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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Song of India adds color to a garden

By Staff | Dec 16, 2015

The tropical plant, Song of India, adds light and dark colors to a garden. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Song of India (Dracaena reflexa)

First impression: Super bright stripes running up and down linear slender leaves. These day glow colors of green and yellow really brighten up the garden with no flowers in bloom. This tropical plant brings an added sparkle to our gardens by its addition of lights and darks. Yipes stripes – we have them twinkling around every corner at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Dracaena is from the Greek word meaning dragon and is part of a family, which includes 80 species from the tropics and Canary Islands. The Dracaenas used most in our area are fragrans and marginata the latter being quite messy.

Our star is from three varieties of reflex, one which is solid dark green, another named Song of Jamaica, which is variegated with off white to beige colored stripes and Song of India, which has green and bright yellow variegation. I really like the Song of India for its evergreen variegated foliage, which doesn’t daily lose its leaves.

Being numerous and dense, they become one of the hard working stars in our garden. Not known for its flowers, which are insignificant, the leaves are linear and dense in a buttery yellow and grass green striped pattern. It can be planted alone or grouped together and are great for our tropical climate, drought tolerant with partial shade to full sun.

You decide the height; maximum height can be 10 feet tall. The slender trunks can be pruned solo, or left multi trunked. Like many plants of the Dracaena family, the cut stems can be stripped of the bottom leaves and placed in a pot for rooting. I am always in the market for free plants. You will enjoy the easy care and little attention needed for this plant to flourish. Interesting fact: our star is routinely used for xeric-scaping- a real survivor.



Likes full sun

Easily propagated by cuttings

Is great for tropical look in a garden

Brings wonderful dapples of light and dark to your garden


Can sell cuttings for extra cash


May get in trouble for selling cuttings without a license

Little or no flowers

Non native

Conclusion: Tropical stripes, adding a little bit of zing and a whole lotta zag never ending, in a balmy tropical setting. Ahhh – Follow those shimmering stripes to our garden in paradise.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!