The Dracaena Surculosa is also known as the Gold Dust Dracaena or Japanese Bamboo. Other names the plant is called include Spotted Dracaena and Bamboo Dracaena.
It is a mini-tree or shrub-like indoor plant with beautiful lightly spotted leaves.
The yellow or gold spots look like dust has been sprinkled on its green foliage. Thus, this is where the plant gets its name Gold Dust Dracaena.
The plant is native to central and western tropical Africa, particularly the rainforest region.
How do you care for the Dracaena Surculosa? This is a good sized plant that needs space to grow taller. But it is a slow grower. So, it takes years to reach its full height.
For optimal growth and leaf development, give the plant medium to bright indirect light. Avoid strong direct sunlight.
Similarly, avoid overwatering the plant as it is susceptible to root rot.
Dracaena Surculosa Plant Care
Gold Dust Dracaena Light Requirements
The Dracaena Surculosa is a beautiful variegated plant that thrives in bright, indirect light. This is where will grow the fastest.
It will also produce its best variegations when given plenty of light.
The most interesting thing about the plant is, like other many variegated Dracaena species, is that it does well in low light.
That’s not something other plants like variegated philodendrons, monsteras or even pothos enjoy.
However, you still want to be careful with too little light.
As with all plants, the Gold Dust Dracaena needs light for photosynthesis.
This means you want to avoid dim, dark or very shaded locations since it will affect the plant’s growth. This includes its growth rate, size, number of leaves and the quality of the leaves including their size and variegations.
The good news is that the plant will do well even in northern exposure.
However, you do want to check to see how much light your home gets from the northern side during winter. If there isn’t sufficient light, you have 2 options.
- One is to move the plant to a brighter location.
- The second option is to supplement with artificial lighting.
The Dracaena Surculosa does well with fluorescent or LED grow lights.
This means you can use either to keep the plant healthy, happy and growing even through the colder months.
As far as light goes, a place near a window without direct sunlight is ideal.
Try to keep the plant away from the strong rays of the sun especially during mid-afternoon. This kind of intensity is just too much.
And while it can tolerate 1-3 hours of this on a daily basis, its leaf colors will get negatively affected.
If the exposure it too much, you’ll also see its foliage get scorched.
Thus, if you want to keep the Gold Dust Dracaena in a south facing window, you can either:
- Position it at least 3 feet or farther from the window.
- Filter the sunlight coming in with sheer curtains or blinds.
Gold Dust Dracaena Temperature
The Dracaena Surculosa has an ideal temperature range between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where it is happiest and will grow at its best.
However, it will do well as long as you keep temperatures between 55 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything between this larger range works very well.
It is also worth noting that because of its tropical and subtropical nature, the plant is able to tolerate hotter climates up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit without any harm or problems.
This is why the Gold Dust Dracaena enjoys the outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 o 11.
These are warm weather regions where the “winters” are very mild. In fact, during November to March, they have sunny and moderate to slightly cool weather.
As such, the Dracaena Surculosa can live outdoors every day of the year there.
But the same is not true for colder locations.
It has a temperature tolerance of 50 degrees. And below this level, it will experience stress and struggle.
You’ll see its leaves change colors and the plant will wilt. Growth with likewise slow.
After a while, if the condition persists, its foliage will start dropping as well.
Therefore, most growers will keep the plant indoors as a houseplant in colder regions.
You can still take it outside during the warmer months of the year. Typically, staring around the middle of spring to about the middle of autumn is where it will be okay outdoors.
But once things get cold towards mid-autumn, it is time to debug the plant and bring it back indoors.
Dracaena Surculosa prefers high humidity if given the chance. It will thrive when humidity is kept between 60% and 80%.
However, it is important to note that the plant will do well in average room humidity.
This means that you likely won’t need to do anything extra to keep it happy.
That said, it is always a good idea to monitor the plant. And you want to look at the leaves to see if humidity is sufficient.
As long as the leaves look healthy and maintain their color, then things should be okay. The plant should likewise be healthy and keep growing as it normally would.
However, if you see the leaf tips and edges turn brown and crispy, then this is a sign that it needs more humidity.
Dry, brittle leaf margins and tips mean that the moisture is not reaching the plant’s extremities.
And if you leave it be, you’ll see more and more leaves turn brown as well.
So, to fix this issue, you’ll need to increase humidity around the plant. Note that you don’t need to up the humidity in your entire home or even the whole room where the plant is in.
