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.
For a plant that looks tropical, in addition to being remarkably cold-tolerant, Spike Dracaena is also relatively drought tolerant. Widely adaptable, once they are well-established, regular watering will usually suffice. Especially if they are mulched or planted with foliage plants that help to retain moisture.
So, when you buy the 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 them with lower-growing foliage or blooming plants. Add a cascading variety or two, and you have a beautiful, yet inexpensive artful arrangement.
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, all of which have the same moisture requirements of 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 much 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 and over again. Chances are that your neighbor next door or down the street will have one of these.
How to Plant the Dracaena Spike in the Garden
When your Dracaena Spike has outgrown the container, remove it from the container 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.
The Spike Dracaena is widely adaptable to the type of soil. Keep in mind that it will grow somewhere between 18 and 24-inches tall and just as wide. They seem to do well when planted along your foundation at the back of your flower beds. 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!
SusanOctober 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm
Thank you, this article was so helpful and well written!
jstutzmanOctober 28, 2013 at 11:40 am
You are welcome Susan. Thanks for visiting!
AlanaNovember 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm
This was very helpful! I am in Zone 5a and have been searching all over for information about wintering my Dracaena. I put it in my garden this summer and I am hoping it will survive this winter. 🙂
jstutzmanNovember 5, 2013 at 9:32 am
Thanks for the feedback Alana! Good luck with your plant.
AdrienneMay 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm
Alana, I am also in 5a. did they last?
ToddAugust 2, 2014 at 12:08 am
I know this is an older post but here it goes, I live in northern California and have a spiked Dracaena in my front yard I purchased it two years ago and it was a small house plant now in my front yard it has grown to 5 feet its gorgeous and gets many complements but I am wondering how much taller will it continue to grow any info would be great I am thinking I may need to move it to my back yard as it is against the front of my house now thanks for your help!
KarenAugust 6, 2014 at 7:57 am
Depending on which variety of Dracaena you have, they can reach up to six feet or taller. They are pretty easy to prune down in size, and the cuttings can be rooted to create new plants for a more shrub-like appearance. If they have lost the leaves and are just a cane, you can still cut them and at the point where you have made the cut the plant will sprout new growth. I have one that was approaching five feet in a pot but only had leaves at the very ends, it was quite unbalanced. I cut it back to about a 2-3 foot range and stuck the cutting into the soil with the parent plant. Now it's a nice full leafy house plant. So if you don't want to move it, prune it. It will take it a few months to sprout new growth, so it will be a little alien looking for a while.
Dana BSeptember 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm
This post was awesome, just what I was looking for. I’m in zone 6b (but do dip to 5a temps sometimes). Thanks!
BeverlySeptember 27, 2014 at 3:04 pm
Great information! I live in zone 7 and was just getting ready to throw mine out as it was getting too big. Will be moving to the side of our house……against the foundation….as a back drop for some new perennials I’ m putting in. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
PatrickJune 11, 2015 at 2:14 pm
Thanks! I planted a few in the ground (as I do with most new trials to see how they adhere to the native soil and light) a few weeks back and they’ve taken well. Hadn’t considered clustering them (decoratively on their own) in a large container pot on the sun-drenched back deck and then transplanting them as am never sure how they’d take…but since Canadians have seen success with them in zone 5a…will give it a
jstutzmanJune 12, 2015 at 12:46 pm
Patrick, you are welcome. Good luck with the plants! GHS
Dick MannSeptember 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm
We live in the interior of British Columbia and have one potted dracaena that is 15 years old. I have repotted it a few times over the years so it is now in a 30″ diameter pot and with the pot it stands more than 9 feet tall. It also grew several pups last year which are still flourishing beneath it. I bring it and several younger dracaenas into an unheated, insulated room for the winter and place them under fluorescent lights on a timer which gives them 16 hours of light each day. I cut back on the water and they do very well.
jstutzmanSeptember 15, 2015 at 7:17 am
Dick, you have done a wonderful job raising this plant. Keep up the good work! GHS
Manquel AbdusalaamMay 15, 2016 at 6:54 pm
I brought a spike one , says it’s an annual. I put it in a container on my deck. Wondering will by some chance it may grow n return next year !
