The Dracaena compacta is a close relative of the Dracaena Janet Craig. However, they don’t look alike.
It is a slow grower and doesn’t get as big as other dracaenas, especially outdoors. This is why it is popularly known as the dwarf dracaena.
That said, it is often grown as a houseplant as its unique tree-like appearance makes it a great accent piece in living rooms and other wide spaces in your home.
The plant itself grows to about 3 to 6 feet indoors. And, its beautiful green foliage get to about 2 to 5 inches long.
While rare, the plant also blooms, producing pink flowers. But, I do suggest cutting them back as soon as they grow because you want your Dracaena compacta to focus on its foliage (which is its most attractive feature). Doing so also prevent any changes in its shape or form because of its blooms.
As a native of Africa and parts of Asia, the dwarf dracaena is a tropical plant. As such, it is important to give it sufficient light, warm temperature and good humidity while avoiding overwatering.
Dracaena Compacta Plant Care
Dracaena Compacta Light
The Dracaena compacta does best with medium light. I can likewise tolerate low light conditions. Although, if you give it too little light, its growth may stunt or completely stop at all. Similarly, lack of sunlight can make it more prone to overwatering.
It is also important to rotate the plant once every 7 to 10 days. This allows all side to get an even amount of light. Otherwise, it can lean and reach out towards the light.
If it does, it will bend towards one side causing your plant to look unbalanced. Nobody likes a plant, especially a tree-like plant that’s bending to one side.
As always be aware that indoor light is much lower than outdoor light. This is because natural light is only able to enter the window which is a relatively small opening compared to the square footage of the house. The remainder is covered by ceilings and walls.
So, while the Dracaena compacta likes partial shade outdoors, it will need a bit more light indoors.
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Your Dracaena compacta is native to Africa and parts of Central America and Asia. The one similarity among these parts of the world have tropical climates.
As such, the plant prefers warm, humid conditions. And, it is not frost hardy. Nor does it like cold temperatures.
This means that it is best to give it similar conditions to what it is used to. Doing so will allow it to grow at its best.
To be more specific, keeping levels between 65 and 80 degrees will keep it happiest. This is its sweet spot when it comes to climate. But, it can tolerate much hotter conditions.
However, once the temperature goes past 90 or 95 degrees, you’ll start seeing growth slow.
On the other hand, it is more sensitive to the cold.
The absolute lowest temperature it can tolerate is 40 degrees. But, it is best to keep it away from these conditions as its leaves will turn black as it approaches this level. Ideally, you don’t want to go below 50 degrees, with 55 degrees begin a low point to watch out for.
The plant is hardy to USDA zones 10 and 11. So, if you live in areas that experiences snow, you want to bring it indoors before first frost arrives in the fall.
Dracaena Compacta Humidity
As mentioned, the plant also likes high humidity. Ideally, you want to keep humidity over 60%.
But, it will be perfectly fine with regular household humidity as it can tolerate all the way down to 25%.
That said, it is best to keep the humidity at least 40%.
The higher the humidity, the better it will grow. And, it will likewise produce more vibrant leaves.
So, if you live in a particularly dry region, it is a good idea to use a humidifier.
In most cases, natural means is enough to keep humidity high enough. This includes keeping the plant in the bathroom or placing water trays around it.
You want to be careful with misting as dracaena plants are susceptible to leaf spot and other fungal leaf problems. Misting could increase this risk if you happen to spray a little too much water on its foliage without enough sunlight or air to allow the moisture to dry quickly.
It is likewise important to be aware that the higher the humidity, the less you’ll need to water. So, you may need to adjust your watering routine if you decide to implement humidity increasing strategies as this can result in overwatering without you realizing it.
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Watering Dracaena Compacta
When it comes to watering, your Dracaena compacta does better when kept on the dry side.
That’s because it is susceptible to root rot and leaf spot. Both are diseases caused by overwatering or too much moisture on foliage.
As such, it is a good idea to let the topsoil almost dry between waterings.
That said, the plant does need more water during spring and summer when it is actively growing. Scale back come fall and winter.
Likewise, lower light conditions require less light as there’s less sunlight for evaporation. Similarly, less light also means slower growth for the plant. Here, you’ll likely only need to water once every 2 weeks or so.
The opposite is true if you keep it somewhere there is more light. This means you’ll likely be watering every 10 to 14 days or once a week.
In addition to light, temperature, the kind of soil you use and humidity also affect how quickly soil dries up. So, do adjust your watering routine if you apply any changes in these conditions.
One of the common things that many dwarf dracaena growers experience is brown leaf tips. Unfortunately, there are a few things that can cause this.
- It can be lack of water.
- Too much salt (if you use a water softener or live near a beach), fluoride or chlorine
So, when this happens, you’ll need to eliminate one potential problem at a time to find the cause.
But, it is important to do this quickly. That’s because brown tips often show up a few weeks after the initial problem or damage was caused. As such, the longer you wait to deal with it, the more damage is done.
