Dracaena is a very popular plant in the US. It’s easy-care nature and ability to grow contentedly in the average home makes it a very popular indoor plant. But, what if you’d like to cultivate this succulent outdoors … can dracaena grow outside?
In this article I will outline the areas where dracaena can be grown as a yard plant, or outdoor potted plant, and in what areas you can bring your indoor dracaena outdoors for part of the year.
Table of Contents
- Dracaena Can Grow Outside But Only In Certain Locations
- Growing Dracaena As An Indoor Or Outdoor Plant
- Garden Dracaena – growing dracaena as a yard plant
- Potted Dracaena – bringing houseplants outdoors
- Growing Dracaena Marginata In The UK
Dracaena Can Grow Outside But Only In Certain Locations
Dracaena may be a popular indoor plant but if you have a yard that could do with a succulent or two then you may wonder if dracaena would be a good fit for your garden.
Dracaena can grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9 – 11 that experience tropical and sub-tropical climates.
As a tropical succulent dracaena requires warm, humid weather and infrequent watering.
Areas that experience lots of rainfall and colder weather are not suitable environments for keeping dracaena outdoors.
Dracaena is a tropical plant that needs heat so is not suitable for year-round outdoor use in most parts of the US.
It also needs much less watering than most common yard plants and will therefore react badly if left outside in the rain.
Although the ideal areas for growing dracaena outside, both directly in garden soil or in a pot, will fall into the USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 it is possible to bring a dracaena houseplant outdoors in the warmer summer months.
It is possible to cultivate some dracaena outdoors in zone 8 but only if the plant is given winter protection or taken indoors during the colder and wetter months.
How cold is too cold for dracaena
Anything below 50°F is too cold for dracaena. But you should really avoid placing the plant in a location that gets temperatures below 60°F as dracaena will not grow very well below this.
The ideal temperature range for growing dracaena is 65°F – 75°F.
As the average US home is kept at a fairly consistent 70°F year-round, dracaena are quite content to grow as a houseplant.
Obviously if growing dracaena outdoors the plant will be in an environment where it is much more difficult to regulate its environmental factors.
Although dracaena can tolerate temperatures that stray slightly outside its ideal range of 65°F – 75°F, it will develop some serious problems if temperatures remain outside that range for prolonged periods.
Being a tropical succulent dracaena is intolerant of frost.
Frost will instantly kill the plant and therefore you are not advised to keep your dracaena outside in the winter unless you live in an area that falls into zone 9 through 11Growing .
Growing Dracaena As An Indoor Or Outdoor Plant
Dracaena is mostly an indoor plant though it is grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9 – 11.
As an indoor plant dracaena is much easier to care for as you can regulate the temperature and humidity around the plant as well as the amount of water and light it gets.
Being a tropical succulent, outdoor dracaena is open to overwatering due to excess rainfall (which will lead to overwatering and root rot) and unless it is planted in the correct hardiness zone, it is also at risk of cold shock from low temperatures.
See our guide to dracaena care in the article how to root dracaena.
Garden Dracaena – growing dracaena as a yard plant
Dracaena is a genus of plant with over 120 different species that are mostly grown in the US as houseplants.
However, as we have seen, this plant can survive, and even thrive, in some of the warmer parts of the US.
Although different types of dracaena grow in different areas, from Africa and Southern Asia to Australia, all dracaena have the same care requirements.
As it is a tropical plant dracaena is not suitable as a yard plant in most areas of the US.
Only US residents in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 can keep dracaena outdoors year-round.
Australian readers living the northern part of the country will be able to cultivate any type of dracaena outside and in fact, Dracaena Draco and and Dracaena Marginata (the dragon trees) are very popular there.
UK and Canadian readers cannot grow dracaena outside and should only cultivate the succulent as a houseplant.
So, for those of you who live in areas that are suitable for growing dracaena outside let’s look at how you can do that.
Where you should put a dracaena plant
Indoor placement of dracaena
When placing a dracaena plant indoors it should be located in an area that gets a consistent temperatures with the range 65°F – 75°F. As most homes are kept at a consistent 70°F, dracaena makes a great houseplant.
While indoors the plant should be placed in an area that gets strong indirect light.
But what about outside?
Outside placement of potted dracaena & sowing yard dracaena
Dracaena should only be planted in the garden, or put outside year-round in a pot, only in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.
Dracaena needs a lot of indirect sun to thrive. This means placing the plant somewhere that receives good light, but that does not get full strong sun, is advised.
When planting dracaena outside, or placing a potted dracaena outside, you must ensure the plant has proper protection from the sun.
A shaded area is best, though it should not be full shade where the light is poor. See our guide to dracaena light requirements.
When in an area that is suitable for cultivating dracaena outside I often place dracaena underneath the protective branches of large tree.
Dracaena and other plants don’t always make good bed fellows
Can dracaena be planted with other plants?
Dracaena can be planted with other plants as long as those plants do not require heavy watering and heavy feralization.
Only plants that require similar care should be planted with dracaena.
