If there’s a houseplant you’re most likely to find inside commercial buildings and at a corner in many homes, it is the dracaena. These houseplants require little care, and their leaves will stay vibrant with little water and sunlight, making them the perfect indoor plants. So, how often should you water a dracaena houseplant?
You should water your dracaena plant once every one to two weeks, depending on factors such as sunlight intensity and soil drainage. Dracaenas don’t require much water and should only be watered when the soil has no more moisture and feels dry to your fingers.
In this article, you’ll find simple guidelines on watering a dracaena houseplant. You’ll discover how easy it is to care for this plant, even though you may be a novice in houseplant care. Keep reading for more details on how much water a dracaena needs.
Dracaena Houseplant Watering Requirements
The watering requirements of dracaena plants are similar to that of succulents. That means they require little water to thrive. However, don’t let the soil become bone-dry between watering sessions, as it can become hydrophobic.
During the cool season, like in spring and fall, you can water your dracaena every two weeks. On the other hand, during hot and dry weather like in the middle of summer, you may need to water your dracaena more often. This is especially important for plants grown outdoors.
For indoor plants, there are a few things to consider:
- If your potted dracaena is in an indoor environment with controlled humidity levels and temperatures, you must wait until the soil is dry halfway down before watering again.
- A dracaena in a room where there’s little light and high humidity will not consume moisture quickly and may only need watering every 14 days.
- If your dracaena is in a room with more light or low humidity, you may need to water it every 7 days to keep the leaves strong.
To know when your dracaena houseplant needs water, test the level of moisture in the soil with your fingers. Water your potted dracaena only when the soil feels dry to your fingers. You should dig your finger into the soil and ensure it is dry at least halfway down the pot.
Pushing a chopstick is also an option for larger pots. If the chopstick comes out with muddy (wet) soil or signs of moisture, then you should still wait a few days before watering your dracaena houseplant.
How to Water a Dracaena
After confirming that the soil is dry enough to warrant another watering session, water the plant gradually but thoroughly until the excess moisture flows out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot.
Ensure no water remains stagnant in the pot, and remove any excess water from the saucer under the pot. Like many other plants, dracaenas will die from root rot if overwatered.
Also, although many homeowners may want to delegate their plant-watering duty to a self-watering planter, this is not advised with dracaenas. Similar to succulents, dracaenas do not enjoy soaking or consistently being in moist soil.
When watering your dracaena, beware of water-related plant issues like fluoride toxicity:
Dracaenas and Fluoride Toxicity
Using tap water with fluoride to constantly water your dracaena will eventually cause signs of fluoride toxicity. The main symptom of this condition in plants is necrosis (dead leaf sections), especially along leaf margins and at the tips.
If distilled water is not available, you can remove the fluoride by letting tap water go through reverse osmosis (RO) filtration or use deionization.
Note that other watering issues can also cause brown spots similar to those caused by fluoride toxicity on dracaena leaves.
Watering Issues in Dracaenas
Dracaenas are attractive tropical houseplants that stand out for their long-arching beautiful leaves. Their leaves vary with the species and can range from glossy green to multicolored variations. The multicolored dracaena leaves can be green with red edges or green with vibrant yellow stripes.
Watering problems typically manifest through leaf discoloration and deformities. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay attention to your watering routine to keep dracaena leaves healthy and vibrant.
Although dracaenas are relatively drought tolerant, it’s still possible to underwater your plant. The recommended watering schedule of once every 7-14 days can significantly change depending on the changes in weather patterns and the soil quality over time.
Therefore, it’s important to adjust your watering schedule accordingly during extreme weather conditions.
Overwatering your dracaena can also happen if you don’t test your plant’s soil for proper drainage before watering it again. In both cases, your dracaena houseplant will show signs of improper watering.
Signs of Overwatering
If your dracaena plant begins to show yellow, brown, or brownish-yellow leaves, your plant could be overwatered. Apart from changing color, the leaves will wilt, appear limp, and feel mushy.
Overwatered soil causes plant roots to stop breathing and, therefore, suffocate. As a result, the roots can’t deliver nutrients and water to the plant, causing the leaves to change color and wilt.
