Dracaena marginata, or the Madagascar Dragon Tree, are slow-growing indoor trees. They have thin, long, and sword-like leaves with red sides.
They come from Madagascar, as their common name suggests. This plant is drought-resistant and beginner friendly. What’s causing the leaves on yours to become droopy? Let’s find out.
Issues With Watering
Are you wondering, “why is my dracaena marginata leaves drooping?” Nine out of ten times, it’s got to do with the plant’s watering. It could be over or under-watering. Before attempting to solve the problem, you must be sure you’ve pinpointed the cause. That’s because if you’re wrong, you may aggravate the issue.
Plants fill their cells up with water much more than animal cells do. They have thick cell walls, which prevent the cells from bursting. That means plants can maintain much higher water pressure within their cells.
The pressure exerted by water stored in plant cells on the cell’s boundary is called turgor pressure. When that pressure is maintained well, the cells are turgid. When that pressure is reduced, plant cells become flaccid.
Flaccid plant cells mean drooping leaves and stems. The only time plant cells have less turgor pressure is when they are dehydrated. Thus, their leaves become droopy when plants don’t get enough water. Dracaena Marginata, or the Madagascar Dragon Tree, is no exception to this rule.
Underwatering happens when we don’t water a plant as frequently as we should. The first sign of under-watering is flaccid or drooping leaves, followed by turning yellow.
If the problem is left unchecked, all the leaves will turn yellow and dry up. Dracaena marginata is a drought-tolerant plant. It’s a tough plant to underwater.
However, nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you have too many plants and forget to water one. You could place it somewhere and forget about it.
Perhaps you were watering it fine, but the temperatures rose where you live suddenly. Many situations can arise where even the most drought-resistant plants get under watered.
If the plant’s leaves are droopy because of under-watering, they will perk up with a timely dose of hydration. Water them and observe if they improve in a few hours. You should see some improvement, no matter how minimal.
Before giving them more water, check if the soil is dry. If the soil is moist and the plant’s leaves are still droopy, it means the problem’s something else.
Surface watering is a common mistake made by beginner gardeners. It’s when you water the top of the soil in the pot and do not ensure it reaches the rest of the soil.
Some people fear overwatering their plants and use very little water at every watering.
This practice makes the soil moist at the top but not the rest of the pot. That means that the roots in the middle and bottom of the pot get little to no water. The plant doesn’t absorb water like it should and becomes droopy.
You must water your plants until you see water running out of the drainage holes. That is the only way to guarantee that the soil is uniformly moistened.
If you fear overwatering, you can water the plant less frequently. You must ensure you use well-draining soil that gets rid of the excess water fast enough to avoid root rot.
The Madagascar Dragon Tree prefers well-draining soil anyway.
The most common reason Dracaena marginata leaves start drooping is overwatering. Underwatering is much rarer due to the drought-resistant nature of the plant.
If you see brown tips on your Dracaena marginata leaves, that’s a sure sign of overwatering.
How can too much water make plants lose their turgidity and become flaccid? The answer is in the roots.
Roots that sit in too much water start to rot. Once the roots begin rotting, they do not absorb water like before. Even though you’re overwatering the plant, the plant cells don’t get enough water. Without enough water, plant cells cannot exert enough pressure on their cells.
Overwatering can come about for two reasons. One reason is watering too frequently, and the other is poor drainage.
Watering too frequently means the plant does not get enough time to utilize the older water before dealing with the new.
Poor drainage is a big reason overwatering could happen and go unnoticed for the longest time. You could give the plant the proper amount of water but still oversaturate it.
Since the drainage is poor, the soil may hang onto every bit of water. Well-draining soil gets rid of excess water quickly. Poor draining soil allows the roots to sit in the wet soil too long.
The solution to overwatering is ensuring the soil is well-draining and watering the plant less frequently. We recommend using loamy soil with peat moss.
Once you’re sure the soil drains well, you can improve your watering methods. Check the soil before watering. There’s no need to add more water if the soil is moist already. Even if you usually do by now.
Water the plant once the first two top inches become dry. By checking for this, you ensure that water isn’t wasted. This practice will keep your dragon plant’s roots healthy.
While issues with watering are the most common causes, other things could be happening.
Dracaena Marginata Root bound
Perhaps you are watering the plant correctly, but it’s still become droopy. Other problems can cause your Dracaena marginata leaves to start drooping. If the plant becomes root bound, it will not be able to absorb water either.
Unlike root rot, plants do not become root bound due to over-watering. That’s an entirely different issue.
Plants become root bound when the roots have grown past the container’s capacity. Outside plant roots can grow unchecked. If they encounter an obstacle, they can go around it.
Plants don’t know they are in a pot. They grow their roots like they would in the ground. When the roots reach the pot’s boundary, they change their growth direction.
That keeps happening until the room in the pot becomes cramped. The roots can reach a point when they have twisted and knotted around each other so much there’s no room for any soil. Without enough soil and room around the roots, they cannot absorb the water they’re supposed to.
An early sign of root rot is seeing roots emerge from the pot’s drainage holes.
If you see roots protruding from the top of the pot, the situation has progressed quite far. Dracaena marginata is a forgiving plant. It doesn’t mind becoming root bound and stops growing. However, if it’s root bound and its leaves are drooping, you should address the situation.
There’s only one solution for a root bound plant. Repotting it is the only way.
Dracaena marginata should be repotted every two years. It’s a slow grower. The pot it is in currently is too small. Upgrade to a deeper pot that is only slightly wider.
We recommend deeper pots than shallow wide ones because they are less likely to cause root rot. Shallow pots hold water for longer. They make it difficult for plants to absorb all the water in time.
To repot your plant, gently shake it out of its original pot. Dry not to damage any of the root tissues while handling it.
Even though you are going to trim off some roots, you want to be careful.
It could encourage rot if the roots are damaged while handling instead of being cut with a sharp knife.
Take a sharp knife or gardening shears and start cutting away the outer roots that are more knotted.
Once you’ve done that, you can plant in any suitable container with well-draining soil and water it. Give the plant some extra TLC for a few days because of the repotting.
Did your Dracaena marginata suddenly become severely wilted, stop growing, and turn yellow? While all these are signs of progressed watering issues, suddenly happening might mean a nasty infection.
Fungus gnats are small flies that breed in overly moist soil. They feed on fungus. If your roots develop rot, they could start feeding on them and begin a cycle of damage.
To eliminate these irritating pests, keep the top two inches of soil dry and use household hydrogen peroxide to water your plants several times. These practices combined should get rid of them for sure.
Sometimes Madagascar Dragon Trees can become infected with a fungus. To be sure, check the stem. Is it rigid and woody like it’s supposed to be, or squishy?
If the stem is squishy, that means that rot has spread to the stem and leaves, causing it to wilt.
Unfortunately, once the stem is squishy, there’s no going back. The plant is dying, and there’s nothing that can save it. Your best bet is propagating any portion that is still rigid to the touch.
Why is my dracaena marginata leaves drooping? The answer almost always has to do with watering and drainage. To ensure your plant’s leaves never wilt, water it correctly, provide well-draining soil, and repot it in a timely manner.
You may like the following articles:
- Why are My Dracaena Marginata Plant Leaves Falling Off?
- What Causes Yellow Spots on Dracaena Marginata
- 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.