When and How to Repot a Dracaena Marginata (Essential Tips)

If your Dracaena Marginata (aka Madagascar dragon tree) has been in the same pot for several years or is beginning to show signs of struggle, a repotting is likely on the cards. Luckily, the process is straightforward and gives you some one-on-one time with your beautiful and beneficial plants. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about when and how to repot a Dracaena Marginata plant home.

When and How to Repot a Dracaena Marginata (Essential Tips)

Repotting Dracaena Marginata Plants – The Essentials

Dracaena Marginata is a slow-growing houseplant indoors, so it only needs repotting every 2 to 3 years in spring at the start of its growth cycle. To repot, remove the plant from its container, prune decaying roots, and replant. Choose a pot 1 to 2 inches larger than the original pot. Use low drainage soil rich in organic matter.  

Why Repotting Dracaena Marginata Plant is Necessary

Why Repotting Dracaena Marginata Plant is Necessary

All types of Dracaena plants will need repotting at some point. There are several reasons why repotting contributes to plant health or growth.


The first reason to repot, which most houseplant parents are concerned with, is growth. Dracaena Marginata plants may grow slower indoors than outdoors, but they will eventually take up all the available space in the pot.

Once the roots start circling the bottom of the pot, popping out above the soil line, or creeping through drainage holes, you’ll know the plant is rootbound. If the roots don’t have space to grow, the top half of the plant can’t grow either.

Giving the plant more space by repotting will do wonders for growth. It also gives you the chance to untangle roots that may constrict each other, limiting water and nutrient uptake problems.

Soil Quality

Extremely slow-growing plants will be happy in the same pot for several years without outgrowing the space. However, that doesn’t mean the soil they’re sitting in will still be suitable for solid growth.

Over time, soil begins to degrade in the same pot. The structure slowly breaks down, compacting in places and holding far less water in others.

Nutrients also wash out of the soil as you water over time. Even if you add additional fertilizer, degraded soil cannot hold onto the nutrients, simply washing them out through the drainage holes rather than delivering them to the roots where needed.

After 3-4 years (2-3 years for smaller pots), the plant will need new soil to keep the roots happy. Depending on the plant, you may even be able to use the same pot, simply cleaning the old soil off the roots and repotting it into the new soil.

Pests & Diseases

Although you try your best to keep our dracaena plants pest and disease-free, you will likely encounter some insidious problem at some point. 

Repotting is an essential part of resolving the problem if that problem is soil-borne or spread – as is the case with fungus gnats, mold, or root rot.

Pests and diseases often reside in the soil, enjoying the darkness and moist conditions. Although there are some fungicides and insecticides that may help, they also have the potential to harm your plants in the process. Repotting is a far safer control method.

In the case of root rot, repotting also lets you get a closer look at the roots to remove any damage. The problem will continue without cutting off spreading to other roots until the plant is completely dead.

Repotting lets you completely replace the soil, clean off the roots, and eliminate the problem for good.

How Often do Dracaena Marginata Plants Need Repotting?

How Often do Dracaena Marginata Plants Need Repotting?

Like most plants, Dracaena Marginata plants can be a little sensitive when it comes to repotting. They are also slow growers and will only require a bigger container every 2nd or 3rd year.  

However, your Dracaena Marginata plant’s growth rate depends on several different circumstances. For instance, if your plant is in low light exposure, it may grow more slowly.

Pay attention to your plant to determine when to move it to a larger container. You may need to repot more often if you notice the following:

  • Roots pushing up through the surface of the soil
  • Roots protruding from the drainage holes in the container
  • Roots become tightly meshed or form a dense mat
  • Slower than normal growth (not due to environmental conditions)
  • Problems such as root rot, fungus gnats or mold

Best Times of Year to Consider Repotting

The best time to repot your Dracaena Marginata is in early spring, just as the growing season kicks off. Repotting can cause shock, so the quicker your plant can recover from any potential damage, the better.

You can repot any time of year if you need to repot urgently due to stunted growth or pest and disease issues. In these cases, repotting will be better for the plant’s health than waiting. However, make sure you do so carefully to limit growth issues later on.

The Best Soil Mix when Repotting Dracaena Marginata Plants

The Best Soil Mix when Repotting Dracaena Marginata Plants

Dracaena Marginata grows best in loose, well-draining soil with high nutrient content. They prefer a slightly acidic pH, from 6 to 7. The best soil mix for Dracaena Marginata mimics the plant’s native environment, the volcanic soil of Madagascar. Incorporate loam for nutrients, peat or coco coir for acidity, and vermiculite or perlite to improve drainage.

The best potting soil mix for dragon trees includes a rich source of nutrients, the right level of water retention, excellent drainage, and a slightly acidic pH. We recommend:

  • One part loam for nutrients
  • One part pumice, perlite, or vermiculite for drainage
  • One part peat moss or pine fines for pH and moisture

Moisten the peat moss or pine fines first with a little warm water, then add the additional ingredients mixing with gloved hands.

If you don’t want to make your own potting soil mix, choose one of these rich, well-draining options:

(Editors Note: Petal Republic participates in partnership programs with Amazon and other merchants to help connect readers with relevant products and services we may recommend).

For more, see our in-depth guide to the best soil mix for Dracaena Marginata plants.

What Tools Will I Need When Repotting a Dracaena Marginata 

Depending on the size of your Dracaena Marginata, repotting can may require a little pre-planning. Make sure you have these tools prepared before you get started:

  • Enough soil mix to fill the entire pot.
  • Floor covering to gather the old soil and prevent mess.
  • A new pot with plenty of drainage holes.
  • A friend to help you lift the tree if it is too large or heavy.

