Dracaena Surculosa – Tips for Growing Dracaena Gold Dust Plant

Dracaena surculosa is a gorgeous plant. It has glossy green leaves and white and yellow splotches over the leaf surface.  One can easily see from this photo why it has the common name Dracaena Gold Dust.Dracaena Surculosa "Gold Dust"

Botanical facts about Dracaena Surculosa

Dracaena surculosa is native to the western tropical Africa rain forest region.

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Dracaena
Species: surculosa 
Common Names: Dracaena Gold dust, Japanese Bamboo, Gold Dust Plant, Spotted Leaf Dracaena.

Dracaena Gold Dust Makes a Great Indoor Plant

Dracaena plants are commonly used as indoor plants, especially for those that have limited light in their homes. Japanese bamboo plant There are about 40 dracaena plant types (mainly shrubs and small trees) in the family and they are known as rugged, low maintenance house plants.

Dracaena Surculosa Plant Care.

This care tips graphic shows how easy this house plant is to grow.
Dracaema Surculosa Care cardThis sturdy houseplant easy to care for. It is a slow-growing evergreen plant that is normally grown for its beautiful variegated foliage. Keep these tips in mind for its care.

Sunlight Needs for dracaena

This house plant likes bright, filtered light, which makes it a great indoor plant. But it can also tolerate lower light conditions.  The more light the plant receives, the better the variegation of the foliage there will be.

However, keep out of direct sunlight. Too little or too much light will result in leaf drop.
Dracena gold dust plant

Outdoors, the plant can tolerate a bit more shade and loves to spend the summer outside in a shady sheltered spot.

When to water gold dust house plant

Water dracaena gold dust 1-2 times a week, or when the soil is dry down to about the first knuckle. Don’t over water. A well draining potting soil is essential for the plant.

Dracaena does not like wet feet.  Water less in the winter months when the plant is in a dormant period and does not grow much.Growing Gold Dust Plant

Fertilization needs for Japanese bamboo

Use an all purpose plant food once a month during the growing season.  Stop fertilizing during the winter months.

Flowers and Leaves of Spotted Leaf Dracaena

The foliage of this variety of dracaena is glossy green with pointed leaf tips on bamboo like stems. 

If your light conditions are good, the leaves of the plant will be covered in yellow spots, giving it the common name “gold dust.”Leaves of spotted dracaena plant

It is very hard to get dracaena surculosa to flower indoors.  If you are in the warmer zones, where it will over winter outdoors, you may be rewarded with fragrant white flowers and red berries.Dracaena surculosa flowers

Temperature needs for gold dust dracaena

Dracaena can tolerate temperatures that range from 55-90 degrees F.  Ideal house temperatures are 65-70 degrees F.  It can take a low temperature down to 50 degrees F.

When to re-pot Japanese bamboo

In the spring, check to see if your plant is pot bound. Gently tip the root ball out of its container and see if it is a mass of roots. If so, it is time to re-pot into a larger pot.

Outdoors, roots will continue to grow into the surrounding soil, but plants grown in pots only have the soil that is in the container.  Once it starts to form a circle of roots on the bottom of the soil, it’s getting pot bound.

Pot bound root ball

Gently pry the roots out and pot in a new container about 1/3 larger. Add fresh potting soil and water lightly. This will allow for new growth in spring which is the beginning of the growing season.

Is it necessary to prune my Japanese Bamboo?

Generally it is not necessary to prune the plant. If you have it in a lower light situation, the plant may get tall and spindly as it reaches for light.

If this is the case, you can prune off about 1/3 of of the main stem. This will make it sprout new growth at the area of the cut and will make the plant more bushy.

Remove any discolored leaves to keep the plant healthy and pest free. Be on the lookout for spider mites, aphids and scale.

For more general information on pruning plants, see my pruning tips here.

You can use tender stem cuttings from the plant to propagate to get new plants for free. The plant can also be propagated by division of there is more than one crown.

Is dracaena surculosa toxic to pets?

Like most dracaena varieties, surculosa is mildly toxic to pets. The ASPCA lists in their list of plants poisonous to cats and dogs.

The problems with toxicity come from ingestion and reports indicate that it takes moderate to large amount of ingestion for symptoms to occur.

Dracaena surculosa contains saponins. These can cause drooling, vomiting, weakness and a lack of coordination in pets when ingested.  

