8 Types of Dracaena and How They Are Different

© Sataporn Kumsuka/ via Getty Images

Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Published: February 9, 2024

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If you want to add a truly spectacular (and low-maintenance) plant to your home, a Dracaena is certainly one you’ll want to consider. These shrubs are typically kept indoors but some larger tree varieties do well outside in the right climate. There are more than 150 varieties, all with the characteristic spiky leaves and cane stems. Because of their appearance, this plant is sometimes called corn plant, cornstalk plant, dragon tree, or ribbon plant.

In addition to adding visual interest to your space, Dracaena are popular because they don’t take a lot of specialized knowledge or equipment. They do well in low light and only need a moderate amount of water. Before you decide on a Dracaena, it’s important to note that these plants are toxic to pets if ingested. If you have the right setting for this indirect sunlight-loving plant and can keep it away from your pets, these types of plants make a great addition to your home.

Dracaena trifasciata

Snake plants grow slowly but are easy to care for houseplants.

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Better known as a snake plant, this is one of the most popular types of Dracaena and one of the easiest houseplants to care for overall. The leaves are very stiff and stand almost straight up from the pot. It doesn’t grow quickly but requires hardly any maintenance other than periodic watering. They grow up to 8 feet tall but most start off much shorter and take a long time to reach that kind of height.

Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor’

The

Dracaena marginata

‘Tricolor’ has three distinct colors on its leaves.

©Yercaud-elango/ CC BY-SA 4.0 - Original

Similar to other dragon tree plants, this variety also has spiky leaves. It grows up to 6 feet and needs bright, indirect light. What makes it unique, however, is the more noticeable red coloring on its leaves. Named for the three colors in the variegated pattern, dragon tree tricolor has green and red stripes with a white stripe on the edge of each leaf.

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’

Some types of

Dracaena

have solid green leaves.

©Dinesh Valke from Thane, India/ CC BY-SA 2.0 - Original

Another popular type of houseplant, this variety is known for its attractive green leaves as well as its ability to thrive in low light. Unlike other varieties, the Janet Craig doesn’t have variegated leaves. Instead, they are rich, solid green and typically shiny. This allows the plant to do well even without a lot of sunlight. This plant gets up to 6 feet tall but tends to be on the shorter side.

Dracaena fragans ‘Massangeana’

The corn plant, also called the

Dracaena fragans

, has leaves that look like cornstalks.

©Lazaregagnidze/ CC BY-SA 4.0 - Original

Also known by the much shorter name of mass cane or corn plant, this type has distinct coloring, although it is all green. It also has upright leaves that give it a full look. They are dark green on the edges and lighter green in the center with noticeable stripes running the entire length of each leaf. It is often called corn plant because the leaves resemble those of a cornstalk.

Dracaena fragans ‘Warneckii’

The striped dracaena is also known by its more scientific name of

Dracaena fragans

‘Warneckii’.

©Mokkie/ CC BY-SA 3.0 - Original

If you see a plant listed as a striped dracaena, there’s a good chance it’s this type, even though many other varieties have similar (or more) stripes. It has light green or white stripes on each edge with a darker green stripe down the middle. The leaves tend to be wide and grow in bushy bunches.

Dracaena reflexa

The

Dracaena reflexa

, or Song of India, has vivid gold edges on its leaves.

©Lazaregagnidze/ CC BY-SA 4.0 - Original

Also called the Song of India, this type of dracaena has gold edges. You can grow multiples of these plants within one container because they tend to grow upright.

Dracaena sanderiana

Lucky bamboo Green Fresh Plant

Some people believe that lucky bamboo plants bring good luck to your home.

©96 Creative Graphics/Shutterstock.com

With a name like Lucky Bamboo, it’s easy to understand why this type of Dracaena makes a good houseplant. It isn’t actually a type of bamboo but resembles one. You can grow it in water with gravel to stabilize the roots. They typically get up to 4 feet tall.

Dracaena arborea

The

Dracaena arborea

grows large and does best planted outdoors when grown in a tropical location.

©KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS/ CC BY-SA 4.0 - Original

If you want to try growing Dracaena outdoors, consider the Dracaena arborea tree. It has a slender trunk and spiky dark green leaves. It gets up to 15 feet tall and needs a warm, tropical climate to thrive. It is a good option if you want a tree with similar features to the smaller houseplant. Just make sure that your climate is right before adding this plant to your yard.


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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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