Types of Dracaena: 14 Varieties of Indoors and Outdoors Dracaena Plants

Magnificent leaves in modern colors on a pretty little solid trunk: The dracaena is a remarkable plant that exudes exoticism. 

Native to hot and humid climates such as Asia, Central America and parts of tropical Africa, Dracaena, is a genus of about 120 species flowering evergreen trees shrubs in the asparagus family.

These exotic beauties have one or more trunks from which hard, pointed and leathery or waxy foliage, often arching and sword or lance shaped. Finally, have a special characteristic… Their stem or trunk thickens into a hard surface which is different from normal trees’ barks, in fact it looks like it is hard paper or cardboard.

Range from medium sized trees like Draceana draco to small perennials like Dracaena trifasciata, or mother in law’s tongue, Dracaena plants vary in size, shape, and color.

In tropics, it will be grown outdoors, but several Dracaena varieties make excellent houseplants because they’re tolerant of less-than-ideal growing conditions and great in producing oxygen and eliminating harmful toxins from your home air.

Read on to learn about the 14 best types of dracaena plants categorized by indoor and outdoor varieties, plus tips on how to identify and take care of them.

10 Types of Dracaena Plants You Can Grow Indoors

Dracaena plants are not only small lucky bamboo sticks you can grow in a jug… There are even real absurd looking giants, colorful plants, and even vine looking ones. Some will do well indoors unless you live in Florida or Sicily, while others can only grow outdoors, because they are big and they like open spaces. But now you know the very best for you.

Dracaena is a very popular indoor plant; from lucky bamboo to dragon tree, these plants offer beautiful, glossy foliage and an elegant shape and they require very little care indeed.

You will find them in offices, in living rooms and other closed paces, bringing some life and calm energy. Smaller varieties make excellent table tops, while bigger and tree like ones look great in brightly lit corners.

Here are 10 of our favorite indoor dracaena varieties to add a tropical feel to your home.

1: Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Adaptable and totally lush, Dracaena fragrans, commonly known as the Corn Plant is the most popular dracaena varieties, and a popular choice amongst house plants. The tall, stately Corn Plant can become quite big, but small specimens are common too.

It is ideal to purify the air, and this makes it even more valuable for indoor gardening. It has a straight trunk with rings along it, green when young and then it becomes like buff paper.

On the sides, it grows layered tufts of waxy lanceolate leaves that arch beautifully. It is very elegant, and there are a few varieties, some fully emerald green, others are variegated..

Corn plant derives its name from the leaves, that look like those of maize. It is a slow grower, so you can enjoy it in your desk for years before you move it to a floor pot to give your living room or office an exotic but also elegant look.

There are many cultivars derived from corn plant, and we will see the best, because it is a very common houseplant.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 12.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: 4 to 10 feet tall (1.2 to 3.0 meters) and up to 4 feet in spread (1.2 meters).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained peat based potting soil, or alternative, with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

2: Lemon Surprise Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Surprise’)

Lemon Surprise Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lemon Surprise’)

‘Lemon Surprise’ is a cultivar of corn plant you will identify at once; in fact its leaves twist sideways, giving you beautiful rosettes that look like whirlpools…

The foliage is very waxy and shiny indeed, and it has dark and pea to lime green stripes. These heighten the dynamic effect of this small houseplant. It is very sculptural and dramatic, and it looks good in small clumps too.

‘Lemon Surprise’ is perfect as a focal point on a desk, book case or coffee table. It is one of the most striking varieties of Dracaena on the market but it is not so easy to find it, your best choice is an online store, unless you have a well stocked garden center nearby.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 9 to 11.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window. Be very careful because excessive lightning will affect its color and sheen.
  • Size: up to 8 feet when mature (2.4 meters) and 3 feet in spread (90 cm).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained peat based potting soil, or alternative, and it will adapt to regular potting soil with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

3: Dracaena Lisa (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lisa’)

Dracaena Lisa (Dracaena fragrans ‘Lisa’)

Dracaena Lisa has broad pointed leaves of the deepest and glossiest emerald color. They are quite hard to the touch, and they look like they are made of wax or plastic.

They grow in tufts with different layers that open from the center of the stem and keep and they keep straight when they are young, but they slightly arch when they mature. They can also have slightly twisted tips.

Dracaena Lisa is ideal for an exotic looking effect on desks but also as a floor plant, especially if you use it in compositions with other tropical houseplants, like bromeliads, philodendron and Alocasia.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 9 to 11.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: up to 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) and 4 feet in spread (1.2 meters). 
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained and chunky mix of lava rock and generic potting soil, or alternative, with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry, never get the soil soggy.

