Types of Dracaena plants: the best species and varieties


I studied agricultural sciences with full conviction - an obvious choice for me, as I grew up on my parents’ farm and learned early on to find joy in taking care of plants and animals.

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Dracaena are popular houseplants with a variety of different species. Let us introduce you to the most popular and beautiful types of Dracaena plants.

View of dracaena plant from above
We show you the different types of dragon tree [Photo: hilmawan nurhatmadi/ Shutterstock.com]

There are over fifty different species of Dracaena. The genus belongs to the asparagus family (Asparagaceae) and is very widespread. At the same time, the appearance of the plants varies in size, leaf shape and colour. We have compiled a list for you of the most popular and beautiful types of Dracaena plants and their special features.

Dracaena reflexa

It is probably the most popular species. The appearance of Dracaena reflexa is synonymous with the dragon tree genus with its long, tapered, usually bicoloured leaves. Until some time ago the species was called Dracaena marginata. Meanwhile, Dracaena marginata represents only a subspecies of Dracaena reflexa, whose subspecies differ in leaf colour.

Dracaena marginata in pot
Dracana marginata with green-white leaves [Photo: Studio Light and Shade/ Shutterstock.com]

Dracaena deremensis

This species is notable for its relatively broad leaves, usually fringed with a light margin. Here, the slightly dull to shiny leaves tend to stand upright in the first leaf section, while dropping slightly toward the tip. The growth height of Dracaena deremensis is in the range of 80 to 100 cm.

Dracaena deremensis leaves
Dracaena deremensis leaves are somewhat broader [Photo: jaimie tuchman/ Shutterstock.com]

Dracaena compacta

Dracaena compacta, also called Ananas Dracaena, is in fact not a species in its own right, but a cultivar derived from the species Dracaena deremensis. It is characterised by its deep green and dense foliage, which is more upright. The height of growth of this cultivar varies from 80 to 90 cm.

By the way: In the 1970s, NASA experimented with this variety and proved that it sustainably cleans indoor air. However, so do the other species and varieties, which is why, not least, they have long been a perennial favourite in our living rooms.

Dracaena compacta in cube-shaped pot
As the name suggests, Dracaena compacta is somewhat smaller and more compact [Photo: Pekka Nikonen/ Shutterstock.com]

Dracaena fragans

The species Dracaena fragans is also a very popular Dracaena species and can be found in many living rooms. With proper care and the right temperatures, it can even produce a strongly fragrant flower – but this rarely succeeds. The leaves are slightly bulbous, shiny, and often variegated green.

Tip: Dracaena fragans is also very suitable for hydroponic cultivation. Especially for allergy sufferers, not using soil as a planting substrate can offer many advantages. It also reduces the risk of waterlogging.

Dracaena fragrans in pot on hardwood floor
Dracaena fragrans, also known as the corn plant, is a classic among the different types of dragon trees [Photo: Six_Characters/ Shutterstock.com]

Dracaena draco

The subspecies Dracaena draco is often called the Canary Islands dragon tree because it can be found outdoors in the subtropical climate of the Canary Islands. Dracaena draco is rather exotic in our living rooms. This species is characterised by its long, sword-shaped leaves fringed with reddish variegated edges. Dracaena draco reaches heights of up to 1.60 m.

Very large, old Dracaena draco among palm trees
This dragon tree in Tenerife is over 1000 years old [Photo: Tony Baggett/ Shutterstock.com]

Dracaena surculosa

This species is visually exotic among the Dracaena trees. Dracaena surculosa by its growth habit looks more like a small bamboo plant. The origins of this species are in the tropical regions of Africa, which is why Dracaena surculosa likes it warm to this day. The temperature should always be above 15 °C. The leaves are comparatively broad with a mottled speckled pattern.

Close-up of Dracaena surculosa leaves
Dracaena surculosa has spotted leaves [Photo: pisitpong2017/ Shutterstock.com]

Dracaena as bonsai?

At first glance, Dracaena are not suitable for growing as bonsais because they form relatively large leaves proportional to their height of growth. Therefore, despite the short trunk, it is difficult to create the illusion of a miniature tree (or palm). However, the advantage is that you do not have to start with a very young specimen if you want to grow a dragon tree bonsai. Even at an advanced stage of growth, Dracaena tolerates radical shortening of the stem, so you can cut it back to the desired size.

Bonsai Dracaena plant in pot
Dracaena plants can also be kept as bonsais [Photo: GoodMood Photo/ Shutterstock.com]
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