Why Is My Dragon Tail Plant Dying? Tips for Rescuing Your Dying Epipremnum Pinnatum

The gorgeous dragon tail plant (Epipremnum pinnatum) is beloved by many across the globe and for good reason. This native to Australia brings the jungle or forest floor right into your home. You can breathe easier and feel more at peace and rested. It’s even a conversation starter.  

So, if you’ve got a dragon tail plant that looks like it’s dying, you’re probably freaking out.  


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But wait, there are plenty of tips and tricks to rescue your epipremnum pinnatum from the brink of death.  

So, if you’ve been wondering, “How do I keep my dragon tail plant from dying?” you came to the right place.  

A Dragon Tail Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office 

The dragon tail plant is one of those plants that begs to be surrounded by other plants and greenery. It’s the plant that makes you a plant addict.  

A Dragon Tail Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office 

It’s great for your home or office, in a corner or near a window with plenty of indirect sunlight and regular water. 

It is easy to care for, and it purifies your air.  

And it’s a classic money plant, adding abundance to your space and accentuating the feng shui of your environment.  

Also known by its nicknames tonga plant, centipede tongavine, and devil’s ivy, this plant is a win/win. 

So, let’s keep it alive.  

Signs of a Dying Dragon Tail Plant 

You might be worried about nothing.  

Maybe your dragon tail plant is simply not growing as quickly as you would have liked. This slower growth rate is normal for a dragon tail plant that is not getting sufficient light. It won’t die, but if you want it to thrive, move it into a brighter space.  

Actual signs of a dying dragon tail plant include:  

  • Leaves drooping 
  • Leaves turning yellow or brown 
  • Stems growing without leaves 
  • Overwet soil  
  • Color of leaves beginning to fade and leaves fall off 
  • Bugs or root rot 
  • Stems get mushy 
  • Common Causes of a Dying Dragon Tail Plant 

The most common cause of a dying dragon tail plant is overwatering. It really does not need that much water.  

Other causes of a dying dragon tail plant include:  

  • Underwatering 
  • Pests 
  • Lack of fertilizer 
  • Too much light 
  • Insufficient light 
  • Root rot 

The dragon tail is easy to care for, but it can also be easy to overcare for or forget about. It’s all about balance, and once you strike that balance, you’ll get into a good rhythm and be able to keep your devil’s ivy alive and well and climbing up the wall (metaphorically of course). 

Watering Needs of a Dragon Tail Plant 

The dragon tail plant wants regular watering, but not too regular. During warmer months, you can typically plan to water it once a week. During cooler months, you will likely be able to go a bit longer in between waterings. Take a look at this article on watering mistakes that might be killing your plant. 

A good rule of thumb with the dragon plant is to check its soil for moisture. You want the top 3 to 5 inches to dry out before watering again.  

Am I Underwatering My Dragon Tail Plant? 

You’ll know your dragon plant is underwatered because the soil will be dried out and packed tight, and it will start to pull away from the edges of the pot like it is sucking up all remaining moisture in the environment. The leaves will also start to droop and look lifeless. You can also use a water meter to test the moisture level in your soil to see if it needs to be watered. 

Restoring Water to Your Underwatered Dragon Tail Plant 

If you notice signs you’ve been underwatering your plant, you can do a few things to restore it to good health.  

Restoring Water to Your Underwatered Dragon Tail Plant

  • Repot your plant in fresh indoor potting soil rich with organic matter.  
  • Be sure your dragon tail is in a pot with good drainage with a saucer underneath it to catch excess water.  
  • Water the soil thoroughly from top to bottom and allow it to fully drain.  
  • Get on a schedule to check your soil once a week for moisture as noted above.  

Am I Overwatering My Dragon Tail Plant? 

The inverse of underwatering your dragon tail is overwatering.  

A classic sign of overwatering is mushy stems or soaked soil that does not dry out or drain.  

Restoring Balance to Your Overwatered Dragon Tail Plant 

If you notice your dragon tail plant has been overwatered, you will likely have to repot it.  

In the event it is not sitting in soaked soil, but the soil does not seem to be drying up quickly enough, you can always try moving your plant to a brighter, drier space and allow the soil to dry itself out before returning to a regular watering schedule.  

But if you’re dealing with a mushy plant and potentially root rot, you should repot it.  

Remove the root ball from the pot, lay it on a screen in the sun, and allow it to fully dry out before repotting in fresh soil as instructed above.  

Soil Needs of a Dragon Tail Plant 

The dragon tail plant wants well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter for feeding.  

Soil Drainage Needs for a Dragon Tail Plant 

If you notice your plant is not draining well, you can either repot it in a fresh pot with better drainage and a saucer or place pebbles at the bottom of your pot.  

Or both.  

Resolving Soil Drainage Issues for a Dragon Tail Plant 

Another option is to place your plant closer to bright light in a drier space in your home or office. It may simply be a matter of the plant not getting enough sun and air to dry itself out.  

Resolving Soil Drainage Issues for a Dragon Tail Plant

Lighting Needs of a Dragon Tail Plant 

The dragon tail plant likes plenty of bright, indirect light to thrive. Too little light will cause it to slow its growth way down.  

Resolving Lighting Issues for a Dragon Tail Plant 

If you notice your plant is not growing, which in the case of the dragon tail plant means climbing up its stake or trellis or dangling from a hanging pot, move it to a brighter area.  

Conversely, if your plant has yellowing or browning leaves, it may be in too much direct sunlight, in which case you should move it to a more indirect light location.  

Pests or Diseases that Can Cause Issues with a Dragon Tail Plant 

The most common pests that infest a dragon tail plant are spider mites and fungus gnats.  

Brown and yellow spots on leaves are a sign of a spider mite infestation, so if you notice them, spray your plant with neem oil, fully covering the entire plant and soil once a week. The smell and the slippery surface will encourage mites to leave.  

Fungus gnats may lay their eggs in the warm, humid soil of your dragon tail plant, which can hatch into flies and annoy everyone in your house.  

To get rid of fungus gnats, spray your plant once a week with neem oil to suffocate the larvae. They should disappear completely within a month.  

Fake Dragon Tail Plants Are an Additional Consideration 

If you find that taking care of a dragon tail plant is just too much trouble, consider a fake one.  

Fake Dragon Tail Plants Are an Additional Consideration

A high-quality artificial dragon tail plant can look just like the real thing and bring you many of the same benefits as a real plant.  

Wondering if fake plants are even trendy right now? Check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky. 

Do you have a dragon tail plant you’ve nursed back to life? What worked for you? Leave your tips and tricks in the comment section below.  Is your dragon tail plant withering or looking unhealthy? Wondering what steps you can take to bring your dragon tail plant back to life? Here are some tips. 

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