A popular and hardy houseplant, Dracaena fragrans is one of the more tolerant of the dracaena group; it originates in tropical Africa but is sufficiently hardy to grow farther east in the higher elevations of Ethiopia. As a houseplant, it will withstand a variety of temperatures and conditions as long as it has adequate humidity.
The straight D. fragrans produces rosettes of strong plain green curving leaves 2ft/60cm long, and 4in/10cm wide. As it grows, the plant sheds its lower leaves, so after a few years it will probably consist of a cluster of attractive leaves on top of a stout bare stem, occasionally with a leafy side branch or two. Occasionally scented yellow flowers are produced; these are followed by orange-red berries.
The variegated form ‘Massangeana’ is much more widely grown, mainly for its attractive leaves, each of which carries a central corn- yellow band and is bordered by narrower yellow stripes.
The plant sheds older, lower leaves from time to time. If younger leaves turn yellow and droop, the plant is being kept too dry and hot. Water well and increase the frequency of misting.
Rotting stems and leaves are an indication of overwatering.
If the plant is too cold or damp, botrytis may get a hold; look for brownish spots on the leaves.
ORIGIN Upper Guinea; Ethiopia; tropical Africa.
HEIGHT To 5ft/1.5m.
POTTING MIX Soil- or peat-based.
REPOTTING Every 2 or 3 years, in spring.
PROPAGATION By 3-in/8-cm tip or stem cuttings in spring or late summer, or by air layering.
KEEPING PLANTS This plant does not like drafts, so stand it in a protected spot. It grows slowly
and should last for several years.
- Bright light, but not long periods of direct summer sun.
- This plant can stand fluctuating temperatures, with a minimum of 55°F/13°C.
- Keep the soil moist; water once or twice a week in the active growing period; less in winter.
- Stand the pot on a tray of damp pebbles and mist the plant often, but not while it is in the sun.
- Apply a weak liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks from spring to fall.