4: Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

Dracaena sanderiana

Lucky bamboo is a favorite Dracaena species from Africa for elegant, even minimalist indoor spaces. It has green and glossy stems with rings that grow upright, like bamboo indeed.

When cut, they produce a few leaves on the sides, with a very open and airy habit. These are lanceolate, shiny and they range from light to mid emerald green in color, depending on light and maturity.

You can train the stems around a stick to make them curl into spirals. It is also an excellent plant for hydroponics, and an elegant vase makes this plant stand out like a small living sculpture.

Lucky bamboo is ideal for tidy, light and refined indoor spaces; in working or living areas it brings a sense of oriental elegance and sophisticated elegance. It is easy to fond it, even in non specialistic stores.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 11.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: up to 3 feet tall (90 cm) and 2 feet in spread (60 cm) indoors, but if you grow it outdoors it can get bigger.
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained rich potting soil  with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5. It is better suited to hydroponics, where it can be healthier.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

5: Braun’s Dracaena (Dracaena braunii)

Braun’s Dracaena (Dracaena braunii)

Braun’s dracaena is a distinctive species that looks like a herbaceous shrub, with foliage that reminds you of peace lilies.

Waxy like in other varieties, the leaves look thinner though still hard, and they start off very thin and then become broader in the middle to then taper to a pint at the end.

They will arch and have a horizontal direction and they are light green in color. This is one of the rare indoor types that will blossom willingly.

The white flowers have white petals that look like filaments, elegant and light, and they come at the top of a long, straight and upright stem above the plant.

Braun’s dracaena is related to lucky bamboo but it is not as popular with garden centers and retailers.

It is less elegant than other species, and for this reasons it suits a more informal room, especially in composition with other leafy and tropical plants.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 11.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: 2 feet tall and in spread (60 cm).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained generic potting soil with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

6: Limelight Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Limelight’)

Limelight Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Limelight’)

Limelight dracaena has a unique color: it is bright lime green, so bright that it looks like it shines! So you won’t find it hard to identify it.

The leaves are fairly broad, long and pointed, very smooth, like jade in fact, and they come in rosette like but fairly irregular tufts on top of the stems.

They start off upright and then they arch beautifully and deeply, so the overall shape is very soft and smooth.

The color is very stable too, even if light conditions change. Nd it tolerates darker places, unlike other varieties.

For this reason, limelight dracaena is ideal to bring light, vibrancy and vitality to darker indoor corners.

It is also very elegant and showy, so it will make a good show stopper where few other plants can thrive.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 9 to 11.
  • Light exposure: filtered  semi shade or even dim light.
  • Size: up to 5 feet tall (1.5 meters) and 3 feet in spread (90 cm).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained peat based potting soil, or alternative, with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

7: Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

Dragon tree is one of the most sculptural varieties of Dracaena you can grow indoors. It has a fairly long straight upright stem; it is slender and smooth and it divides into two or three branches that are topped by beautiful rosettes.

The leaves are long, thin and blade like, and they are quite thickly packed and starting from a central point. When young, they keep straight while as they keep growing they arch, giving you a palm frond effect.

Each leaf is light green with thin maroon stripes at the margins. There are cultivars like ‘Tricolor’ with gold, purple and green stripes.

Dragon tree is like a small living statue for elegant indoor spaces, at home or at work. It is an ideal floor houseplant, and it suits brightly lit and tidy, empty spaces. You can have jt as a stand alone plant, even as a focal point, especially ‘Tricolor’.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 12. 
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: when mature, it can reach 15 feet tall (4.5 meters) and 10 feet in spread (3.0 meters), but indoors and in containers it will stay much smaller (about 6 or 7 feet tall, 1.8 or 2.1 meters).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained loam or compost based potting soil, with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

8: Mother in Law’s Tongue (Dracaena trifasciata)

Mother in Law’s Tongue (Dracaena trifasciata)

Mother in law’s tongue is a newcomer in the Dracaena but not t0 houseplant; in fact, it is the famous snake plant, or Sansevieria trifasciata.

Yes, they are the same plant, and it has recently been renamed and reclassified. It has long, blade like, hard and shiny leaves that grow upright but also bend and twist slightly before they end in a pointed tip.

It has two lime green to almost yellow stripes at the sides and an amazing snakeskin dark and light silver green patches in between. 

