Song of India: Plant Care and Growing Guide

This plant is a native to the islands in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar and is an easy houseplant to grow.  

It is a great plant for beginner gardeners.  There are many different varieties with different leaf shapes, sizes, and colors.  It can give you foliage that is beautiful and multicolored.

Song of India Plant Care and Growing Guide

1. About Song of India Plant

This plant is also known as a pleomele and a variety of dracaena. It is described as variegated.  The reason is that the leaves have yellow margins and are multi-colored with bright green centers.  The colors will fade to lighter green and cream as it ages.  The leaves are lance-shaped and can be as long as one foot.   It is a plant that is hard to kill.

2. Light Requirement

The Song of India needs indirect bright light.  One place to put it is in an east/south exposure.  To ensure that the entire plant is getting enough sunlight you should rotate it every couple of months. 

Do not let your plant get too much direct sun, especially in the afternoon, because it can burn.  And it will not do anything if you put it in low light.  If you are living in a less sunny climate you can use a west or east exposure.

3. Water

After watering your plant, let it dry at least halfway before you water it again.  For example, if it is an indoor plant in a six-inch pot, you would need to water it every week and in the winter it would be every two weeks.  For other size pots, the climate, and soil mix, you would have to adjust the watering.  You should make sure that it is slightly moist all the time.

4. Soil

You should use a good organic potting soil and make sure that it also drains well.  It should be mildly acidic with a pH of 6.1-6.5.  Feed the plant liquid fertilizer every month in the spring and summer diluted at 10-10-10

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5. Temperature

For indoor plants, most homes will be suitable for the Song of India plant.  Just make sure that you keep the plant away from any heating vents, cold drafts, or the air conditioning.  Although this plant is native to the tropics, it can adapt to less humid conditions.  To help with the humidity, place some pebbles in a tray and half cover it with water and then set the planter on top of the pebbles. 

As the water evaporates, it will provide the plant the humidity it needs.  You can also mist the plant a few times a week.  The idea temperature should be between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit when growing outdoors.  If the temperature goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the leaves will wilt and your plant could die.

Song of india plant care growing guide

6. Repotting

Most Song of India plants will need to be repotted every couple of years or sooner if the roots start to poke out of the drain holes at the bottom.  All you need to do is gently remove the plant from the pot, cut off any dead roots, and then repo it using the same type of potting soil you used when you potted this plant the first time.  Just use a pot that is one size larger than the pot it was in.

7. Propagation

To propagate the Song of India plant, you take cutting from the plant that are six to twelve inches long.  You need to have your pruners sharp and clean so you do not damage the plant.  You can put the cutting in a light potting mix until the plant roots such as succulent and cactus mix or seed starting mix.

8. Speed of Growth

The Song of India plant is slow to moderate growing

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9. Height and Spread

The Song of India plant can grow as tall as 18 feet with a spread up to at least eight feet but when you raise it indoors, you can keep it much smaller to around three feet tall.

10. Flowers

This plant has small, sterile white flowers that you barely notice.

11. Trimming

It is not so much the tree needing trimmed but the leaves because they can grow up to 12 inches long.  It is important to trim them so you do not run into the leaves as you walk down the hall, garden, or near them because they will snag on your clothes or even hit you.  Generally, due to the rate of growth, it should not be necessary to trim the plant but if the stems get too leggy, you may need to cut them down.  

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Is Song of India Plant Poisonous?

Yes, they are poisonous to pets and children

Common Song of India Plant Diseases

  • Mealy bugs:  The plant can be susceptible to these little insects, especially deep inside the new growth.  All you have to do if your planter is small enough to pick up is to blast them off the leaves in the kitchen sink using the sprayer or you can just wipe them off using a damp cloth.
  • Scales and spider mites:  These pests multiply quickly so you need to get rid of them as soon as you notice them on your plant.  Wipe the leaves off with a damp cloth.
  • Root rot:  If the roots are too wet or cannot get enough oxygen, this can happen.
  • Yellow leaves:  The plant is too dry
  • Yellow/brown leaves or mushy stems:  They plant is too wet


The Song of India plant has been described as an evergreen shrub or upright tree and provides shade for your other smaller garden plants.  If you want a table plant, grow them in six to eight-inch pots but if you want floor plants you will need containers from 10-14 inches.  It is one of the top air-purifying plants. 

At times, if the plant gets too tall and the stems appear a little weak, you can prop them up using wire or string.   Just remember if you are growing it indoors, it is poisonous to pets and children so keep it out of their reach.

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