Dracaena plants are actually tropical trees or shrubs that are very popular houseplants. If you pick out an indoor variety, this plant will do exceptionally well in bright to low light, and they’re very attractive plants that are tolerant to drought. Many types of dracaena have long pointed leaves that arch gracefully, woody stems, and bushy foliage. Compact types of dracaena are very nice placed on tabletops where bigger plants excel at floor plants.
A lot of types of dracaena have interesting growth habits and leaves. You can find some plants with reddish edges and glossy green leaves while other species have shiny, broad leaves with yellow stripes. A lot of mature plants will take on the appearance of miniature trees. We’re going to outline the 23 most popular types of dracaena you can use to enhance your home below.
The long to oval, strappy, lacing, or drooping leaves are the biggest way many people identify these plants. The foliage is variegated and dense, and the colors range from solid yellow, green, or striped. Additionally, these plants come with woody reddish or brown stems with reddish-hued veins. Since there are so many types of dracaena available, it can be hard to identify them all. However, each one has a specific set of defining characteristics.
Dracaena – Meanings and Symbolism
The Dracaena name comes from a Greek word that means female dragon, and the plants get the name due to the red sap that can bleed from some cultivars. You can use this sap to create dyes, and it also has a range of uses associated with it.
People in the Mediterranean region believed that the sap had medicinal properties attached to it, and they used it to treat gastrointestinal and respiratory problems. Other people thought of it as a cure-all. It also has a long and rich history as being an important component for spiritualism and rituals. Using it as an incense to cleanse negative energy out of a space is popular, and it’s been used in creating magical seals and talismans. In neopaganism, it’s popular for use in spells for sexuality, love, banishment, and protection.
Uses of Dracaena Plants
There are several uses and benefits of types of dracaena, and this is precisely why a lot of people like having them around the house. Some of the best uses and benefits include:
Dyes and Varnish
Some types of dracaena have a bold red sap. For centuries, people used this sap as an ingredient to color varnish and dyes to put on decking and teak wood. It’s also rumored to be responsible for that pretty red tint you see when you look at Stradivarius violins.
Improves Air Quality
Green plants work to replenish oxygen, and some can purify the air. Different types of dracaena are some of the best choices for doing this. They can help remove formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, carbon dioxide, and toluene from the indoor air.
Many people have this plant purely for ornamental use. They grow in such a huge range of size and shapes, and they have a pretty evergreen foliage that you can successfully add to any design scheme. You can use taller varieties to add visual interest in any bare corners of your home, a compact type of dracaena for desks or tables, and a fuller variety to help balance out your furniture.
23 Types of Dracaena
To tell the difference between the various types of dracaena, there are things each cultivar possesses to set it apart. The following 24 types stand out for various reasons, and we’re going to highlight them for you below.
1. Dracaena Arborea
First up is Dracaena Arborea, and this plant can get between 10 and 15 feet tall at full maturity. You may hear it referred to as the Slender Dragon Tree, and it offers a single straight woody stem that has spiky foliage growing right at the top. Most of these trees will have two or more branches spreading out. The leaves are long and slender, and they’re lance-shaped. They will grow straight to create a very spiked, rounded crown.
2. Dracaena Deremensis “Rikki”
This is a newer cultivar, and it’s the cousin of Warneckii, Compacta, and Janet Craig. You’ll see very distinct leaves with a sword-like shape and dark green coloring. It also has yellow stripes running through the length, and it has an arching growth habit that can reach over 12 feet tall. It’s a low-maintenance, hardy plant that is very suitable for tropical climates.
3. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Dorado’
This type of dracaena is a shade-loving cultivar that has glossy green, broad leaves that arch as they grow. It’s a very lightly variegated plant with very thin yellow margins on the leaves. The twisting leaves also aren’t as long as many of the other plants that fall into the Dracaena Fragrans group.
4. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Hawaiian Sunshine’
Hawaiian Sunshine types of dracaena have an upright growth habit that makes them perfect to stick in a dull corner to add a visual accent. Their green, glossy striped leaves have a much darker green along the edges and bright lime-green stripes running down the center. Although every dracaena plant is a low-light one, this one does better when you place it in an area with indirect, bright sunlight.
5. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Janet Craig’
This plant will top out at roughly three feet when you grow it inside, and it’s a very shrubby flowering plant that has dark-green, glossy leaves. The leaves are up to two feet long, and they can get three inches wide. The lance-shaped, arching leaves will grow all of the way up the plant’s stem. It’s a tree-like plant that will drop the leaves as it matures from the lower stem to showcase the woody, thick growth. This type of dracaena also has big clusters of bright white flowers that grow on a thick stem, and they’re very fragrant. It’ll only bloom inside under excellent conditions.
6. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Janet Craig’ Compacta
This is a very slow-growing type of dracaena that is also called Dracaena Compacta, Pineapple Dracaena, and Janet Craig Compacta. This is an ideal plant to put in your bedroom because it does well with low light. The dwarf plant will be much shorter at full maturity and it has smaller leaves than the full-sized cultivar. The compact growth also features dark green, thick, and glossy leaves that grow in a tight rosette pattern around the cane. You will only have to water the soil once in a while when the top layer dries out to keep it healthy.
7. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’
The variegated leaves on this type of dracaena are very striking, and they come with lime green along the edges and darker green coloring with thin white stripes along the center. The bright green and yellow leaves are elongated lancelot shapes, and it grows in a rosette style that surrounds a central woody stem. It grows best in low light conditions. With the pretty leaves, this plant works well to help brighten up corners of the room, and it can top out between 5 and 10 feet tall.
8. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Lemon Surprise’
The leaves on this type of dracaena are slightly twisted, and you get a pretty variegated foliage in bright shades of lime green. There is also much darker green coloring along the center with thin white stripes in the middle. The pointed leaves will have a twisting, curling growth habit that makes this a very unique plant to look at. This plant is shorter than the Lemon Lime cultivar we touched on earlier, and it tops out between two and three feet at full maturity. It also likes indirect but bright sunlight, but it can do decently well in lower light conditions.
9. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Limelight’
The attractive point to this type of dracaena is the eclectic light lime green leaf coloring. The unusual foliage coloring this plant offers looks like a translucent green, and this makes it one of the more interesting cane plants you can get. The lime green coloring won’t fade on the plant either, even if you choose to grow it in full to partial shade. It’ll get up to five feet tall indoors, and you want to keep your potting soil slightly moist without making it too damp or soggy.
10. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Lisa’
This type of dracaena is one of the hardiest you’ll get out of this category. They have glossy, dark green leaves in a lance shape. This makes it very easy to mistake this plant for the Janet Craig cultivar. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the leaves are more narrow. For all of the dracaena cultivars available, this one in particular tolerates low lighting conditions the best. When you compare it to similar plants, you’ll notice an upright growth habit with a slight curling along the leaf tips.
11. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Victoria’
This type of dracaena has a very similar resemblance to the Massangeana because they both share the same yellow striping along the center of the leaves, and the leaves are also very full and a lush green color. However, this cultivar comes with smaller leaves that are more triangular and wider in shape. It can get up to four feet tall in containers, and it’s very rare to find it available to the general public.
12. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Warneckii’
Warneckii is one of the most popular types of dracaena plant available, and it offers sword-like, long leaves that are a deep green with creamy white bands on them. This white striped dracaena is a hardy houseplant that does well in either indirect bright light or low light conditions. It’ll get up to two feet tall, and it resembles a spiky, small indoor tree. It does best when you keep it in average room temperatures between 60 and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. You can grow it outdoors as long as the temperature doesn’t go below 55-degrees Fahrenheit.
13. Dracaena ‘Goldieana’
Better known as the Green Zebra Plant, this type of dracaena has pointed but oval leaves with cream stripes running horizontally on the leaves and deep green bands all over. When you maintain it well, it’ll give you bell-shaped flowers from the succulent-like stems. IT can get up to six feet tall when it grows wild, and it can tolerate temperatures down to 64-degrees Fahrenheit.
