Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena
Song of India Dracaena

Song of India Dracaena


Song of India Dracaena (Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’)

Straight from Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, and other islands whose names don’t begin with M comes Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’—the Song of India. Full disclosure: We can’t vouch for the way this “song” sounds, but it sure looks like a smash hit to us.

Song of India Dracaena takes the usual dracaena shape: slender, sinewy canes tipped with dense whorls of sword-shaped leaves. But it drops a little tropical flavor into the mix with its foliage, which contrasts a dark grayish-green base layer with a thick outer stripe that ranges in color from greenish cream to almost iridescent chartreuse. It’s a vibrant, bold look that you could almost call stylish or fashion-forward, and we absolutely love it. We’re sure you will, too.

You’ll also love Song of India’s undemanding, go-with-the-flow care requirements. Dracaenas are known for being virtually indestructible, and this tropical beauty does not disappoint. It prefers bright indirect light, but can handle medium, medium low, or even office fluorescents. It has basic water and fertilizer needs (allow the top inch of the soil to completely dry between waterings, the pot should not stand in water, and give half-strength general fertilizer 1-2 times per month during spring and summer. Reduce water and eliminate fertilizer in fall and winter). It rarely succumbs to pests or disease, and it’s a snap to propagate. Make no mistake: Song of India will have you singing its praises in no time.

Characteristics and traits of a Song of India Dracaena (Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’)

Scientific Name: Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’

Genus: Dracaena

Family: Agavaceae

Common Name: Song of India Dracaena, Pleomele, Reflexed Dracaena, Malaysian Dracaena

Indoor:   All year round as long at temperatures above 60°F

Outdoor Zones: 10b-12

Type: Perennial; Propagated via stem cuttings.

Mature Height: 3’-6’ (up to 18’ outdoors)

Mature Width: 18” (up to 8’ outdoors)

Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX

Growth Rate: Slow

Flower: Occasional clusters of small, nondescript white flowers held near central stalk.

Foliage: Whorls of sword-shaped leaves 6”-12” long and grey-green in color with a thick yellow outer edge.

Plant Care and Advice for Song of India Dracaena (Dracaena Reflexa ‘Variegata’)

Grown In:  Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10b-12

Light Requirements: Bright indirect to part shade. More light gives better color, but too much direct sunlight can scorch leaves. Tolerant of indoor fluorescents.

Water Requirements: Keep soil slightly moist spring-summer, Water only when top 2 inches are dry in cooler months.

Drought Tolerance: Good

Temperature:  Prefers indoor room temperatures 65°F-85°F. Definitely needs protection from temps below 50°F.  

Air Purification: Excellent - removes formaldehyde, xylene, trichloroethylene, and other airborne pollutants

Toxicity: Saponins in tissues are mildly toxic to cats and dogs.

Fertilizer: Give balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer at ½ strength every 2-4 weeks in spring and summer.

Container Friendly: Yes, so long as it has proper drainage.


Song of India Dracaena doesn’t mind being slightly pot-bound, so wait until the roots begin to poke out the drainage holes before repotting. The start of the spring growing season is the best time to repot (or plant outdoors, climate zone permitting).

Song of India does best with loose soil that drains well. One ideal blend is to start with a high-quality, all-purpose mix and add sand, vermiculite, or perlite to ensure a bit of extra drainage. 3:1 or 4:1 soil to sand is a good base mix, but don’t hesitate to adjust if you decide your plant needs more or less drainage.

When repotting, choose a container with drainage holes to decrease the chances of root rot. If the plant is reasonably mature, it may also be top-heavy, so consider a heavy container that’s less likely to topple if bumped or blown by the wind.

Plant Care:

As with most tropical plants, the greatest threat to Song of India Dracaena is root rot caused by overwatering. We recommend keeping the soil just barely moist to the touch during the spring and summer months (and always allow any excess water to drain out), but letting the top 1-2 inches dry out during the winter months when the plant is dormant.

