Growing Dracaena Trifasciata An Expert Gardener’s Guide

Growing Dracaena Trifasciata: An Expert Gardener’s Guide

As opposed to their tall and proud leaves, Dracaena trifasciata are very forgiving plants that can adapt to various growing conditions. They’re low-maintenance plants perfect for those who are novice plant growers and those who are too busy for fussy plants.

In this care guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Dracaena trifasciata plants and help you provide the ideal growing conditions for them. We’ll cover everything, from their lighting needs to the issues you might face while growing them.

Dracaena Trifasciata General Information

Dracaena Trifasciata General Information

Scientific Name: Dracaena trifasciata
Common Name: Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue
Genus: Dracaena
Family: Asparagaceae
Plant Type: Perennial plant
Native Habitat: West Africa
Preferred Environment: Warm environment
Blooming Period: Winter
Mature Size: 2 to 3 feet tall; 2 to 2.4 inches wide
Toxicity: Toxic to pets; non-toxic to humans

Dracaena trifasciata, commonly known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, is a perennial plant from the Dracaena genus. It’s native to West Africa but is now cultivated worldwide due to its versatile nature.

It’s a popular houseplant because of its tolerance to various lighting conditions and its forgiving nature when it comes to watering. It’s also among the plants in the NASA Clean Air Sturdy, which features plants that can filter indoor air.

It used to be called Sansevieria trifasciata until 2017, and many plant owners still use the name, as they are more familiar with it.

Taking Care of a Dracaena Trifasciata

What soil is best for Dracaena trifasciata?

What soil is best for Dracaena trifasciata

Dracaena trifasciata is not overly picky about soils, but they thrive best in well-draining and well-aerated soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. They’re susceptible to root rot, so it’s essential that the soil mix has excellent drainage.

Succulent soil mixes in the market generally work well for Dracaena trifasciata since they mimic the dry, rocky soil in which they naturally grow. If you only have regular potting soils, you can add ingredients like perlite to make them suitable for snake plants.

How do I make my own soil mix for Dracaena trifasciata?

To make a soil mix for your Dracaena trifasciata, mix ingredients like perlite, coarse sand, pine bark, and coco coir into potting or succulent soils. These ingredients improve drainage and aeration, which are crucial for snake plants.

Here are three recipes that you can follow depending on what ingredients you have:

Recipe #1
  • 2 parts potting soil
  • 1 part perlite or pumice or coarse sand
  • 1 part pine bark 
  • 1 part coco coir or peat moss
Recipe #2
  • ¾ part succulent soil
  • ½ part perlite or pumice or coarse sand
  • ¼ part coco coir or peat moss
  • A handful of bark compost
Recipe #3
  • 2 parts succulent soil
  • 1 part pine bark or perlite
  • 1 part coarse sand
  • 1 part coco coir or peat moss

When should I water my Dracaena trifasciata?

When should I water my Dracaena trifasciata

Water your Dracaena trifasciata only when the top inch or two of the soil is dry. Like most succulents, they store water in their leaves so they can withstand drought and don’t need much watering.

Your watering frequency will depend on several factors, like the season, local climate, type of soil, and pot size. Snake plants generally need less water during winter and more during their active growing season.

Although most snake plants would need to be watered again after 2 to 4 weeks, it’s still best to let the soil conditions guide your watering schedule instead of adhering to a strict calendar-based routine.

Do Dracaena trifasciata require sun or shade?

Do Dracaena trifasciata require sun or shade

Dracaena trifasciata are highly versatile plants that can adapt to various light conditions, making them suitable for both sun and shade. However, the ideal light conditions for them are bright, indirect light for at least six hours daily.

Due to their adaptability, they can be grown almost anywhere in the home. They can be placed outdoors as garden borders or in your bedroom as air purifiers.

If you have variegated varieties, though, it’s better to place them somewhere with slightly brighter light conditions to maintain their variegation.

What temperature is recommended for Dracaena trifasciata?

What temperature is recommended for Dracaena trifasciata

Temperatures between 70°F and 90°F are recommended for Dracaena trifasciata, but they can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures at night. 

They can’t tolerate extreme cold, so avoid exposing them to temperatures below 50°F for extended periods.

While snake plants are very adaptable and forgiving, they can be pretty sensitive to drafts. Don’t place them near drafty windows or doors during winter, as this can lead to damage or stress.

If you have harsh winters but want to grow the plants outdoors, it’s best to plant them in pots instead of your garden soil so you can bring them inside during colder months.

What humidity level is recommended for Dracaena trifasciata?

