Dracaena Marginata, also known as the Madagascar Dragon Tree, is one of the lowest maintenance house plants out there, which is why it is a favorite in homes across the US.
But just because it is easy to keep doesn’t mean you can leave it to its own devices. These plants still require care and can show signs of distress, like not growing.
Keep reading to learn how to recognize growth, why this can happen, and what you can do to restart growth.
Has Your Plant Stopped Growing?
Regardless of the type of Dracaenas, these plants are very slow growers, so they stay the same size for months.
Did you know that the Dracaena Marginata takes up to ten years to grow to its maximum height of 6 feet? And that too in optimal conditions.
So before worrying, first find out what variety of Dragon trees you have and what is its maximum size. Some types stay short and bushy, while others grow tall with spiky leaves.
Once you know, keep an eye on your plant’s growth over a year and not just a few weeks.
These tropical plants don’t have a dormant phase, but if their environment is less than optimal, it will slow down.
So don’t be surprised if your Dracaena stops growing in the winter, especially if you like in areas that get especially cold, like North Dakota or Minnesota.
If you’re looking for a dramatic statement in your home, consider buying a full-grown Dragon Tree instead of waiting for one to grow.
Reason 1: The Temperature is Not Right
As a topical succulent from Madagascar’s warm, humid climate, the Dracaena thrives in a temperature that falls between 65 °F – 75 °F. Usually, the US homes’ temperature ranges around 70 °F – 75 °F, which is ideal.
However, not all areas in a home have the same temperature, and temperatures can fluctuate greatly in certain areas.
For example, spots near heat vents, the kitchen, or bathrooms will be warmer, while hallways and windows may be relatively cooler.
At the same time, you need to check how the temperature changes in a particular area throughout the day. Say you placed your plant near a door that leads outside or a drafty window.
You will notice that whenever the door opens or a breeze comes in, the temperature drops and rises quickly, which is not ideal and can affect growth.
Consider purchasing a thermometer that you can keep near your Dragon Tree. That way you can monitor the temperature. If you notice it falling out of the ideal range, try changing your plant’s location in your home.
Reason 2: Not Enough Sunlight
Like all plants, Dracaenas need energy from the sun’s light for photosynthesis. If any plant is not getting enough light, it will not be able to grow.
Despite coming from a part of the world with warmer temperatures, Dracaenas prefer indirect sunlight, not direct.
Ideally, it should be bright, but these plants can take a medium to low light, affecting the growth speed.
You can quickly check if your plant is getting enough indirect light. Place your hand on a wall and look at the shadow on the wall.
If the shadow does not have a distinct border, then there is not enough light. You need to move your plant to a brighter part of your home.
The best side would be in a room with windows that face west or south as they get the most sun. But don’t put your plant right in front of the window as that will be too much direct sunlight; it will do more harm than good. Keep it further back, preferably on the opposite wall.
You can keep your plant outside if you don’t have any place inside. But only in the spring and summer when the temperature is above 65 °F.
Keep your plant under a covered or shaded area to make sure the leaves don’t burn in the sunlight.
If you don’t have a suitable area inside or out, try using a grow light. These are a great way to supplement the light in a room and can help with growth.
Many have automatic on and off settings. Just plug it in and set it 18 to 24 inches away from your Dracaena.
Reason 3: Watering it too Much
Dracaenas kept inside like to be in drier soil, so it is always better to water a little less. This is because their trucks are very good at storing water.
They are succulents, after all. You may check the soil, thinking it is too dry, and unintentionally overwater your plant.
It’s difficult to tell if you have overwatered a Dracaena because they don’t show the signs immediately. It can take over a week before you see the leaves start to turn yellow or fall off.
But this time it can be too late to reverse the effects. It is always better to avoid overwatering your plant from the get-go.
There are a few ways to do this. First of all, don’t stick to a watering schedule. Always check the soil first.
In the case of the Dracaenas, check the top two inches of the soil to see if it has dried out by poking your finger straight down into the soil. Only water if it is dry.
Otherwise, wait a few days before checking again.
You can use a moisture meter to monitor the soil, so you don’t have to keep checking. These handheld devices have probes that you can stick into the soil to measure the water content.
The type you purchase will either have a color reading or display a number to tell you how much moisture there is.
Reason 4: Your Plant is Root Bound
Root bound, also known as pot bound, is a problem many plant owners face with their potted plants. Basically, it is when your plant gets too big for its pot, and the roots clump or ball up together too tightly.
What ends up happening is the roots keep growing around each other, which destabilizes the plant and can stop it from growing.
Check to see if you can see any roots poking out the drainage holes of the pot. That is a sure sign that your Dracaena is getting too big and needs to move to a bigger pot.
When repotting, take extra care when loosening the root ball. Move your fingers around it gently to loosen any packed soil caught in between instead of pulling on the roots, which can damage them.
Reason 5: Not Enough Nutrients
While a Dracaena is in an appropriate-sized pot, it can stay there happily for a few years until it has used all the nutrients in the soil.
If your plant has been in the same pot for several years and isn’t growing it might be because of a lack of nutrients. Try refreshing the soil with a top dressing or repotting your plant into a new fresh mix.
To top dress the soil, first remove the top layer of soil, about 3 – 4 inches, and replace it with a new soil mixture or compost.
This is a simple and effective way to get your plant the nutrients it needs without going through the process of repotting.
It is always advised to stick to organic matter as opposed to chemical fertilizers in the case of Dracaenas because they are very salt sensitive.
Reason 6: Your Plant is in Shock
Plant shock is when your plant reacts to sudden changes in its environment or is damaged. When this happens, your plant uses all its energy to recover from this distress instead of growing.
This case is something that all plants can experience, even the hardiest of species.
Ask yourself, have you been moving your Dracaena repeatedly over a short amount of time? Has it had to deal with many changes in temperature, humidity, or sunlight recently?
Have you been repotting or changing the soil too often? Have all of these changes been happening at the same time?
In any of these situations, the sudden change can be stressful for your plant. You have to give it time to restore its health.
When making any changes, you have to be patient and go one at a time and then give your Dracaena time to adjust about 2 – 3 weeks.
Also, check your plant for any damage. If you have placed it in a high-traffic area, it is possible that leaves have been bent or snapped, which, again, can cause stress.
To protect your plant, move it to a different area of your home away from heavily used hallways and doors.
In the End
Now you know the various reasons your Dracaena Marginata is not growing. It could be because the conditions are not ideal like the wrong temperature or not enough light.
It could also be a case of too much water, insufficient nutrients, root bound, or even shock.
Whatever the reason, you now have a couple of solutions for each one. Try them out but remember to take it slow and steady. Just because they say that Dragon Trees thrive on their own, you still need to take care. Hopefully, by following these tips, your plant will be back to growing in no time.
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- Why Is My Dracaena Marginata Drooping
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.