14. Dracaena Marginata (Red Edged Dracaena or Dragon Tree)
As the name suggests, this type of dracaena has tapered, thin leaves that give the dragon tree a very spiky appearance. The long leaves have a mostly straight growth habit, and the longest ones will arch over. It also has a very thin upright stem that will branch out into separate upward-growing stems. The deep green leaves come with brilliant red edges. You may hear it referred to as the Straight-Marginated dracaena, Ploemele, Dragon Blood tree, Madagascar dragon tree, and the Red-Margined dracaena. They work very well as a low-light houseplant.
15. Dracaena Marginata ‘Tricolor’
You’ll get very ornate foliage with this type of dracaena, and it has cream, green, and reddish-pink leaves on it. This Tricolor Madagascar Dragon Tree offers ribbon-like, narrow leaves that have stripes in the aforementioned coloring. The cream and green variegation is usually along the plant’s center, and you’ll see more pronounced red stripes along the leaf edges. This odd color combination contributes to the overall pink look of the plant.
16. Dracaena Massangeana (Mass Cane)
Dracaena Massangeana likes indirect lighting, but it can also tolerate low light conditions very well. Better known as the corn plant and the mass cane plant, this is one of the more popular choices you can get. It has a very woody, thick stem with bushy lime and dark green foliage. The sword-like leaves are pointed and have green striping on them. They do well in pots indoors, and they top out between 6 and 12 feet tall.
17. Dracaena Reflexa
This ornamental type of dracaena comes with several stems. It is well-known for the shiny, broad evergreen leaves, thick, woody stems, and the rich coloring on the foliage. It comes with an upright growth habit with pointed, glossy leaves that have a spiral arrangement on the stem. You may hear this plant referred to as Pleomele.
18. Dracaena Reflexa ‘Song of Jamaica’
This multi-stemmed type of dracaena has darker green variegation with lime green stripes. It’s a very attractive plant that doesn’t have as vibrant of coloring as some of the options on the list. However, the low light tolerance and bright green coloring on the leaves will help this plant brighten up any room.
19. Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’
Better known as the Song of India, this is a very ornamental houseplant that has green and creamy yellow foliage. The variegated, sword-shaped leaves grow in three or four clusters on an upright, straight stem. The leaves have a very thick green band in the center with bright yellow margins. Another feature on this plant is that they are reflexed, so they usually bend 90-degrees in the center. It can flower indoors under the perfect conditions, and they’ll give you whtie flowers with orangish-red berries.
20. Dracaena Sanderiana (Lucky Bamboo)
Lucky Bamboo is a type of dracaena that has light green, thick stems with lanceolate foliage. It has cane-like stalks that are usually solid with curled tops and a few leaves growing here. They can also grow in water or soilless mixes. It’s a very popular indoor plant in Asia, and it has a reputation for bringing good luck.
However, despite the common name, this type of dracaena isn’t actually a member of the bamboo family. The name comes from the bamboo-like stems that grow straight and upright. You may hear this plant referred to as the Chinese Water Bamboo, Curly Bamboo, Belgian Evergreen, Sander’s Dracaena, and Ribbon Plant.
21. Dracaena Sanderiana Variegata ‘Ribbon Plant’
This flowering type of dracaea is also known as Friendship Bamboo. It has cane-like, upright stems with bright green, ovate leaves that are well-spaced. The leaves also have curved edges, and it’ll get up to five feet tall in containers. It does best in filtered sunlight and slightly moist soil.
22. Dracaena Surculosa ‘Florida Beauty’
This type of dracaena has variegated, decorative foliage with green leaves and creamy white blotches. This is a slightly more unusual species because they come with rounded leaves instead of sword-shaped ones, but they do come to a point at the tips. It’s a multi-stemmed plant that has several upright woody stems on it, and you may hear it referred to as Spotted Dracaena, Gold Dust, and Gold Dust Dracaena. You want to prune it regularly to remove the dying or dead foliage to keep it healthy.