Be on the look out for indications of abdominal pain, increased heart rate and weakness. With cats, look for dilated pupils and drooling.  All parts of the plant, including the flowers and berries, are mildly poisonous.

Two other plants that are highly poisonous to pets are brugmansia and dieffenbachia.  . 


Pin these dracaena gold dust plant care tips for later

Would you like a reminder of these tips for growing spotted leaf dracaena? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest.How to grow Dracaena surculosa

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in August of 2013. I have updated the post to add more information and new photos as well as a printable growing tips card and a video for you to enjoy.

Find out more about other dracaena plants:

Yield: 1 happy houseplant

How to Grow Dracaena Surculosa

Leaves of gold dust dracaena

Dracaena surculosa is a slow growing houseplant with glossy green leaves on bamboo-like stems.The leaves are lightly splotched with yellow markings.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $15


  • 1 Dracaena surculosa plant
  • Well draining potting soil
  • Indoor plant food


  • watering can
  • pruners


  1. Plant dracaena in a pot with well draining potting soil
  2. Place it in a location where it will receive bright light. It can tolerate partial shade but the coloring will not be as pretty on the leaves.
  3. Water once or twice a week during the growing season. Water less in the winter when it is dormant.
  4. Fertilize once a month in the growing season with an all purpose indoor plant food.
  5. Repot in the spring if the plant is pot bound.
  6. Place outside in the summer months but bring it indoors if the temperatures will be below 55 degrees F. It is only cold hardy in zones 10a and above.
  7. Take stem cuttings to produce more plants.
  8. Prune if the plant gets leggy.
  9. Watch out for spider mites, scale and aphids.
  10. Print out the care card below and add it to your gardening journal.Dracaema Surculosa Care card


Dracaena surculosa is considered mildly toxic to pets.

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  30 comments for “Dracaena Surculosa – Tips for Growing Dracaena Gold Dust Plant

  1. Mary
    09/19/2016 at 5:27 pm

    Would this be a good choice for outdoors in a high shade (mostly facing north) area in San Antonio, Texas?

    • Carol
      09/19/2016 at 5:49 pm

      Hi Mary. I have only grown this plant indoors, but often bring my other houseplants outdoors during the summer months. They do well but only if I put them in a shady spot. Carol

      • Aarti Padda
        09/07/2020 at 11:34 pm

        Tiny Flowers are blooming in my plant under the leaves in bunches and climbers are also there on my plant is it normal??

        • Carol Speake
          09/09/2020 at 4:40 pm

          It is rare for this plant to flower. You are lucky!

    • Johany Fonseca
      04/26/2019 at 8:51 pm

      I live in California and have it out in my backyard, I placed it in a corner so it gets plenty of light but yet it isnt getting the harsh rays of the sun. It survived well through the winters months, and it even did well with all the rain we got. She sufficiently taller and wider than when I first planted her, but from my personal experience this particular plant thrives well outdoors. Hope this helps!

  2. Ed
    11/19/2016 at 5:37 am

    This plant is in the croton family, not draceana

  3. Sally Hersh
    10/31/2018 at 9:24 am

    We live about 10 miles /SW of York, Pa. We live here since 1966. In about 1867-68 my husbands Grandmother gave us her Gold Dust plant she received in a dish garden about 10 yrs. before. We planted it on the East side of the house and there was a big arborita tree about 12 ft, from the house and already 3 stories tall. This year we cut the tree down and still have the Gold Dust plant at the same place. We may have trimmed it once or twice. It is about 5′ tall and about 5’around . It is really nice. Have not done anything else to it. We are going to give some plants that came up to our 3 daughters as a remembrance of our home. So our plant is at least 60 yrs. old and still nice.

    • Carol
      10/31/2018 at 1:37 pm

      I really love having plants from relatives in my garden. I have some astilbe that came from my mother’s garden. Even though she is no longer with us, I think of her when I see my astilbe flowering. Carol

      • Dianne Lamming
        09/09/2020 at 8:51 pm

        My gold dust, in pot, has new leaves but they are completely green, does it need more light.Adelaide Australia

        • Carol Speake
          09/09/2020 at 11:08 pm

          Hi Dianne. That is normally the case. Spotted plants go green with less light.

    • Susie
      03/03/2019 at 7:14 pm

      Hi, so you plant yours outside.I live in northern Virginia.I hope I can plant it outside.Thanks for all your information

      • Carol
        03/04/2019 at 6:07 pm

        Dracaena likes temperatures of 55-65 degrees F the best. It is not hardy outside where temps routinely fall below 55 degrees F.

