Dracaena Song of Jamaica Plant Care & Growing Guide

The Dracaena Song of Jamaica is often called the Song of Jamaica Plant. Some people also refer to it as the Dragon Tree Song of Jamaica.

And in case you were wondering, the plant’s scientific name is Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of Jamaica’.

The plant is commonly confused and sometimes thought of as the same plant as the Dracaena reflexa Song of India or the Dracaena Song of India.

However, the two plants are different.

To clarify things, here are 3 varieties that are very similar to one another. And you’ll find them being soil in stores:

  • Dracaena reflexa – has solid green leaves
  • Dracaena reflexa Song of India – has yellow variegation (in the form of stripes).
  • Dracaena reflexa Song of Jamaica – has more off white variegation or stripes that look a bit more lime green or light green.

It is also worth noting that the Dracaena reflexa Song of India is more common. Meanwhile the Dracaena reflexa Song of Jamaica is a fairly rare variant.

How do you care for the Dracaena Song of Jamaica? It enjoys medium to bright indirect light. While it can tolerate low light, I don’t suggest it as this affects is variegations.

Also, keep the plant away from strong, direct sunlight as its leaves can get scorched.

As a native of Madagascar, the plant likes warm climate and good humidity. With care, it will grow to a good sized floor plant so make sure to allocate enough space indoors.

Dracaena Song of Jamaica Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Dracaena Song of Jamaica does well in different lighting conditions. While it does have variegated foliage, it does not mind low light unlike other houseplants.

This is something it shares with many other variegated Dracaena species that will grow well even in low light.

However, I highly suggest keeping the plant in medium to bright indirect light

This is where the Dracaena Song of Jamaica plant thrives.

It will grow faster, produces more foliage and maintain its beautiful colors in well-lit locations.

As such, a spot near an east or west facing window is ideal.

As mentioned, the plant does not have any issues with low light. But you do want to be careful about too little light.

It is easy to cross from low light to lack of light depending on where you put the plant.

And the latter is what you want to avoid.

That’s because like other houseplants, it relies on photosynthesis to create energy.

Therefore, less energy means it won’t be able to grow as well as it normally would. Similarly it will produce fewer leaves and small ones at that.

Lack of light also can cause its variegations to fade. In some cases (not all), they can revert to solid green.

So, as much as possible, try to keep the plant in at least medium indirect light.

On the other hand, it is also important to be careful of excess light. Too much light, whether from the sun or grow lights can burn the Dracaena Song of Jamaica’s leaves.

So, keep it away from the direct path of the sun’s rays.

With grow lights, place the plant at least 6 to 12 inches from the bulbs. Since these emit heat, too much exposure for long hours can damage the leaves as well.

 

Temperature

The Dracaena Song of Jamaica is a tropical plant that likes consistently warm weather. This is why it prefers temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, the plant will do well as long as you keep it the conditions between 55 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

This makes it perfect for room temperature.

And why the plant easily adapts to homes and offices.

That said, there are a few pitfalls when growing the plant indoors.

The biggest thing to consider as far as temperature is concerned is that the Dracaena Song of Jamaica does not like the cold.

It does not like temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

And anything below this level will give it problems.

This means it is important to keep it away from air conditioners, vents and cold drafts. You also want to avoid any potential cold spots or locations in your home where the nighttime temperature can drop significantly.

Of course, it goes without saying that it is crucial to not leave the plant outdoors in winter.

This is why most gardeners will keep the Dracaena Song of Jamaica indoors as a houseplant.

The only exception to this is in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 where the weather stays relatively warm or moderate all year round.

So, if you happen to live in these areas, you can leave the plant outdoors without any issues even during November through March.

 

Humidity

The Dracaena Song of Jamaica likes humidity as it is native to the tropics.

So, for optimal growth and health, high humidity is ideal. It prefers humidity between 60% to 80% which is where it will be happiest.

Here, there’s good and bad news.

