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Dracaena Reflexa | How to Grow & Care Guide

The Dracaena reflexa is a fantastic and popular ornamental plant. Slow growing and easy to care for, this plant is prized for its long leaves and tall, upright growth habit. 

Also referred to as a pleomele plant or the song of India, are incredibly decorative and often used for landscaping, as an accent plant or a general room plant.

Follow our growing guide to find out how to cultivate, care for and grow the dracaena reflexa. 


Dracaena Reflexa How to Grow & Care Guide

What is Dracaena Reflexa? 

Dracaena reflexa, also referred to as a pleomele plant or the song of India, are incredibly decorative and often used for landscaping, as an accent plant or a general room plant

Native to islands on the Indian ocean, off the coasts of southern Africa, the dracaena reflexa is an upright growing cultivar of the Asparagaceae family.

Found growing naturally throughout Mauritius and Madagascar, these plants are best recognized by their thick, irregular stems and rich, evergreen leaves. 

Depending on which variety you grow, the long green leaves have gentle, coloured stripes. The Song of India variety has yellow stripes. In contrast, the Song of Madagascar has off-white stripes along with the leaves. 

Although most indoor-grown varieties remain smaller, these plants can reach anywhere between 13 to 15 feet in the right conditions. Outdoors they also produce small, non-fragrant, white flowers. 

Popular across the globe, these plants are grown as a table plant, small bush or short-growing trees. This plant is also known to be a powerful air purifier, removing many major toxins from the air throughout its growth cycle. 

As such, it’s a great choice for kitchens, bedrooms, offices and smaller growth spaces. If you looking for more air purifying plants, you will love our list here

How to Grow Dracaena Reflexa

How to Grow Dracaena Reflexa

The reflex cultivar is incredibly easy to establish and doesn’t need too much consideration in the right environment. These plants are suitable for USDA zones between 10 and 11. 

Being an island plant, the song of India plant enjoys warm weather and a higher level of humidity. These plants grow best in temperatures between 65°-85°F. To improve humidity, you can regularly mist these plants or place their pots on top of a pebble tray. 

Pick a spot for your dracaena reflexa that receives a medium level of light. These plants are happy to adapt to lower light conditions. However, this can sometimes affect the vibrance of the foliage.

Avoid letting your plants get too much direct sunlight, as this can scorch and damage your leaves. These plants also enjoy being rootbound, so pick a smaller pot for your plants to grow in to start. 

Terra cotta pots are always a great choice as they’re porous and will allow moisture to escape without drying out the roots. Choose a loose, quick-draining soil medium. 

General potting mixtures, palm mixes and the like are a good choice. If you need to improve your soil’s drainage, consider mixing in some loose sand or perlite. 

Planting Your Pleomele

These plants grow well in containers and directly into the ground. If you’re growing in a pot, it’s advisable to replant every 2 years or so, which helps to encourage new growth and replenishes the soil. 

Planting Your Pleomele

Planting Pleomele in the Ground

  • Dig a hole in the ground that is twice the size of the root ball. 
  • Remove your plant from its pot. Take care not to damage the roots. 
  • Shake the roots loose from any excess soil. 
  • Place the root ball into the hole, ensuring the base stems are all standing straight. 
  • Backfill with the remaining soil and gently pat down around the base to ensure the stems are secure. 

Planting Song of India in a Pot

  • Prepare a pot, filling it up to a 1/3 with fresh potting mix. Pick a pot that is only slightly larger than the previous pot, as these plants prefer being rootbound. 
  • Gently lift the plant from its original pot, releasing any roots which may have grown out through the drainage holes. 
  • Place the root ball into the new pot and backfill with the remaining soil. Pat down to secure the base of your plant. 
  • Soak the soil well directly after planting, then wait a few days before watering again.

Song of India Propagation

The best way to propagate new plants is by taking a stem cutting. Although cuttings are mostly successful, it is advisable to take cuttings during the growing season for the best results. This is between spring and summer. 

