Several species of tropical broadleaf evergreen shrubs and trees in the Dracaena genus are commonly used as houseplants around the world. However, there are plants from entirely different genera that are also referred to as dracaenas. For example, the houseplant known colloquially as "ti tree" is now officially known as Cordyline australis, though it is still occasionally sold as a dracaena. When you buy a dracaena, you are usually buying a species with a spear- or grass-shaped leaves that extend off one or more thickened, cane-like main stems, regardless of which official genera it belongs to. (There are other Dracaena species that grow from rhizome-like roots, but they are usually marketed under different names.)
Some dracaena plants can grow to be 20 feet tall or more in their native tropical environments, but most stay under 8 feet tall as indoor houseplants. Outdoor Dracaena plants may produce yellowish-white flowers followed by berries, but this is uncommon in houseplants.
Plants in the Dracaena genus contain saponins, which are toxic to cats and dogs.
In large, well-draining pots filled with ordinary commercial potting mix, the Dracaena species commonly grown as houseplants are generally quite easy to grow. Proper watering and light exposure (ample indirect light but little direct sunlight) will keep them healthy.
Dracaena plants thrive in bright, filtered, or indirect light, though they can tolerate brief periods of direct sunlight.
Dracaena houseplants thrive in any peat-based commercial potting mix with the slight acidity that these plants prefer. If grown in a tropical landscape, the soil should be rich and well-drained.
During their growing season (spring through fall), these plants should be kept consistently moist, but allowed to dry out during the dormant winter period. During the active growing season, water them thoroughly once a week, allowing excess water to drain through the pot into a tray or basin beneath. In the winter, water less frequently every two weeks.
Most dracaena species thrive in temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit but will suffer if temperatures fall below 50 degrees. These tropical plants require a high level of humidity, which can be difficult for indoor plants during the dry winter months. For dry air, misting or using a room humidifier may be necessary.
During the spring and summer, Dracaena plants benefit from a monthly feeding of a water-soluble fertiliser formulated for houseplants. Feeding should be reduced in the fall and winter as plant growth slows. Dracaenas require little fertilisation. Use a houseplant fertiliser that is water soluble. During the spring and summer, apply once a month. Fertilize less in the fall and winter as plant growth slows.