A dracaena reflexa, native to Madigascar, Mauritius, and other islands of the Indian Ocean, is another member of the huge dracaena family. The regular dracaena reflexa, or pleomele, has dark green leaves. The dracaena reflexa, Song of India, has yellow stripes on the leaves, while the dracaena reflexa, Song of Jamaica, has off white stripes on the leaves. All varieties have short, narrow, pointed leaves that are spirally arranged on the stem and tufted at the ends of branches. This is is a slow growing, easy-care plant that can be used as a table plant, bush, or short tree. Dracaena plants are considered to be slightly poisonous, especially to dogs and cats. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
A dracaena reflexa with solid dark green leaves does well in medium light. The Song of India and Song of Jamaica, with yellow and white stripes in their leaves, need bright indirect light. Direct sun burns the leaves of all varieties of dracaena reflexa.
Like all dracaenas, the reflexa likes to be kept on the dry side. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. I always suggest keeping the plant a little root bound in a small pot so the soil can dry out quickly and the roots do not stay wet too long. When you do water, water well enough so that it comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. Dracaenas are very sensitive to fluorine in the water. If you water has a lot of chemicals in it, allow the water to sit out for 24 hours before using it; alternatively you can use rain water or distilled water.
Feed monthly in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing with a basic houseplant food diluted to 1/4 the recommended strength.
Basic household temperatures between 65°-85° are ideal.
A reflexa prefers high humidity. Leaf tips may turn brown if the humidity is too low.
A dracaena reflexa attracts mealy bugs, spider mites, and scale. Read more about these pests in the Glossary.
Fusarium leaf spot is the main disease that infects dracaenas. It causes leaf spots that are initially water-soaked and form on young leaves that are are kept wet. As the spots become larger, they turn reddish-brown or tan and frequently have a yellow margin.
Always use a loose, quick-draining soil for any dracaena; this helps prevent over-watering and root rot. Add sand to your regular potting mixture if the soil doesn’t drain quickly enough.
Dracaenas like to be root-bound in small pots.
These plants love to be cut back.
You can use stem cuttings to propagate new plants.
Clean Air Plant
All dracaenas help clean the air of harmful toxins.
Poisonous Plant Info
A dracaena reflexa is considered non-toxic to humans but cases have been reported of cats suffering tremors after nibbling on a reflexa.
The Dracaena reflexa “Song of India” needs better light than the solid green variety. Try moving it closer to an east or west-facing window. The more variegation in the leaves of a plant, the more light it requires.
NASA has determined that a dracaena reflexa removes formaldehyde from the air.
Fertilizing it more will only cause brown leaf tips. A Dracaena Reflexa, unlike a Dracaena Warneki, stays pretty short indoors. It rarely gets taller than 4 or 5 ft. The interesting twisting stems and colorful leaves of a Reflexa more than make up for its short stature.