Know your plant – Dracaena surculosa

dracaenaThe term “Dracaena” is derived from the Ancient Greek drakaina, meaning “Female-Dragon”. Surculosa comes from the Latin word, surculus, meaning a young twig or branch.

Dracaena is a genus of 40 species of trees and succulent shrubs native to Africa, South East Asia and tropical Central America.

Painted leaves

Dracaena surculosa and a few other species are often marketed in the ornamental plant trade as “Lucky Bamboo”. This is due to their resemblance to real bamboo (Figure 5).

Dracaenas are popular mainly due to their prominent leave patterns. Dracaena surculosa var. punctulata(Figure 3) features the familiar toothbrush paint splatter effect that we all used to dabble with as kids (Figure 2).  Both Dracaena surculosa ‘Milky Way’ and Dracaena surculosa ‘Florida beauty’ have nice leave patterns that look like Mother Nature got up one day and decided to do a Jackson Pollock on them leaves (Figures 4, 6 and 1).

Indoor application
The Dracaena genus is commonly used as indoor house plants due to their wide variety of leave patterns and hardy foliage. Over the years, new varieties have slowly made their appearance in plant markets and trade shows. When exposed to indoor conditions, they grow very slowly and do not require extensive irrigation. There are hardly any complains with regards to the maintenance of Dracaenas in the indoor environment.

Green wall application

Dracaena can be used on the green wall. However, little is known about the performance of this genus on vertical greenery systems over an extended period.  One consideration is that the stem can grow be quite tall and the plant can extend significantly away from the green wall.

In general, this genus prefers indirect sunlight, and can tolerate low levels. We have performed a separate experiment to determine minimum lighting level requirements for Dracaena growth (More info here). Extremely low light levels will cause leaves to fall off and stems to elongate. Under optimum conditions, they can grow up to 3.5 m in height.

The dwarf variety of Dracaena surculosa may become a suitable candidate as a green wall plant because of their slow growth rate, thick leaves and lush multi-stalk shrub appearance.

          Amos Tan


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