How To Propagate Dracaena Plants

Dracaena is a genus of over 100 tropical plants, many of which are commonly sold as low-maintenance houseplants. Some Dracaena species you may be familiar with include the snake plant (D. trifasciata), lucky bamboo (D. sanderiana), and corn plant (D. fragans). 

Members of this genus tend to be very easy to propagate. For the best results, however, it’s important to choose the right propagation method for your specific Dracaena species.

In this article, I’ll walk you through how to propagate Dracaena Elegance, and I’ll also offer some insight into aftercare and which varieties are the easiest to propagate.

Propagating Dracaena Plants

The use of botanical names is normally crucial to preventing misunderstandings when talking about plant care and propagation. When it comes to Dracaena, however, it can actually add to the confusion!

Many people are surprised to learn that their lucky bamboo houseplant is not a true bamboo. Meanwhile, stumbling across snake plants labeled as Sansevieria instead of Dracaena is incredibly common — the genera were combined in 2014 but many greenhouses still use the old taxonomy.

I also know of a few plant species frequently sold as Dracaena that do not belong to the genus at all. The most common examples include the Ti tree (Cordyline fruticosa) and cabbage palm (Cordyline australis).

While Dracaena and Cordyline plants share some similarities in terms of propagation, I’ll be focusing specifically on species belonging to Dracaena. Since so many different plants are (sometimes incorrectly) sold as Dracaena, I recommend double-checking your plant’s taxonomy before continuing.

Best Time To Propagate

The best time to propagate a Dracaena is in the early spring or summer. I always recommend propagating houseplants during the active growing season. Propagating early in the season will ensure your plants have as much time as possible to recover and grow within their first year. 

How Long Does Root Development Take

Healthy Dracaena cuttings typically develop roots in 2 to 8 weeks. Root development can vary based on the type of Dracaena being propagated and its general environment. Applying root hormone powder to cuttings may encourage faster growth. 

Tools and Equipment Needed

You’ll need a handful of tools and supplies in order to properly propagate a Dracaena plant. I’m willing to bet you already have most or even all of these items in your gardening arsenal:

  • Small pot — Each propagated Dracaena should have its own container with ample drainage.
  • Potting soil — I recommend transplanting propagations into the same soil as you’ve used for the original Dracaena.
  • Knife or shears — Use only sharp, disinfected garden tools during the propagation process to prevent the spread of disease between plants. 

The following supplies are optional or recommended for specific propagation methods:

  • Rooting hormone — Rooting hormone powder contains auxin, a naturally occurring chemical that encourages root development in plants. You can purchase rooting hormone powder at most garden centers for use on stem and leaf cuttings.
  • Clear glass container — Required for rooting Dracaena cuttings in plain water.
  • Sphagnum moss and plastic wrap — Required for successful propagation via air layering.

How To Propagate Dracaena Plants – Step by Step

The Dracaena genus is incredibly versatile when it comes to vegetative propagation. Dracaena can be propagated using methods such as cuttings, air layering, and root division. Keep in mind, however, that most species respond best to just one or two of these techniques. My preferred method is to take a stem cutting and root it in water, it’s simple and I like to see the progress as the roots develop, so I know it has worked.

Stem Cuttings

Many gardeners are familiar with this propagation method. You’ll be happy to know that Dracaena is just as easy, if not easier, to grow from stem cuttings as most other popular houseplants. Follow the instruction below and match the bullet point number with the respective numbered image to get a visual guide step by step.

Dracaena plant stem suitable for taking a cutting
1. Dracaena plant stem suitable for taking a cutting
Cut the stem with a clean Sharpe blade
2. Cut the stem with a clean Sharpe blade
Cut beneath the base of the leaf cluster
3. Cut beneath the base of the leaf cluster

Propagating Stem Cuttings in Water

  1. Find a healthy-looking stem to propagate, I like to choose a green young stem as I feel they respond quicker to rooting. When choosing, pick one that will not unbalance the shape of the plan, and is easily accessible.
  2. Using a very sharp knife or blade, make a single clean cut through the stem underneath a leaf node.
  3. With Dracaena, the node is the point where a cluster of leaves meets with the main stem.
  4. Note how my cutting below, has a section of brown stem, this will give the best position to root from.
  5. Place the stem cutting in the water, ensuring that the cut end is fully submerged. There is no need to strip away any lower leaves with this plant, just place the whole stem in the water.
  6. Keep the container in a warm, moderately lit location. Replace the water at least once a week to prevent algae or slime from building up.
  7. When roots develop and grow to over 1 inch long, transplant the stem cutting to a container filled with a potting soil mix of coco coir, perlite, and peat moss at a ratio of 1:1:1.
Note the section of stem attached to the cutting
4. Note the section of stem attached to the cutting
Place the cut stem in water to root
5. Place the cut stem into clean water to set root

Propagating in Soil From Stem Cuttings

  1. Following the same process for selecting the stem cutting and making the cut beneath the leaf node.
  2. Use a sterile knife or pair of shears to cut the stem just below a leaf node.
  3. Plant the cut end in a small container filled with regular potting soil.
  4. Place the stem cutting in a warm, well-lit location. You can follow the same care routine for any stem cuttings as you do the original Dracaena.