Snake plant, or mother in law’s tongue is a very popular houseplant; it looks like a modern marble sculpture and it can brighten up even the dullest indoor space with its amazing personality. It is a winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 12.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: 2 to 4 feet tall (60 to 120 cm) and 1 to 2 feet in spread (30 to 60 cm).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained peat based potting soil, or alternative, with pH from mildly acidic  to mildly alkaline, between 4.5 and 8.5 (better if above 5.5 though). 
  • Watering: water sparingly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry. It is drought tolerant.

9: Gold Dust Dracaena (Dracaena surculosa)

Dracaena surculosa

Gold dust dracaena also known as Florida beauty is an unusual and variegated varieties of dracaena with thin arching stems and bright showy foliage, comes from Africa. It has distinctive look, so it’s easy to recognize.

It almost looks like a shrubby vine, with long, tender looking and thin stems that grow upright and sometimes outward. The leaves are broad and elliptical, horizontally places and variegated. The exact pattern depends on the cultivar you choose.

‘Milky Way’ has a central cream patch with dark green margins, sometimes spotted. ‘Florida Beauty’ has lots of white to cream yellow and emerald to dark green spots, with a prevalence of the brighter shades; this has won the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

The mother species has emerald green leaves with lime green spots. It will also blossom, with beautiful but small spider shaped white flowers.

Gold dust dracaena has a very tropical look, lush and typical of rain forests. It is a beautiful florid centerpiece for tables and you can also have it in the floor as it grows up.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 9 to 12.
  • Light exposure: filtered or even semi shade; never place directly in front of a window.
  • Size: up to 4 feet tall (120 cm) and 3 feet in spread (90 cm).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained humus or compost based potting soil, with pH from mildly acidic to neutral, 6.1 to 7.3.
  • Watering: water thoroughly once a week, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

10: Green Zebra Plant (Dracaena goldieana)

Green Zebra Plant (Dracaena goldieana)

Green zebra plant is true to its name! This Dracaena has broad and pointed horizontal leaves with pale silver green and bright emerald to dark green stripes and patterns, just like the famous African herbivore.

They are big, almost a foot long (30 cm) and 6 inches wide (15 cm), and they open alternately on the upright stems, with regular intervals and a star shape if you look at them from above.

Glossy and very showy, they are the main feature of thus beautiful tropical forest plant. The exact shades can vary with the light, as it adapts to darker places, because in the wild, it is natural groundcover under the thick canopy of tall and thick trees.

Green zebra plant is a rare beauty and it is becoming more popular with garden centers. It is ideal for a lush and luxurious room where you want a lot of green foliage and a very exotic design.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 11 to 13.
  • Light exposure: filtered semi shade; never place directly in front of a window and protect from any strong light.
  • Size: 3 to 6 feet tall (90 cm to 1.8 meters) and 2 feet in spread (60 cm).
  • Soil requirements: rich, light and well drained and humus rich potting soil, with pH from mildly acidic to mildly alkaline. 
  • Watering: water regularly and sparingly, little and often, keeping the soil moist but never wet, or when the top inch of soil is dry.

Outdoor Dracaena Varieties

Outdoor Dracaena Varieties

There are also a few varieties of Dracaena that you can grow outdoors, some because they are big, and others because they prefer fresh air.

If you live in the right climate, you could also grow the ones we have seen so far in the open, or take them it when it’s s warm. Still, for the very best varieties to grow in gardens and on terraces, here is a great selection.

11: Song of India ‘Variegata’ (Dracaena reflexa ‘Variegata’)

Song of India ‘Variegata’ (Dracaena reflexa ‘Variegata’)

Song of India is a very lush variety of outdoor Dracaena, and the ‘Variegata’ cultivar has the extra factor of bicolor leaves.

With emerald green in the middle and cream yellow stripes at the margins, they are smooth and glossy, with a lance shape and often slightly twisting pointed tips.

They grow densely and in spirals along the stems, which appear completely covered by the rich foliage.

It is a succulent shrub like beauty which will also produce flowers and berries if you grow it outdoors.

It has received the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society. The mother species has the same shape and look, but the leaves are all green.

Song of India and its ‘Variegata’ variety are ideal for a foliage rich bush effect in full soil or containers outdoors, especially for exotic, tropical and Mediterranean garden designs.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 11 to 12.
  • Light exposure: partial shade.
  • Size: 12 to 18 feet tall (3.6 to 5.4 meters) and up to 8 feet in spread (2.4 meters); it is easy to prune back.
  • Soil requirements: medium fertile to rich, well drained loam, clay, chalk or sand based soil with pH from mildly alkaline to mildly acidic. 
  • Watering: keep the soil regularly humid but never wet.

