How Often Should You Water Your Dracaena Plant - Backyard Boss
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How Often Should You Water Your Dracaena Plant

Dracaena plants encompass diverse trees and succulent shrubs, ranging from colorful dragon trees to resilient snake plants. A popular houseplant, Dracaenas are low-maintenance, long-living, and difficult to kill. Best of all, they reduce pollutants in the air.

Despite being tough, Dracaena are particularly susceptible to overwatering. When determining when to water, it’s necessary to know which species you have to look out for signs that your plant is thirsty. Learn how often you should water your Draceana, discover the best watering methods, and more!

What Are Dracaena Plants?

Dracaena fragrans
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Part of the asparagus family, the Dracaena genus encompasses approximately 170 species, several of which are common houseplants. Popular varieties include the corn plant, lucky bamboo, dragon trees, and the recently added snake plant (formerly Sansevieria).

Primarily native to tropical Africa, these plants are drought, heat, and wind tolerant. Despite their ability to withstand heat and humidity, they prefer shade and are good low-light plantsRelated to the agave plants, many species of Dracaena are succulents and capable of surviving without water for months.

Signs Your Plant Needs Water

Dracaena with brown leaves
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One of the most common signs of a dehydrated Dracaena is browning and crispy leaves. It can also signify too much direct sunlight, so rule this out by placing your Dracaena somewhere it receives mainly indirect light. Most Dracaena species can handle direct sunlight for two to six hours a day without showing signs of stress but prefer lower light levels.

North and east-facing windows are ideal. If placing your Dracaena in front of a west or south-facing window, it is best to pull a light curtain across the window or set the plant back a few feet.

If you notice your Dracaena leaves are yellowing, this is often a sign of overwatering. The leaves and the trunk (if it has one) may also feel soft or soggy.

Different Watering Methods

watering dracaena on a shelf
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There are several ways to water your Dracaena, and your preference may depend on the species you have or the type of pot in which you’ve placed your plant.

Top Watering

Top watering is the traditional method. It works well for Dracaena plants in the spring, summer, and fall months when their watering needs are higher. It’s excellent for flushing out the soil and when fertilizing

Dracaena plants should always be in a pot with drainage; water from the top until the water flows out of the bottom. Be careful to avoid getting the trunk and crown wet when watering varieties such as dragon trees and snake plants, as this can lead to rot.

Bottom Watering

Bottom watering is an excellent alternative method, especially in winter when Dracaena’s watering needs are lower. It is also a fantastic way to avoid overwatering, avoid getting the foliage wet, and encourage the growth of strong roots. Allow the plant to drink until it stops, and dump any remaining standing water.

Growing In Water

As an alternative to regular watering, some species of Dracaena, such as lucky bamboo and snake plants, can survive in just water. You can also pot them in soil, but they will happily thrive in water for the duration of their life. All you need to do is to top up the water when it’s running low, and you’ll never have to worry about a watering schedule again!

How Often to Water Your Dracaena

Woman watering Dracaena plants
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In the growing months (between spring and fall), you can expect, on average, to water your Dracaena plants every one to two weeks. In the winter, Dracaena plant watering needs may range from every two weeks to every two months.

Watering needs will also vary depending on the level of drought tolerance, the type of soil used, and the environment. 

  • Corn plants can handle a slightly-moist soil instead of completely drying out during their growing season and will need a more frequent watering schedule.
  • Dracaena cinta dragon trees also prefer a slightly-moist soil during their growing seasons, requiring more water. In contrast, Dracaena marginata dragon trees prefer to dry out slightly between waterings, but not severely.
  • Lucky bamboo, if grown in soil, prefers a slightly moist medium.
  • On the other hand, Snake plants prefer that their soil completely dry out between waterings and have a higher drought tolerance than other Dracaena.

In general, Dracaena like to partially dry out between waterings, preferring between 50 and 75 percent of the soil to dry out. So check the soil a few inches down. You should water your Dracaena whenever the soil is dry and adapt according to the season.

The best way to determine if your Dracaena needs water is to check the soil with your finger or a stick. Leaving a wooden skewer stick in your succulent plant pots is an easy and trustworthy way to decide when you need to water. Remove the stick when you think your plant may need water, and only water if the stick is dry.

Final Tips

watering a snake plant
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Dracaena plants are particularly susceptible to root rot, so do not overwater them. One of the best ways to ensure you do not overwater your Dracaena plants is by using well-draining soil. Use pots with drainage, such as terra cotta pots, which have the added benefit of drying out more quickly than plastic pots. If, after watering, the soil is taking too long to dry out, repot in a better draining medium.

Dracaena plants are also sensitive to fluoride, causing discoloration of the leaves, and thrive best when watered with non-fluoridated water. Unfortunately, fluoride does not evaporate from water when left to sit, so if your water contains fluoride, consider harvesting rainwater or using spring water instead.

Dracaena have low fertilizer needs, so add a balanced, general-purpose plant food at half the strength once a month throughout the growing season. Dracaena do not need fertilizer during their dormant months. Too much fertilizer will cause browning of the leaf tips.

Keep Your Dracaena Dry

Dracaena is a unique and stunning genus great for beginners and easy to easy to propagate when they outgrow their space. They thrive on a little bit of neglect and only put up a fuss when overwatered. Generally, water your Dracaena every one to two weeks in the growing season and as infrequently as every two to two months in the cooler months.

How often do you water your Dracaena plants? Share in the comments!