Tips On Dragon’s Tongue Plant Care

Dragon’s Tongue, also called Hemigraphis Repanda (hem-ee-GRAF-iss, REP-an-duh), belongs to the Acanthaceae family and is native to Malaysia and India.  

The first half of the scientific name “Hemigraphis” is a Greek word – hemi means “half” and graphis means a “stylus or paintbrush”. 

On the other hand, “repanda” refers to the plant’s wavy leaf edges.

Dragon's Tongue PlantDragon's Tongue Plant

The common name dragon plant is one of several the Hemigraphis Repanda is called. Others include:

  • Dragon’s breath
  • Waffle plant
  • Narrow leaf hemigraphis
  • Ruellia repanda

Other Plants in The Acanthaceae Family include:

Dragon Tongue Plant Care

Size and Growth

Dragon’s Tongue is a slow-growing perennial with a low growth habit reaching up to 8” inches tall.

The green leaves are thin and narrow with a crinkly texture and boast hints of a dark purple or maroon color. 

The fine, colorful leaves usually reach up to 2” inches in length.

Flowering and Fragrance

When provided with the ideal growing condition, the small Hemigraphis Repanda plant produces pink or white flowers with five petals. 

The clear, vivid white flowers add a beautiful contrast to the earthy foliage plant. 

The tiny, delicate flowers usually bloom in early spring or summer and produce a light scent that attracts pollinators.   

Light and Temperature

The Dragon Tongue prefers filtered light to develop fully. 

Bright, direct sunlight will burn the foliage so avoid placing Hemigraphis Repanda in full sun. 

The perennial Dragon’s Repanda is adaptable to low light. However, growing in low lighting slows down growth. 

Dragon’s Tongue enjoys being in a warm location, with average to high temperatures ranging from 40° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit (4° – 15° C).

The USDA hardiness zone of the plant is from 11 to 12.  

Make sure not to expose the plant to temperatures below 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C).

Watering and Feeding

  • Ruellia repanda prefers occasional watering to keep the soil moist. 
  • Water when the soil feels dry as this evergreen perennial does not do well in extensive dry spells. 
  • When it comes to feeding, use a balanced liquid fertilizer. 
  • Apply a proper dose of the fertilizer every month in the blooming season, preferably in late spring. 
  • During fall and winter, do not fertilize the plant as it is dormant.


Dragon’s Tongue prefers evenly moist, porous and well-drained soil to grow well. 

Water Hemigraphis regularly but never allow the soil to stay wet.

Grooming and Maintenance

Ensure the plant receives bright light for best results. 

Even though the plant may survive in low light, it will grow better when placed in a bright location.

Light pruning is essential to keep the plant in its best shape and size. 

Cutaway old, dead flowers and leaves to allow the Hemigraphis to stay healthy and encourage new growth.

How to Propagate Hemigraphis Repanda

Dragon’s tongue is typically propagated by root divisions or cuttings. 

In the root division technique:

  • Dig up the plant and divide the crown and root ball into multiple sections. 
  • Once divided, remove the excess soil and unwanted materials. 
  • Replant in a new pot/container in a bright, warm location. 
  • Consider root division in fall or winter when the perennial is at rest.

In the cutting method

  • Cut a small 4″ inch stem
  • Remove all the lower leaves from the stem. 
  • Dip the cutting into a rooting hormone
  • Plant in a new pot with well-draining soil or potting mix. 
  • Make sure the pot has proper drainage holes in them.

Hemigraphis Repanda Pests and Diseases

The Dragon’s plant is susceptible to a few insects including:

  • Whiteflies
  • Bean weevils
  • Mexican bean beetles

Due to lack of watering, the leaves become thin and lanky. 

They may also develop white spots. 

Dragon’s Tongue Uses

The stunning purple foliage makes the small houseplant an excellent choice for ground covers, hanging baskets, color container gardens, window boxes, and garden borders. 

The evergreen plant also produces nectar in the blooming months and attracts pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds. 

Dragon tongue beans are often combined with herbs, spices, and vegetables for food.

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