Dracaena Thin Leaves: 6 Top Reasons Why This Happens

Dracaena thin leaves can be due to several factors.

Certain types of dracaena naturally have thinner leaves than others as an adaption to the climate where they originate. In other cases, thin leaves can be due to problems with watering, a lack of critical nutrients like nitrogen, or a lack of sunlight.

This guide will cover everything there is to know about dracaena thin leaves and how to make sure they are thriving – let’s get into it.

Why Your Dracaena Has Thin Leaves

Dracaenas can have thin leaves for several reasons, some of which can have a much more significant impact than others.

1. Certain Varieties Have Thinner Leaves

Before we get into reasons why dracaenas have thin leaves that you can actually impact, it’s important to know that some types of dracaenas naturally have thinner leaves than others.

Certain types of dracaena, like dragon tree colorama or dracaena fragrant lemon-lime, have smaller leaves than other dracaenas.

A dracaena marginata plant
Moderate-sized leaves on my dracaena marginata

If you were to compare the leaves on my dracaena marginata to these varieties, you would notice a big difference, no matter how well cared for each plant was.

Now that’s addressed, let’s look at the factors that you can have more of an impact on.

2. Lack Of Nitrogen

Nitrogen is one of the three primary nutrients found in complete fertilizers (NPK) and is responsible mainly for leaf growth and development.

If your dracaena lacks nitrogen, it will impact the leaves and stunt their growth. Luckily, any good soil mix should contain plenty of nitrogen and can easily be supplemented with fertilizer.

3. Overwatering

A common cause of thin leaves in dracaena plants is overwatering. Overwatering interrupts the movement of water and nutrients to the leaves, causing them to turn yellow initially and droop over.

Over extended periods, too much water can lead to root rot and cause leaves to become thin, weak, and discolored.

4. Underwatering

Underwatering can also lead to thin leaves.

If the soil becomes too dry, your dracaena may not receive enough moisture to maintain thick, healthy leaves. This can quickly lead to brown, crispy leaves that eventually die and fall off.

5. Soil Issues

The health of your dracaena’s leaves can also be impacted by the soil in which it is planted.

Heavy, dense soils can lead to overwatering, while excessively light, sandy soils may not hold enough moisture, contributing to underwatering. Soil mixes that lack organic matter will also contain fewer nutrients, like nitrogen.

6. Incorrect Light

Dracaena plants can be sensitive to light conditions.

Too much sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause them to shrivel up and turn brown and crispy, reducing their size in the process.

A lack of sunlight will also hinder leaf development greatly, as it is needed for photosynthesis.

How To Promote Thicker Leaf Growth

If you aren’t providing the right conditions for your dracaena to thrive, the leaves will not grow as large as they could be, even if the variety you have only grows smaller leaves, to begin with.

Here are some top tips for ensuring your dracaena leaves grow as thick as possible.

Fertilize With Nitrogen Rich Fertilizer

Feeding your dracaena with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer can promote healthy and thick leaf growth.

Complete fertilizers work well for this, or you can choose a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen concentration specifically.

Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, usually every 4 to 6 weeks in the summer. Remember that using too much fertilizer may cause fertilizer burn, leading to brown spots on leaves.

Adjust Watering Routine

Ensuring a proper watering routine is crucial to prevent thin leaves on your dracaena.

The easiest way to water a dracaena properly is to check the soil; if the top inch to two inches of soil is dry, it’s time to water. Remember that you will need to water much less in the winter than in the spring and summer.

Provide Proper Lighting

Opt for bright, indirect sunlight to promote the best leaf growth.

Too much shade will slow the overall growth rate and lead to thin leaves, while excessive sunlight will scorch the leaves and cause them to shrivel up and die.

Improve Soil Quality & Drainage

Make sure your soil mix is packed full of nutrients by including organic matter like compost, and also use well-draining soil.

Regular cactus soil mixes work well; you can make your own using equal parts peat, loam, and perlite.

To further improve drainage and prevent overwatering, ensure the pot has several drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to flow.

Why Do Certain Plants Have Thin Leaves?

Plants tend to have longer and thinner leaves as you move further away from the equator and toward desert areas.

Scientists determined that this helps to prevent overheating and provides protection from freezing overnight. This is why certain dracaenas naturally have longer leaves than others – it depends on where the specific variety originates.

When you consider that there are around 120 species of dracaena, there is a lot of variety in leaf type between them.

In Summary

The best way to get thicker leaves on a dracaena is to choose a variety that has thicker leaves, to begin with.

Obviously, this isn’t an ideal choice for everyone, especially if you already have a dracaena, so providing the correct type of care to support leaf growth is important. Supplementing with nitrogen will also help to boost leaf development specifically.

Want to learn more about dracaenas? Check out some of our other articles below:

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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