Dracaena surculosa: planting, care & toxicity


Gold dust dracaena plants make quite an impression, regardless of how many spots their leaves have. Find out all you need to know about Dracaena surculosa, from planting and care to how to propagate them and more.

Dracaena surculosa with yellow spots
The gold dust dracaena has unusual leaf markings [Photo: Nooumaporn/ Shutterstock.com]

The gold dust draecena (Dracaena surculosa), also called spotted dracaena, is a shrub with spotted, shiny green leaves. Read on to learn more about how to care for, propagate, and find the right location for this exotic houseplant.

Dracaena surculosa: flowers, origin & characteristics

Dracaena surculosa is native to the tropical forests of West Africa. Like all dragon trees, it belongs to the asparagus family known as Asparagaceae. Gold dust dracaenas are perennials with a shrub-like growth habit and strongly branched shoots. When grown indoors, Dracaena surculosa reaches 40 to 100cm high and gets wider over time. Individual shoots grow 15 to 20cm high. Their evergreen leaves are broad and lanceolate in shape and grow alternatively along the shoots. The leaves look like they have been sprinkled with gold dust, hence the name gold dust dracaena. In summer, both indoor and outdoor cultivars form umbel-like white flowers on long stems which grow from the base of the plant. The delicate gold dust dracaena flowers give off a pleasant fragrance.

Dainty white dracaena surculosa flowers
Dracaena surculosa flowers are white and extremely delicate [Photo: Setiani Antari/ Shutterstock.com]

Tip: there are many Dracaena surculosa varieties with interesting leaf patterns. Varieties that have more yellow or white on their leaves need more light than the greener varieties.

Planting Dracaena surculosa

Gold dust dracaenas need plenty of sunlight to keep the leaves looking vibrant, spotty and healthy. Without enough light, the leaf colours will fade. We recommend placing your dracaena in an east or west-facing window. If you opt for a south-facing window, place your gold dust dracaena a little further away from the window or behind a light curtain. Gold dust dracaenas do very well when kept somewhere that is warm all year round. They are not hardy and should never be exposed to temperatures below 15 °C. It is crucial to protect them from draughts and cold temperatures.

Gold dust dracaenas love high humidity. An easy way to ensure your plant has enough humidity is to mist it with room temperature, lime-free water. Placing the planter atop a saucer full of stones and water also helps. The water continually evaporates, acting as a humidifier to increase the humidity around the plant.

Well-drained soil is also a must for gold dust dracaenas. We recommend adding a layer of expanded clay to the bottom of your dracaena’s pot for extra drainage. As for the soil, a humus-rich mixture of 1:1:1 acidic soil, sand and universal potting soil is ideal. Our Plantura Organic Ericaceous Compost is ideal for this. It not only lowers the soil pH value, but as it is peat-free, it is also a very well-draining and environmentally-friendly option.

Organic Ericaceous Compost, 40L
Organic Ericaceous Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for acid-loving plants such as hydrangeas, rhododendrons, blueberry bushes, azaleas & more
  • Ensures all-round healthy plants with lush blooms and aromatic berries
  • Peat-reduced & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Tip: finding the right location for your gold dust dracaena can be tricky. With too little light, the new leaves grow narrower and the trunk becomes thinner. However, with too much light, the leaves become sunburnt and turn brown.

Dracaena surculosa care

Once they are in the right location, gold dust dracaenas are easy-care plants. Water as needed, ideally with soft water, making sure the soil stays consistently slightly moist. Of course, gold dust dracaenas need more water in summer than in winter. Just remember, these plants do not tolerate drought or waterlogging.

Dracaena surculosa in a pot
A potted gold dust dracaena does best in high-quality substrate [Photo: Verin/ Shutterstock.com]

Fertilise your Dracaena surculosa every two to three weeks during its active growth period from March to August. Use a liquid fertiliser such as our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food. Our fertiliser has a balanced NPK ratio and low phosphate content which replicates the gold dust dracaena’s natural environment and ensures vigorous plant growth. Do not fertilise your Dracaena surculosa in winter.

Liquid Houseplant Food, 800ml
Liquid Houseplant Food, 800ml
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  • Perfect for a wide variety of houseplants & foliage plants
  • Liquid fertiliser for robust plants & healthy growth
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly

We recommend repotting your gold dust dracaena every three years into fresh substrate. This not only opens the structure of the soil for happier roots, but it also replenishes nutrients taken from the soil that are not in fertilisers.

Remove dead and overly long shoots in spring. To do this, simply cut the shoots out at the base using a pair of sharp, clean scissors. Other than that, Dracaena surculosa does not need pruning.

Propagating Dracaena surculosa

The easiest way to propagate Dracaena surculosa is with cuttings, and the best time to do this is in spring. Simply follow these steps:

  • Choose young, still soft cuttings
  • Shorten the cuttings to 8 – 15cm; leave 1 to 3 leaves on each cutting
  • Plant them in a moist 1:1 growing soil and sand mixture
  • Keep the soil temperature between 20 – 24°C for rooting
  • Place a transparent plastic bag over the cuttings and either air the cuttings out regularly or put holes in the bag
  • Leave them covered for 5 – 6 weeks
  • Remove the plastic bag after successful rooting

Are gold dust dracaenas poisonous?

All parts of Dracaena surculosa are poisonous to humans and pets and can cause an allergic reaction if ingested. The plant’s sap contains toxic saponins, which are particularly poisonous to cats and dogs. This toxic substance is mainly found in the leaves of the plant. Despite what is contained within, Dracaena surculosa is not harmful to touch.

Dracaena leaves with white spots
Each variety of Dracaena surculosa has distinct spot patterns [Photo: Setiani Antari/ Shutterstock.com]

Gold dust dracaenas add a touch of flair with their beautiful trunks and leaves. Licuala palms, too, are eye-catching and make for a unique houseplant.