Skip to Content

Dragon Tree Leaves Yellow, Brown, Droopy, or Falling Off! Is It Dying or Dead?

With its sword-like leaves, the Dracaena, or Dragon Tree, is among the most attractive plants to decorate your garden – or house. While highly tolerant of several weather conditions and water droughts, this plant can also live for hundreds of years if cared for properly. Luckily, if your plant is affected by a threatening health problem, the status of its leaves can give you a hint regarding the best solution to salvage it.

So, is your plant dying or dead? Here’s how you can tell:

  • Yellow leaves? Overwatering
  • Brown leaves? Temperature, low humidity, or too much fluoride in water
  • Droopy leaves? Overwatering, stem or root rot
  • Leaves falling off? Root rot, spider mites, environmental changes

Root rot, pests, and overwatering can cause death.

In most cases, you can save your plant through re-potting, reducing the water and fluoride amount, or move onto a sunnier spot. Learn how to read the changes in the leaves and first aid techniques below.

Leaves Turning Yellow – Is It Dying or Dead?

Can It Be Saved?

If your plant has been suffering from this condition for a while, it might now be dying. However, it is easy to restore its health by moving the plant into a brighter spot of the house. 

If this condition relates to overwatering, allow for the soil to dry before watering again. While it could be a good idea to check for root rot, yellow leaves can derive from a single overwatering episode. In most cases, they will regain their bright green color as they receive more light and less water.


The main culprit for it is either not enough sunlight or too much water. In some cases, a combination of the two is possible.

Solution and Prevention

You can restore the look of the leaves by moving your plant into an area that receives strong indirect sunlight for most of the day. Moreover, you might need to change the water regimen, only watering your plant when the soil is thoroughly dry.

Leaves Turning Brown or Black – Is It Dying or Dead?

Can It Be Saved?

A Dracaena that boasts brown or black leaves can easily be saved by switching to more adequate care habits. Use a humidifier to keep the health and the level of moisture and nutrients high. 

Moreover, you should move your plant onto a warmer spot in your house or garden. Lastly, opt to water it only with filtered or distilled water.


It is necessary to realize that Dragon Trees are subtropical plants that prefer highly humid and warm environments to understand the causes of brown or black edges, streaks, and spots. The ideal temperature for them to thrive is anything between 70℉ and 80℉ (21℃ and 26℃). Anything below this range can negatively affect the health of your plant.

Moreover, Dragon Trees are highly susceptible to the chemicals found in the water, such as fluoride. Fluoride-rich water can be highly toxic for any plant but can be highly detrimental for Dragon Trees in particular.

Solution and Prevention

Move your plant into a more humid and warm area of your house or the garden. If you cannot increase the level of humidity in the environment, mist the leaves with filtered water. 

Moreover, before watering your plant, allow your tap water to sit in a bucket for a few hours to allow the chemicals in it to evaporate. Alternatively, you can use filtered or distilled water.

Droopy Leaves – Is It Dying or Dead? 

Can It Be Saved?

If the plant is suffering from root rot, the only chance you have to save your Dragon Tree is to identify the disease in time, get rid of the affected roots and soil, and re-pot the plant. In some cases, trimming and pruning the plant can make sure the reduced root system can still sustain growth. 

However, the first symptoms of root rot appear in the roots. As the leaves become affected, the condition is spread enough that saving your plant can be challenging.


Aside from a lack of sun, this condition derives from repeated overwatering and poor drainage. Indeed these two factors combined are likely to lead to root or stem rot. 

In turn, this disease causes the roots to weaken and become more prone to the attack of bacteria and pathogens. If not treated promptly, root rot will lead to the decay of the roots of the plant, which can no longer absorb the necessary nutrients to guarantee the plant’s wellbeing.

Solution and Prevention

The easiest way to prevent root rot is to ensure that the pot boasts an efficient drainage system – which often includes holes at the bottom of the container. 

Moreover, to ensure you are only watering the plant when it needs it, you should test the potting mix by inserting a finger in the soil. If it is dry 2-3 inches (5-7cm) below the surface, it is time to water your Dragon Tree. 

Ultimately, introducing a proper water regimen can help you feed the plant just enough to thrive.

Leaves Falling Off – Is It Dying or Dead? 

Can It Be Saved?

You can attempt to save your plant from root rot by eliminating the affected roots, pruning it, and transplanting it into fresh soil. You can identify root rot by looking at the root system: if the roots are white, moldy, or mushy, proceed with the re-potting. In the case of environmental changes or pests, if identified early, you can easily save your plant.


Root rot deriving from bacteria or over-watering can cause the leaves of your plant to fall off. However, pests and excessive stress can cause the same symptoms to show. Stress can happen after transplanting your Dragon Tree into a new container or following changes in the environment. In turn, this shock can leave the plant more exposed to the attack of pests, which can be detrimental to the leaves.

Solution and Prevention

Firstly, you should check for signs of root rot. However, if the roots are in a good state, your plant might be under shock or stress. If this is the case, bring your plant back to its original location where it was thriving. When weakened, your Dragon Tree can be more exposed to pests such as spider mites. In this case, remove the affected areas and stems, then wash the leaves with soapy water and wipe them with a clean cloth.

Other Symptoms That Your Dragon Tree Is Dying

Even if the leaves of your plant are not droopy or falling off, you should keep an eye out for other telltale signs that can tell you that your plant is dying.


  • Wilting or curling leaves
  • Yellowing leaves
  • Brown edges
  • Roots emerging from the surface or through the soil
  • Soil not holding moisture
  • Sunburn
  • Leaves changing color

What Would Your Plant Look Like?

A dying Dragon Tree might not immediately give off signs of the condition that is affecting it. Indeed, you might still enjoy its healthy leaves while root rot is spreading under the soil’s surface. Therefore, it is essential to check the soil and root system of your plant regularly.

Are They Overwatered or Underwatered?

While underwatering is not an issue, overwatering can be. Indeed, Dragon Trees are famous for their high tolerance to drought, when this happens in humid environments. However, overwatering can cause root rot and exposure to bacteria and fungi.

Root/Stem/Leaf Rot

In most situations, your plant’s rotting derives from a fungus, bacteria, or pathogen. Often following overwatering, the stagnating water sits in the moist soil, which does not allow the plant to absorb the necessary nutrients from the ground. As it weakens, any pest can spread, causing the decay or roots, stems, or leaves. 

Unfortunately, this condition often starts from within the soil, and it is difficult to identify until it reaches the body of the plant. At this point, usually, it is too late to save the Dragon Tree. Hence, it is essential to check the soil of the plant regularly.

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 13, 2020.

Final Thoughts

Dragon Trees are sturdy, durable plants that can leave hundreds of years without much care. However, keeping them in a humid and warm environment is essential. The biggest threat for this plant is represented by overwatering and the consequent root rot.