12: Red Blood Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco)

Red Blood Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco)

Red blood dragon tree is a majestic species of Dracaena for large and sunny outdoor spaces. It grows like a tree with soft looking trunk and branches, that appear covered in a warm light brown paper peel.

The branches start off above your head and they are very dense, forming an umbrella that ends in a tufty “roof” of many pointed, blue green succulent blades, that look a bit like the arms of octopi.

The crown is flat and disk shaped, providing lots of shade as well as a real protagonist to any green space. Sometimes you also get crimson stripes on the trunk, if you cut it, because the sap of this large dracaena is of this amazing bright color.

It will blossom in summer with panicles of white to greenish flowers and they turn into beautiful and bright orange berries.

Dragon tree is a show stopper for Sun bathed gardens only, especially Mediterranean, desert and xeric ones, but even in tropical designs it could find an excellent place. It has won the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 9 to 12.
  • Light exposure: full Sun or partial shade.
  • Size: 15 to 25 feet tall and in spread (4.5 to 7.5 meters).
  • Soil requirements: very well drained loam, clay, salt or sand based soil with pH from mildly alkaline to mildly acidic. It is salt and drought tolerant.
  • Watering: water sparingly and always allow the soil to dry up completely before doing it; reduce or suspend completely in winter or in the rainy season.

13: African Dragon Tree (Dracaena arborea)

African Dragon Tree (Dracaena arborea)

African dragon tree is easily identified in the Dracaena genus because it looks like a palm. It grows thin, upright and straight trunks, light brown in color and with thin horizontal stripes that look like cuts on paper.

When young, it will have a single rosette of hard, pointed, smooth and blade like leaves that form a deep green globe or pom pom in the sky.

As it becomes older, small and lean branches will appear, and you will have a few of these sculptural crowns forming a tropical island looking tree, or even a prehistoric one.

While it is not one of the most popular varieties, experts say that African dragon tree has a great future.

In fact African dragon tree is ideal for poolside settings, Hollywood or tropical island themes, for bright Islamic or Mediterranean gardens and it is so elegant and sculptural that it will even suit a formal design and public parks. And you can grow it in containers too.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 11.
  • Light exposure: full Sun.
  • Size: up to 15 feet tall (4.5 meters) and 6 feet in spread (1.8 meters). 
  • Soil requirements: well drained and loose, medium fertile loam or sandy loam with pH from mildly acidic to neutral.
  • Watering: water deeply but sparingly; start with once a month and then adjust. Never water if the soil is already humid.

14: Socotra Dragon Tree (Dracaena cinnabari)

Socotra Dragon Tree (Dracaena cinnabari)

Socotra dragon tree is an extraordinary variety of Dracaena for outdoor growing that looks like a massive mushroom. You can’t confuse it! The large trunk is covered in a light beige green paper like peel, and it stays single when the plant is young.

But at a certain height, it will spread out into thickly packed horizontal branches that form what looks like a ceiling with fine twisting relief work.

On top, you get a dome, like with mushrooms, indeed, and it is made up of a thick, deep green canopy of hard and strong leaves that form tightly packed rosettes of curved blades.

Seen from above, it looks like a carpet, or a well manicured lawn… The blooms appear in summer on top of this unusual crown, adding patches of sweet scented lime green inflorescences. Later in they will turn into bright red berries,madding another spectacle till late fall.

Socotra dragon tree is ideal as a jaw dropping specimen plant in a garden where you want to wow your visitors; you will need lots of space, and it suits dry looking themes, like xeric, desert and Mediterranean gardens.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 and 11.
  • Light exposure: full Sun.
  • Size: up to 33 feet tall and in spread (10 meters)!
  • Soil requirements: very well drained from fairly poor to medium loam, clay or sand based soil with mildly acidic to neutral pH. It is drought tolerant.
  • Watering: water very sparingly and never when the soil is already humid. Reduce or suspend completely in winter or during the wet season. It prefers really dry conditions, almost desert like.

Dracaena Plants For Rooms And Gardens

Dracaena Plants For Rooms And Gardens

Dracaena plants are not only small lucky bamboo sticks you can grow in a jug… There are even real absurd looking giants, colorful plants, and even vine looking ones.

Some will do well indoors unless you live in Florida or Sicily, while others can only grow outdoors, because they are big and they like open spaces. But now you know the very best for you.

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