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Publication #FPS185

Dracaena marginata Red-edged Dracaena, Madagascar Dragon Tree1

Edward F. Gilman2


Multiple thin, curving stalks with narrow ribbon-like, green leaves edged in purplish-red distinguish this dracaena from its multitude of cousins (Fig. 1). The upright, unbranched stems form a delicate, somewhat abstract silhouette, perfect for accent planting or for low-maintenance container culture as a houseplant or outdoors. It is a fine specimen to silhouette against a wall at night with uplighting.

Figure 1. 

Red-edged dracaena.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Dracaena marginata
Pronunciation: druh-SEE-nuh mar-jin-NAY-tuh
Common name(s): red-edged dracaena, Madagascar dragon tree
Family: Agavaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; border; suitable for growing indoors; accent
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 8 to 15 feet
Spread: 3 to 8 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: spiral
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 18 to 36 inches
Leaf color: variegated; purple or red
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage of red-edged dracaena.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: summer flowering


Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; slightly alkaline; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Dracaena grows in shade or sun and is tolerant of drought and a wide variety of soil types, though preferring an organic soil with plenty of moisture. Two or more branches form after pruning a stem. This technique can be used to increase the density of the plant. This can be beneficial since lower leaves drop from the stems as the plant grows taller leaving the bottom of the plant bare.

Propagation is by tip cuttings. The foliage of the cultivar 'Tricolor' is more colorful than the species, appearing almost white from as distance.

Pests and Diseases

Mites, thrips, and chewing insects are a problem.

Dracaenas are susceptible to leaf spot diseases.



This document is FPS185, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.