As long are the surrounding air around the plant gets more moisture, it will get better.
The most straightforward fix is getting a humidifier. But it also costs money. And there’s some maintenance involved as well.
Another option is to mist the plant. You can also group all your houseplants together.
I like to set up either a humidity tray or a pebble tray depending on what items I have nearer to me at the time.
Both are free. They are easily to DIY withing 15 or so minutes (even less). And you only need to refill the water in the tray when it gets depleted.
How Often to Water Dracaena Surculosa
Watering the Dracaena Surculosa means a couple of things.
- Allow part of the soil to dry between waterings
- Water the plant thoroughly then let it completely drain
By following these two simple rules, you’ll keep the Gold Dust Dracaena healthy and growing well.
First, is allowing part of the soil to dry.
This is very important since the plant does not like wet feet.
As such, while it does enjoy moist soil, it has problems if you keep the soil soggy, mucky or wet. More importantly, overwatering puts the plant at risk of root rot.
Therefore, the safest way to water the plant is to stay on the drier side.
Additionally, while the Dracaena Surculosa likes being watered once every 7 to 14 days, don’t follow a fixed schedule.
That’s because the weather changes from season to season.
In the summer, the soil will dry much quicker due to the warm, sunny climate. But during wintertime, the lack of sunlight and cold weather will keep the soil wet for longer periods of time.
This means you want to water more regularly during summer to avoid an underwatered plant.
And cut back significantly during winter to prevent overwatering the plant.
As such, it is much easier to check the soil to feel when to water the plant than time the number of days based on the weather.
This is why the best way to know when to water the Dracaena Surculosa is to feel the soil.
Only water the plant once the top 50% of soil has dried. This is the rule I go with. However, you can likewise be more aggressive if you wish.
But never water before the top 2 or 3 inches of soil has dried.
This is the bare minimum you want to wait.
Watering before this level of soil has dried increases the risk of overwatering.
The second aspect is to soak and drain when you water the plant.
This means to drench the root ball by continuously adding water until the liquid starts trickling down from the holes at the bottom of the pot.
Then allow the water to completely drain after.
The first step gives the roots all the moisture they want to drink. This keeps them hydrated. After that, you let the soil completely drain so there’s no waterlogging or overwatering risk.
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Dracaena Surculosa Potting Soil
The ideal potting soil for the Dracaena Surculosa is well-draining. However, it will do okay with regular houseplant potting soil.
I do prefer using a well-draining soil mix because it ensures that excess liquid drains out.
In doing so, it prevents the roots from sitting in too much water for long periods time. This lets you avoid overwatering, waterlogging and root rot.
The good news is that there are many different kinds of soils you can use to achieve this.
I like to make my own Dracaena Surculosa potting mix because it is cheaper and it lets me adjust the ingredients and percentages if needed easily.
To do so, combine
- 1 part of potting mix
- 1 part of perlite
You can also substitute the perlite for pumice if you that’s what you have at home. Pumice will work just as well.
The important thing is that there has to be enough moisture retention to keep the roots from drying out. But at the same time excess water needs to quickly drain as well to prevent waterlogging.
Potting mix fulfills the first part, while the perlite does the second.
I also like to add a 1/4” layer of compost on top of the soil to provide slow-release natural organic material to supply the plant with nutrients.
Of course, potting soil is just the second part of the entire watering equation.
The third part is to make sure that the pot you use has drainage holes at the bottom. This way, the excess moisture has a way to exit the container.
Thus, the 3 components of watering the Gold Dust Dracaena are:
- Allowing the soil to partially dry between waterings.
- Use well-draining potting mix.
- Select a pot with sufficient drainage.
Gold Dust Dracaena Fertilizer
Feed the Dracaena Surculosa with an all-purpose fertilizer. This will allow it to grow faster and get bigger.
Additionally, the nutrients will let the plant produce more leaves.
Apply once a month during its growing season (spring to summer). Do not fertilize it during the winter as its growth will slow down.
Like water, the most important thing with fertilizer is never to overdo it.
That’s because it is harmful for the plant.
Commercial fertilizer products contain salts which plant’s hate. So, the more you feed it, you’re not only giving it more nutrients but also salt as well.
As this salt builds up in the soil, it becomes more toxic to the plant.
Eventually, it will cause fertilizer burn which damages the leaves and the roots.
Gold Dust Dracaena Pruning
The Gold Dust Dracaena can grow up to 6 feet tall if you let it. Although, it takes 12 years for the plant to reach its maximum height in many cases.
