Dracaena Reflexa also known as Song of India or Song of Jamaica, is a widely popular, decorative, tree-like houseplant originating from the island in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean. It belongs to the large genus Dracaenae, whose name translated from Latin means female dragon, which is why plants of this genus are often called dragon trees.
- What Is Dracaena Reflexa
- How To Care for Dracaena Reflexa
- How to Propagate Dracaena Reflexa
- Stem Cuttings
- Dracaena Reflexa Problems
What Is Dracaena Reflexa
Dracaena is a genus of 120 plant species native to tropical and subtropical Africa. The long-living plants are evergreen perennials with a branched root system accustomed to a dry climate.
What distinguishes the Dracaena Reflexa Song of Jamaica from other plants of this genus are the glossy leaves up to one foot long, with white stripes, spirally arranged in rosette-like clusters and thick, irregular stems.
The regular Dracaena Reflexa has the same shape but monochromatic dark green leaves, while the Song of India variety also has variegated foliage but with yellow lines.
In nature, these plants grow into large trees 20 feet tall. However, grown as houseplants, they rarely grow more than 5 feet.
In addition, the Dracaena Reflexa growth rate is exceptionally slow, only three to four inches in one year, so you can cultivate it for decades before its dimension becomes problematic for an average living space.
Although it is a flowering plant, Dracaena Reflexa blooms very rarely indoors, usually after several decades of proper cultivation! It produces white fragrant flowers with five petals, followed by berry-like, yellow-orange fruits.
Due to its ability to purify the surrounding air, dracaena is placed on the high fifth place of NASA’s list of air purifier plants.
How To Care for Dracaena Reflexa
Dracaena Reflexa is an almost ideal houseplant: it has a fascinating, tree-like shape with elegantly elongated leaves. It is resistant to diseases, adaptable to different conditions, and tolerates occasional neglect. Not only can you see it in many homes worldwide but in public spaces such as hotel lobbies or offices too. And indeed, with very little proper care, Dracaena will thrive for years.
– Dracaena Reflexa Light Requirements
This charming little tree prefers bright indirect sunlight. Similar to other varieties of dracaenas with variegated foliage, Dracaena Reflexa will have more pronounced colors on the leaves if they get enough light.
It copes pretty well with low light conditions but still looks better and gives more leaves if you place it in a decently lit spot.
One of the few things that this plant really can’t stand is the direct bright sun at its zenith. If you notice scorched blade ends on your Dracaena Reflexa leaves, that indicates that the plant has been exposed to direct sunlight.
Therefore you should avoid the unshaded south window. East or west windows with a few hours of mild sunlight are the ideal position.
– Dracaena Reflexa Water Requirements
When it comes to watering Dracaena Reflexa, this eye-catching plant requires less water compared to other houseplants and hence is very easy to care for.
During the summer, you could water it once or twice a week, depending on the exposure to the sunlight. Due to reduced light and slow evaporation in winter, the watering should decrease to once or twice a month.
Given that Dracaena Reflexa is very sensitive to fluoride, avoid using tap water and use rainwater or distilled water instead. Tap water usually causes dark brown leaves, yellow edges, and dead spots on its foliage since the ingredients, harmful for the plant, accumulate in the soil over time.
Even though these plants can withstand a more extended period of drought, that does not mean they should be exposed to it often. Before watering, make sure to feel the soil with your fingers; if it is dry, water the plant.
However, if the substrate is moist, skip watering to avoid sagging, yellow leaves, and root rot, the usual indicators of overwatering.
On the other hand, if you notice lower leaves turning yellow and droopy, have no worries. As the plant grows, it dumps the old leaves in order to produce new ones. Additionally, if you notice excess water around its root, it is essential to drain it and allow the plant to dry out before watering again.
– Dracaena Reflexa Temperature Requirements
Similar to many other species of dracaena, this beauty with variegated blade leaves prefers temperatures between 60 to 80 F during the day and slightly lower temperatures during the night. Dracaena Reflexa is a tropical plant, and therefore, it does not respond well to low temperatures. The lower limit is 50 F.
However, at such a low temperature, the plant, without damage, can withstand only at short intervals. Therefore, do not keep it in an unheated room.
In the warm summer months, you could take out your dracaena into the garden or balcony. Staying in the fresh air has a stimulating effect on the development of the plant, provided that you place it out of direct sunlight.