23. Dracaena Trifasciata
The final type of dracaena on the list is also called the Snake Plant, and it was originally in the Sansevieria genus before it changed in 2017 to Dracaena. It’s a stemless plant with thick, long, variegated sword-shaped leaves. It’s a succulent-like plant that stores water in the leaves, and it’s a very hardy choice that tolerates neglect well. You may hear it called Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, or St. George Sword.
Dracaena — Care Guide and Growing Tips
Although virtually every type of dracaena is easy to care for, there are some care tips you want to keep in mind to keep the plant healthy. If you get them right, the plant will survive for many years indoors to give you leafy green foliage. The biggest things to remember with this plant include:
This is a very slow-growing plant that doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer. You should feed them once a month during the spring and summer months using an all-purpose plant food at half strength. During the fall and winter, don’t fertilize it at all. This is the time of the year when the growth slows even more.
Virtually all types of dracaena do well in indirect but bright light. The biggest care tip to take away is that you should avoid putting them in direct sunlight. They will also grow in low-light environments like bedrooms, offices, bathrooms, and any north-facing room in your home.
There isn’t a lot of maintenance with this plant, but you want to remove dying or dead stems and leaves when you see them. You want to cut these away at the base. If you have to remove any canes, you want to cut them at an angle to keep the disease away. Prune them during the growing season, and try to avoid pruning them if at all possible when the plant goes dormant in the winter and fall months. You’ll need a set of sterile, sharp pruning shears to get disease-free, clean cuts.
Any potting mix you pick out should be rich and loose with a host of organic materials that have great drainage. The ideal potting soil for these plants is a combination of one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part houseplant soil. This mix will give your plants the necessary nutrients they need while allowing excess water to drain quickly.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant does best in average room temperatures with a high humidity level. They typically grow in zones 10 and 11 outside without any problem.
These types of dracaena are toxic to pets if they eat them. Cats can have dilated pupils, and both dogs and cats can have a lack of appetite, excess saliva, and vomiting. This is why it’s important that you pick out your houseplants with care and keep them well out of reach of your pets.
You should only water this plant when half of the potting soil dries out. To water this ornamental plant, you want to drench the soil thoroughly until water runs out of the bottom of the plant. Give it a few minutes to allow the excess water to drip off.
Propagating Dracaena Plants
For the best chances, only propagate the plants during the spring and summer months. There are several simple methods you can try to propagate types of dracaena, and the one you pick will depend on the cutting you want and plant type.
- Rhizome Cutting – This plant will spread naturally underground using rhizomes. So, it’s relatively easy to propagate these plants by separating new plants that sprout from the rhizomes. All you have to do is find an individual rosette, break it off at the root level, and keep it in water until the new roots sprout.
- Stem Cutting – You can separate your plant’s stem into eight-inch sections before you cut them. Once you cut them, be mindful which was the top and which was the bottom. Plant them in soil or put them in water until you see roots.
- Top Cutting – Count out a few nodes or inches from the bottom of your plant’s top leaf and cut the stem. The plant will resume growing shortly without any problems. Pot your cutting directly in soil or put it in a vase of water and watch for roots.
For faster results, dip the root side of your plant cutting into a root growth hormone. You can find it at any gardening supply center.
Saving a Sick or Dying Dracaena Plant
The biggest reason your plant is dying is because of too much or too little water. You could end up with rotting stems or browning leaves. To save it, you can try to amend the soil, replant the whole thing, add fertilizer, and be more mindful of the soil’s condition. It should be moist without drying out or being too sodden. Also, the leaves can turn brown if it’s getting too much direct sunlight. Try to move it to a more shaded location where the light is indirect.
We’ve outlined 23 types of dracaena that you can put around your home to add a touch of color and interest. They’re a hardy plant that is great for novice gardeners, and you can easily mix and match compact and tall varieties to get a unique and tropical theme for your plants.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.