Monday, January 12, 2009

My Dracaena Forest

I purchased my first Dracaena (Dracaena marginata) a couple of years ago.  It was one of those small pots at Wal-Mart with 3 or 4 shoots in it.  I think I divided them up in as many other pots and let them grow with some other plants.

About a year later my mother-in-law was so kind as to give me her mature (about 4 foot tall) half-dead Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii.’  There wasn't really anything wrong with it except that it had been sitting in a sunny window and not watered for a month or two.  After a little bit of care and some shadier conditions it popped out rather nicely and even grew two new shoots from the soil.  I was pretty excited about that, because I know that you can "fill out" a Dracaena by chopping it's head off and letting multiple shoots grow from the top of your cut.  But I hadn't done any unnecessary chopping and new plants were growing.  I decided to add my Dracaena marginatas from their various locales to my newly acquired, no longer half-dead Dracaena.  This pot was starting to look lush and full.

Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’ shoots (foreground) and Dracaena marginata (left rear)
My Dracaena collection - posed in the front yard for lighting purposes.
It wasn't long before I saw another color variety of the Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’ - the lemon lime variety, which has yellow where the other has white.  Of course, I bought the pot of small starts and added them to the potted Dracaena forest, as well.

close-up of Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’ leaf
close-up of Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii Lemon Lime’ leaf
And soon I found what looked like another color variation of my original Dracaena marginata.  Whereas the D. marginata has an overall dark green and red coloration, this variety was lighter, with some pink and white.  Now that I have researched the plant a little, I think it is actually Cordyline australis 'Pink Stripe.'  This really surprises me, because it looks just like my Dracaena marginata, except for color.  What surprises me even more is that the genera Dracaena and Cordyline are not even in the same botanical family.  How can this be!?!  I hope the botanical gods can forgive me for tainting my "Dracaena Forest" with a Cordyline...  The good news is that Dracaena australis is a synonym for Cordyline australis, which basically means that the Cordyline which I mistook for a Dracaena is commonly mistaken as such.  Dracaena australis is not a valid botanical name, but at least others have seen the same likeness and note it's odd botanical placement in the Cordyline genus.  Not all flora and fauna fall into the neat little categories that mankind tries to use for them.

[Update:  Mr Subjunctive assures me this new plant is also a Dracaena - not a Cordyline - just as I had suspected.  The plant is probably Dracaena marginata 'Bicolor.'  I shall have to change my plant listing.]

Dracaena marginata
Cordyline australis 'Pink Stripe', which looks like a Dracaena to me.  Another Dracaena marginata variety - possibly D. marginata 'Bicolor'
Just a week ago I came upon another variety, Dracaena reflexa 'Anita,' which looks just like the two above, except that it is solid green.  The plant was 4 separate stalks about 3 feet tall in a large pot and selling for just $3.  Of course I bought it and plan to move the shortest of the 4 plants into my Dracaeana forest planting.

Dracaena reflexa 'Anita'
I would like to add maybe one more color variety to this somewhat crowded pot, but I haven't found the right one yet.  I was thinking there was a dark red solid Dracaena available, but I haven't found one since I took on this project.  It could be that it was a mislabeled Cordyline that I saw.  I'll have to keep my eyes open.


  1. The Cordyline isn't a Cordyline; it's another D. marginata. I'm like, 95% sure. I believe I've seen it called 'Bicolor' before, though it's hard to find a good photo to prove it. (Look at the Google image results, though.) 'Bicolor' has the cream color in it, 'Colorama' is mostly pink and red and green, with very little white, 'Tarzan' has bigger leaves, and 'Magenta' has, well, more magenta margins than the usual red.

  2. Mr. Subjunctive-
    Thanks again for your identification help. I knew I shouldn't trust that pesky plant tag!

  3. I can relate to this ! , I've heard some goody things about this blog ! I bookmarked it on my favorites and will visit it again for more interesting posts like this one, Thanks

  4. I found the name of a plant on your website that my daughter gave me, Dracaena Reflexa "Anita". I have a green thumb but apparently, this one is not happy living with me. I live in eastern central Florida, so most plants do well in our area. Not this one...the leaves are slowly turning brown & falling Off. Can you tell me if it's particulary fussy about care, unlike other dracaenas I have? Thank You.

  5. Hi. I have one of these Dracaena (Dracaena marginata) which I bought 3 years a go and it was allways fine. but since aug. which I moved to another apartment it started to get weeker and weeker. I have changed it's soil and it's pot, but it started to get dry from the top and then it goes down to the root, I have lost one of them ( it was three in one pot) and now the other one started to dry from the top. I hope you can help me and say what's wrong with it?