Dracaena species make great houseplants because they’re well adapted to the conditions in a typical home. And there are so many different varieties, from tall and spikey to compact with lush, tropical-looking leaves. But once you’ve found your favorite Dracaena variety, how can you encourage it to grow as tall as possible?
The best way to encourage your Dracaena to get taller quickly is to provide it with optimal care. To grow, Dracaenas need plenty of indirect sunlight, proper nutrients, and humidity. These plants are known to be slow-growing, so even with ideal conditions, it will take years to see significant growth.
Certain species can reach as high as 10 feet tall indoors, but it can take a Dracaena owner a decade or more to achieve. If you are not prepared to wait that long and want an impressively tall specimen, it is best to invest in a Dracaena that is already full-sized.
Do Dracaenas Grow Quickly? What to Expect from a Healthy Dracaena
Dracaenas grow slowly. These plants have many rewarding features, but rapid growth is not one of them. On the other hand, their slow growth can benefit you since you don’t have to worry about repotting them frequently or repositioning the plant if it outgrows its location.
It is difficult to generalize how much growth to expect, since Dracaena species are so varied in their size and growth pattern. Some types like Dracaena compacta (common name Dracaena Janet Craig) tend to stay small and compact. Others can grow to the size of a tree, even indoors.
So, before you try any tactics to speed up your Dracaena’s growth, it is important to know which variety you have. Sometimes garden centers will not label the specific type, so you can do an image search or post a photo on Reddit if you are unsure. Once you know the variety, you will better understand your Dracaena houseplant’s potential maximum size.
How Tall Can Dracaena Houseplants Get?
The tallest types of Dracaena houseplants usually available are Dracaena marginata (Madagascar Dragon Tree) and Dracaena fragrans (Corn Plant). They can grow to 50 feet in the wild, but you are unlikely to get that kind of height in your home, if only because of the limits of the ceiling.
Tall Dracaena species can grow to 10 feet indoors if you never prune them. This is likely to take years and may not result in the most attractive specimen. Many people prefer to cut Dracaenas back to a more manageable size, and they respond well to pruning.
How to Encourage Faster Growth from Your Dracaena: 5 Tips
Tip #1: Provide Plenty of Sunlight
The best way to get your Dracaena to grow more quickly is to provide it with plenty of bright indirect sunlight. Dracaenas can tolerate lower-light situations, but this will cause them to grow even more slowly than usual. Their foliage can get sunburned if placed in direct sun, so avoid putting them in locations where they would be hit with intense rays. The trick is to get it just right.
Sunlight provides Dracaenas with the energy to devote to creating new growth. They use the sun’s energy in photosynthesis, which in turn allows the plant to get larger. More light leads to more energy, and therefore faster growth.
Try placing your Dracaena close to a southern-facing window, but not directly up against it. A plant that is back about 4-6 feet from the window will have access to lots of bright light, but won’t be damaged by the intensity of the rays.
Don’t have a brighter location for your Dracaena? Don’t worry, you can fake it. With a grow light, your plant will receive light that mimics the spectrum they absorb from the sun. We always recommend this bulb, but if you want to read more about grow lights before jumping in, click here.
Tip #2: Watch for Pests
Dracaenas are not especially susceptible to houseplant pests, but they can attract the usual suspects like spider mites, aphids, and scale. Pests can cause your Dracaena to become stressed, which will prevent it from growing as quickly as it should. Check the foliage occasionally to find signs of insects or infections.
Monitor your Dracaena to catch pests before they can multiply and spread to other plants. Dracaena foliage does not show stress as readily as some other plants, so a plant can sometimes become seriously infected before it looks damaged.
If you find any pesky critters on your Dracaena, remove as many of the insects as you can with a spray of water from a hose, sink, or shower. Then spray your Dracaena down with Neem oil to fight against the infestation.
Tip #3: Clean the Leaves
This is related to the first two tips, but may not be immediately obvious as a way to help your Dracaena grow more quickly. The long, flat leaves of Dracaenas can collect a lot of dust. Dusty leaves look bad, and they also interfere with the plant’s ability to absorb sunlight.
A dusty and stressed plant can also attract insects, so regularly cleaning the leaves is a good way to keep your Dracaena healthy. You can spray down the leaves in the sink or shower, or wipe them down with a soft, damp cloth. I try to clean my plants about once a month, or anytime I notice their leaves are starting to get dirty.
Tip #4: Water Correctly
Dracaenas are easily damaged when given too much water. In fact, it’s much better to water these plants too little over too much. Dracaenas with trunk-like stems (such as the Corn Plant, Dracaena massangeana and Dragon Tree, Dracaena marginata) can store extra moisture in the trunk, so these types may be susceptible to overwatering even when their soil feels dry.
Always allow the top 50% of the potting mix to dry out before you water your Dracaena again. Stick your finger down into the soil a few inches? Do you feel any moisture? If so, wait a few days and check again.
When you do water your Dracaena, be sure to do so thoroughly. Remember, these plants won’t be watered often, so they need to make the best of what you give them. That means that a thorough watering where the liquid can reach all the way to the bottom of the roots is crucial. Always water your Dracaena until about 20% of what you put in, flows out through the drainage hole in the bottom of your container.
Tip #5: Provide Nutrients
While Dracaenas do not need much fertilization, if they stay in the same potting mix for too long, they may develop a nutrient deficiency. If you choose to fertilize, use an all-purpose fertilizer diluted to ¼ of the recommended strength.
Since Dracaenas are sensitive to the salts in commercial fertilizers, I prefer to use compost to provide them with essential nutrients. You can repot the plant or just refresh the top layer with compost to give a Dracaena the boost it needs to speed up its growth.
Make Sure Your Dracaena Is Healthy
A healthy Dracaena has maximum growth potential. When you’re purchasing your plant, check it for any signs of disease or infection. Also, check the soil, as it can be hard to salvage a Dracaena that might have been overwatered in the store. The potting mix itself should be chunky and drain freely, and shouldn’t be too wet. Overwatering is potentially fatal to Dracaenas, so remember to only add more water when the soil has dried out.
You should not need to repot your Dracaena very often, as they grow so slowly. However, it can be useful to change out the soil periodically, even if you are replanting the Dracaena back into the same pot. The container needs to have drainage holes to make sure the soil doesn’t get too soggy.
Dracaenas are not picky about how much light they get, but prefer bright, indirect lighting conditions. Species with striped or colorful leaves need more light than deep-green types. Regardless of variety, these plants can get sunburned in direct sun.
Average household temperatures are perfect for Dracaenas, and they are generally fine with indoor humidity of around 40%-50%. If you live in a particularly dry environment or use heating and cooling systems that dry out the air, your Dracaena will appreciate the addition of a humidifier. Finally, inspect your plant regularly to keep them free from dust, insects, or infection.
Dracaenas are not demanding plants, and they can grow very tall if they’re given enough time. Patience is the first requirement if you are hoping to get a big Dracaena! After that, they need a solid foundation in a free-draining potting mix and a pot with drainage holes.
Provide your Dracaena with plenty of indirect or filtered sun that it can convert to energy! If your plant is growing too slowly, lack of light is the most likely explanation. Move your plant to a brighter location or supplement with a grow light to remedy this.
Growing Dracaenas can certainly be rewarding as long as you have the appropriate expectations. Remember that these are slow-growers but tolerate many types of conditions. And since there are so many varieties, you can use them anywhere that needs to have an extra pop of green!