That said, it still isn’t a small plant as it usually gets to between 2 to 3 feet indoors and will grow slowly over time.
Yes, the Dracaena Surculosa is a slow grower.
But it takes a more slow and steady wins the race approach. Therefore, this tree/shrub will gradually keep getting bigger over time.
The good news is that while it does take up some space vertically, it does not need a lot of room towards the sides.
Usually, it only needs 2 to 3 feet from side to side which makes it more manageable considering how big it can get.
That said, this is where pruning comes it.
Most growers will prune the plant to limit its size and bushiness especially indoors. It will produce lots of leaves. And some of them may go wayward.
So, trimming the plant is a good way to keep it looking the shape you want.
Additionally, remove any yellow, brown, old and diseased leaves as well. If there are any old leaves that drop off, clean them up as they can attract pests and disease as they decay.
How to Propagate Dracaena Surculosa
Dracaena Surculosa propagation is usually done by using cuttings or division. The plant also produces offsets which you can separate form the mother plant and grow on their own.
Which method you depends on what’s available and what you want to achieve.
Cuttings mean taking part of the plant along with its leaves. Then rooting this to grow a new plant.
On the other hand, division involved separating the larger mother plant into 2 or more smaller plants. And finally, propagating from offsets means taking the pups and planting them.
While offsets are the simplest way of propagating this plant, they are not always available.
That is, the Dracaena Surculosa will produce these pups or baby plants when it wants. So, sometimes they may be available while other times you won’t see any.
If you do, let the offsets get bigger before you separate it from the parent and plant them into a pot with well-draining soil.
Thus, for the most part, propagation from cuttings is the most reliable and the most common way to grow new Gold Dust Dracaena.
Here’s how to propagate the Dracaena Surculosa from cuttings.
- Take a healthy cutting with at least several leaves.
- Using a sterile knife or pruning shears, cut off that part of the stem tip. Often, growers will cut it lower into the stem. But you can also cut higher up if you wish.
- Plant the cutting into a pot filled with well-draining soil.
- Then place the plant in a well-lit location with no direct sunlight.
- Water the soil and keep it moist. Never overwater it or get the soil wet or soggy.
It takes several weeks for the cutting to root.
Just take care of the new plant like you do the parent Dracaena Surculosa. And it time, it will root, grow shoots and develop leaves.
How to Repot or Transplant Dracaena Surculosa
I like to check the bottom of the pot as well as the surface of the soil every spring. Here, look for any roots that are coming out from the pot or the soil.
If you see any, it means they are looking for more room beyond their current container.
As such, t is time to repot the plant.
In most cases, this happens about every 2 years or so.
But I prefer to listen and see what the plant is telling me. So, use the figure as a rough guide. Then check the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot and the surface of the soil.
When roots starting coming out, it means that the plant is root bound.
And this is the only time (outside of emergency situations) where you need to repot the plant.
Choose a new container that is one size larger than the current one. Make sure it has sufficient drainage holes.
Prepare enough fresh, well-draining potting mix as well. You’re going to replace the spent soil. So, the volume needs to be able to fill the new pot.
To reduce the risk of repotting or transplant stress and shock, water the plant a day before.
Then, on the day of repotting, carefully take the plant out of its pot. If it is tall and big, tip the plant on its side and slide the container out.
Then partially fill the new pot and place the root ball in the fresh soil.
Backfill the rest of the container. Then water the soil to keep it moist.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the Dracaena Surculosa it toxic to humans and animals. It is classified as a poisonous plant. Therefore, keep it away from young children, cats and dogs.
If any part of the plant is consumed, it can cause vomiting, swelling, pain, nausea as a host of other side effects.
Dracaena Surculosa Problems & Troubleshooting
The Dracaena Surculosa is prone to spider mites. These are the most common pests that will attack the plant.
However, mealybugs, aphids and whiteflies will also feed on it if they get the opportunity.
These pests like to hide on the undersides of the leaves.
As such, it is important to be thorough when you check the plant for bugs and insects.
Diseases are another thing to watch out for.
Root rot is the most serious as it can kill the plant. However, it can likewise get powdery mildew, Southern blight, botrytis and leaf spot disease.
All of these are caused by excess moisture.
With root rot, it is usually from overwatering or waterlogged soil.
As for the others, they are due to bacterial or fungal infections. This time, they occur because the leaves get wet when watering and don’t dry quickly enough.