Types of Dracaena with Care Guide and Pictures

Types of Dracaena plants

Dracaena plants are types of tropical trees and shrubs that are popular houseplants. Indoor varieties of dracaena thrive in low to bright light and are attractive drought-tolerant plants.

Most types of dracaena houseplants are characterized by upright woody stems, long pointed lanceolate arching leaves, and bushy foliage. Compact species of dracaena are ideal on tabletops, whereas larger dracaena plants are excellent floor plants.

Many varieties of dracaena have interesting leaves and growth habits. Some types of dracaena leaves are long glossy green with reddish edges. Other species have broad shiny leaves with yellow stripes or interesting variegation patterns. Many mature dracaena plants look like small indoor trees.

The article is a guide to the most popular varieties of dracaena plants for enhancing your interior. You’ll also find out how to care for these low-maintenance leafy houseplants.

Dracaena Facts

Dracaena plants supposedly get their name from the Greek word for female dragon. Because of this fact, dracaena plants are often called dragon plants or trees. Types of dracaena are also called corn plants, cane plants, cornstalk dracaena, mass cane plants, dragon trees, and ribbon plants.

Did you know that many species of dracaena help purify the air? According to a NASA study, Dracaena deremensis, Dracaena marginataDracaena ‘Warneckei,’ and Dracaena massangeana (mass cane or corn cane plant) help remove some toxins in the air. Among the dangerous chemicals that dracaena plants help clean are xylene, formaldehyde, and toluene.

From all the houseplants you can grow indoors, dracaena species are some of the most shade-tolerant varieties. They are also tolerant of drought, so you can almost neglect the plants, and they will still grow.

Types of Dracaena 

The most popular types of dracaena plants are the Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig,’ with it long, broad green leaves, the ‘Warneckii’ Dracaena with spiky-looking variegated green and cream-colored leaves, the Red-Edged Dracaena marginata with red and green leaves, and the Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India’ with its pointed yellow and green leaves.

Another popular species of dracaena is Dracaena sanderiana or Lucky Bamboo. Although this plant looks like bamboo, it’s a member of the genus Dracaena. The auspicious plant often has a distinctive curly top with a few leaves. This plant grows well in water without any soil.

Let’s look in more detail at the common dracaena species that you can grow at home.

Dracaena Fragrans (syn. Dracaena Deremensis)

Dracaena fragrans (also called corn plant dracaena or Dracaena deremensis) is a popular houseplant with broad, dark green leaves and bushy foliage. This dracaena variety grows well in indirect light and is also a pretty shade-tolerant plant. There are many beautiful cultivars in the species Dracaena fragrans.

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ (Dracaena fragrans ‘Janet Craig’)

Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ plants grow to about 3 ft. (1 m) tall indoors

The ‘Janet Craig’ dracaena plant is a shrubby flowering plant with glossy dark-green leaves. Its leaves grow up to 24” (60 cm) long and 3” (7.5 cm) wide. Arching lance-shaped leaves grow all the way up the stem. As the tree-like plant matures, leaves drop from the lower stem, revealing a thick woody stem.

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ flowers with clusters of fragrant white flowers growing on a single thick stem. This indoor dracaena variety only blooms indoors under optimal conditions.

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ Compacta

Dracaena Jenny Craig compacta

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ Compacta is a slow growing plant that is also called ‘Pineapple Dracaena’ and ‘Dracaena Compacta’

‘Janet Craig’ Compacta dracaena cultivar is an ideal bedroom plant as it tolerates low light. This dwarf dracaena variety has a shorter growth and smaller leaves than the larger plant. Its compact growth is characterized by thick, glossy dark-green leaves that grow in a rosette pattern around the cane.

Like most species of dracaena, the ‘Janet Craig Compacta’ is a slow-growing plant. You only need to water the soil occasionally when the potting mixture is dry.

Lemon Lime Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’) 

Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’

Dracaena ‘Lemon Lime’ has variegated leaves with lime green edges and darker green and thin white stripes in the center

The stunning ‘Lemon Lime’ dracaena has brightly-colored yellow and green leaves with thin white stripes separating between them. The elongated lanceolate leaves have a green band in the center and golden yellow and lime striped edges. The lemon-lime leaves grow in a rosette style around the central wood stem.

As with many dracaena varieties, the ‘Lemon Lime’ plant grows well in low light. With its cheerful leaves, this plant is ideal for brightening up any room or shaded corner. ‘Lemon Lime’ dracaena grows to between 5 and 10 ft. (1.5 – 3 m).

Lemon Surprise Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Surprise’)

Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon Surprise'

The variegated leaves of ‘Lemon Surprise’ dracaena are slightly twisted

‘Lemon Surprise’ dracaena plants have stunning variegated foliage in vibrant shades of lime green and darker green center with thin white stripes between them. The pointed leaves also have curling, twisting growth, which makes the cane plant genuinely unique.

