The exotic, palm-like appearance of Cordylines has made them a favourite addition to the garden as well as within the home. The roots of a Cordyline are club-shaped and the name Cordyline means “club” in Greek.
Also known as “palm lilies” or “cabbage trees,” the first Cordyline arrived at Kew Gardens in 1770.
These are single-stemmed plants with white roots. Most Cordylines grow with their leaves in a loose rosette around a woody stem. They are evergreens with many different shapes and colours of leaves, including greens, purples and bronzes.
Flowers are usually white, blue or red and some species will produce purple berries. If placed in the garden, they can eventually grow as tall as 30 ft.
Cordylines grow wild in the hotter climates of Australia, New Zealand, South-east Asia and the Pacific Islands, although they do have hardy characteristics.
Cordylines are available throughout the year.
The genus Cordyline contains 15 species, including the C.australis that is similar in appearance to a palm tree. The C. terminalis has broad leaves that can be stripy, blotchy or edged with white, yellow or red.
Lower Cordyline leaves need removing as the plant grows and this creates the trunk of the plant. For winter, outdoor Cordylines need tying up to prevent wind damage and stop the roots from rotting.
Outdoor Cordylines are generally hardy and can usually survive harsh frosts and snow, although younger plants and coloured foliage may be at more risk of damage. A layer of fleece or bubble wrap around the trunk and some mulch over the root area can prevent damage in cold weather. Pruning is rarely required and, for an occasional hard prune, you can cut back to side shoots during spring- time.
The indoor varieties are usually more delicate species than the outdoor varieties and they prefer strong light and moist compost. A weak feed can be beneficial once a fortnight. You may also want to move your indoor Cordyline outside for the summer.
Did You Know?
- Cordyline leaves are used to make hula skirts in Polynesia.
- Ancient Hawaiians thought that Cordylines had immense spiritual power and, even today, they are called “good luck plants” in Hawaii.