Also known as dragon trees, Dracaena plants are popular houseplants that are fairly easy to care for. Although Dracaena plants don’t suffer from too many problems, they can occasionally suffer from pests and diseases. In this article, I’ll examine 10 common Dracaena plant pests and diseases and how to deal with them.
- Common Dracaena Pests & Diseases – Key Takeaways
- 10 Common Dracaena Pests and Diseases:
- Pesticide and Insecticide Options & Solutions
- How to Use Pesticides and Insecticides for Dracaena Plants
- Managing Pests and Diseases
- Wrapping Up
Common Dracaena Pests & Diseases – Key Takeaways
Dracaena plants are vulnerable to various pests, including aphids, spider mites, and scale insects. Common diseases that infect Dracaena plants include root rot and leaf spot diseases. Eliminate pests using horticultural oils and insecticidal soap. Tackle fungal diseases using organic copper fungicides.
10 Common Dracaena Pests and Diseases:
1) Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are annoying pests that can plague almost any houseplant, including Dracaena plants. Fungus gnats are small black or brown flies that lay hundreds of eggs in houseplant soil. The larvae burrow under the soil and eat roots, which can damage and even kill your plants.
Eliminate adult gnats using sticky traps to prevent them from laying eggs. I also like to use bottle tops filled with almond oil to kill adult gnats. To get rid of the larvae, replace the first inch or two of the soil with fine grit or sand.
Mealybugs are small sap-sucking insects with white, cotton-like bodies. You can spot mealybugs fairly easily on the leaves or stems of affected plants. Other symptoms of mealybug infestations include clumps of white eggs and black, sooty mold caused by deposits of sugary honeydew. Mealybugs are more prevalent in warm climates indoors or in greenhouses.
3) Scale Insects
Scale insects are common houseplant pests that feed on plant sap. Scale insects can either have armored or soft-shelled bodies. As they feed, scale insects deposit honeydew, which can lead to black, sooty mold. Other symptoms of scale insect infestations include deposits of eggs or large clumps of scale insects.
4) Spider Mites
Spider mites are another common sap-sucking pest that frequently targets houseplants. As they feed, these arachnids leave behind brown or yellow spots on affected leaves. Spider mites also create visible webs over their eggs to protect them. Plants that are suffering from spider mite infestations often have yellow leaves and stunted growth.
Thrips are annoying pests with slender brown bodies that feed on leaves, stems, and flowers. Although they can’t fly well, thrips are still a big problem for Dracaena plants. As they feed, thrips cause leaf discoloration, with affected leaves turning dull green with silver-white patches. If thrips are attacking your plant, it could suffer from severely stunted growth.
Although Dracaena plants are usually grown as houseplants, you can grow them outdoors in USDA Zones 9 to 11. However, this can leave your Dracaena plants at the mercy of aphids. These common pests are small black or green insects that feed on plant sap.
Aphids are generally visible on the leaves or along the stems of infested plants. Other symptoms of aphid infestations include curling leaves, stunted growth, and deposits of honeydew or sooty, black mold.
7) Fungal Leaf Spot
Leaf spot is a common fungal disease that can attack Dracaena plants indoors or outdoors. There are several leaf spot diseases, with the most common being fusarium leaf spot. Symptoms of leaf spot disease include reddish-brown spots with yellow edges. These spots usually appear towards the base of young leaves.
8) Root Rot
Almost any houseplant can suffer from root rot is another common fungal disease. Root rot is usually caused by overwatering, which leaves the soil waterlogged. This can rot the roots, turning them brown, mushy, and smelly. Yellowing leaves are another symptom of root rot.
If your Dracaena plant is suffering from root rot, remove it from its pot and check the roots. Cut off any rotting roots and repot the plant. Choose a soil mix that provides good drainage. To avoid root rot, only water your Dracaena plant whenever the top 3 or 4 inches of soil feel dry.
9) Soft Rot
Soft rot is another fungal disease that can affect Dracaena plants. Unfortunately, there is no cure for soft rot, so infected plants should be disposed of. Soft rot is caused by the Erwinia carotovorum fungus.
Symptoms include brown, mushy spots on the roots that have a bad odor. The lower leaves of your Dracaena plant may also fall off.
10) Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a common disease that can affect Dracaena plants, especially those growing outdoors or in greenhouses. Symptoms of powdery mildew include patches of white mold on the leaves and curling foliage. Infected plants will also develop yellow leaves that fall off.
Pesticide and Insecticide Options & Solutions
Horticultural oils are a good way of eliminating pests such as aphids and spider mites. Neem oil and mineral oil (Amazon links) are two of the most commonly used horticultural oils. These products eliminate pests by essentially dehydrating and suffocating the offending insects.
Insecticidal soap is another great way of getting rid of Dracaena plant pests like thrips or scale insects. These soaps are usually available as sprays, like this one. If you can’t get insecticidal soap, you can use a mix of dish soap and water. However, insecticidal soap is always more effective.
Copper sprays are organic fungicides that eliminate fungal diseases without the adverse effects of synthetic products. Apply copper spray fungicides once every one or two weeks to eliminate diseases like powdery mildew and fusarium leaf spot. One of my favorite copper sprays is Bonide Captain Jack’s copper fungicide.
If you don’t have any other option, use synthetic fungicides like this one to eliminate fungal diseases. However, these products can be quite powerful, so use them sparingly.
How to Use Pesticides and Insecticides for Dracaena Plants
Although pesticides and insecticides are effective, you can usually tackle pests and diseases without resorting to these products. Many sap-sucking pests like aphids can be dislodged either with a damp cloth or with a quick blast from a hose.
If you do need to use insecticides or pesticides, choose the right one for the particular problem that you’re dealing with. When applying these products to your Dracaena plant, always follow the instructions on the label.
However, the most effective way to protect your Dracaena plant from diseases and pests is prevention. Providing your Dracaena plant with the right care helps it fight off pests and diseases.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Although insecticides and pesticides work, prevention is always the best way to protect your Dracaena plant from pests and diseases. Strong, healthy Dracaena plants are less susceptible to diseases and can fight off most pests.
Position your Dracaena plant somewhere that gets plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. The ideal position is approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window. Maintain medium to high humidity levels and warm temperatures between 65 and 78ºF.
Water your Dracaena plants whenever the top 3 or 4 inches of growing medium feels dry. This helps avoid overwatering, which can lead to fungal diseases like root rot. Always use a loose, well-draining soil mix that contains plenty of nutrients.
Dracaena Plant Pests and Diseases – Wrapping Up
Although Dracaena plants aren’t prone to problems, they can still be affected by diseases and pests. Common Dracaena plant pests include aphids, fungus gnats, and thrips. Common diseases include leaf spot and root rot. Use horticultural oils or insecticidal soap to get rid of pests. Treat diseases using organic copper fungicides.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.