How to Care for Dracaena Warneckii (Striped Dracaena)

The Dracaena Warneckii is a beautiful houseplant that has similarities to the Dracaena Lemon Lime. But, even from afar you quickly tell the difference between the two by looking at the color of the stripes of its foliage.

The Dracaena Warneckii has white stripes against a dark green background. Meanwhile, the Dracaena Lemon Lime’s foliage has yellow stripes against a lighter green background.

Nevertheless, the tow are very lovely plants to have if you want something to fill up some blank space in your home or living room.

The most attractive feature of the Dracaena Warneckii is no doubt its long, narrow, sword-shaped foliage. The plant likewise grows up to between 5 and 7 feet tall. So, they can start out as table plants but eventually end up in the ground.

Like other dracaena plants, it is a fairly slow grower. So, it will take some time before it gets to it maximum height.

As an added bonus, the plant was chosen by NASA as one of the best air purifying houseplants. Its size also helps it clean more air than smaller ones.

The good news is, the plant is fairly easy to care for. And, actually does quite well when neglected.

As long as you know the 1 or 2 main pitfalls to avoid, it won’t matter if you don’t have any experience growing plants, you’ll be able to care for this one quite well.

Dracaena Warneckii Plant Care

Dracaena Warneckii Light Needs

The Dracaena Warneckii does best in medium light conditions. It can likewise tolerate low light and fluorescent lighting which makes it ideal for homes and offices.

It is one of the few colorful plants that are okay with low light.

Remember, the less solid green the color of a plant’s foliage, the less it is able to collect sunlight and photosynthesize. That’s because of the lack of chlorophyll which produces the green leaf colors most plants have.

As such, while your Dracaena Warneckii doesn’t mind low light, you still want to be careful with too dim or dark locations. Once it passes a certain threshold where light becomes insufficient, you’ll notice growth slow and its leaves become smaller and narrower.

This is a sign that there’s just a bit too little light. And, the plant will appreciate brighter conditions.

That said, the places you want to avoid are areas with direct sun exposure, are very hot or very sunny. The Dracaena Warneckii cannot tolerate these conditions and if left there for long periods, it will experience sunburn.

This means keeping it at least a few feet from windows that receive afternoon sun or brunt of hot summer sun.

 

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Dracaena Warneckii Temperature

Your Dracaena Warneckii hails from Africa. As such, it prefers tropical conditions.

Mimicking this kind of climate or at least coming close to it allows you to get the most out of the plant.

This means keeping things relatively warm between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And, avoid going below 50 degrees which is the lowest the plant will tolerate (only for short periods).

Thus, once things hit 55 degrees, it is time to make arrangements to move it somewhere warmer.

Also, you want to avoid temperature fluctuations. This can include breezes from windows where cold air come through. Or, it can be from heaters, air conditioners or other vents in the home.

The plant is hardy to USDA zones 10 and 11. As such, you don’t have any problems keeping them outside all year long if you live in regions within these zones.

Otherwise, do bring the plant indoors before first frost as it will not survive through the freezing winters.

 

Humidity

When it comes to humidity, keeping indoor levels between 40% and 60% makes the plant happy. As such, the plant does well in regular household humidity which tends to run between 40% and 50%.

The higher humidity you can provide it, the better it will grow and look more vibrant.

But, you do want to watch out for the minimum since most homes hover around that area or are lower. If you live in drier areas, indoor humidity can average in the 30s. Such is likewise the case during winter when the air gets dry.

In these situations, it is a good idea to place the plant on top of pebbles in a tray of water. Alternatively, using a humidifier also works.

Due to its size, it may be more difficult to group it with other plants.

Similarly, I’m not a fan of misting Dracaenas because they are prone to leaf spot, which is often a result of too much leaf moisture or wetness that doesn’t dry quickly enough.

 

Watering Dracaena Warneckii

Your Dracaena Warneckii is drought tolerant. As such, overwatering is the biggest thing to look out for.

The plant can take short periods of dry spells. So, you don’t need to sweat it if you forget to water it or happen to go out of town for a week or so without someone to water it.

But, the same is not true for overwatering.

Signs to look out for are browning and yellowing of is leaves.

If you notice the former, check the soil to see if it is moist. If it is, then you’re probably giving it too much water. If it is dry, check your water source.

The plant is very sensitive to fluoride, which is a chemical most cities will add to water along with chlorine and a few others. So, if you use tap water or hard water, it can cause foliage browning.

Ideally, use rainwater or distilled water. You can still use tap water. But, it is crucial to let it sit so the chemicals can evaporate. This requires leaving it out overnight to 24 hours.

Overwatering can likewise manifest itself in yellowing leaves or foliage dropping. The latter is less concerning because dracaena naturally shed their old leaves to make way for fresh ones.

But, if leaf drop keeping happening consistently or in numbers, cut back on watering. If you don’t thing you’re overwatering, check your soil to see if its drains water well enough.

Even if you water just a little, but use moisture retentive soil, it will end up holding too much liquid for the plant liking. So, soil is a very important aspect of proper watering.

Since your Dracaena Warneckii requires less water than most houseplants, you can wait until the soil is a little dry before watering. The simplest way is to stick your finger down 1 inch into the soil.

