The Dracaena Spike-A Perennial?
Yes, my eyebrows arched as my eyes widened in surprise! Long considered an annual staple for container gardens to add height and architectural interest to both blooming and non-blooming arrangements, we are now hearing reports of the Spike Dracaena being taken out of the container and moved right into the garden, even surviving 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 commercially made plant covers, but the gardener from Prince Edward Island said that hers had no protection, besides the insulation from the snow.
For a plant that looks particularly tropical in nature, in addition to being remarkably cold tolerant, Spike Dracaena are also relatively drought tolerant. Widely adaptable, once they are well-established, normal 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 plant, you are getting a two-fer! Use it first in your containers, either putting it in the back of your container if it is against a wall or in a corner, or in the center if your container can be viewed from all sides. Surround them with lower growing foliage or blooming plants, adding a cascading variety or two, and you have a beautiful, yet inexpensive artful arrangement. Here's a suggestion for what to use: 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 Tickseeds, Stellar or Regal 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 absolutely endless and much better than succumbing to the average garden retailer's idea of a fashion statement, whose 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.
Then, when your Dracaena Spike has outgrown the container, simply 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 really well when planted along your foundation at the back of your flower beds; 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, such as Neptune's Harvest when transplanting and then feed on a regular basis. If you compost at home, an additional fertilizer will not be necessary.
All in all, the Spike Dracaena is a versatile plant that is easy to care for and easy to decorate with. With its returning popularity, let's keep our fingers crossed for even more colorful hybrids!