Madagascar Dragon Tree

staceybeth(7 MA)June 18, 2007

Hi all,

I just purchased a beautiful Dragon Tree that stands about 24 inches high and has a "twisted" trunk. It came in a very small pot and when I took it out of the pot, it was rootbound. I trimmed the roots and put it in a pot 2x bigger with some potting soil. Is there anything else I need to know about this lovely species? Thanks.

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staceybeth(7 MA)

Before anyone scolds me for touching this beauty's roots... let me just explain that the poor thing was strangling itself and it was "more than rootbound". The person that sold it to me told me that it was rootbound (but I knew that before I bought it) and showed me how the roots were wrapped around the bottom and intertwined with each other.. why they didnt move it into a larger container beforehand just stumps me.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 11:12AM
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I have a couple of these, mine are about 18 inches tall, one is smaller, and they thrive on neglect. I water mine when they are pretty dry, I mist them along with my other plants a couple times a day, and I think I have fertilized it once. They are cool plants that need no special care.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 3:00PM
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Stacey, I'd have let the roots grow..did you cut back the smaller roots? How's the plant doing now?
My question is, why cut the roots if you were going to transplant in a pot 2 times its size? (S)
Most often, roots on all plants tangle..a large pot with fresh soil usually solves the problem. Good luck w/your MP and keep us posted..

Follow Tracy's directions..Toni

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 3:15PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Trimming the roots may have been a good thing. There is a condition called girdleing, in which the roots wrap around the trunk/stem and each other and actually strangle the plant. This often happens with pot bound trees, not good for the plant.
However, be warned not all plants take well to root pruning. I've lost many a beauty over the years.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:19PM
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Alot of times the plants I purchase are rootbound when I get them home. When I buy plants I always buy a pot a size bigger to place it in when I get it home (unless I have a pot at home from a unfortunate demise) but my dragon tree was horribly rootbound when I pulled it out of it's pot, so I too went up 2 inches instead of my standard 1. It has been in my sons room for awhile and is doing great:)
hope you have as much luck with yours, these plants are really neat.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:57PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

You've already gotten good advice. In the future, though, I would be a little more conservative when increasing pot size. Generally you only increase the diameter across the pot by no more than two inches at a time (from 6" to 8", for example).

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 11:35PM
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staceybeth(7 MA)

Thanks all for your great advise!! CHAZ....You are right... the roots were basically strangling the base of the plant... really tightly too... I only trimmed a little off the bottom roots and loosened the bottom up a bit... It is simply amazing and seems to be taking well to its new home. I will take photos and show you all when I get home.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 12:27PM
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I personally have the same plants and I defoliate mine every summer when taking them outdoors completely and prune them and new buds form within 2 weeks and they grow vigiriously until I take them indoors in Autumn

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 6:19PM
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hi all i to have one of these plants from the minute we got i thought something was wrong with it the leaves were turning brown and falling off.ive since then put it in a bigger pot,now 1 of the stems or trunks seems weak and soft and all the new leaves are droping and just hanging not on all the trunks,my guy thinks we have to take it out and cut the roots and i dont want to for fear of losing the whole plant.i cut 1 of the shoots down,actually 2 of them, any suggestions will be greatly appreciated thanks eve

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 4:41PM
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Eve, it sounds like you overpotted..You don't want to plant in too large a pot..
In the process you probably overwatered...Soil needs to dry out before adding more.
Also, what type of soil did you use? It's best using a well-draining mix..if it's heavy the roots will stay wet until they can no longer take up water through the roots.
If it was my tree, I'd remove from its current container, check roots..if new pot looks way larger than roots, put back in older pot, or one 1-2 sizes larger..Toni

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 6:14PM
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this is somewhat of an old thread so i hope someone sees this! :)

i also have a "Dracaena marginata (Madagascar Dragon Tree or Red Edged Dracaena)". my husband bought it as a "baby" (about 5 inches high) more than 6 yrs ago and i have gradually repotted it as it's grown (now about 4 ft high!). what i need to know is, is there a certain way to trim the roots? like, at a certain point on the root? at a certain angle? i can't seem to find this specific info on the web. i did cut the roots once and, luckily, it still survived! i just want to be sure when i take it out and trim the roots (which i'm sure probably look like a bird's nest at this point...), i'm doing it the right way. also, i tended to take off the older shoots, allowing the new ones to come through better but this just makes it even taller! so, is there a way to keep it at a certain height? and how do i intertwine the twisty "trunks" so as to not hurt the plant? if i don't tie them up the get top heavy & droop over really far!
thanks for any help! :)
p.s. we are in the u.k. and have a communal garden, so i don't plant it outside because of the maintanence guys (may just rip it out as it's not an "official property plant") & because of the impending cold weather~