What humidity level is recommended for Dracaena trifasciata

Typical indoor humidity, around the 30% to 60% range, is recommended for Dracaena trifasciata. You don’t need to provide additional humidity for them in standard home conditions unless the humidity is extremely low, like in winter.

If your indoor humidity drops significantly below 30% during winter because of your heater, you can mist the plant occasionally or place a bowl of water and pebbles near it. This will help increase the humidity around the plant and help it thrive.

Don’t place the plant near radiators to keep it warm. Radiators make the area around them dry, which isn’t the best growing condition for Dracaena trifasciata.

How often should I fertilize my Dracaena trifasciata?

Dracaena trifasciata plants aren’t heavy feeders, so you only need to fertilize them once in spring and once in summer. Use a 3-2-1 or 10-10-10 slow-release or water-soluble fertilizer and dilute it to half-strength.

Some plant growers also use compost mix to fertilize their snake plants, so you can use that if you have some. Just be careful not to put too much since compost absorbs water, which can lead to too much moisture being retained in the soil.

Don’t fertilize your snake plant during the winter since they enter a period of dormancy. Putting fertilizer during the season can lead to salt buildup, which can be harmful to the plant.

When should I prune my Dracaena trifasciata?

Dracaena trifasciata generally don’t require frequent pruning since they’re slow-growing and can maintain an attractive shape without regular pruning. Prune them only when you notice damaged leaves or they have become too tall.

When pruning a snake plant, cut the leaf from the soil line. Always cut the tallest leaf first since it’s typically the oldest, and this method can help control the height of the plant better.

Consider pruning in spring or summer because the plant is actively growing during these seasons. Avoid pruning during winter, as it can cause stress to the plant.

When should I repot my Dracaena trifasciata?

When should I repot my Dracaena trifasciata

Repot your Dracaena trifasciata when you see roots growing out of the drainage holes or when the soil has become depleted. Depending on the soil type and the plant’s growing condition, you’ll generally need to repot it once every 3 to 5 years.

If the roots are already growing out of the drainage hole, it means the plant has overgrown its current pot, and the roots have become densely packed inside. By this time, the plant needs to be repotted already to give the roots more space to grow.

If the roots aren’t growing out of the drainage yet, but the soil drains too quickly, or the plant’s growth has significantly slowed down, the soil probably needs some refreshing. Repotting the plant can help address these issues.

How to Repot Dracaena trifasciata

DifficultyVery Easy●○○○○
Number of steps6
Time required30 minutes
Things you needPot, soil mix, water

Step 1: Water the plant

Hydrate your snake plant about a day or two before repotting it. This is to lessen the risk of transplant shock and root disturbance.

Step 2: Prepare a new pot and potting mix

Select a pot that’s about an inch or two bigger than the plant’s current pot. If the plant is tall, choose a broader pot to ensure it can support its weight and prevent it from being too top-heavy.

Fill the pot with a layer of potting mix, which will act as a barrier between the drainage holes and the snake plant’s roots. 

Step 3: Gently take your Dracaena trifasciata out of its current pot

Gently pull the snake plant out of its current pot. If you’re using a plastic pot, squeeze the pot or tap its sides to loosen the soil inside.

If it’s still too hard to remove the plant from the pot, use a clean knife or a trowel to loosen the edges of the soil. 

Step 4: Examine the roots for signs of damage

Check the roots for any sign of root rot. You’d want to cut any dead or rotting roots using clean pruning shears to prioritize the healthier ones.

If the plant is root-bound, gently tease the roots apart to encourage them to grow outwards and spread more.

Step 5: Plant the plant into the new pot

Position the snake plant in the center of the new pot and fill the spaces around the sides with fresh potting mix. Gently but firmly press the soil around the plant to secure the plant in place and prevent it from falling.

Step 6: Water the plant thoroughly

Water the plant after repotting to help the soil settle and ensure that the roots have good contact with the soil.

How to Successfully Propagate a Dracaena Trifasciata

How to Successfully Propagate a Dracaena Trifasciata

You can successfully propagate a Dracaena trifasciata by dividing the plant’s offset or cutting a leaf. These are relatively easy propagating methods that have a high success rate.

Propagation through division typically has the best success rate since the plant already has roots, unlike with leaf cutting, where you have to wait for the leaf to form roots. That said, division can only be done when the mature plant already produced an offset.