Size and Types of Potting Vessel Considerations

Size and Types of Potting Vessel Considerations

Container Sizing

Choosing a new pot is an essential step in the process of repotting. Many gardeners choose a new pot far too large in the hopes that it will encourage more growth. However, it usually has the opposite effect.

If the new pot is too large, the excess soil where the roots do not reach will hold onto too much moisture, leading to root rot or fungal growth. And, as your Dracaena Marginata grows better when slightly under pressure, the extra space will have the opposite effect on the growth rate.

Only choose a pot one or two sizes up at most, with an inch or two of extra space in each direction. Don’t worry about needing to repot too soon, they will be happy in these conditions for at least another year or two.

Container Materials

Along with size, container materials are also an essential factor.

Your Dracaena Marginata likely came planted in a plastic pot. These pots are inexpensive and don’t degrade quickly, especially when left indoors and out of the direct sun. However, there are many more container options when repotting:

  • Terra cotta: An interior design go-to. Not only do they look great, but they also draw moisture away from the soil, preventing root rot.
  • Fabric: Fabric pots are the environmentally friendly favorite. They are also great for drainage but can get messy indoors as water escapes from all sides.
  • Ceramic: Another popular design option but can be pricey. Ensure your ceramic pot has enough drainage holes, or plant in a plastic pot and rest it inside the ceramic container as a pot cover.
  • Wood: Provides a stunning natural look. However, they do degrade quickly due to moisture exposure.
  • Recycled containers: Almost anything can be a Dracaena Marginata pot with a few drainage holes drilled in the bottom.


There is no quality more important in your new container than drainage. Without drainage holes, water will collect in the pot, rotting the roots and ultimately killing the plant.

Ensure your chosen container has plenty of drainage holes that are large enough not to be easily blocked by soil particles. If there is no drainage, drill a few holes in the bottom at an even distance to stop water from collecting on one side of the pot.

If you like a container with no drainage, you can still use it as a decorative pot cover. Simply repot your Dracaena Marginata into the right-sized plastic pot and rest it inside the decorative pot.

Make sure you remove it when you water and leave all the excess water to drain before putting it back to stop water collecting and stagnating in the bottom.

How to Repot Your Dracaena Marginata Plant

How to Repot Your Dracaena Marginata Plant

Here is how to successfully repot a Dracaena Marginata Plant:

  1. The day before repotting, lightly water the plant so that the soil is damp and will hold together.
  2. Wet the new soil mix before repotting so that the soil mix will absorb water evenly. 
  3. Turn the plant on its side (if it is a small plant) and gently slide it out of the pot. (If the plant is large, leave it standing upright and try to loosen the root ball). If you cannot remove it, run a blunt knife along the inside edge of the pot. If you still cannot remove the plant, you can also carefully break the container from the outside.  
  4. Examine the roots, if they are coiled, unfurl them, and trim if necessary. In addition, cut off any dead or decaying roots and loosen the soil around them.
  5. Set the plant in the middle of the new container that has two inches of soil added to the base and surround the plant with the new moist soil mix. Continue adding until the soil is ½” to 1″ below the top of the pot.
  6. Firm down gently around the base of the plant to anchor it in place and remove any air pockets. 

Post Repotting Care 

Post Repotting Care 

Always water your Dracaena Marginata plant immediately after repotting to limit shock and encourage new root growth. Place the plant back in the same spot it was in initially to prevent any further stress due to changes in conditions. Dracaena Marginataplants thrive best in warm locations, with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight

Any signs of stress, such as yellowing or wilting leaves, should fix themselves after a few weeks. Don’t change your care routine during this time, as it will only further the problem. After about a month, if it has not resolved itself, look for the cause and rectify it.

For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position Dracaena marginata plants in the home for optimal care and Feng Shui benefits. 

Repotting Dracaena Marginata Plants FAQs:

Should I soak my Dracaena Marginata before repotting?

Water the plant a day before repotting so that the soil is damp and will hold together when removed from the pot. You don’t need to soak the plant to the point that the soil base is entirely saturated.

Should you water Dracaena Marginata immediately after repotting?

Watering after repotting is recommended as it helps settle the roots and prevent shock after exposure to the air. However, if your soil was pre-moistened, you may be able to skip this step.

Do Dracaena Marginata like big pots?

Dracaena Marginata does not like big pots as their small root system does not mind being root-bound. Equally important is that the smaller pot allows for quicker water usage, so less likely for soggy soil to cause root rot.

Why is my Dracaena Marginata limp after repotting?

Dracaena Marginata plants are known to go into a slight shock with a change in environment. If the soil is adequately moist and the plant is in the right conditions, slight limpness is normal and should resolve itself after a few weeks.

Should I mist my Dracaena Marginata after repotting?

You can mist the trunk and leaves with distilled water after repotting to assist with the recovery process. Just be careful not to oversaturate the leaves which can lead to pest and disease issues.

Should I fertilize my Dracaena Marginata after repotting? 

It is unnecessary to fertilize a Dracaena after repotting. It may burn the new root growth, and as it is a slow-growing plant, it does not require much fertilizing.

Wrapping Up

Dracaena Marginata plants are slow-growing and, as a result, only need repotting every 2nd or 3rd year. However, root rot or overgrown roots will require the plant to be repotted more frequently.

Choosing the correct size and type of pot best suited for repotting a Dracaena Marginata is essential. Equally important is that the soil mix must be well-draining, slightly acidic, and rich in organic matter.

For more, see our in-depth guide to the meaning and symbolism of dracaena plants.

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