As a tropical succulent dracaena has much less water requirements than the average yard plant and requires much less fertilizer.
Therefore regular yard plants do not make good pot partners for dracaena.
If you plant typical evergreens that require daily or even weekly watering close to dracaena, the excess water will seep through the soil to the roots of the dracaena and the plant will develop some serious problems such as drooping leaves. Eventually you will be left with a dying dracaena.
Too much fertilizer will cause other problems and even if you act quickly and save your plant it may have lost all its leaves and you will have to wait a long time before the plant can regrow them.
What you can plant with your dracaena
As a succulent it would be unwise to plant anything but other succulents, or semi-succulents, with dracaena. But not all succulents are suitable.
Planting non-succulents, that usually have greater watering and fertilization needs, will mean one of the plants will suffer – either the succulent or the non-succulent.
Succulents and non-succulents have completely different care needs and if you plant them together your care routine will likely benefit one and harm the other.
Dracaena therefore should be potted or planted with similar succulents, or semi-succulents, that have similar care requirements – especially as that relates to the soil you use.
Dracaena requires a special type of soil that is both fast draining and airy.
Although dracaena needs a soil that drains away water fast, and that does not hold on to excess moisture, the roots require good oxygen flow.
This means a standard succulent soil will not suffice as the sand content will choke the roots of oxygen.
You need a succulent, or semi-succulent, that requires a similar type of soil to dracaena if you want to grow dracaena with a different type of plant.
Hoya is a great vine to plant with hoya. Not only does it accentuate the dracaena as far as its look goes, but it is also grows best in similar soil and has similar care requirements.
A hoya needs the same general care as dracaena from the light it requires to its watering routine.
Pothos and dracaena are popular companion plants
You can plant pothos and dracaena together as both plants have similar care requirements and also grow best in the same type of soil.
They also look great together.
Pothos and dracaena require a soil that is not just fast-draining but that also provides good airflow to the roots.
This makes them perfect for companion planting.
The watering requirements of each plant are similar as are their light needs. Both require watering only when the top layer of soil dries out, typically every 2 – 3 weeks, and both require strong indirect light.
Dracaena requires a consistent temperature range of 65°F – 75°F while pathos requires 65°F – 85°F. So keeping temperatures within the range for dracaena will keep your pathos happy as well.
As the average US home is kept at a consistent 70°F year round both pathos and dracaena will thrive together indoors.
Potted Dracaena – bringing houseplants outdoors
Not all dracaena that are outside are yard plants.
Many plant owners like to take their indoor plants outside when the weather turns warmer.
So many dracaena owners will want to know if they can bring their dracaena houseplants outside in the summer.
Let’s look at how safe that is for a dracaena and whether or not you should be doing it.
When it’s safe to put potted dracaena outside
In most areas of the US it is perfectly fine to put your dracaena outside in the warmer, drier summer months as long as you take precautions.
Bringing it outside in the colder months is not advised.
When bringing a dracaena outside you should observe some simple rules.
Firstly, dracaena should never be left in full sun. They require shade from direct sunlight but should always be placed in a location that gets good strong indirect light.
In the shade of a tree of larger plant will suffice.
Secondly, you must also ensure you do not place your dracaena outside if you live in an area that gets a lot of rainfall.
Dracaena are succulents that require much less watering than most yard plants. Too much water will cause serious damage to your plant.
If it starts to rain you are best advised to bring your dracaena inside as overwatering is often fatal to these succulents.
Can dracaena be outside all summer long?
Dracaena can be outside in summer in most areas of the US. However, they must be protected from direct sunlight and excessive rainfall.
Temperatures should also not exceed 80°F.
I am often asked, “can I keep my dracaena outside in summer”.
Again, this is dependent on the temperatures and amount of rainfall your area experiences in the summer months.
The 3 main concerns you should have about keeping a dracaena plant outside all summer are:
- The amount rainfall the plant will be subjected to.
- The temperatures.
- The ability to protect the plant from direct sunlight.
Follow the advice above to ensure your plant is properly protected.
Growing dracaena marginata outdoors
Dracaena marginata can only be grown outside in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.
This includes both yard dracaena marginata and potted dracaena marginata.
Growing Dracaena Marginata In The UK
Although dracaena is more commonly seen in the US it is becoming much more popular in the UK.
Many of my UK readers have asked me if they can cultivate dracaena marginata as a year-round garden plant.
Can dracaena marginata grow outside in the UK?
Dracaena marginata should not be grown outside in the UK.
The climate in the UK, especially the British Isles, is completely unsuitable for dracaena, though it can be successfully grown as a houseplant.
Although it is possible to bring a potted dracaena marginata outside during the warm summer months, as long as it is given shade from direct sunlight and protected from summer showers. It should not be left there year-round.
Dracaena marginata is a tropical plant that requires warm humid weather and needs much less water than typical British garden plants.
A dracaena marginata left outside year-round in the UK will suffer from cold shock but will probably die from overwatering due to rainfall long before it reaches the winter.