The Dracaena genus has provided some of the sturdiest houseplants available today, including the ever-popular D. deremensis. These plants, which are native to Africa, have been used as houseplants since at least the mid-19th century and are still popular because they possess the single most important quality in a houseplant: they’re pretty and fairly hard to kill. D. deremensis work as single windowsill plants or as part of a mixed group, with their various leaf patterns complementing and overlapping one another.
- Light: Low light is fine, but they like it a little brighter. New leaves will narrow if there isn’t enough light.
- Water: Keep evenly moist, although if you have to err, do so on the dry side. (But keeping it too dry will result in brown leaf tips.) Use non-fluoridated water as they are sensitive to fluoride.
- Temperature: Keep above 50ºF if possible. They do best in the mid-70ºs to low 80ºs.
- Soil: Loose, well-drained potting mix.
- Fertilizer: During growing, fertilize with slow-release fertilizer or use a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer at half-strength every month.
They root readily from cuttings. Push tip cuttings into warm soil and keep moist. They will usually root readily without the use of rooting hormone. They should root within a month.
Repot annually into larger pots with fresh, free-draining potting soil.
There are two main varieties:
- ’Warneckii’ features stiff leaves that are striped in gray, green, or white. There are several popular cultivars of Warneckii, including ‘Lemon Lime.’
- ’Janet Craig’ has solid green, flexible leaves. The ‘Janet Craig Compacta’ is smaller in appearance but has much smaller (less than 8 in.) leaves.
D. deremensis is a great plant for low-light conditions but beware of low humidity. If the humidity drops below 40 percent for an extended time, the tips of the leaves can turn brown. Try misting the plant every day to provide humidity. It’s also sensitive to fluoride and excessive salts, so try to use non-fluoridated water and flush monthly to remove fertilizer salts. Growth may cease completely below 70ºF but will resume when warmer weather returns. Iron deficiency can result in yellowing leaves between the veins—treat with an iron drench. They are susceptible to thrips and mealybugs.