Top Cuttings

One of the simplest but most unnerving ways to propagate many Dracaena species is to take a top cutting. This involves cutting off the entire top of the plant and placing it in its own container filled with soil.

  1. Use a sharp, sterile knife to cut the top of your Dracaena just below the leaves.
  2. Transplant the cutting into a new container. Make sure that the cut section makes contact with the soil.
  3. Continue caring for both sections as normal. Eventually, the top cutting should sprout roots and the original stem will grow new leaves.

Air Layering

Air layering is very similar to rooting a stem cutting. The main difference is that you cut the stem only after new roots have sprouted. This technique works best for larger Dracaena that have several stems to choose from.

  1. Select a healthy stem that is several inches long.
  2. Use a sterilized blade to scrape off part of the stem’s outer layer. I recommend going around the entire stem and making the exposed band about ½-inch wide.
  3. Gently wrap the stem wound in damp sphagnum moss, followed by clear plastic wrap.
  4. Once you see roots develop underneath the wrapping, cut the stem just below the rooted area and transplant it into the soil.

Root Division

Dracaena that do not grow from a central stem can often be propagated via root division. Some varieties also produce natural offshoots that can be easily removed from the mother plant.

  1. Remove your Dracaena from its container. Brush away the soil so that you can clearly see the root system.
  2. Locate offshoots or natural divisions in the plant’s root system. Use a sterile blade to carefully sever these small sections from the mother plant.
  3. Transplant each division into its own container filled with potting soil.

Caring for Dracaena After Propagation

Propagated Dracaena should be given the same care as their parent plants. I recommend mimicking as much of the original Dracaena’s care — e.g., location, potting medium, watering, etc. — as possible when growing propagated cuttings or offshoots. This will minimize the impact of transplant shock.

Here’s a quick recap of how to grow Dracaena indoors:

Light

Dracaena are famous for their ability to survive in minimal light. According to Clemson University, however, these plants grow best when provided with bright but indirect sunlight. If you want to keep a Dracaena in a dimly lit room, I recommend investing in a home grow lamp to keep it happy and healthy.

Soil

Soil needs can vary from one Dracaena species to another. In general, these plants perform best when grown in loose, well-draining soil. Many varieties, including the snake plant, thrive in potting mixes formulated for succulents and cacti.

Temperature & Humidity

Nearly all Dracaena species thrive when temperatures are between 70 and 90°F and will suffer damage if they drop below 50°F. Keep plants away from air conditioners and cold drafts from doors or windows.

Dracaena prefer high ambient humidity. In my experience, however, these plants aren’t as sensitive to dry air as some other species. If your Dracaena develops symptoms like brown leaf margins, I recommend investing in a portable humidifier.

Water

Dracaena are fairly drought-tolerant and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Water more frequently during the active growing season. Some Dracaena may survive off of once-monthly waterings during the winter dormancy period.

Fertilizer

I recommend feeding Dracaena plants with a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Apply fertilizer up to once per month during the spring and summer. Withhold fertilizer in the fall and winter when Dracaena growth naturally slows.

Transplanting Rooted Dracaena Plants

Dracaena propagated using water or air layering should be transplanted into the soil when the roots are over 1 inch long. You can plant these cuttings as you would any other Dracaena. Just be aware that the root system will be extra delicate in its infancy.

Some degree of transplant shock is totally normal but steps should be taken to minimize it when possible. If you have access to the potting mix used in the original Dracaena container, I also highly recommend using it when transplanting propagated cuttings. Avoid making any major changes to your propagation’s location or care routine immediately after transplanting.

Easiest Dracaena Plants to Propagate

Most cultivated Dracaena can easily be propagated using one or more of the methods I’ve detailed in this article. Here’s a brief list of some of my favorite varieties and the easiest ways to propagate them:

  • Lucky Bamboo (D. sanderiana) — Stem cuttings.
  • Lemon Lime Dracaena (D. fragrans ‘Lemon Lime’) — Top cutting, stem cuttings, or air layering.
  • Snake Plant (D. trifasciata) — Root division or leaf cuttings.
  • Corn Plant (D. fragrans) — Top cutting or stem cuttings.
  • Dragon Tree (D. marginata or D. draco) — Top cutting or stem cuttings.
  • Warnock Dracaena (D. fragrans ‘Warneckii’) — Top cutting, stem cuttings, or air layering.
  • Song of India (D. reflexa) — Stem cuttings or air layering.
  • Gold Dust Dracaena (D. surculosa ‘Florida Beauty’) — Root division or stem cuttings.

FAQ How To Propagate Dracaena 

Citation

Clemson University – Dracaena

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.