How to Successfully Propagate a Dracaena Trifasciata through Division

How to Successfully Propagate a Dracaena Trifasciata through Division
Number of steps6
Time required30 minutes at most
Things you needScissors, pot, soil mix, water

Step 1: Choose a Dracaena trifasciata that has multiple offsets

Select a mature snake plant that has multiple offsets. These offsets are small separate plants forming on the side of a mature snake plant.

Younger ones typically don’t have offsets you can separate, so you can only propagate them through cuttings.

Step 2: Water the Dracaena trifasciata

Hydrate your Dracaena trifasciata a few days before propagation to reduce stress from possible root disturbance during the process.

Step 3: Take the plant out of its current pot

Gently lift the snake plant out of its pot. If it doesn’t budge, tap the bottom and sides or a knife to lessen the soil on the edges of the pot.

Step 4: Separate the offsets

Carefully remove the soil from the roots until you can identify the offsets growing alongside the main plant. Use your hands or a clean pair of scissors to separate the offset from the main plant’s root system.

Step 5: Prepare new pots for the offsets

Prepare small pots where you can plant the offsets. Fill them with a fresh potting mix similar to the one you use for the main snake plant.

Step 6: Plant each offset

Plant each offset in its own container, making sure the root ball is just below the soil surface. 

How to Successfully Propagate a Dracaena Trifasciata from a Leaf Cutting

How to Successfully Propagate a Dracaena Trifasciata from a Leaf Cutting
Number of steps6
Time requiredA few weeks
Things you needPruning shears, pot, soil mix, water

Step 1: Water the plant

Water your snake plant a few days before propagating it to make sure it’s well-hydrated. This will also increase the likelihood of the cutting forming roots.

Step 2: Take a leaf cutting

Choose a healthy, long leaf that’s not too old. Cut the leaf at the soil line using clean, sharp pruning shears.

A single leaf can be cut into multiple cuttings to increase the chances of successful propagation. Just mark the bottom part of the leaf so you know which to plant on the soil.

Step 3: Let the leaf-cutting callus

Keep the cut leaves in a shaded room and leave them for a few days to let the cut wound dry and callus. This will help prevent the cutting from rotting once you plant it on the soil.

Step 4: Prepare a small pot for the cutting

Fill a small pot with a potting mix that’s suitable for Dracaena trifasciata. Choose a pot that can accommodate all the cuttings you have.

Step 5: Plant the stem cutting

Make small indentations in the potting mix for the cuttings. Plant the cuttings in the indentions you made and lightly compact the soil around the cuttings to make sure they’re settled in place.

Step 6: Water the cuttings and keep them somewhere that receives medium to bright, indirect light

Water the soil to hydrate the cuttings. Since they were left to dry out prior to propagation, hydrating them can help reduce stress.

Place them in an area that receives medium to bright, indirect light, as direct sunlight can be too intense for them. You will have to keep them in that area for a few months as they form roots.

Common Problems with Dracaena Trifasciata

Yellow leaves

One of the most common problems Dracaena trifasciata owners face when growing these hardy plants is yellowing leaves. It’s a typical sign of overwatering or poor drainage, which snake plants are sensitive to.

These plants are native to dry and rocky regions in West Africa, so they’re adapted to dry growing conditions. Exposing them to soggy soil, either due to overwatering or poor drainage, can damage their roots and cause them to rot.

Rotting roots can’t uptake oxygen and moisture, inducing stress on the plant. The plant will redirect its resources away from older leaves in response to the stress, leading to yellowing.

How to Fix Yellow Leaves

The best course of action to fix yellow leaves is adjusting your watering frequency. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings to ensure you’re not overwatering it.

If the soil remains wet weeks after watering, the soil is probably retaining too much moisture and causing the water to pool near the roots. Repot your snake plant to a new potting mix that contains more perlite or pumice than before.

Trim the leaves that have turned yellow since they’re unlikely to return to green again. This will help the plant focus on the healthier leaves.

Leaves Drooping

Prized for their long, sword-like leaves, drooping leaves can be quite a concern for Dracaena trifasciata owners. This issue can be caused by several reasons, but it’s mostly because of overwatering and underwatering.

One way to know if the drooping is caused by too much or too little water is by looking at the leaves’ condition before they start to droop. If the leaves are yellow, it’s probably overwatering, but if they’re dry and crispy, it’s caused by underwatering.

How to Fix Drooping Leaves

Whether the drooping of the leaves is caused by overwatering or underwatering, the best way to fix it is by adjusting your watering routines. 

Instead of following a strict watering schedule, water the plant only when needed.

Let the first one to two inches of the soil before you water it again. Although they’re drought-resistant, don’t let the soil completely dry before you water it to make sure the plant is always in the best condition.

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