The bad news is that it is not easy to maintain this kind of humidity indoors unless you live in the tropics or somewhere with similar climate.

It can also be easy if you live near a large body of water like a lake or ocean.

And you can achieve this if you keep the plant in a greenhouse.

But outside of that, it can be difficult to maintain humidity that high in your home.

Now for the good news.

As with other Dracaena plants, the Dracaena Song of Jamaica will tolerate average room humidity without any harm or problems.

This is yet another reason for the plant’s low maintenance and ease of care.

That said, it is always a good idea to mist the plant on occasion. This will allow it to get extra moisture. if you don’t have the time to do this, you can opt to go with a pebble tray instead.

However, the latter can be a bit challenging as the plant gets bigger.

 

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How Often to Water Dracaena Song of Jamaica

Another reason the Dracaena Song of Jamaica is low maintenance is that you don’t need to water it often.

And you should stick to this guideline as much as possible.

That’s because the Dracaena Song of Jamaica is prone to overwatering and root rot.

Therefore, you never want to let soil stay wet, mucky or soggy. Similarly, avoid watering the plant too frequently.

Instead, wait until the top half of the soil is dry before you water.

You don’t need to be precise here. Anywhere between 50% and 75% of the way dry from top of the soil is fine.

Some growers who are more aggressive waterers will water once the top 2-3 inches of soil has dried. And you can do this as well.

Just make sure to avoid doing so before this level is dry.

By watering based on when the soil dries, you don’t have to adjust your schedule as the seasons change. Instead, the soil automatically does that for you.

This prevents the roots from sitting in water for long periods of time which is what leads to root rot.

 

Dracaena Song of Jamaica Potting Soil

Because the Dracaena Song of Jamaica is prone to overwatering and root rot, I like to use well-draining soil just to make sure.

You can go with good quality houseplant potting soil which works.

However, if you do, it is important to ensure that the soil does not retain too much water.

This puts the plant at risk because once you water the plant it is up to the soil to hold or drain the moisture.

If the soil holds too much moisture, even if your watering schedule is perfect, the roots end up sitting in water for extended periods of time.

After a while, they will suffocate, die and rot.

So, if you do decide to go with regular houseplant potting soil, it is always a good idea to monitor the soil to see how well it is draining the excess water.

If you notice that it is holding too much moisture, you can add a few handfuls of perlite.

This will make the soil lighter. And it will increase drainage.

You can add as you go until the point where you see the soil it retaining just enough moisture to keep the roots happy, but getting rid of excess moisture to avoid overwatering or waterlogged soil.

On the other hand, if you like making your own potting mix. Here’s a well-draining soil mix that works well for the Dracaena Song of Jamaica. Just combine:

  • 1 part potting soil
  • 1 part perlite

Alternatively, if you want to keep the soil well-aerated as well, you can use a mixture of:

  • 1 part potting soil
  • 1 part clay pebbles

Finally, don’t forget to select a pot with drainage holes. This will allow any excess liquid to exit the pot instead of just pool at the bottom of the container (and leave the soil wet).

 

Fertilizer

Feed the Dracaena Song of Jamaica will an all purpose fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer.

There’s no need to feed the plant during fall or winter.

When you do, make sure to dilute the fertilizer by 50% each time you use it. This helps avoid overfeeding the plant.

Too much fertilizer is harmful because it contains salts to which the Dracaena Song of Jamaica is sensitive to.

So, the more you feed the plant, the more salts build up in the soil.

Over time this can result in fertilizer burn

 

Pruning

The Dracaena Song of Jamaica will grow to the size of the mini-tree indoors. Outdoors, it will get considerably bigger.

As such, you do need space for the plant both in your home or in your garden.

When grow indoors, the plant can reach as high as 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It is a moderate grower. So, don’t worry about it surprising you with a big growth spurt.

Outdoors, the plant can reach between 13 to 16 feet in most cases. Although, I’ve seen one that has gotten to nearly 20 feet. I was told that this is rare, though.