        • Bob
          03/12/2019 at 5:06 pm

          Someone forgot to tell mine that have been here since I moved here in 1984. I live in Roanoke, VA. I have trimmed them back at least once and they are now over 6’ y’all.

          • Carol
            03/12/2019 at 6:58 pm

            It must have just the right spot. I have a spider plant (Normally a tropical plant that will not over winter and it comes back for me in one particular spot in my garden. The other places where I plant it won’t over winter. Nature is something else at times!

  4. Sarah
    11/06/2018 at 12:58 pm

    I have a gold dust dracaena that, as far as I know, has never been outside. I inherited it somehow, but I don’t remember when or from who. I am fortunate that we have horses and a pile of horse manure years old. I sprinkled some on to the soil — of all my plants! The are all really loving the nourishment but more importantly, I noticed the other evening, when I was watering, that the gold dust has buds beginning to flower! I was pretty excited when I saw them, but even moreso now when I read in the care instructions that they rarely flower indoors. Unfortunately, I don’t have any boy dracaenas so don’t expect berries! But one never knows, does one??

    • Carol
      11/06/2018 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Sarah…OOOH lucky you! What a treat to get it to flower. It obviously loves the manure. Carol

  5. Mary G
    02/20/2019 at 1:51 pm

    Where can I find these? I did not see it in Lowe’s and Home Depot. 😥

    • Carol
      02/20/2019 at 8:21 pm

      Hi Mary, Each store is different. I have seen them at my local Lowe’s and Home Depot. My experience has been that the winter months in those stores, I see a low supply but when the weather warms up, they seem to bring more plants in. It might be a bit early for your local stores to stock them.

    • Carol
      06/15/2019 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Mary, If you can’t find it locally, this seller on Etsy has it for sale.

  6. Abby
    03/17/2019 at 2:04 pm

    I bought a small one in a small pot. The leaves are turning brown I think I needed to water it more!! Should I trim the brown leaves off!#

    • Carol
      03/17/2019 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Abby. Yes trim off the leaves. If they are brown and dry, it’s likely under watering. IF them are brown and soggy looking, it’s over watering.

  7. Nancy
    10/03/2019 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Carol!

    You obviously know your stuff! That being said, I do NOT, hahah! I actually found your page trying to determine what this plant IS because my old cat decided to nibble off the tip of a leaf this morning, which he’s never done. I’m keeping an eye on him, since I know this can be mildly toxic. I have what I BELIEVE to be a gold dust draecena that someone gave me as a gift in my office, oh, 20 years ago. It was little and cute. It’s now over 3″ tall (not including the pot) and is very top heavy. I have it sorta propped up against the wall and a chair. It’s VERY healthy, so I don’t know how to either trim it so it bushes out, or repot. I think because it’s so leggy I’d break the spindly trunks attempting to repot it. Any suggestions? Any ideas how to “fix” this plant??

    Thank you so much!

    • Carol
      10/03/2019 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Nancy. If the plant has never been repotted, it will probably need it. that being said, once you repot, it will only get bigger. I would do both. I would take it out of the pot and have a look at the roots. If they are a solid mass of roots, just spread them out, put in a new pot 1/3 larger and add new soil.

      You can also trim the roots to make them smaller and repot it in the same pot with new soil.

      I would also trim off the growing tips to make it sprout new growth below the cuts to make it more bushy and less top heavy.

  8. Gelina
    02/13/2020 at 4:53 am

    Hello, I have bought a somewhat overwatered plant and it has been losing leaves so much for 2 weeks now 🙁 , they just turn yellow and fall off. Now I have some completely bare stems. The plant is about 55 cm tall and it has lost more than half the foliage so far. Will it survive, what can I do to help it and should I cut the bare branches to make it grow new ones and renew its lovely look. I am in love with it , so sad! Thank you!

    • Carol Speake
      02/13/2020 at 3:01 pm

      Cut back on the watering to allow the roots to dry out. Your plant likely has root rot. Sometimes a plant will recover if left to dry out and then rewater. Sometimes it is just lost.

  9. Kathleen
    09/19/2020 at 11:16 am

    Hi! My question is. My plant falls over and does not stand up straight. Is this normal?

    • Carol Speake
      09/19/2020 at 2:00 pm

      It sounds like the top part of the plant might be too large for the planter. Repotting in a larger pot may help.

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