Monday, March 13, 2017

Sing the praises of the ‘Song -of- India’


Former houseplants from the north can often find their way outside in our landscapes here in Southwest Florida.  Once of those is the Reflexed Dracaena which is considered an ornamental evergreen multi-stemmed shrub sometimes obtaining small tree size.  There are many cultivars of Reflexed Dracaena available, but perhaps one of the most eye-catching type is called ‘Song-of-India’.  This variety is beautifully variegated and brings a tropical flair to the landscape.

To start, the ‘Song-of-India’ is a bit cold sensitive and will not appreciate temperatures below thirty-four degrees Fahrenheit.  As such, it is best to grow this plant in the warmer areas of Charlotte County or in identified microclimates.  Otherwise,  be prepared to cover it for protection or have it in a container that can be moved under indoors when needed. It does make a great patio, lanai or indoor plant in a large container.   The ‘Song-of-India’ can grow unpruned to over eight feet tall with irregular, multi-stemmed branches and somewhat slow growth.  Each leaf is four to six inches long with interesting variegation.  Young leaves start out green with distinct yellow margins.  As the leaves age, the darker green portion becomes lighter  and the margins blend in with a creamy color and more stripes.  The leaves are arranged in an attractive spiral pattern up the stem.  As the leaves age out and drop, the stem is bare and patterned with the remains of the leaf scares.  At maturity, the ‘Song-of-India’ will actually produce a panicle of flowers consisting of small green to yellow, almost inconspicuous blossoms. For a slightly different color pattern, try ‘Song-of-Jamaica’, a cultivar with stripes of darker and lighter green variegation.



If used in a formal tropical landscape, select a site in a part-sun to bright filtered  light location not exposed to salty conditions – this plant is not salt-tolerant.  As a container grown plant, step it up into continuously larger pots as it grows using a sterile potting medium with good drainage.  Larger containers can even be put on platforms with wheels for easy moving. 

Propagation is very easy using cuttings.  Cuttings are a great way to share this plant with friends as a pass-along plant. The ‘Song-of-India’ can be considered pest-free and a very sustainable plant.   When you see one, you will want one!  For more information on all types of plants suitable for both landscapes and containers, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Don't forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times - http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.

Resources:
Brown, S. H. ( 2013) Dracaena reflexa  ‘Song-of India’.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS – Lee County.

Gilman, E. F. ( 2014) Dracaena reflexa Reflexed Dracaena.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS – Lee County.

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