Dracaena is an easy-care succulent that is cultivated throughout the US, mostly as a houseplant. But not all succulents have the same light needs and a one-size-fits-all approach to the care of all succulents simply will not work.
Table of Contents
- Dracaena light requirements – the key to lush foliage & vibrant blooms
- The role of direct sunlight on dracaena growth
- Dracaena can live in low light but under certain conditions
- Shade is not optimal for growing dracaena but semi-shade can be
- The optimal amount of sunlight a dracaena needs to thrive & produce vibrant blooms
Dracaena light requirements – the key to lush foliage & vibrant blooms
In this article I cover the light requirements for dracaena.
I give you information on the type of light needed, the amount of hours of light needed per day and the optimal lighting conditions for maximum healthy growth.
I also mention the type of light that is not suitable for growing dracaena and how to give your plant the correct light so that it produces blooms.
Dracaena is an easy-care succulent, which makes it popular among houseplant owners.
However, as I have pointed out in previous articles this particular succulent has some very specific care needs.
Light is a very important part of a dracaena’s care.
Dracaena can survive on much less light that many other popular succulents.
But, a dracaena plant cannot survive on no light at all and will only grow tall with lush foliage when it is given enough light.
Additionally, a majority of dracaena houseplants never bloom.
This is in large extent due to the plant getting insufficient light, or the incorrect type of light.
Dracaena are perennial bloomers, meaning they should bloom every year.
If your dracaena has failed to bloom it is likely due to an issue with the light the plant is receiving.
In my experience, when a dracaena houseplant is given the correct type of light in the right quantities it will begin to bloom yearly, even if it has never bloomed before.
Of course you must ensure the succulent is receiving the correct care and attention also as the correct light alone will not make a dracaena bloom. Without it though, it will never bloom.
To review the type of care a dracaena needs read our article on how to root dracaena.
The role of direct sunlight on dracaena growth
All plants need light to grow. Even shade plants require a certain amount of light for photosynthesis.
However, many plants have evolved to need much less light than others.
As dracaena is a succulent many people automatically think that these plants require large amounts of direct sunlight, as most of us associate succulents with desert plants.
But, not all succulents grow in the desert nor do they all grow in direct sunlight.
Let’s look at what type of light dracaena need and if they can handle full direct sunlight.
Dracaena has a love/hate relationship to full sun
What type of light does a dracaena need … can it grow in strong direct sunlight?
Dracaena can grow in full sun but only if the direct sunlight it receives is kept to a minimum and the plant will never thrive.
Dracaena grow best in strong indirect light. Prolonged direct sunlight will scorch and brown the leaves and can stunt the growth of the plant.
Therefore, full sun is best avoided when placing a dracaena in its permanent location.
It is possible for dracaena to continue growing when given limited amounts of full sun, for example, in a semi-shaded area outside in the warm summer months. But prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will harm the plant..
It is best to avoid placing your dracaena in an area that gets full sun.
Dracaena can tolerate full sun but too much is a bad thing
We can see that a dracaena can still continue to grow in full but what is the plant’s tolerance level when it comes to this type of direct light?
Dracaena can only tolerate small amounts of full sun over short periods of time.
Full sun will scorch the leaves and impair the growth of the plant.
Therefore it is not advisable to place a dracaena in a location that receives full sun.
Although many dracaena owners will often place their houseplants beside a bright window, those in the know are sure not to place it beside a sun-facing window.
Always aim to give a dracaena good strong indirect light only.
Dracaena can grow without full sunlight as long as it gets strong indirect light
So, if a dracaena will react badly to being placed in the path of strong direct sunlight does this mean the plant can grow without sunlight?
Like all plants dracaena needs light to survive. However, strong direct sunlight will damage the plant.
A dracaena grows best with at least 4 hours of strong indirect light per day.
I have found that when people ask if dracaena can grow without sunlight not everyone means the same thing.
If by “sunlight” you mean direct sunlight, or full sun, then the answer is “yes”; dracaena can not only grow without full sunlight but this type of succulent actually grows best without it.
If, on the other hand, “without sunlight” means to you “very dim light or no light at all” then the answer is “no”.
Dracaena can not grow with sunlight as it requires good strong indirect light to grow.
Without sufficient indirect light a dracaena will stop growing and may even die.
When you see a dracaena not growing 9 times out of 10 it is due to a lack of light.