Since the signs of overwatering appear early, you have time to reverse the situation and save your dracaena.
Poke holes under the planter if it does not have any. If your planter has one hole, the hole is most likely blocked by soil. Pass a stick through the hole to loosen the soil and release any standing water.
How to Avoid Overwatering
You can prevent overwatering issues by planting your dracaena plant in soil rich in organic matter and has excellent drainage. If your potting soil has reduced drainage capacity over time, you can repot your plant in fresh soil with better drainage.
Signs of Underwatering
Crispy leaves that are dying and turning brown at the tips and on the edges are a sign that your dracaena is underwatered. The stem may also appear as though it has wrinkles.
Similar to overwatering, the roots of an underwatered dracaena don’t pass water and nutrients to the plant, resulting in dehydration.
To correct underwatering, water your dracaena plant as soon as you confirm that the soil in the planter is extremely dry. The plant will take in moisture immediately, reviving the leaves and causing the wrinkles on the stem to disappear.
However, if you frequently allow your potting mix to dry out completely between watering, the soil will eventually become hydrophobic, making it less likely to absorb moisture.
You can test this out by pouring water one cup at a time and see if it drains out quickly. If the water sits on the surface or passes along the inner sides of the pot straight down to the drainage hole, it means your soil isn’t absorbing the water.
In this case, you can bottom water the plant by letting the pot sit in a tub of pure water. However, it can take a long time to rehydrate the soil, so it might be best to repot your plant in fresh soil.
To learn more about how to fix hydrophobic soil, you can read my article: How to Fix Soil That Doesn’t Absorb Any Water
Other Dracaena Care Tips to Be Observed With Watering
There are roughly 120 species under the Dracaena genus. Various dracaena cultivars don’t look alike, but the care requirements for all types are similar. For example, all dracaena types have low water needs.
There are a few other dracaena care tips that should be observed together with proper watering:
Dracaena houseplants require sufficient light but prefer indirect sunlight. You can provide indirect morning light to your dracaena for 2-4 hours daily by filtering sunlight through a translucent curtain.
Adjust your watering frequency, depending on the light intensity.
Too much direct sunlight will bleach dracaena leaves. It can also dry out the soil quickly, requiring more frequent watering. In contrast, too little sunlight will cause slow growth and tiny leaves. Your plant will also become more susceptible to overwatering.
Dracaenas grow well in temperatures between 65 and 75 °F (18 and 24 °C). Some dracaena types, such as Dracaena draco, will thrive in temperatures as low as 50 °F (10 °C). Cooler temperatures can cause brown leaf tips and edges.
When the temperature is too high, the moisture evaporates quickly so you must water your plants more frequently. Conversely, reduce watering to once a month during winter.
Dracaenas require good levels of humidity to thrive. In the wild, they thrive well with humidity levels around 70%. However, this level can be too uncomfortable at home and can invite unwanted molds and pest infestation.
If you keep low humidity levels at home, mist your dracaena as soon as you notice the leaves becoming limp. This sometimes happens even though the plant is properly watered. It may be because the soil dries up more quickly than you expect.
Keeping your dracaena away from vents and drafts will make it easier to maintain the right humidity levels around your plant.
Since dracaenas aren’t heavy feeders, growing them in rich soil is often enough to provide their basic nutritional needs. Consider fertilizing your plant once in early spring and once in the fall to keep it healthy.
Dracaenas should be fertilized in the months of active growth. A monthly feeding of nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer during the growing season can improve the appearance of the foliage of your indoor potted dracaenas.
Dracaenas thrive with little water, the same as succulent plants. Watering a dracaena once every one or two weeks is enough to meet the plant’s moisture needs.
If you overwater a dracaena, it will suffer from root rot and die within weeks. That’s because water logging in dracaena houseplant soil suffocates the roots, depriving the plant of moisture and nutrients. On the other hand, underwatering dehydrates the roots and can also kill the plant.
You can prevent overwatering or underwatering your dracaena by doing the soil dryness test with your fingers before proceeding to water the plant.