Song of India Propagation

Here is what you’ll need to do: 

  • Remove a stem cutting from a healthy, thriving plant. The cutting should be around 3 to 5 inches long, with multiple stem nodes for guaranteed success. 
  • Prepare a small pot with a sterile potting mix and place 2 to 3 cuttings into the pot. 
  • Although not necessary, it is always a good idea to dip the base of the cutting into a rooting hormone which will encourage faster growth. 
  • Keep your cuttings in a shaded area to start, and move to a sunnier spot after a few weeks.

Cuttings can also be rooted in water. Simply follow the same instructions as above, and instead of planting into a pot, place the cutting into a jar of freshwater.

Keep an eye on the water and replace it as soon as it starts to look murky or clouded. 

Song of India Plant Care Tips

Song of India Plant Care Tips

These plants are known to be hassle-free, little-care plants. Once they’re established in their spot, they’ll grow happily throughout the year. 

Even though they’re accustomed to a slightly coastal setting, the song of the India plant doesn’t enjoy having wet feet. They prefer to be on the dry side, so you won’t need to worry too much about water. 

Plants should be watered every 10 to 14 days, ensuring that the soil dries out as much as 50% in between. Give your plants a deep soak, and then let the water drain.

It is important to note that these plants can be sensitive to water treated with fluoride. Consider using rainwater, distilled water or water which has been standing for at least 24 hours. 

Keep soil dry during the winter to avoid the risk of root rot or fungal infection. Fertilizer can be added every 6 to 8 weeks throughout the spring and summer.

Be sure to dilute your fertilizer to a ¼ strength. Over-fertilization can lead to browned and burnt tips. The song of the India plant responds incredibly well to regular pruning, which encourages strong stems and bushier growth. 

Cutting back plants can also prevent overgrown plants in smaller, compact spaces. Use a sterilized pair of garden shears, and don’t be afraid to cut back a good amount of growth. (Check out our review on the best garden shears you can get online.)

Pleomele Pests & Problems

Especially when grown indoors, these plants can be susceptible to common pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and scale insects. These can easily be treated with neem oil, insecticidal soap or even a general dish soap solution. 

(Learn more on how to deal with mealybugs here.)

Simply mix dish soap into some water, place onto some tissues and wipe down leaves regularly. An earbud can also be used to remove insects from tricky to reach areas. 

The most common issue with Dracaena reflexa is Fusarium leaf spot. This often occurs when soil is soaked for too long, or leaves are left wet.

Make sure that your plants aren’t crowded and trim off any supremely damaged leaves. A fungicide can also be applied to curb the spread of the infection. 

Quick Tips for Growing Dracaena

  • Grow your song of India plant as a tall-growing floor plant, accent plant or as a tabletop plant. 
  • If growing outdoors, you can also consider creating a small hedge by growing a few plants in a row and regularly trimming them back. 
  • If you’ve noticed browning tips, cut back on fertilizing and remove just the damaged tip ends. 
  • If your leaves are looking a little drab, consider moving your plants to a brighter area in your home. The leaves have the best colour when grown in an area with bright, indirect light throughout most of the day. 
  • Misting your plant regularly is a great idea to help improve humidity and keep the leaves clean and dust-free. 
  • When pruning or taking cuttings, be sure to use a sterilized blade to avoid spreading any kind of disease. 
  • Keep in mind that these plants are slightly toxic when consumed by pets. So, if you have curious fur babies, keep this plant out of their reach.

Are you considering some other air-purifying, gorgeously growing dracaena cultivars? Take a look at our list below: 

Wrapping Up Our Dracaena Reflexa Growing & Care Guide

Whether indoors or outdoors, they’re the perfect way to add a trendy touch of green to your living space. Just be sure to keep an eye on your soil, ensuring that it dries out before giving it more water. 

Keep an eye on your foliage to help you make sure it’s getting sufficient light. So, there you have it, everything you’ll need to know to have a happily growing, evergreen dracaena reflexa in your home. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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