The Madagascar Dragon Tree is a striking plant with long slim spiky leaves. It adds a dramatic feel to any home and is surprisingly easy to keep alive. No wonder it is one of the indoor plants of choice in the US.
However, there is nothing more distressing than seeing spots popping up all over its glorious leaves.
A Dragon Tree that develops white, black, red, yellow, or brown spots is having some issues and needs immediate attention. Read on to learn what these colors mean and what you can do to eliminate them.
If your Madagascar Dragon Tree has white spots on its leaves, it could be a few things, such as a fungal infection, pests like mealybugs, or extra salt excreted through the leaves.
You first need to examine the leaves carefully, even under a magnifying glass, to assess the situation.
Powdery mildew can grow on your Dragon Tree. It is one of the most common indoor plant fungi. In its early stages, it looks like tiny white spots, but as it progresses, it will cover the leaves and look like powdered sugar.
This fungus thrives in environments where the humidity is high, there is little air circulation, and the light is low. So if your plant is living in these conditions, it will encourage this fungus to grow.
The best thing to do is treat your plant as quickly as possible before it spreads. Trim off affected leaves with sharp shears, disinfecting in between. Then clean the rest of the plant by wiping it down with a fungicide and spraying it twice a week until the spots disappear.
An effective homemade one is given below if you don’t want to use a chemical fungicide.
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon dish soap
- 1 gallon of water
This mixture is mild enough to be used daily for at least three weeks because the fungus has spores you can’t see, and the last thing you need is those white spots coming back.
Mealybugs are small flat white bugs that are not just on the leaf of your Dragon Tree but also on the branches and stems.
These pests excrete a white waxy substance that covers their bodies, which makes them especially hard to remove with a fungicide.
You must clean your plant thoroughly if you have a mealybug infestation. Isolate your Dragon Tree and prune leaves that are severely affected.
Then use cotton balls dipped in 70% rubbing alcohol to wipe all sides of the leaves and gaps.
Once you have cleaned all the visible spots, spray your plant with a mix of 1 cup of 70% rubbing alcohol with one teaspoon of dish soap, diluted in 32 ounces of water.
Treat your entire plant from top to bottom twice a week to stop the pests from returning.
This is an involved process, so regularly inspect your Dragon Tree before the infestation gets out of hand.
Extra Salt Being Excreted Out
As Dragon Trees are succulents, and they store water in their trunks. This water moves up the stem and transpires out of the leaves.
It is possible that if there is too much salt in the water you are using, it can leave salt stains on the leaves that look like white spots. This can also happen if you water your plant from above.
In such cases, wipe your leaves off with a damp microfiber cloth to clean up the stains.
Red spots on your plant’s leaves can be a sign of spider mites. These tiny red spiders burrow in the soil and lay eggs on the leaves.
In the later stages of the infestation, you will even see webs in the leaves. They will kill your plant if you don’t get rid of them.
On your Dragon Tree, these red dots can be hard to see, particularly in Dracaena Marginata varieties with leaves with a red edge.
The easiest way is to give your Dragon Tree a good shake and see if any red spiders fall out.
If they do, immediately isolate your plant and treat it with 70% rubbing alcohol and water every third day for a few months to kill all the pests and their eggs.
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There are several reasons your Madagascar Dragon Tree has black spots on its leaves. Possibilities include overwatering, pests, fungi, and bacterial or viral infections.
If you see black spots in the middle of your Dragon Tree’s leaves and notice that the stem is also blackening and softer, you most likely overwatered your plant.
Because this issue starts from the roots, your plant is on its last legs if it has reached the leaves.
Immediately un-pot your plant and check the roots. If they are mushing and slimy, you have root rot. If it isn’t too extensive, you can remove the damaged roots and repot your Dragon Tree in dry soil.
But don’t start watering again until you can feel the stem harden and you see some new growth.
Some microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, and viruses can grow on the leaves of your house plant, giving it black spots.
One way to tell if you have an infected plant is to check the Trunk of your Dragon Tree. If it is still solid and you don’t see any blacking around its base, you may have some infection.
First, you will need to isolate your plant and prune the most affected leaves. It is essential to use sharp shears as you don’t want to stress your plant out any further.
Make sure to disinfect the blades of the shears between snips to prevent the infection from spreading.
Finally, wipe your plant down with 70% rubbing alcohol and continue doing this every few days until the blackening recedes.
In the case of fungus, you can also use fungicides, neem oil, and fungal soaps. Using any of these will help your plant bounce back.
Unfortunately, there is not much else you can do for a bacterial or viral infection.
Try to keep your plant in its optimal environment to improve its health to fight off the infection. But if you don’t see any improvement, then there is nothing else you can do except get rid of the plant.
Yellow or Brown Spots
If your Madagascar Dragon Tree has yellow spots, it is usually a sign that your plant does not like its environment.
This may seem unexpected as this variety of houseplants is considerably low-maintenance and easy to take care of.
However, that doesn’t mean it can stay in sub-optimal conditions for an extended period. It has certain base requirements, and if those are not met, your plant may survive, but it won’t thrive.
If you see yellow spots, try to address the problems. Otherwise, they will get darker, turning brown and eventually killing your plant.
Use the following checklist to ensure your Dragon Tree is in the proper environment.
- The temperature is between 65 – 75 degrees F
- The humidity is between 60 – 80 %
- Your plant is in an area of your home that gets bright indirect sunlight
- There are no cold drafts or sudden drops or rises in temperature
- There is adequate air circulation
- You have potted your plant in an appropriate-sized pot filled with a gravely potting mix, and it drains well.
- You are using a water-soluble 10 – 10 – 10 (NPK) houseplant fertilizer in the growing season every few months.
- You only water your plant by the base when the top 2 – 3 inches of soil are completely dry.
- You are using water that does not have a high mineral, chlorine, or fluoride content.
Check out: Polka Dot Plant Toxic to Cats
An Important Note
For any of the solutions suggested here, remember that when you make any changes to your Dragon Tree’s environment, it will cause stress, even if the changes are for the better.
Always go slow when making changes, and give your plant sufficient time to acclimatize, which takes about 2 – 4 weeks.
You may see the spotting get worse before it improves, but it is important to be patient before you make another change.
Another thing to remember is that as your Dragon Tree matures, the older leaves at the bottom will yellow and blacken. This is part of the growing process.
As these leaves fall off, new ones will grow from the top. There is not much you need to do other than speed up the process by regularly pruning your plant.
In the End
Even though your Dragon Tree is a resilient houseplant, it is crucial to keep an eye on them to be sure they are not developing any spots.
Your responsibility as a plant parent is to keep your Dragon Tree healthy and happy. In return, it will provide you with a kind of therapy that you can’t get from pets like cats and dogs – and you don’t have to clean up after these plants, either.
Remember, white and black spots signify fungus or bacterial infections, while yellow and brown spots are signs of unfavorable conditions. Hopefully, by following some of the suggestions here, you will be able to reverse the spotting and get your Dragon Tree looking healthy and beautiful again.
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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.