Epipremnum pinnatum, aka Dragon Tail plant, is a fascinating pothos variety with fenestrations, i.e., multiple splits in their foliage when matured. However, it’s often been confused with Rhapidora Decursiva, aka Creeping Philodendron, due to this. Fun fact: Rhaphidophora is not really a philodendron, but it is a close-ish relative to it.
Here’s a quick way of differentiating the two:
|Epipremnum Pinnatum||Rhapidora Decursiva|
|Has tiny holes or perforations along its midrib, i.e., central vein.||Doesn’t have any holes along its midrib, i.e., central vein.|
|Leaves are more round and sparsely split at the sides.||Leaves are more prominently split at the sides, almost palm-like.|
|New leaves simply unfurl from a protruding nub called a node on the plant.||New leaves grow from a leaf sheath called a cataphyll to protect the young, developing leaf before turning brown and falling off.|
Table of contents
- Is a Dragon Tail plant the same as a Philodendron?
- 1. Provide Plenty of Bright, Indirect Light Away from Direct Sunlight
- 2. Plant in a Well-Draining, Loamy Soil with a Trellis Support
- 3. Water Once a Week After the Top 1-2 Inches of The Soil Dries Out
- 4. Do Not Give a Dragon’s Tail Plant Any Fertilizers
- 5. Place in a Warm Area of 70-85°F with 40-50% Humidity Levels
- 6. Do Not Prune The Plant but Remove Any Old & Damaged Leaves
- 7. Do a Weekly Pest & Disease Check from Scales, Mealybugs, and Root Rot
- Final Words
Is a Dragon Tail plant the same as a Philodendron?
As a whole, a Dragon Tail plant is not a philodendron. It is actually a pothos with unique split leaves, as mentioned in the introduction. The confusion most probably stemmed from a philodendron relative, Rhaphidophora Decursiva, which tends to be called the Dragon Tail philodendron.
If you want to read an article about the Dragon Tail Pothos in more detail, take a look at our article: The Truth About Dragon Tail Pothos Plant (Epipremnum Pinnatum)
Luckily, both of these plants still share the same essential care needs. So here’s how you can take care of your Dragon Tail plant:
(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
1. Provide Plenty of Bright, Indirect Light Away from Direct Sunlight
Like any other pothos, a Dragon Tail plant’s leaves are sensitive and prone to scorching under total sunlight exposure. A translucent curtained window with some light passing through is sufficient for your plant’s needs. This is also crucial to get right if your plant is of the variegated variety, i.e., leaves with white or cream markings. Typically, these colors will fade if there is a lack of light to go around.
If your home lacks windows or adequate lighting from the sun, you can compensate with an indoor LED grow light (Amazon link) for your Dragon Tail plant’s light needs. Just be sure to have it switched on for extended periods, about 14 hours or so. This is also useful during winter when there is less sun time for the plant.
If your variegated leaves are fading to green you may be interested in another article of ours: Can Reverted Variegation Come Back Easily in Plants?
2. Plant in a Well-Draining, Loamy Soil with a Trellis Support
A Dragon Tail plant doesn’t mind growing in any type of soil, provided it’s acidic with a pH of 4-6. But remember that your watering frequency may change according to soil type:
- Clay retains moisture for too long, so you’ll water less frequently.
- Sand drains water really quickly, so you’ll be giving your plants a thorough soak more often.
- Loam sustains just the right amount of water.
So if you can, get a loose and airy mixture like loam with perlite or gravel bits in it for good drainage and adequate water-holding capacity. This will help keep the plant well-moisturized until its next watering session.
If you want more info on general houseplant care, check out our article on basic houseplant care.
For the trellis support, you can use either one of the following (Note – The provided links are Amazon Links):
But the most important thing is to ensure you place these stakes/poles in the soil before placing the plant in. This is to prevent any damages to the roots upon insertion. While this may seem like more work, there are actually good reasons why it’s necessary:
- It allows better air circulation around the plant.