‘Lemon Surprise’ dracaena plants are shorter than the ‘Lemon Lime’ cultivar and grow up to 2-3 feet (60 – 90 cm). ‘Lemon Surprise’ dracaena prefers bright indirect sunlight, however it can also tolerate lower light levels.

Warneckii Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Warneckii’)

Dracaena fragrans ‘ 'Warneckei'

Warneckii dracaena plant has dark green leaves with white strips

‘Warneckii’ is one of the most popular variegated dragon plant varieties. This dracaena has long sword-shaped green leaves with wide creamy-white bands. This dracaena with white stripes is a carefree houseplant that thrives in low light or indirect bright light. Dracaena ‘Warneckii’ grows up to 2 ft. (60 cm) tall and looks like a small spiky indoor tree.

‘Warneckii’ dracaena grows well in average room temperatures of 60°F to 80°F (16°C – 27C°). You can also grow varieties of dracaena outdoors as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 55°F (13°F).

Limelight Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Limelight’) 

Dracaena fragrans ‘Limelight'

Limelight dracaena has attractive bright lime-green foliage

The attractive feature of ‘Limelight’ dracaena plants is their light electric lime-green leaves. The unusual foliage color looks almost translucent green, making this dracaena species one of the most interesting cane plants. The lime-green leaves keep their color even if the plant grows in partial to full shade.

‘Limelight’ dracaena plants grow up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall indoors. Make sure the potting mix is kept slightly moist, without ever becoming soggy or too damp.

Dracaena Lisa (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lisa’) 

Dracaena Lisa

‘Lisa’ dracaena plants are one of the hardiest houseplants you’ll come across. With their dark glossy green, lance-shaped leaves, it’s easy to mistake this cane plant for the ‘Janet Craig’ cultivar; However the leaves of Dracaena Lisa are narrower. From all the other Dracaena fragrans cultivars, ‘Lisa’ tolerates low light the best. Compared to similar dracaena plants, ‘Lisa’ dracaena foliage grows upward with slight curling at the leaf tips.

Dorado Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Dorado’) 

The ‘Dorado’ dracaena is a shade-loving houseplant with broad, glossy green arching leaves. The slightly variegated dracaena leaves are green with thin yellow margins. The twisting dracaena leaves aren’t as long as many others of the Dracaena fragrans cultivars.

Hawaiian Sunshine Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Hawaiian Sunshine’)

‘Hawaiian Sunshine’ dracaena plants have upright growth and are perfect for adding a visual accent to a dull corner. The glossy green striped dracaena leaves have darker green edges and a light, lime-green stripe running down the center. Although all dracaena plants are low-light houseplants, these species grow better in bright, indirect light.

Other Dracaena fragrans Cultivars

Dracaena fragrans ‘Lindenii’—The corn tree has glossy sword-like green leaves with yellow edges.

Dracaena fragrans ‘Victoria’—The ‘Victoria’ corn plant cultivar has a thick yellow band in the middle of the green leaves, similar to dracaena massangeana.

Dracaena fragrans ‘Bausei’—The dark green leaves of this corn plant have white stripes in the center.

Dracaena Massangeana (Mass Cane)

Dracaena fragrans massangeana 3

Dracaena massangeana plant prefers moderate indirect light but can also tolerate low light

Also called the mass cane plant and corn plant, the Dracaena massangeana is one of the more popular dracaenas. This dracaena variety has a thick woody stem with bushy green and lime green foliage. The pointed sword-like leaves have shades of green striped variegation. Growing in pots indoors, mass cane plants grow between 4 and 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m) tall.

Dracaena Marginata (Red Edged Dracaena or Dragon Tree)

dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata plants have green leaves with red edges

The Red-Edged dracaena plant (Dracaena Marginata) has spectacular thin, tapered leaves giving the dragon tree a spiky appearance. The long leaves mostly grow straight, with only the longest ones arching over. This dragon tree species has a thin upright stem that branches into separate upward-growing stems.

As the common name ‘Red-Edged’ suggests, these dracaena plants have green leaves with red edges. Other names for Dracaena marginata include Pleomele, Straight-Marginated dracaena, Madagascar dragon tree, Dragon Blood tree, and Red-Margined dracaena. This dracaena species also has the botanical name ‘Dracaena Reflexa var. angustifolia.’

Some of the Dracaena marginata cultivars are magnificent indoor low-light houseplants. Let’s take a look at one of the best examples—Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor.’

Dracaena Marginata ‘Tricolor’

Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor'

Dracaena Marginata ‘Tricolor’ has very ornamental foliage with green, cream and pinkish-red leaves

Also called the ‘Dracaena Cincta,’ the ‘Tricolor’ Madagascar dragon tree has narrow, ribbon-like leaves that have cream, green, and pinkish-red stripes. The green and cream variegation is mostly in the center, and pronounced red stripes color the edges. This unusual color combination gives the ‘Tricolor’ dracaena an overall pink appearance.

