Dracaena marginata is also known as Madagascar Dragon Tree or Red-Edged Dracaena. It certainly does not look like a traditional Japanese outdoor bonsai, but it has a lot to recommend it!
It's the ideal decorative gift plant for the casual plant person. IT'S OUR LOW-LIGHT CHAMP and does very well in offices where the only light is from flourescent ceiling lights! In these low light conditions, Dwarf Schefflera will struggle. Brassaia and Pachira survives for a long time but does not develop more character. BUT DRACAENA BECOMES MORE BEAUTIFUL AND ELEGANT AT LOWER LIGHT LEVELS! It forms thin trunks and long delicate leaves that suggests tropical palm trees.
In traditional outdoor bonsai, the emphasis is usually to emphasize stout heavy trunked trees. But indoors, a plant that is tall, graceful, and elegant is very attractive, especially when side-lighted to throw dramatic shadows on the wall behind!
The Dracaena in the photo above ended up at a hotel and was one of the largest oldest specimens. It was in a 25"x25"x2" deep rectangular pot and sitting on a black plexiglass humidity tray filled with 1/2" river pebbles. The planting included a 16" tall vertical rock formation and the tallest Dracaena was about 40" tall. When displayed on a standard 30" high table, the overall height was about 6' tall.
Houseplant bonsai do not develop surface moss like in traditional outdoor bonsai. Generally, we dress the surface with a thin layer of coffee-grain size lava pumice. Here, we used larger river rocks to give more surface interest. Dracaena can live with a restricted root system and even tall older plants have a small "footprint." When plants become too tall, cut off the tallest plant near to the roots and seal it with petroleum jelly. Usually a new shoot will develop.
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