- It caters to their natural growth as epiphytes, i.e., plants that grow on other plants. This is achieved with their aerial roots wrapping around the support and climbing upwards.
- It encourages the plant to grow huge split leaves.
You can undoubtedly have a Dragon Tail plant grow in a hanging basket instead and let the leaves drape. But the back draw to this is that the leaves tend to stay small with no split sides. This is not a bad thing as it’s more of a preferential matter than anything else.
3. Water Once a Week After the Top 1-2 Inches of The Soil Dries Out
A Dragon Tail plant is undemanding when it comes to watering. You’re actually better off underwatering than overwatering it, so a good base is giving it a thorough soak around the soil weekly. However, the weather can be pretty unpredictable. Hot spells may require you to water it more frequently and less so in winter.
In that case, do the knuckle test first before watering each time to be sure you’re not drowning your plant in water. Where possible, use rainwater or filtered water. Tap water is fine as long as it isn’t high in mineral salt content as the plant is quite intolerant of salt.
How often do you water a dragon tail plant?
As a general rule, once a week is a good watering schedule for Dragon Tail plants. Take care not to overwater the plant, and always check the soil before watering to ensure it is at least dry at the top 1-2 inches.
4. Do Not Give a Dragon’s Tail Plant Any Fertilizers
A Dragon Tail plant is known to grow rapidly in optimal conditions. So even without any fertilizers, this plant can pretty much make do on its own. At most, you’re likely to cause fertilizer burn instead as the plant is not used to receiving many nutrients to grow.
However, suppose you really want something to aid in its growth. There are 2 ways to go about this:
- Mix compost or vermicompost into the soil before planting.
- Give it a diluted liquid fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.
If you’re interested in using and making your own organic fertilizers, you can read more about them in this article.
5. Place in a Warm Area of 70-85°F with 40-50% Humidity Levels
Dragon Tail plant is a tropical baby and prefers warm temperatures to thrive in. It will not survive in cold climates and will instantly suffer from cold damages once the temperatures drop below 55°F. Where possible, keep it in a constantly warm room.
As for humidity, it is not that fussy, but it will definitely grow better if it’s more humid indoors. You can readily increase the humidity levels around your plant by following any of the three methods mentioned here. But otherwise, the key thing you should remember is that it is unlikely to bounce back when exposed to chilly drafts.
6. Do Not Prune The Plant but Remove Any Old & Damaged Leaves
As a houseplant, the Dragon Tail plant will not prolifically overtake your other plants or living room as it would in the wild. It would look cool, but it definitely would be a hassle. So pruning it is unnecessary unless you want to maintain it at a manageable height to its trellis support. In that case, you can certainly cut it back and give them away to other people. Or be a greedy little plant goblin and propagate by stem or leaf cuttings to grow more.
But other than that, simply remove any old and damaged leaves off the plant. Also, be sure to clear off any leaf debris on the soil. This ensures that no diseases will latch onto the decaying matter and become a breeding ground for pathogens in the soil.
7. Do a Weekly Pest & Disease Check from Scales, Mealybugs, and Root Rot
The greatest danger a Dragon Tail plant may suffer from is diseases caused by overwatering, such as root rot. Depending on how extensive the damage is, letting the soil dry out will usually do the trick. But if you’re at a loss, here’s an article on how to fix root rot. It’s worth noting that removing root rot from a Dragon Tail plant is the same as treating root rot in other indoor plants.
However, for pests, you may need to watch out for sap-sucking insects such as scales and mealybugs. These will feed on your plant’s stem and leave behind sugary excretions called honeydew. You can learn more about these pests and how to get rid of them in this article.
And that’s pretty much all you need to know about how to take care of your Dragon Tail plant! Bear in mind that this care guide is applicable to both Epipremnum Pinnatum and Rhaphidophora Decursiva. But the actual Dragon Tail plant, as far as I know, is officially Epipremnum Pinnatum. Unless Botany decides to change things up again, it is what it is. Happy planting!