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The Dracaena Spike – A Perennial?

The Dracaena Spike – A Perennial?

By GrowJoy
Photographs courtesy of GrowJoy

Yes, my eyebrows arched as my eyes widened in surprise! The dracaena spike is usually used to add height and architectural interest to container arrangements. It’s long been considered a staple in annual gardens. But we are now hearing reports of the dracaena spike being taken out of the container and moved right into the garden. What’s more, it survives unscathed throughout the winter in places like Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is in zones 5a and 5b. Some gardeners put protection over or around them, like fall leaves or plant covers. Still, the gardener from Prince Edward Island said that hers had no protection, besides the insulation from the snow.

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For a plant that looks tropical, in addition to being remarkably cold-tolerant, spike dracaena is also relatively drought tolerant. Widely adaptable, once it is well-established regular watering will usually suffice. Especially if it is mulched or planted with foliage plants that help to retain moisture.

So, when you buy dracaena spike plants, you are getting a two-fer! Use it first in your containers. You can either put it in the back of your container if it is against a wall or in a corner. Or put it in the center if your container can be viewed from all sides. Surround it with lower-growing foliage or blooming plants. Add a cascading variety or two, and you have a beautiful, yet inexpensive artful arrangement.

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How to Use the Dracaena Spike in Containers

Here’s our suggestion: Start with the spike dracaena in the middle or the back of the planter. Then add a mid-height flower or foliage plant, such as coreopsis or geraniums, which have the same moisture requirements as the dracaena. Finally, add some MiniFamous calibrachoa or lobelia plants to cascade over the edges. You can also use something like dichondra to fill in the spaces or English ivy as a non-blooming, yet cascading accent. The possibilities are endless and better than succumbing to the average garden retailer’s idea of a fashion statement, as their container gardens all feature the same plants, over and over again.

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How to Plant the Dracaena Spike in the Garden

When your dracaena spike has outgrown the container, remove it and put it in a place of honor in your garden. You will want to keep the height in mind, planting it behind lower-growing perennials or annuals, though it is not too picky about sun. It will tolerate full sun when the weather is cool or in the northern climes but prefers partial shade in hotter areas.

Spike dracaena is widely adaptable to soil types. Keep in mind that it will grow between 18 and 24 inches tall and just as wide. It seems to do well when planted along a foundation at the back of a flower bed. Here the warmth retained by brick or stone will help it to survive some of the coldest winter temperatures with ease.

As with all plants, proper nutrition will ensure healthy and prolific growth. We recommend using a soil amendment when transplanting. Then feed regularly. If you compost at home, additional fertilizer will not be necessary.

All in all, the spike dracaena is a versatile plant. It’s easy to care for and easy to decorate with. With its returning popularity, let’s keep our fingers crossed for even more colorful hybrids!


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By Kelsey Minalga, Ball Ingenuity
Photographs courtesy of Ball Ingenuity

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