Due to its size, pruning is primarily done to control the plant’s size.

This is something that’s commonly done especially for indoor plants.

But besides that, the plant does not require much pruning. Instead, remove any dead stems, discolored or damage leaves.

It is also a good idea to rotate the plant every now and then so each side gets an even amount of sunlight.

 

How to Propagate Dracaena Song of Jamaica

Dracaena Song of Jamaica propagation is easy. And there are many ways to do it.

The most common and most popular is via stem tip cuttings (also called top cuttings). But you can likewise propagate the plant from stem cuttings, air layering and division.

In most cases, you’ll be employing stem tip cutting because it is so much easier than the rest.

Plus, it gives you high propagation success rates as well.

The best time to propagate the plant is during spring.

Here’s how to propagate Dracaena Song of Jamaica from stem tip cuttings.

  1. Start by taking a 4 to 6 inch stem tip cutting. Choose one that has several leaves and at least 1-2 nodes.
  2. Cut the stem just under the leaf line.
  3. Once you have the cutting, apply rooting hormone on the cut end. Skip this optional step if you don’t have rooting hormone on hand.
  4. Plant the cutting into a pot with well-draining soil. If you want a fuller plant, you can plant 2 or 3 cuttings in the same pot. Although, one cutting is enough.
  5. Keep the pot near a window with medium to bright indirect light.
  6. Water the soil as needed. The soil is to keep the soil moist but not wet or soggy.

It takes several weeks for new roots to develop from the cutting.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Dracaena Song of Jamaica

The Dracaena Song of Jamaica needs repotting every 2 years. This will keep the plant healthy and allow it to keep growing.

However, don’t just repot the plant without reason.

Instead, only do so when the roots have filled the pot.

The roots will give you signs of this by trying to sneak out of the pot in any way they can.

As such, you’ll see roots coming out form the holes at the bottom of the pot or from the surface of the soil.

When you see this happening, it means they run out of space to grow in the container.

So, repotting will let them grow further.

When repotting have a larger pot ready. Use one that is 2 inches larger than the current container. Also, have enough soil to fill the new pot.

If the Dracaena Song of Jamaica is still small or manageable in size, it will be easier to take out of the pot.

But if it is quite big, it is better to tip the plant on its side and slide out the pot.

Carefully, transfer the root ball into the new pot and fill it with fresh soil.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

Yes, the Dracaena Song of Jamaica is toxic when ingested. And it is toxic to people, dogs and cats.

Note that when the exterior layer of the plant is not punctured or broken, it is safe to touch, hold or carry.

But once eaten, consumed or chewed it can cause many possible side effects.

 

Dracaena Song of Jamaica Problems & Troubleshooting

Pests

Mealybugs is the most common pest that will bother the Dracaena Song of Jamaica. As such, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for these small white, cotton-like creatures.

They like to stay on the leaves as well as the stems.

Another potential pest that will attack the plant are spider mites.

The most common of these are red spider mites which look like tiny red spiders. In most cases, they’ll appear more like dots with small legs on the side due to their miniscule size.

But don’t underestimate these pests as they will grow in number very quickly.

So if you see any, isolate the plant immediately and start applying insecticidal soap spray to get rid of them as soon as possible.

 

Diseases

Root rot and leaf spot disease are the most likely diseases this plant encounters.

Both are unpleasant.

But root rot can potentially destroy the Dracaena Song of Jamaica, even a large one.

That’s because it affects the root system, which is the lifeblood of the plant. Once enough roots are rotten, the plant won’t be able to sustain its survival.

That’s because it cannot absorb enough water and nutrients to keep itself healthy.

Therefore, avoid overwatering the plant.

Leaf spot diseases come in different types. But they’ll all appear as varying types of spots on leaves.

And they are primarily caused by wet leaves that stay wet.

So, avoid getting foliage too wet or leaving them wet for long periods.

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