There’s nothing subtle about the dragon tree (Dracaena draco). Its striking form creates a bold architectural statement in the landscape. This amazing succulent, also known as the dragon’s blood tree, can grow over 10m high and 15m wide. It is also incredibly slow growing and can take up to 25 years to reach just 3m in height and width.
An ancient wonder
Don’t let that deter you, though – the dragon tree is long lived and, when young, has a short scaly stem that is topped with a tuft of dramatic sword-like foliage in the form of strappy blue-green leaves, so it’s a fabulous feature plant. Eventually it flowers and branches out repeatedly, providing the tree with its fascinating forked framework. It is the ultimate living piece of art that is worth your investment of time, but if you can’t wait and need a mature specimen now, you will need to dig deep… in your pockets, that is! Mature plants can cost thousands, so we suggest be patient – it’s worth the wait.
How to grow them
Dragon trees thrive in warm subtropical to temperate coastal areas from Mackay in Queensland to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. They will tolerate the dry tropics and occasional light frosts. Avoid wet tropics and cold frosty zones.
Dragon trees love full sun, but do need protection from strong afternoon sun.
Extremely free-draining soils are essential, as wet roots will be fatal. If your soil isn’t well drained, consider building a raised planter bed (make sure it’s more than 1 x 1m) and fill it with a mixture of well-draining potting mix and sharp sand.
For garden-grown trees, natural rainfall is sufficient – once established, regular watering isn’t necessary. For plants in large pots, you’ll need to water occasionally when soil is dry to touch.
A sizeable plant needs a suitable pot. Beginning at 500mm for younger plants, fill containers with 50 per cent potting mix and 50 per cent coarse sand for free drainage. Drill extra drainage holes in the base and sides of containers.
Little is needed, but a small sprinkle of controlled-release fertiliser such as Yates Acticote or Scotts Osmocote Plus Trace Elements in spring and again in late summer will help.