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Whilst sitting in my home office last week, it dawned on me that my surroundings were a little bit dull. "Ah... what better than a bit of plant-life to cheer things up", I said to myself with a demonic grin on my face. Off I popped to B&Q, with the ultimate aim of finding some greenery to jungle-ify (yes, I said 'Jungle-ify') my work space. I wanted something that was easy to care for, and difficult to kill - my plant keeping record is a little shameful... I did manage to keep a spider-plant for an entire year, but it *was* plastic. Sifting through the wall of foliage at the store, my eye was caught (not literally) by the Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracena marginata) - an impressive looking plant which took pride of place in the display. Reading the label informed me that the Dragon Tree is one of the best natural air purifiers, and can removing xylene and trichloroethylene from the atmosphere - two harmful yet common by-products of office life. "I've got to get myself one of these!", I said as I strolled with my new green friend towards the checkouts. First things first; the plant in dooyoo's picture isn't a Madagascar Dragon tree - the leaves are the wrong colour. Although similar in shape, the leaves of the Dragon Tree are more grass-like in appearance, and have beautiful thin deep red outlines, rather than the thick light-green ones as shown in the photo. In terms of it's growth, the plant can reach up to three metres in height when in a pot - although it would probably have to be a pretty big pot for that to happen. Anyway, i'm hoping that my specimen doesn't ascend to those dizzying heights, as the ceiling in my office is quite low. To be honest, I doubt I need to worry, as it's less than a metre tall at the moment, and these particular plants are classed as slow growers. Dracaena margina need very little water during the Winter (just enough to keep the leaves from dropping off), and in the Summer they should be kept moist, but never soaked, as this will result in root decay. What is particularly important in this species, is a regular misting with a fine spray. If you don't do this, then the plant will probably be fine - it's just that if you do, it will be a lot happier. These are jungle plants you see, and jungles have high humidity levels - so anything you can do to remind your Dragon Tree of home is going to be a good thing (although it's probably best not to release a tiger into the house). In terms of light, The Dragon Tree is happy in the shade, and will consistently grow even when metres away from a windowsill. For optimum care, you should remove any yellow leaves that form, and also repot the beast every couple of years. All in all then, I would highly recommend the Madagascar Dragon Tree as an easy to care for, and health beneficial plant which should grace every home. The attractive and bold foliage can be used to create an impressive centerpiece in a room, and as you can pick up a smallish plant for around the £10 mark, it isn't going to put you out of pocket.
The Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata) Dracaenas are members if the Liliaceae family and the name is derived from the Greek word drakania which means female dragon. There are many varieties but the Dracaena Marginata has very thin dark green leaves that have an almost coppery like appearance (not like the variety pictured). According to the literature that I have read, the Madagascar Dragon Tree plant apparently originates in Costa Rica and Sir Lanka... there must be an error here somewhere as these places are so far apart from each other and where does Madagascar come in? This is a rather elegant and popular house plant with thin variegated leaves and a long upright straight thin stem. The linear stem and its topping of grassy leaves makes it an ideal striking focal point in any room. It is a plant that has been around for quite a while and is relatively easy too look after. The plant also acts as an effective air cleaner and helps to promote a healthy environment. Site: The plant should be situated in a relatively bright area of a room but not in direct sunlight. Extensive sunlight may burn the leaf tips. Humidity: Don't let the atmosphere get too dry. Keep the humidity up to stop leaf drop. It is a good idea to mist the leaves regularly with rain water rather than tap water. Watering : It is important not to let the compost dry out in the growing season. Keep it moist but avoid over watering and reduce the watering in winter (once a week). Keep the humidity up with misting Growth: These plants grow rather slowly, usually 10 - 15 cm per year. Soil: The soil should be loam based No2. or a peat based compost is suitable. Feeding: A liquid feed every month or so should do nicely in the summer time. Repotting: The plant can be repotted every two years or so during the spring. It is important to ensure that there is good drainage. Tip: Place in a pebble tray to increase humidity. Price: For some reason, I guess aesthetic, a larger plant is often sold in a pot alongside two smaller plants, so that you have a threesome. A tall plant (a metre or more in height) sold like this can cost between £30 and £40. Smaller single plants can be purchased from about £4.