Dracaena can live in low light but under certain conditions
If dracaena does not like full sun, and can continue to grow without it, does this mean that it prefers low light conditions?
Dracaena can live in low light but the plant will never thrive in an area that provides only very limited light.
Try to ensure your dracaena receives at least 4 hours of strong indirect per day to ensure the continued good health of the plant.
Although dracaena can certainly live in low light, very limited light is not good for the plant. It will never thrive in a low light environment.
Keep in mind that this is a tropical succulent that has evolved in a warm, humid and bright environment.
If you must place a dracaena in a low light environment it is advisable to get a grow light so you can make up for the limited light with artificial light.
A dracaena kept in constant low light may grow slowly
If dracaena can live in low light does this mean it can continue to grow under those same conditions or will is growth be stunted or slowed down?
Dracaena can tolerate low light but without at least 4 hours of good indirect light per day it will not grow bigger.
For continued growth a dracaena must get the correct amount of strong indirect light per day in addition to its other care needs.
Just as I have found that “sunlight” can mean different things to different people, “low light” can also often mean different things to different people.
So, as a rule-of-thumb aim to give your dracaena at least 4 hours of good indirect light per day.
Though, as I’ve pointed out many times before in other articles, I prefer to give dracaena at least 6 hours of good strong indirect light per as I find they grow taller and will almost always bloom every year.
Shade is not optimal for growing dracaena but semi-shade can be
What about placing your dracaena in shade … is that a good idea or a bad idea?
Dracaena will not grow well in shade. A dracaena can grow in semi-shade as long as it gets 4 hours of good strong indirect light per day.
Shade is only preferred if the shade is protecting the dracaena from strong direct sunlight.
Although 4 hours of indirect light is adequate, for optimum growth and yearly blooms I find it is best to provide dracaena plants with at least 6 hours of strong indirect light per day.
Shade is only the friend of a dracaena if it is shielding the plant from the, what would be harmful to a dracaena, UV rays that come with direct sunlight.
However, dracaena do not thrive in shade as they like plenty of strong indirect light.
Shade is only preferred over direct sunlight but is not the best option.
Having said that, as long as the plant gets at least 4 hours of good strong indirect light per day it will continue to grow and remain healthy in semi-shade.
If possible though I recommend that you avoid placing your dracaena in a shaded place when you grow it indoors and only give it shade when you relocate to the yard, for example in the summer.
The optimal amount of sunlight a dracaena needs to thrive & produce vibrant blooms
So how much light does your dracaena need?
Dracaena requires at least 4 hours of strong indirect light per day.
However, I find that it grows best, and will also bloom, if given at least 6 hours of strong indirect per day.
Never give a dracaena strong direct sunlight as it will damage the plant.
Placing a dracaena shrub or tree in an area that gets less than 4 hours of good indirect light per day will stunt the growth of the plant.
Your succulent may even start to lose foliage without the correct type and amount of light. Then, as dracaena is a slow grower, it may be a long time before you can get your dracaena to regrow leaves.
Dracaena lemon lime light requirements
Dracaena lemon lime’s light needs are the same for all other dracaena species.
Review the sections above for information on what type of light is best for a lemon lime dracaena and what type of light to avoid.
You will also find information on the best amount of daily indirect light to give the plant to ensure its continued growth and yearly blooms.
Giving your plant the correct type of light, along with pruning, is also the key to making dracaena lemon lime bushier.
How much sun a lemon lime Dracaena needs
Dracaena lemon lime, dracaena deremensis, needs at least 4 hours of strong indirect light per day.
I have found that giving it a lemon lime dracaena at least 6 hours of indirect light per day ensures the plant thrives and produces a yearly bloom (as long as its other care needs are observed also).
Dracaena marginata light requirements
Dracaena marginata, also known as the dracaena dragon tree and dracaena palm, requires a minimum of 4 hours of strong indirect light per day.
How much sun a dracaena marginata needs
A dracaena marginata (dragon tree), like all dracaena species, requires at least 4 hours of strong indirect light per day.
I personally ensure all dracaena plants I care for get at least 6 hours of good strong indirect light per day as it ensures optimum growth and good health.
For more information on the type of light a dracaena marginata needs, and what type of light is unsuitable for this succulent, read the earlier sections of this article as the advice applies to all dracaena trees and shrubs.
Before you buy or cultivate a dracaena plant for home or garden always keep in mind that this genus of succulent is poisonous to many pets.
You may also be interested in our articles on dracaena root rot.