Finally, you probably noticed the plant’s sensitivity to chemicals in water. This means tap water isn’t the best option for the plant. Ideally, use rainwater or distilled water. But, you can likewise leave tap water out between overnight to 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate.
This way, it will not cause there problems when you water your plants with it.
Since the Dracaena compacta is a slow grower, you don’t need to fertilize the plant as much as other houseplants.
The easiest way to do so is to use slow-released fertilizer. All you need is to apply twice a year – one in spring and again in summer. That’s it.
The slow release formulation will distribute the timing of when the plant food is delivered into the soil.
You can likewise decide to use liquid fertilizer.
Make sure to dilute the dosage by 50% to avoid overfeeding the plant. Since the plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizing, it is easy to give it too much or too high a concentration.
Pruning Dracaena Compacta
Thanks to its low water and fertilizing requirements, the Dracaena compacta is a low maintenance, easy to care for plant. Its low need of water means you can take 2 or 3 week vacations without having to worry that you don’t have anyone to water the plant.
Similarly, its slow growth rate means you don’t need to do a lot of pruning.
However, you still want to do a little bit of maintenance trimming to keep the plant healthy.
This means removing any unhealthy-looking, dead or damages canes or leaves. Also snip off leaves that are partially or completely discolored.
Dracaena Compacta Propagation
Growing new Dracaena compacta is fairly straightforward as you can propagate it at home. This is a huge money-saver since you don’t have to go to nursery to get a new plant or seeds.
The easiest way to do this is via stem cuttings.
Here’s how to propagate Dracaena compacta through stem cuttings.
- Take a 6 inch stem cutting from your plant. Do chose a healthy stem tip that has a few leaves on it.
- Remove the lower leaves so you can see the stem.
- Dip the cut end of the stem into rooting hormone. This is an optional step. But, it does speed things up and improves propagation success rates.
- Place the stem cutting into a small container with slightly moist potting soil.
- Keep the plant somewhere that’s shaded.
- In about 1 to 1.5 months, it will begin to root. You can check then by slightly tugging on the plant. It should resist your light pulling. This is a sign that roots are taking hold.
- Once it outgrows the small pot, move it to a container that is 1 to 2 inches larger.
- This time place it somewhere with more light.
- Because you’ll be going up in pot size slowly, there will be more repotting during the early stages of the plant as it grows quickly. This will eventually slow down.
Dracaena Compacta Transplanting & Repotting
Due to its slow growth, you also won’t need to repot your Dracaena compacta often.
On average, you can expect to do so every 2 or so years. But, again, each plant is different. And, its living conditions will affect how quickly its roots will grow.
So, the basic guideline here is to wait until the roots starts complaining. That is, they start looking for more soil to expand to.
You’ll see this as they attempt to get out of the container, beginning with the drainage holes. After a while, they’ll loosen the soil and overrun the pot as well.
When any of these start to happen, it is time to move your Dracaena compacta to a larger container.
But, make sure to get one that is one size bigger. Be careful not to get something much larger as it will increase the risk of overwatering.
When you repot, also replace the potting soil with fresh, well draining mix.
Depending on who you ask, dracaena plants can be toxic or non-toxic. However, I like to be cautious with it because it can be slightly poisonous. And, when ingested by small children, cats or dogs, it will cause gastrointestinal discomfort and issues a few hours later. Sometimes, this will lead to vomiting which will make them feel better.
So, do keep the plant away from potentially curious or playful hands and mouths.
Mealybugs and scale are the most common pests that will bother your Dracaena compacta. And, between the two, the former will be the more likely candidate.
Either way, both are problematic because they will damage your plant over the long term. So, once you see one or any damage they cause, it is important to quickly take action.
Keep in mind that pests can increase in number fairly quickly. And, they will spread to other nearby plants. Once an infestation happens, it becomes harder and longer to eradicate them all.
I often like to use neem oil to treat the plants that are affected. But, you can also go with insecticidal soap spray.
When it comes to diseases, root rot and leaf spot are your biggest concerns. Both are caused by moisture.
But one affects the roots (root rot) and the other foliage (leaf spot). That said, both are fungal in nature. And, too much water or moisture is what allows these organisms to survive and thrive.
Leaf spot is caused by fungus in the soil. And, it will manifest itself via red brown spots on foliage. As such, letting soil dry is important to avoid this from happening. You also don’t want to wet the leaves without allowing them to dry quickly.
The excess moisture makes it a breeding ground for mold and fungus.
Similarly, overwatering can result in root rot as the plant’s root system doesn’t lit sitting in water. Waterlogged soil also prevents oxygen from getting to the roots as it blocks all the tiny air pockets.
As a result, the roots start rotting.
The problem here is that once a large portion of the root system is affected, the plant cannot absorb water or nutrients from soil. So it will eventually starve and dehydrate.
From there, your plant will slowly die.