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 3:08AM
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I have a madagascar dragon tree about 6 ft tall. I've had it for 2 yrs. When it came to me it had ivy planted at its' base. Recently i felt too many of the leaves were turning yellow so I did some reading and decided I had been watering it too much. I was watering it once or twice a week (mostly because of the ivy). Now I am wondering if the ivy may be crowding the tree roots and if I should try some way to remove the ivy. The ivy is flourishing. It's still in the same pot I received it in. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Dorothy! The ivy may not be as thirsty as you think. And after 2 years, both plants would probably appreciate being repotted. Tap water chemicals may have built-up in the soil, Dracs are very sensitive to those. Do you have a pic you could include?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:10AM
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I have a madagascar tree that I bought filly recently (2 months or so ago) that initially I kept in the same plastic pot it came in then I started to notice the tips of the leafs browning. I started to get really worried. So I searched online and read someone's post with similar problems and that person was advised to change the pot and add nutritive soil to it. So I did the same. The pot I bought for it does not have a draining hole. I water it about every other day or maybe even every few days. It sits on the ground below the window so that it receives sunlight. It is about 10 feet from an air vent on the ceiling that blows directly towards the window where the plant sits. a couple days ago, I noticed the plant was losing its green leafs, I picked up about 10 leafs a day from the floor. This morning I woke up and saw the stalk where the plant leafs start to grow out of limp and hung over to one side. I am super depressed that this is happening to this plant, I don't know what else to do. Im worried maybe if it is because I watered it too much? Can you please help or give me some advise to revive this lovely plant?

Thank you so much


    Bookmark   October 9, 2014 at 10:03AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you water your plant every day . and it has no drain hole... ????

most likely.. you rotted the roots off ...

insert finger.. and water when it NEARLY dries ... guessing is not approved ....


    Bookmark   October 9, 2014 at 10:06AM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

A photo of the whole plant and one of the roots would be great help. I'd repot asap into cacti and succulent soil if you don't have better draining at hand.
Pot with no drain hole + overwatering is the best way to kil a plant.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2014 at 1:56PM
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I 'inherited' a beautiful older dragon tree. The lady had it for years and it hasn't been cared for other than water (when she remembered). She actually said she wanted it to die, so I brought it home (though it barely fit in my car). I want to repot & trim it back a bit due to it's height so I'm looking for some advice. And I honestly haven't made room in my living room yet. :-D

I think I'll repot first and wait a while before I trim. Any advice on where to start with this beauty?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2014 at 4:16PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Man alive, that is one sad looking plant. Among other things, it definitely in need of a LOT more light.

Others may advise differently. If so it will give you more options.

Personally, I'd say chop that poor thing up into pieces.

First get a bag of potting soil and a bag of perlite and one or more pots with drainage holes if that one does not have any. (I'm assuming the lady has not repotted any time in recent history if ever.)

Mix the perlite and soil 50/50. Moisten the soil so that when squeezed in one hand as you make a fist, it just barely sticks together/does not hold its shape in a ball.

Now the for the hatchet job. Chop the plant apart where the red lines are.

This will leave you with
*1 "stick" in the old pot
*1 section with a tuft of leaves and two branches/stumps of different heights
*1 section with a tuft of leaves and a branch
*2 sections each with a tuft of leaves.

What you do next depends on your personal tastes as well as how many pots you want. You could put each section to its own pot or create group plantings with one or more sections per pot, or a combination of the aforementioned.

Whichever you choose to do...
Fill each pot with your fresh potting soil mix and lightly pack it down. (Should still be soft and workable.)

Push whichever sections you wish to have in the pot into the media just like you would if you were sticking a stake into the soil. Push the section down until about half the trunk is buried.

Lightly press the media around the entry area so that the media is pressed against the trunk.

Put the pot(s) in a warm BRIGHTLY lit area (NO DIRECT sun shining on them) where they will not be disturbed. (Plants have trouble rooting if they keep getting wiggled around.)

Keep the soil lightly moist.

Each section should form roots after several weeks (might even take over a month or two). The main stump and the lopped off branch tops should sprout new growths/branches near the cut off. Typically this sprouting of new growth is a good indicator that the cuttings have rooted.

With that old main stump, if you wish to keep that section too, I'd recommend unpotting it. Then remove all the old soil that you can (a hose could come in handy), untangle the roots as best you can (don't worry about breaking a bunch of them), and repot in fresh media ... spreading the roots out as you do so.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2014 at 9:09PM
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