If the soil at this depth is dry, it is time to water. If not, hold off.

When watering, slowly pour to soak the roots. Then allow the excess moisture to drain completely.

 

Soil

In the previous section, I mentioned how important it is to use the right kind of soil.

For your Dracaena Warneckii, that is well-draining soil that’s loose and airy.

The former allows excess moisture to drain out quickly. This helps avoid overwatering. The latter two allow oxygen and water to easily penetrate through the soil so they can reach the roots.

The easiest way to achieve this kind of soil it to use perlite or pumice. You can add it to regular potting soil.

You can likewise use lava rocks with potting soil since the pellet-like rocks leave small gaps between them to allow water t drain quickly. These small air pockets also let oxygen pass through easily.

Keep soil pH to between 6.0 and 6.5 for best results.

 

Fertilizing Dracaena Warneckii

You Dracaena Warneckii is a light feeder. As such it only needs to be fed once a month during its growing season (spring and summer).

You don’t need to fertilize it during fall and winter as it is not actively growing during this time.

You can use a balanced liquid fertilizer. Make sure to dilute it to 50% the recommended strength. This will prevent any possibility of fertilizer burn which is a result of overfeeding.

You also never want to fertilize dry soil because the concentration will be too high, So, water when you feed it.

 

Pruning Dracaena Warneckii

Dracaena often grow fairly big, especially outdoors. Even inside, they can still get quite sizeable.

Such is the case for your Dracaena Warneckii, which can reach about 5 or so feet tall.

This means it will be a floor plant. And, at times, it will outgrow its surroundings or overwhelm the other furniture beside it.

When this happens, you can prune it to limit its size. Similarly, you can remove discolored leaves as well as the older ones at the bottom of the plant.

If you spot tall stalks with only few leaves, you also want to cut them back which helps them grow better.

 

Dracaena Warneckii Propagation

If you want to grow more Dracaena Warneckii, the best way to propagate it is via stem cuttings. This is actually cutting part of the cane since its stems are big and hard.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Pick out a healthy stem. You want to take about 8 to 12 inch cuttings.
  • Use a sterilized pair of pruning shears. You can use rubbing alcohol to sterilize the blade. Scissors are too small and not strong enough to cut through the large, hard stem of this plant.
  • Place the cut end into water. You can use a jar or a used water bottle with the top cut off. Make sure to balance it or use something to keep it up since the weight of the stem will topple the container without support.
  • After a few weeks you should start seeing roots develop. They’ll start as long white nodules and eventually develop into root.
  • Once the roots start growing from the stem, you can move them to small containers. Put each stem in its own pot.
  • Water each of the pots and keep them in warm humid locations.
  • Soon, they will start to develop shoots and form new plants.
  • Once they outgrow their containers, repot them to larger ones.

 

Transplanting & Repotting

Dracaena Warneckii like being slightly root bound. As such, you don’t have to hurry in moving it to a larger pot.

Often, this will take 2 or 3 years before you’ll need to repot the plant. A lot will depend on how fast it grows. So, it is better to look at the plant itself.

The first sign is if you see roots coming out of the drainage holes. You’ll also want to soil the soil to feel if it is started to get looser. As the roots start to outgrow the space they’re given, they’ll try to ‘break out’. In doing so, they’ll loosen the soil.

When repotting choose a container that’s 2 inches larger. Try not to go any bigger as more space means more soil. And, when wet, lots of soil relative to the plant’s roots means they’ll be sitting in water for longer periods of time.

You also want to refresh the soil by using fresh, well-draining potting mix.

The best time to repot is during spring or early summer. Because the plant is actively growing during this time, it is better able to recover from the shock of being moved.

 

Toxicity

Keep your Dracaena Warneckii away from young children, dogs and cats who might be inclined to playing or ingesting parts of the plant.

While it is not poisonous to humans, ingesting any part of the plant can cause digestive and gastrointestinal problems.

It is also more dangerous to pets as its sap is poisonous to animals.

 

Pests

The Dracaena Warneckii doesn’t experience much pest or disease problems.

Nevertheless, you still want to take precautions because frankly, these are the biggest headaches when growing plants.

No grower likes dealing with pests or disease. But, when they do happen, you don’t have much of a choice.

Which the Dracaena Warneckii, mealybugs and spider mites are two of the more common creatures you want to watch out for.

The key to keeping them away is proper care and keeping its leaves clean.

Cleaning the leaves also allow you to regularly inspect the plant for any changes or damages. I’ve found it easier to spot any pests if you clean the leaves once every week or two weeks.

When you do spot them, treat immediately. Often, insecticidal soap spray or neem oil work. But, its takes a few weeks to completely get rid of these critter.

 

Diseases

Root rot is always a problem for most houseplants because overwatering can happen any time you get complacent. So, it is important to watch out for this.

In addition to what dracaena can experience leaf spot which is also caused by moisture. But, it has more to do with foliage.

High humidity coupled with getting the leaves wet and not enough air circulation or sunlight to quickly dry this wetness are the main culprits for this.

Lastly, watch out for fluoride toxicity, which is caused by chemicals in tap water. It is better to use rainwater or distilled water for this plant. Or, make sure to let the chemicals in tap water evaporate before using it on your plant.

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