Speaking of watering, Song of India is sensitive to fluoride and other chemicals in tap water. As such, you’ll get the best results when watering the plant with room-temperature distilled water, captured rainwater, or regular tap water that’s been left uncovered for at least 24 hours, allowing impurities to dissipate out.  

Song of India Dracaena is tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions, including fluorescent office lights, partially shaded, and even medium-low light, but its colors are brightest when given bright indirect light. A small amount of direct sunlight is fine, but more than a couple hours per day can scorch the plant’s leaves—so be wary when placing the plant outside or in an exceptionally sunny window. 

Average room temperatures of 65°F-85°F are ideal for Song of India Dracaena. This is a tropical plant in the truest sense, and temperatures below 55°F can cause it significant harm. It even dislikes chilly drafts, so be sure to place it away from AC vents or doors that could expose the plant to cold winter air.

Song of India Dracaena is comfortable at average indoor humidity, but it will also respond well to added humidity. The safest way to do this (other than with a mechanical humidifier) is to place the plant on a tray slightly wider than its pot and filled halfway with water, but all the way with pebbles (so the pot sits above the water). Light misting also helps, but water standing on the leaves can increase the odds of a fungal infection, so don’t overdo it.

Song of India Dracaena is not a heavy feeder, but it does appreciate a bit of balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer fed at half strength every 2 to 4 weeks during spring and summer (if the leaves begin to brown or you see white crust building up on the soil, cut back on fertilizer and flush the plant with water). But there’s no need to fertilize in fall or winter, when the plant is dormant.

Expert Advice:

Dracaena Reflexa 'Variegata' are highly durable. However, it also has several “tells” that can let you know if it’s not living its best life.

For example, if the plant becomes thin and “leggy”, or if its color fades, it’s likely telling you it wants more light. If its leaf tips turn brown, the plant could probably use more humidity. Too little water causes brown spots and “crispy” brown leaf edges. Most importantly, overwatering causes overall droopiness, yellow leaves, and possible root rot. If the soil is still soggy, repot the plant into dry soil ASAP, trimming off any rotten-smelling roots.

Dracaena Reflexa 'Variegata' self-prunes, so if lower leaves turn yellow-brown and drop off, there is no cause for alarm. However, if the leaves are yellowing/browning at what seems like an unhealthy rate, it could be a sign. The plant may be too cold, sitting in a draft, getting too much fluoride or fertilizer in its water, or suffering an attack by pests or bacteria.

Fortunately, most of these afflictions are easy to identify and remedy. For cold, simply relocate the plant. For excess fluoride, adopt the clean watering practices outlined in the Plant Care section. For a fertilizer overdose, flush the plant heavily with clean water, let drain, and don’t fertilize again for at least two months.

In the unlikely event your Dracaena Reflexa 'Variegata' is afflicted by pests, it’ll probably be spider mites (more likely in dry, non-humid air), mealybugs, or scale. All are easily handled by washing the leaves manually, then (if necessary) following up with insecticidal soap, a Neem oil solution or a weak permethrin solution. 

While largely disease resistant, Dracaena Reflexa 'Variegata' can be affected by fusarium leaf spot disease, especially if the plant’s leaves have been wet for long periods of time. This infection shows up as brown spots (eventually with yellow edges) on the leaves. The best treatment for this condition is to quarantine the plant, stop misting, prune off and destroy any affected foliage, and treat with either commercial fungicide or a solution of ½ teaspoon of baking soda per gallon of water.

If the stems of your Dracaena Reflexa 'Variegata' become soft and mushy at the soil level, the plant likely has a fungal infection brought on by soggy soil. These can be treated with fungicide (and by repotting immediately into drier soil if the plant’s condition allows it), but we have to be honest, it’s a longshot.   

Dracaena Reflexa 'Variegata' is easy to propagate via stem tip cuttings. Simply lop off the top 3”-10” of a cane (don’t worry, one or more replacement buds will quickly appear), place it in potting mix (or even water), and keep it moist. Keep the plants out of direct light until they root, then transplant them into their permanent pots—we especially recommend grouping three or more canes in a single pot for a fuller look.