee that cuttings take, but Dracaena is so easy to propagate that it really doesn’t matter that much. There is no need to fertilize or put rooting hormone in the water, but if it’s been a long time, you could consider repotting the mother plant since it’ll be more manageable after being trimmed. Good luck and I hope it works out, but you should be just fine. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hello, thank you for this great article. It’s been about 5 weeks since I cut the tops off of my Dracaena. It had several canes but two were very long, 5 ft or so with a bare stem and leaves only at the top. I cut those two down to about 12″. I then cut off the tops of the stems that had the leaves and put those in water. I also cut the remaining canes into 8″ sections to propagate. I put them all in water to root. Most of the cuttings have a couple of 2″ roots sticking out. What I don’t see is anything happening at the top of any of the 8″ sections. Should I trim the top of each 8″ section to encourage it to grow leaves? Should I wait longer?

    Re: the tops that have leaves and now have a couple of roots. How many roots should they have in order to be ready to transfer them to a pot with soil?

    Grateful for any help!
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi! So if it’s only been five weeks, I’d give it a bit more time. As you have found, rooting happens pretty quickly usually, but for bare canes it can take a good while for foliage growth to happen. I mean, as long as they’re growing root systems, you know they’re in the clear, it’s just a waiting game at this point.

      As for how long the roots should be to transplant, you say on most of them they’re about 2″ – that should be perfect. Keep in mind they might sulk a bit initially due to the transfer, but with how vigorous Dracaena grows, they should be fine.

      I hope that helps, good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Hi — my dracaena was sprouting tons of new leaves and two of the tops bent over. I thought it was just too heavy due to all the leaves (or canes), but then the bent part turned black so I had to cut it. It seemed like I overwatered but according to my moisture stick it actually needed to be watered. It didn’t help so I cut off the top and put it in water but the bottom of that is also black now … is it a lost cause? Both tops have new growth so the black is throwing me off! Thanks!

    Reply
    • If it’s black and squishy then that does mean rot, yeah, especially with how you describe the canes just bending over. This means you need to cut off as much as possible and then see if you can still propagate it. What kind of moisture stick do you mean? Dracaenas like for their soil to dry out quite a bit. Hope you can still propagate yours!

      Reply
  11. Great advice in your article.
    I’ve sadly neglected my lucky bamboo that I let sit in the same water for over three years *hangs head in shame*. I also hadn’t checked in the last few months on its water level.
    Last night in dim light, I noticed the stem looked brown rather than green, but was still upright with its two shoots.
    Sadly this morning it’s flopped over and I’ve realised too late that a mould had started to form lower down the stem. It’s in a dark green, thin necked glass bottle, so must have been harbouring bacteria for a while. It had also run out of water! Double whoops!

    I have some rooting hormone powder and wondering if I can save the two side shoots. Unfortunately the yellowing has reached the first shoot, but hasn’t effected the leaves; the second shoot near the waxed end has a little green after the yellowing on the main stalk.

    I’m thinking of taking the first shoot off the main stem, but not sure if I need to remove some leaves before dipping in hormone powder and placing in water, or if it could be ok as is.
    The second shoot with about 2-3cm of original stalk I’ll carefully dip in hormone and place just the stalk in water.

    Do you think I stand a chance, or possibly setting myself up to fail?
    Is there any added advice?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Sorry to hear about your lucky bamboo! I’m completely the same with mine if I’m going to be entirely honest.

      So as for attempting to save it through propagation, I can’t tell you at all what the outcome of that is going to be. However, I feel like with plants, there’s never any harm in trying! As for removing leaves, you can take off ones that don’t look nice any more as well as ones that would be underwater if you placed the cutting in a vase.

      I hope it works out!

      Reply
  12. Hi. About 2 weeks ago, I cut the top off of my Dracaena Marginata and also cut the 4-5 foot tall canes into 8″ sections to propagate. I put them all in water to root. I am just now starting to see the beginnings of new roots poke out on a couple of the cuttings, but most haven’t started to show any new roots yet. I was so excited to see new side shoots poking out of the tops of all the cane segments. But only 1 of 4 segments are showing new roots. I was hoping to see new roots on all the cuttings by now. Am I just being impatient? Or do you think most of these cuttings will not sprout roots at at?

    Reply
    • Hey! With only two weeks having passed, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to hold your horses for a while more. Cane sections in particular are a bit slower to get going, and not everyone will start producing roots at the same rate. Some might take up to two months before suddenly springing back to life.

      Good luck and enjoy your (hopefully) bunch of new Dracaenas 🙂

      Reply
  13. Hi,

    I have a lemon lime dracaena that has grown very leggy. Can I cut the top part and leave part of the foliage in the current stems? Or cut the foliage in two and then hope to get growth on the bare stem that’s rooted? What would you advice. The top part is in itself too large to propagate as one plant. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi! It all depends on your own preferences since Dracaenas can handle pretty much anything. You can cut the stem wherever you want, even leaving no foliage whatsoever, and it’ll just sprout new leaves. So just do whatever seems most aesthetically pleasing to you 🙂

      Good luck!

