The Canary Island dragon tree, Dracaena draco is a palm-like plant which forms a tuft of 2 foot long sword-shaped, green leaves when young. At this stage it is suitable for growing in a greenhouse.
The sharp leaf tips make it an unfriendly house plant when young; its ultimate size will rule it out when mature.
Eventually, a thick trunk will appear. This Dracaena plant is a slow grower but, in time, it will reach a height and spread of 20 feet.
The growth habit is upright. The tree will branch at the top once it begins to flower. A tuft of heavy leaves will form at the tip of each branch.
The greenish-white blossoms are fragrant but they leave messy stems behind after they fall. These will need to be pruned off to keep the plant neat.
This propensity for producing multiple heads is the reason the tree acquired its common name. It reminds Canary Islanders of a many headed dragon. There is another Dracaena plant which shares this common name, Dracaena marginata .
D. draco exudes a fragrant red resin from its trunk and leaves. Early Canary Islanders harvested this resin for use in mummification and as a hair dye. As a result, the trees became endangered in their native range and are now protected.
Because of this red resin, the tree is sometimes called the dragon blood tree. Another Dracaena, cinnabari shares this common name. It looks like D. draco but the resin it produces is of an inferior quality.
If you have a tree and want to see the resin, break a leaf. Do not cut into the main trunk as this may damage the tree.
Dracaena draco is winter hardy outdoors in USDA zones 9-11. It will survive temperatures as low as 22 degrees F.
It can take high heat but performs best when protected from very strong afternoon sun. In very bright desert locations, part sun would be the preferred exposure.
Mature trees are insect and fire resistant but should be protected from high winds.
Plant Dracaena draco from seed. Sow the seed in moist peat. Germination should occur within a month.
Do not compost the soil before planting. Do not allow a dragon tree to dry completely out. It looks more drought tolerant than it actually is. It prefers to be kept slightly moist in the summer and drier in the winter.
Indoor Corn Plant
Dracaena fragrans is called the indoor corn plant because its leaves closely resemble those of the world's most popular grain.
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