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Getting a houseplant is a great way to liven up your space, whether it is for your home office, for the workplace or even to add a dash of color to your kitchen or bathroom. If you have never cared for plants before, it can be difficult to choose which one is best for beginners. Getting in touch with professionals who stock and sell houseplants might be a good idea, or you could try your luck with a Dracaena. The name Dracaena is derived from the Ancient Greek drakaina, meaning 'female dragon'. It is a genus of around 120 species of trees and shrubs mostly native to Africa, with some species native to Southern Asia and one (Dracaena americana) being native to Central America. As the Dracaena genus covers over 100 species, you've got quite a few different plants to choose from. We'll take a look at a couple of the more well-known species, to give you an idea of what to look out for, and how to care for a dracaena.

Dracaena - Zebra Striped Dragon Tree

Native to the tropical climate of West Africa, the Zebra Striped Dragon Tree – so named for the banded coloring on its leaves – is a slow-growing evergreen shrub. The plant usually has a single stem which can branch as it matures. Throughout the year watering should be done regularly, but sparingly. Never leave the soil wet and water less during the winter. The odd patterning of its leaves makes it a popular choice as a houseplant.

Malaysian Dracaena - Small-Leaved Dragon Tree

Also known as Dracaena Reflexa, Song of Jamaica and Song of India, these plants grow narrow leaves that are green in the center with a creamy-yellow edge. The leaves are set closely together, coming from a center stalk, making it a lively-looking plant. These plants prefer soil that is barely moist but loves humidity, so placing it near a humidifier will help it to thrive. The average Malaysian Dracaena will grow to 1.5-2ft. but they have been known to grow as tall as 4ft.

Dracaena aletriformis - Large-leaved Dragon Tree

With large, strap-shaped leaves that open up to reveal the flowers within, the Large-Leaved Dragon tree blooms from Early Spring to Mid Summer, drawing in both butterflies and bees with their attractive petals. The plant should be watered regularly but not over watered. The height of a Dracaena aletriformis can be anywhere between 3-4 ft. and 10-12 ft., making it a versatile plant suitable for the home or in an office reception if a larger plant is needed.

Madagascar Dracaena - Bicolor Dragon Tree

Also known as the Dracaena Marginata, or the Red-Margined Dracaena, the Madagascar 'Bicolor' Dragon Tree can grow up to 6ft, making them a good plant for office receptions and personal studies. The leaves of a Madagascar Dracaena are sharp and blade-like, colored a rich green in direct contrast to the light beige or yellow of its stem. Make sure to keep the soil moist at all times but never soggy and like the Malaysian Dracaena, a little humility goes a long way. 

Most experts will tell you that the key to better plant care is complete plant care information. There are a number of websites dedicated to the first class care of plants within the Dracaena genus, and any official indoor plant stockist worth their salt will be able to provide helpful information on looking after your new Dracaena Plant. 

As a resilient houseplant that can tolerate the occasional lack of watering, the Dracaena Plant is a good plant for beginners. However, it is important that you do your research into what is best for the plant so that you can provide the proper care. 

by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with home and office specialists in www.indoor-plants.co.uk.

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