Dracaena marginata, commonly called red-edge dracaena, is an evergreen tree with stiff, ribbon-like red-margined green leaves and slim, curving stalks for trunks. You can also grow it as a houseplant. It will grow 8 to 15 feet high and 3 to 8 feet wide in the right conditions.
Dracaena can grow in shade or sun and thrives in fertile, organic well-drained soil, although it can withstand almost any kind of soil. Becaue it can tolerate low light and is so frost-tender, most choose to grow the plant indoors. Outdoors, it needs some shelter from the hot afternoon sun. Multiple plants need 36 to 60 inches of space between them.
Watering and Fertilization
Once established, the dracaena is quite drought-tolerant, but it will thrive with at least a moderate amount of water. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soaked, watering once or twice a week during dry periods in the spring and summer. This plant does not require much fertilizer. Two applications of slow-release fertilizer, marked 10-10-10 or 8-8-8, in early spring and again in the summer will encourage just the right amount of growth.
As dracaena grows it gets tall and lanky, losing its leaves at the bottom of the plant. The resulting spindly trees with tufts of leaves on the top can look awkward and unbalanced. To make the tree more bushy, cut the tall canes down to the height at which you wish them to stand with pruning shears. From the cut will sprout one or more new shoots that will grow leaves.
Red-edged dracaena is susceptible to leaf spot diseases, which occur during prolonged wet and warm weather. Avoid watering the plant from overhead to prevent the disease. If the dracaena shows signs of leaf spot, cut off the infected foliage and destroy it so that the disease does not spread. Thrips, mites and other chewing pests may also be a problem, but can often be controlled with applications of horticultural oil or a strong blast of water. The pests are most likely to infest stressed trees.
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