Hence, you could place it in a pleasant shade since too high temperatures have an equally adverse effect on the Dracaena Reflexa as the low ones.
– Dracaena Reflexa Soil Requirements
Although Dracaena Reflexa is not very picky about the soil, it still grows best in loose and well-drained substrate with good air access to the plant’s roots and a lot of organic materials. It is most important that the soil is drained quickly after watering and that water does not retain around the root system.
Therefore, you can add one-third of perlite or coarse sand to a standard all-purpose substrate. To improve the nutritional value of the soil, you can enrich it with some compost, but not more than 20 percent of the total substrate mass. If you blend all the ingredients, you will get a great potting mix for Dracaena Reflexa.
– Dracaena Reflexa Humidity Requirements
Despite its tropical origin, this plant tolerates a standard moisture level of 30 percent. Of course, air with a high humidity level is closer to its needs but modest as it is, the plant will withstand a wide range of moisture values. The optimal humidity level for these plants is around 40 percent, which is not hard to achieve.
The humidity issue can easily be fixed using a humidifier or occasionally misting the plant, especially during the winter when the air is dry indoors.
If you decide to spray the leaves, it is best to do it early in the morning. This way, the leaves can dry out during the day. Namely, if tiny drops of water flow into the heart of the leaf rosette and stay there for too long, it can promote the development of fungal diseases or even leaf rot.
Another option is to place the plant on a tray of pebbles covered with water. The water evaporating will provide the extra humidity for your Dracaena Reflexa, making it feel at home.
– Dracaena Reflexa Fertilizer
Modest Dracaena Reflexa is not very demanding and meticulous, especially if it grows in an organically rich substrate. If you want to ensure additional nutrients for your dracaena, you could apply a thin layer of compost around your plant every spring. In most cases, it is enough to satisfy its whole-season needs.
If you do not have compost at your hand or prefer using the chemical houseplant fertilizer, feed your Dracaena Reflexa once every three or four weeks in the growing seasons (spring and summer) when the plant needs nutrient intake increased. The best choice is a water-soluble fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 3: 1: 2. In the fall, reduce the use of fertilizer, while in winter, you can stop the fertilizer use entirely.
– Dracaena Reflexa Repotting
Dracaena Reflexa is a slow-grower in every way and even when it comes to its root development. It means that it can stay in the same container for several years! If you wonder when to repot your Dracaena Reflexa, the answer is simple- when you notice its roots protruding from the drainage holes! You hint that your Dracaena Reflexa needs a new, bigger “home.”
When transplanting Dracaena Reflexa, take into account two things:
- First, the new pot should be just one or two inches wider and must have drainage holes. Regardless of the soil composition, always place a layer of broken tiles or smaller stones over the openings for better drainage. This layer should be at least one-fifths of the total volume of the container.
- Secondly, the pot must be stable. Dracaena has the shape of a tree with a trunk and a lush canopy, which is why the plant must be well anchored. Wide pots are therefore more suitable than narrow and tall ones.
- If you plant your Dracaena Reflexa in a plastic garden pot, visually and practically, it is best to place it in an additional decorative ceramic pot. A massive ceramic pot will prevent the plant from potentially overturning.
– Dracaena Reflexa Pruning
Despite its slow growth, over time, this plant can grow very large. Additionally, it can lose its form as it grows, developing elongated bare stems with fewer leaves on its top. Therefore, pruning your Dracaena Reflexa will help you maintain the desired, bushy shape or control its size. Using a sterile or clean knife in spring and summer, you could freely cut the top or lateral stems called canes.
Preventively, you can dip your choice of tool into bleach before pruning just to make sure that no plant diseases or bacteria get transferred. Considering that dracaenas in general, including Dracaena Reflexa, are toxic plants, it is advised to use gloves while handling the plant.
How to Propagate Dracaena Reflexa
Like many other dracaenas, the Dracaena Reflexa is very easy and effortless to propagate, and they quickly root up. Propagation involves a couple of simple steps and tools such as scissors, a glass filled with water, or moist soil and should take place in spring when the growth increases. The most common method for propagation of Dracaena Reflexa is using stem cuttings.
- Select healthy and bushy stem tip cuttings around three to five inches long from the highest point.