jstutzmanMay 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm
Manquel, rather it grows again next year will depend on what hardiness zone you are in. Do you know yours? GHS
JenniferMay 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm
I have one growing right now with no effort at all! I threw it off our deck last year when I cleaned out my planters. Now it’s growing on my lawn. I’m on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, definitely now warm climate.
diane duinkerMay 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm
Hi i have had my spike /long grass of 3 years in doors during the winter, i just changed the soil to miracle grow and now its turning yellow and dying , i love this plant so help. thanks
KarenMay 23, 2016 at 5:50 pm
Diane, I’m sorry your Dracaena is not doing well. Typically they are pretty hearty plants. They make great houseplants and love to be outside in the summer months. My experience with the Miracle-Gro soil is that it’s a very heavy peat mix and not a lot of organic material, so plants don’t get sufficient nutrition from the soil and the soil tends to dry out too quickly. I prefer the Pro-Mix brand or another similar higher quality brand. I would suggest repotting it into a different soil.
Dracaena tend to like to be a little pot-bound, so don’t put it into too big of a pot. They also tend to drop leaves on a seasonal basis, so make sure the die-back you’re seeing is not seasonal. Just the lower leaves will drop; top growth will be fine. As they get taller and more leggy, you can actually just cut them off at the height you like and then put the cutting back into the soil. The cut stalk will sprout new growth. When you place them outside, don’t put them into full-sun areas; they prefer dappled light or shady locations. They also prefer to stay evenly moist, but err on the drier side. Don’t let their feet (roots) get too wet. If the tips of the leaves start to brown, that usually is a sign of irregular moisture levels.
Good luck, and I hope your plant recovers.
diane duinkerMay 19, 2016 at 6:01 pm
I forgot to mention i live in Newfoundland Canada
EstelleJuly 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm
I’m in zone 8 in the Seattle, WA metropolitan area. I also thought they were annuals here, but mine has survived quite nicely in an outdoor annual pot for past 3 years. Have pulled it in close to sheltered foundation area each winter, but was planning to toss it this fall because it’s outgrown its pot. Well, changed my mind; going to plant it into the garden instead.
Thanks for enlightening info. Really like the plants.
jstutzmanJuly 21, 2016 at 8:20 pm
Estelle, that is wonderful. Enjoy your plant! Joe
JeannaJuly 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm
I have two purple ones in pots with other plants spilling over. They are in sun most of the day east side on deck. We had a hundred degree temperature here in Missourifield severaldays & they stopped thriving. One completely died. 🙁 Going to put them in a more protected area and see what happens.
JeannaJuly 16, 2016 at 4:24 pm
I was unable to edit the above comment. We live in Missouri,NOT Missourifield. My purple dracaenas will be placed in less sun. My green spikes stay in the garage all winter in pots and always return bigger than ever in the middle of plants around them. They don’t mind full sun.:) Thanks for your help!
jstutzmanJuly 21, 2016 at 8:20 pm
Jeanna, let us know how it goes. Joe
GraceAugust 12, 2016 at 11:38 am
We moved to Vancouver Island Canada 5 yrs ago this fall and started a garden from scratch (new build) Last year we transplanted one of our 3 year old(Costco purchased), overgrown, very root bound draeceana from an outdoor planter into the garden a couple of years ago as a tester and it is now at least doubled in size. First did not expect it to survive year to year in the pot, then in the garden, so we were pleasantly surprised. We had 2 even more overgrown ones that we tried in a different area this spring and they seem to be doing well also. We noticed earlier this year that directly in front of the first one the peony leaves started to turn red and lately seems to be very stressed and almost dying. We have an irrigation system and in warmer weather water extra by hand so wondering could the roots of this draceana be overpowering the peony. Another same age peony about 6 meters away did very well. Our question, how large could this plant get, and could it be detrimental to the surrounding garden.
jstutzmanSeptember 21, 2016 at 7:01 am
Grace, its hard to say for sure without digging up some of the soil around the Peony. However I would think from your description that could certainly be a possibility. Good luck, Joe
JoannaSeptember 10, 2016 at 11:47 pm
Great article! I rescued four of these beautiful babies and they were totally rootbound in small, small pots. I transplanted them into slightly larger pots, freeing up their roots as much as possible, which wasn’t much. Now winter is approaching (zone 5a) and I’d like to bring them inside to winter over, but will they be okay if they don’t have much light? I have almost none inside. Only a few types of plants can survive it. TIA for your reply!