Dracaena Reflexa 

dracaena reflexa

Dracaena Reflexa has broad green pointed leaves

Dracaena reflexa is an ornamental plant species that has multiple stems. The dracaena is known for its broad shiny evergreen leaves, richly-colored foliage, and thick woody stems. Dracaena reflexa has an upright growth habit with glossy pointed leaves that are arranged spirally on the stems. This dracaena species is also called Pleomele.

The best example of a variegated Dracaena reflexa cultivar is the ‘Song of India.’

Dracaena Song of India (Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’)

dracaena reflexa song of India

Dracaena Song of India has variegated green and yellowish leaves

The Song of India dracaena is a spectacular ornamental houseplant due to its yellow-cream and green foliage. The sword-shaped variegated leaves grow in groups of three or four up the straight, upright stem. Song of India plant’s leaves have a thick green band in the center with light yellow margins.

Another feature of Song of India’s leaves is that they are reflexed—meaning that they tend to bend at 90° in the center. On the rare occasions that the dracaena flowers indoors, they will produce white aromatic flower clusters, followed by orange-red berries.

Song of Jamaica (Dracaena Reflexa ‘Song of Jamaica’)

dracaena reflexa song of Jamaica

Song of Jamaica is a multi-stemmed dracaena plant with lime-green and darker green variegation. The attractive plant doesn’t have as vibrant or colorful foliage as the Song of India. However, the bright green leaves and low light tolerance mean this dracaena can brighten up any room.

Florida Beauty Dracaena (Dracaena Surculosa ‘Florida Beauty’) 

Dracaena surculosa 'Florida Beauty'

Florida Beauty dracaena has decorative variegated foliage with creamy-white blotches on the green leaves

‘Florida Beauty’ dracaena plants are an unusual species because they have rounded leaves rather than sword-shaped ones. The fascinating feature of ‘Florida Beauty’ dracaenas is their variegated foliage. The green leaves have splashes of creamy-white splotches. These oval leaves have a pronounced point at their tips.

Dracaena surculosa ‘Florida Beauty’ is a multi-stemmed type of dracaena plant with several upright woody stems. This dracaena species is also known as Gold Dust, Spotted Dracaena, and Gold Dust Dracaena.

Prune this dracaena species to remove dead or dying foliage to improve the plant’s appearance.

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena Sanderiana)

Dracaena Sanderiana Lucky bamboo

Examples of dracaena sanderiana plants

Lucky bamboo is a type of dracaena plant with thick light green stems and lanceolate foliage. These cane-like stalks are often sold with curled tops and a few leaves growing from them. The hardy lucky bamboo plants grow in soilless mixes or even in water.

Lucky bamboo is a popular indoor plant in Asia where it’s said to bring good luck. Despite its common name, this plant isn’t a member of the bamboo species. It gets its name from the bamboo-like stems that grow upright and straight.

Other names for the Dracaena sanderiana include Curly Bamboo, Chinese Water Bamboo, Belgian Evergreen, Ribbon Plant, and Sander’s Dracaena.

Dracaena Arborea

Dracaena Arborea

Dracaena arborea can reach 10-15 ft. (3 – 4.5 m) tall

Also called the Slender Dragon Tree, the Dracaena arborea has a single straight woody stem with spiky foliage growing at the top. Most of these dragon trees branch out with two or more branches. The long slender lance-shaped leaves grow straight to create a rounded, spiked crown.

Dracaena Trifasciata 

mother in law plant light requirements

Dracaena trifasciata are known as ‘snake plants’ in the genus Sansevieria which was changed to Dracaena on 2017

Dracaena trifasciata is a stemless type of dracaena plant with long thick variegated sword-shaped leaves. Looking at pictures of this dracaena species, you may think it’s the Sansevieria trifasciata or snake plant – And you’d be right. Until 2017, these succulent-like plants were in the genus Sansevieria. However, the classification was changed, and they are now known as dracaena plants.

Other names for the Dracaena trifasciata are mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, and St. George’s sword.

Dracaena — Care Guide

Although all varieties of dracaena plants are easy to care for, there are a few essential care tips you should know. If you get these right, then your dracaena plant will grow for many years indoors, providing leafy green foliage to complement your décor.

Here is a brief care guide for growing plants from the Dracaena species:

Dracaena light requirements

All types of dracaena plants grow well in bright, indirect light. The most important care tip is to avoid placing the leafy houseplant in direct sunlight. Dracaenas also grow well in low-light environments such as offices, bedrooms, bathrooms, and north-facing rooms.

Dracaena soil

Ensure that your potting mix for dracaena plants is loose, rich in organic material, and has excellent drainage. The ideal dracaena potting soil is a combination of one part peat moss, one part houseplant soil, and one part perlite. This soil mix provides necessary nutrients as well as letting excess water to drain fast.

Dracaena watering needs

Only water dracaena plants when half of the potting soil is dry. To water your ornamental houseplants, thoroughly drench the soil until water pours out the bottom of the pot. Wait until all the excess water has dripped.

Dracaena temperature and humidity

Dracaena thrives in average room temperatures and doesn’t require high humidity. These tropical plants grow outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11.

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