Dracaena draco is not the friendliest or most beautiful of houseplants. It has somewhat severe, stiffly pointed leaves that end in something resembling a spike. The leaves are solidly green, and the plant will grow to three or four feet indoors. Sometimes called the “Dragon’s Blood plant,” D. draco exudes reddish resin from wounds and nicks. As a point of interest, this resin was used as a wood dye to stain the famous Stradivarius violins.
Most importantly, though, D. Draco possesses the single most important quality for a houseplant: it is tough beyond all measure.
Light: Relatively bright light.
Water: Allow the plants to dry between waterings, but not completely. These are more susceptible to root rot, so be very careful never to allow them to sit in water.
Temperature: D. draco is more cold-tolerant than other Dracaena species and can briefly tolerate temperatures below 50ºF.
Soil: Loose, well-drained potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed every six months with controlled-release fertilizer. Well-fed plants will develop a slightly reddish tinge to the leaves.
Repot annually or every other year. D. draco thrives when slightly pot-bound, but beware the plant doesn’t become top-heavy and tip over smaller containers.
D. draco is the basic species. I’m not aware of any cultivars, and the only one I’ve ever seen in the trade is the basic plant.
D. draco can be a long-lived, easy houseplant to care for, and it has a certain cactus-ish appeal in its spiky appearance. Older leaves droop downward, while new leaves stick straight up, forming a kind of ball. Native to the Canary Islands, these plants appreciate excellent drainage—the quickest way to kill it is to waterlog the roots.
Watch out for leaf-tip browning, which can be corrected by using non-fluoridated water.