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Gardens By The Bay / #StayHomewithGB / Articles & Infographics / Bringing the Gardens Home

Whale fin dracaena (Dracaena masoniana)

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    Does this leaf remind you of a humpback whale fin, just breaching the ocean’s surface?

     

    With its chubby, rounded, flipper of a leaf, the whale fin dracaena (Dracaena masoniana) is a cute complement to the tall, sword-like leaves of the snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Dracaena trifasciata) you might already have!

     

    Native to dry, stony soils in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the whale fin dracaena usually sports the scale-like, dark green mottling that gives snake plants their name.

     


    Whale fin dracaena at Sun Pavilion, Gardens by the Bay


    The natural foliage patterning can be seen on the Gardens’ whale fin dracaenas in the Sun Pavilion and The Canyon, shown above, but we’re also enchanted by this unique, cream-striped, variegated form that we found in a specialty nursery (seen below).
     

     


    Close-up of cream stripes on a variegated form of whale fin dracaena

     

    Perhaps the next best thing to a plastic plant, this tough, semi-succulent thrives on neglect! Equally happy in bright windows or dark corners, it prefers light, dry soil and will rot if kept constantly wet. A slow-grower that can eventually reach a metre or more, kept indoors, the whalefin dracaena may take weeks to push out a single new leaf from its underground stems.

     

    An uncommon find, look for them online or in specialty nurseries and houseplant shops. Alternatively, ask another owner for a leaf or stem cutting. Let the cut end heal, then prop it in water or wet gravel, and check for roots in 1 to 2 weeks before potting in soil. If you prefer the single-leaf look, chop and propagate your plant as it grows and share these beauties with others!

     


    We couldn’t bear to chop up our whale fin dracaena but this shows how leaf cuttings of the related snake plant
    can be easily propagated in water

  • Botanical Name

    Dracaena masoniana (Formerly Sansevieria masoniana)

    Common Name(s)

    whale fin dracaena, shark fin dracaena

    Plant Type

    Semi-succulent, herbaceous perennial, grown as a foliage houseplant.

    Mature Size

    30 to 100 cm in height

    Light

    Very adaptable. Low light to full sun.

    Water

    Let soil surface dry between periods of watering.

    Very drought-tolerant. Will rot if overwatered.

    Soil

    Freely-draining, light soil. Can be sandy or rocky.

    Flowers

    Night-blooming. Small, greenish-white, fragrant flowers on a thick stalk. Rarely flowers as a houseplant.

    Toxicity

    If ingested, moderately toxic to people, dogs and cats. May cause excessive salivation, nausea, or diarrhoea.

  • This article is part of our Bringing the Gardens Home series.

Related video
Watch our Bringing the Gardens Home episode featuring the whale fin dracaena (Dracaena masoniana) plant.

 

Watch here


Written by: Janelle Jung, Senior Researcher (Research and Horticulture)
A transplanted pake (Hawai'i-born Chinese), she's finding her own Singaporean roots. Every plant has a story, and Janelle helps discover and share these with colleagues and guests, hoping to spark a mutual plant passion! Ask her what plant she named her cat after!

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