jstutzmanSeptember 21, 2016 at 6:54 am
Joanna, without a few hours of light per day, it might be hard to keep it going. However it certainly wont hurt to give it a tray versus just throwing them away. Good luck, Joe
Sarah ShaneNovember 6, 2016 at 10:06 pm
I brought mine inside for the winter to bring some green in. They are getting brown dead top spikes on the new inner growth. Are they supposed to go dormant for a while? Or am I not giving it a nutrient it needs?
jstutzmanNovember 7, 2016 at 10:19 am
Sarah, can you tell me how much sun it is receiving while inside? Joe
Eileen AngelicoMay 27, 2019 at 1:16 pm
Ok, this is weird. I have to spike plants in two separate large pots. When end of fall came, the grew so big, I couldn’t pull them out of the pots! So I dragged the pots in the not heated garage and thought they would die by spring. They turned brownish, like straw so I dragged them back outside in the same pots. . Well… I saw green thru out the huge spikes so I cut them down, way down, and now they are just about ALL green but the stems are thick !? I cut more off and now they are beautiful. I think I found a new type of spike plant! Lol let’s see what happens this summer. I live in Upstate NY
jstutzmanJuly 3, 2019 at 8:52 am
Eileen, sometimes our plants give us these surprises. Glad you were able to experience it. Enjoy your spike! Joe
AKOctober 17, 2020 at 8:00 pm
From my experience in IA zone 5a , these are some of the hardiest “annuals” that I’ve ever seen. Several years ago, like Eileen, I couldn’t pull the plants out of the containers in the fall so I left them outside and planned to pull or cut them out the next spring. To my surprise, they stayed green until mid-January in non-mulched 20″ deck pots facing unprotected north/northwest wind & snow.
Eileen’s post rekindled an idea that I’ve had for several years. Today I made a sort of wind-protection/snow barrier on our deck with our covered grill and large patio set placed north/northwest, with the house being the protective east side. Now I have a small “microclimate” area on my deck. I’m going to put my pots of spikes within this area and see how they do this fall-winter.
GrowJoy PlantsOctober 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm
AK, that sounds like a smart idea. Please let us know how it works out!
MingJanuary 9, 2021 at 1:04 am
Goji ! How possibly for my growth zone in las vegas
GrowJoyJanuary 10, 2021 at 1:56 pm
Ming, Goji berries will definitely grow in your zone (9a). They’re extremely heat and cold tolerant and will also tolerate high humidity. Happy growing and let us know how it works out!
Bessie AshbyAugust 3, 2021 at 1:03 pm
I just got one of these this year and I love it. When I had several days of 107 heat and so many things got cooked , this did not burn at all and it was in full sun all day. Now to see how it survives the winter in its pot. If it gets down into the 20s I think I will put it in the shop
Rick ReoNovember 4, 2021 at 11:40 am
My Spike has done well in 7a over 2-3 years. I bring it in the garage each winter and don’t do anything additional to feed / water it. This year it grew a side stem with leaves. I assume I can find a good place to cut this side stem off near the root and start a second plant.
Joy WoodNovember 17, 2021 at 6:23 pm
Rick, it does sound like you have done well with your spike. Thanks for sharing!
MarieNovember 9, 2021 at 4:08 am
I have 7 tall & wide potted dracaena spikes that I absolutely love and want to plant in my garden for the winter & pray they survive. Last year I brought a few indoors unfortunately they didn’t survive.
Joy WoodNovember 17, 2021 at 6:22 pm
Marie, good luck with your spikes this year!
Victoria ZalenskiJanuary 1, 2022 at 2:03 pm
At the end of 2020 I hung a long dowel high in my shed and hung all my baskets leaving the spikes and flowers in them. They had no water at all. In the spring I took them out and had Dracaena spikes and petunias growing! Also the Dracaena planted in my garden also survived beautifully. What a pleasant surprise! I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where winter temperatures often reach into single digits at night and usually in the 20’s. Day temps run in the high 20’s and 30’s. I have an unheated sunroom with a southern exposure and wanted a plant that could survive in there. I decided to plant Dracaena for this winter. So far so good.
GrowJoyJanuary 5, 2022 at 12:53 pm
Victoria, that is a great surprise! We love hearing about the different ways the dracaena is making it through the winter!