Madagascar Dragon Trees: When a Tree is Like a Vegetable

Madagascar Dragon Trees are popular as potted plants. Dragon Trees are monocots, and are considered to be in the asparagus (asparagaceae) family, thanks to the way maturing trees grow out of doors. While you would not want to add a dragon tree to your salad, the reddish sap from it has medicinal properties. The red sap, sometimes called dragon tears is part of what gives the tree its common name.

A Popular Indoor Potted Plant

Dragon trees are slow to grow. They like temperatures between 70- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit, and they like bright, indirect sunlight. This makes them a good choice for growing indoors. They can reach heights of six feet or better when grown inside. This means that they might need to be repotted often. They are a semi-tropical plant, and like a moderately moist, well-drained soil. As you might guess by looking at their feather duster shaped foliage, they can be a big dust catcher. When weather or circumstances permit, they benefit from being sprayed off, or misted periodically. This also helps control any spider mites that have insinuated themselves into the dust.

Dragon Trees Outdoors

Dragon trees like moderate temperate zones where there is light rainfall. They can handle climates that are dry, but will need watering. Since they like bright, filtered sunlight, they can be grouped near taller trees that can provide a little shade. When grown outside, they have white blooms in the spring. As they mature, they add on “points” or branches naturally, giving the tree its resemblance to a gnarled asparagus plant. They do not develop rings like a standard tree. The only way to estimate a dragon tree’s age is by counting the points. The leaves are lance shaped, somewhat like a palm tree.

Caring for your Dragon Tree Indoors

In addition to the occasional shower bath, your dragon tree will enjoy light watering and a well-drained loamy soil. It can be attractively grouped in a pot with succulents, or placed on a pedestal in solitary splendor. It is listed by NASA as being one of the plants that is excellent for cleaning up toxins in indoor air.

It will need re-potted periodically. When the roots begin to grow out of the drain hole of its container, then it is probably time. The roots can be trimmed and the plant fitted back into its old pot if growth is not desired; or it can be transferred to a bigger pot to encourage growth. Dragon trees can sometimes become “leggy” when they do not receive optimal sunlight. Cutting back the top of the plant will result in it putting up two sprouts at the top, giving it a fuller appearance.

Toxic to Pets

Dragon trees, while non-toxic to humans, are bad for both dogs and cats. Cats are especially attracted to the leaves and want to chew on them. This can cause vomiting and other adverse symptoms, so it is best to keep your kitty and your dragon tree in different rooms.

Foliage colors

Dragon trees come in several different colors, ranging from a mild striped green and white to leaves that are striped with reddish areas. Sun levels can make a difference in color, but the coloration is mostly due to different strains.

Obtaining Your Dragon Tree

Young dragon trees can be purchased from reputable nurseries. Once  you have a thriving dragon tree of your own, you can use the trimmings to grow more trees from cuttings. It is an easy addition to a dish gardens, and similar growing areas in your home. With a little care, before long you can have your own mini-forest of tiny trees. Just keep them separate from your tiny house tiger, catus domesticus, and likewise from your resident canine.



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