      Reply
  14. Hi. I have a Dracaena fragrans that grew too tall so I cut the top and planted it in a mixture of potting & cactus mix soil. Watered it & put it in place with indirect sunlight. I kept the soil moist. It’s been 2 weeks and I noticed that the leaves are wrinkling. I tried tugging it but it seems it hasn’t rooted yet. Am I keeping the soil too moist? Does it need less water? Does it need more light? Do I need to remove it from soil and try rooting it in water? Also, I have another Draceana plant that the stems has wrinkled. I want to save it. Can propagate it still? If so, which is the best medium to propagate the wrinkling stem, soil or water? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello! So it’s relatively normal for the leaves on a cutting to wrinkle a bit since they’re just not receiving water for now. I think you should probably give it a bit more time, 2 weeks is not that long when you’re propagating a plant. The soil you’re using sounds good. As long as the cutting is by a window and the soil is lightly moist but nowhere near wet I think you should probably be alright. You CAN switch to water but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary.

      So for the other plant, as long as the stems are not rotten they should propagate still. Soil and water both work but you could always try this one in water to see which method you prefer for Dracaena propagation 🙂

      I hope that helps and you get to enjoy lots of mini Dracaenas soon!

      Reply
  15. Hi! I’ve recently cut back a dracaena warnekii that had grown up over 12′ tall. I have peeled off the lower leaves to make the stalks bare on their lower regions. I put them directly into damp dirt to begin with, but they appeared after two weeks to be dying – much of the remaining greenery yellowed or fell off completely, though they still do have green leaves on the upper parts of each section. I did keep several of the sections of the trunk & am attempting to get those rooting too. I have since pulled them from the dirt, checked them & none have any visible root activity, so I have put them in a vase of water.
    My questions are: What do you mean by a node, on a dracaena? I am familiar with nodes on say a pothos, but for these ones, if they have never been cut they just have grown straight up, where is there a node, per se? Am I doomed if there are none? Or am i worried for nothing & a node is as simple as the spot where some leaves have formed? Also, how often do I have to change the water when trying to root them this way? Every day? Do I add anything to the water – I have Shultz’s liquid plant fertilizer, in drops I add to water, & I also have a Roots gel I dipped the cuttings in for the dirt attempt, though it didn’t seem to help much. I know two weeks is not a lot of time & I am not impatient, I just want to be sure I’m doing everything I can to help them, or know if I need to face reality that these cuttings will not prop because I did it incorrectly in the chop down. Any feedback or clarity you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi there!

      I do prefer growing my cuttings in water as well since it seems there is less chance of rot and you can see what they’re doing. A node can indeed be a spot that leaves form(ed) from, they’re not super visible on Dracaenas. You can tell so in the second picture in the article. It sounds like you’re doing everything right at this point. Changing the water once a week is more than enough in most cases and I generally don’t add anything myself although some folks do prefer to use rooting hormone. Are the cuttings in a light and warm location without direct sunlight?

      If you really are worried you didn’t chop correctly you can always fill out the contact form to get in contact with me through email, since after I reply to you it gives you the option to send photos. It does sounds like you did things correctly though, so fingers crossed 🙂

      Reply
  16. hi!i just made a cutting of my song of india plant and dipped it in the rooting hormone,now i planted it in soil.do i have to water it right now and how often do i have to water it?i am going to place the pot in a bright indirect light.i hope you respond asap cuz i dont want all of these cutting to wilt and die.thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • Hello! I hope your cutting is doing well. You just have to keep the soil ever so lightly moist (not wet!). If I’m not sure my cutting has rooted yet I often prefer to do so by spraying the soil every day 🙂 Good luck!

      Reply
  17. My cuttings are in water since 15 days. No roots are growing. There is some slimy material with degeneration of stem in the water. I’m just changing the water and washing the cuttings. Is there anything else to do?

    Reply
    • Hello! Sorry you don’t seem to be having much luck so far. Did you take the cuttings according to the instructions in the article? If so, things should generally almost always work out, although your mention of stem degeneration sounds a bit worrisome. Was the mother plant healthy with no signs of rot?

      You’re already taking the only measures you can, so all I can say is continue doing what you’ve been doing so far. Not all cuttings take, unfortunately: sometimes it’s a bit of a matter of luck as well. Hope it works out 🙂

      Reply
  18. Hi,
    I have a limelight dracaena that I cut the tops off and planted in dirt sometime in Oct 2018. Some of the lower leaves have turned crunchy brown so I took them off. Because I just planted these in soil I just watered them once since. I did give them a light tug to see if any roots had taken hold and it seems some have. So why are the leaves turning brown and should I be watering it more? I’m afraid it will get rot because the bottom doesn’t have a hole for drainage because its on a wood floor. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Yeah, you should be watering more, especially if you suspect the cutting has rooted. Drainage holes are pretty important – if you’re worried about your floors you can place your plants in plastic nursery pots and then put those in a decorative overpot. That way you can just water the plant in the sink, let it drain there, and then put it back in the overpot. Alternatively, you can use saucers under a pot with a hole.

      Hope it works out, good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  19. Hi my daughter had a corn plant dracaena and it has no leafs the spruts it had were all broke off now to the trunk.. What can I do to see if it will Re grow.. Or is it a lost cause?

    Reply
    • Hi! So it’s just the trunk that’s left? As long as it’s not rotting or otherwise damaged it should work, I’ve seen it done. You need to be patient and adjust your watering schedule if the plant is still in the pot to prevent rot (no leaves means it uses less water, as it can’t photosynthesize). If you’re cutting the trunk into pieces to propagate, make sure every piece has one of those little nodes that leaves/roots grow from.

      Hope that helps, good luck!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.