- Cut your Dracaena Reflexa along the leaf line, and make sure to choose the one with multiple stem nodes.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom part using scissors or a knife dipped in bleach. This is where the plant will develop roots.
- Place your stem cutting into a medium filled with freshwater or highly moist soil. If you opt for the soil it is recommendable to dip the lower part of cutting into a rooting hormone to increase your chance of successful propagation. Yet, it is optional, meaning the plant can develop the root even without this step.
- Choose a spot with a lot of bright filtered light and warmth to place your baby dracaena.
- Once you notice that your stem cutting has developed roots, transfer the plant into a bigger pot filled with potting mix and an adequate drainage system.
Dracaena Reflexa Problems
Generally, Dracaena Reflexa is a problem-free plant. Moreover, except in the case of root rot, most problems are easily solved by eliminating their causes, and the plant recovers quickly and continues to grow. Hence, as long as its root is in function and no matter what condition the aboveground part is in, you have chances to maintain your plant.
You can even remove all its leaves or shorten the trunk just above the roots, yet it will continue growing, giving new stems again.
It seems that it can tolerate everything except the soaked substrate and too low temperatures. Dehydration is a problem, but the plant will endure dry soil for weeks! The leaves can start to curl, and their tips wither, but as soon as you add water, this almost indestructible plant will recover.
Root rot is, therefore, a problem that most often has a fatal outcome. Excess water that the plant is unable to absorb destroys the tissue of the root system. The disorder is then transmitted to the trunk, which decays from the middle towards the edges.
Eventually, the leaves are damaged: they become drooping, flabby, and yellow-brown. At this stage, the trunk can no longer bear the leaf rosette; it usually twists or falls to the ground.
You cannot save a plant like this anymore. Yet, if there is any health stem or just the part of the stem left on the plant, you can propagate a new plant from it. However, since it takes weeks of unfavorable conditions to destroy the plant, do not let it happen! Do not take its indestructibility too literally and regularly check and inspect the plant.
Mealybugs are the most common pest that attacks Dracaena Reflexa. To avoid battling these pests, check your plant’s leaves from time to time because this is where they usually make a home. Mealybugs leave honeydew on the leaves of the plant while sucking its sap and also manifest as white and fuzzy masses.
These tiny invaders are very tricky and not to be underestimated due to their ability to transmit easily to other parts of the plant or other plants. It is best to perform occasional check-ups as a means of prevention. As soon as you notice these pests underneath the foliage, address the problem immediately to stop the transfer.
Luckily there are several successful remedies at your disposal to help you take care of the problem. The most used remedies include neem oil solution and cotton balls dipped in alcohol.
Aphids are another common intruder which are green, black, or translucent in and they often leave a sticky discharge on plant’s leaves. Their presence on your Dracaena Reflexa leaves will cause their leaves to turn yellow occasionally.
The most successful method of evicting this uninvited guest is using insecticidal or regular soap water applied with fabric directly on the spots you notice.
– Spider Mites
These pests are quite hard to battle off, mainly because they are hard to notice unless you use a magnifying glass. Spider mites manifest as tiny yellow or brown spots on the leaves of the Dracaena Reflexa, and they usually leave their eggs underneath the leaves.
Additionally, they thrive in a dry and warm climate, so if your Dracaena Reflexa lacks moisture, spider mites might be an unwanted consequence. Usually, washing them off with fresh water will do the trick. If they show more resistance, you can always resort to neem oil solution, which you can find in garden centers.
If you want an attractive, resistant, and undemanding plant that grows slowly, you will definitely not go wrong with Dracaena Reflexa. The outline of it needs looks like this:
- It prefers bright indirect light, so avoid keeping it in direct sunlight
- The ideal level of humidity is 40 percent, but it is very adaptable and can withstand lower values
- Responds best to well-drained potting mixture
- The optimal temperature is between 60 to 80 F. Do not expose Dracaena Reflexa to low temperatures
- The use of fertilizer is optional. If you want your Dracaena Reflexa to thrive, you may apply a thin layer of compost around it or feed it once a month with liquid fertilizer
- Report it after two or three years
- Prune it freely to control its size or shape
And one more thing: with the mystical name of the genus ‘female dragon’ and the name of the variety that brings the atmosphere of distant tropical islands, isn’t it a plant that everyone would want in their home?
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