Plant Guide

Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor'

Pronunciation: druh-SEE-nuh mar-jin-NAY-tuh
Family: Dracaenaceae
Common Name: Variegated Dracaena
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs

Height to: 15'
Width to: 8'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
  • 60 to 50ºF ZONE 12



             Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: spiral
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 18 to 36 inches
Leaf color: purple or red
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: summer flowering


Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; slightly alkaline; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

The upright, unbranched stems form a delicate, somewhat abstract silhouette, perfect for accent planting or for low-maintenance container culture. 'Tricolor' makes a wonderful houseplant or container specimen outdoors. It is a fine specimen to silhouette against a wall at night with uplighting. Red-edged Dracaena is commonly used as an indoor or patio plant for its tropical effect. It also functions as a foundation and specimen shrub in warm climates and has symmetrical, espalier features that make it popular. Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor' has long been used as one of our more attractive indoor foliage plants. It will grow well in light conditions ranging from full sun to dense shade; fertile well-drained soils are preferred. This durable plant requires little maintenance and is quite drought resistant. Fluoride damage may cause necrotic areas to become apparent along the leaf margins.

Dracaena grows in shade or sun and is tolerant of drought and a wide variety of soil types, though preferring an organic soil with plenty of moisture. Two or more branches form after pruning a stem. This technique can be used to increase the density of the plant. This can be beneficial since lower leaves drop from the stems as the plant grows taller leaving the bottom of the plant bare. Cut one or two of the stems to a point where new foliage is needed. Several weeks later, new growth emerges from this point.

Propagated is usually by stem cuttings and air layers. It is also grown from 2 to 4-inch long stem sections laid horizontally on a well-drained medium.

Pests and Diseases

Spider mites are a problem for Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor' when it is grown indoors. Leaf spot is a troublesome pest in outdoor locations.

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; border; suitable for growing indoors; accent
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range


This fine-textured, evergreen shrub is distinguished by its relatively thin and irregular stems that are topped by a rosette of ribbon-like leaves. The stems of this plant can reach a height of 15 feet and are covered with distinctive foliar scars. The variegated, leathery leaves have a purple stripe along their margins. The white and red flowers occur in elongate panicles above the leaves and are not showy. The small, golden berries of this shrub are also insignificant and not commonly produced in Florida. Multiple thin, curving stalks with narrow ribbon-like, green leaves edged in purplish-red and having a gold stripe along the leaf margin, distinguish this Dracaena from its multitude of relatives.

USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • Less then 1 day ZONE 1
  • 1 to 7 days ZONE 2
  • 7 to 14 days ZONE 3
  • 14 to 30 days ZONE 4
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12

Submitted by: iris
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