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Xela's Garden


Genus: Cordyline.

Species: Cordyline australis.

Planted 03.12 in pot by Vistabile drive

Bought 03.12 at The Garden Centre, Studley Green for £2.99 (sale price)

Skill rating Beginner

Ultimate spread 4m
Ultimate height 6m

Time to maturity 20-50 years

Maintenance level 1 hour care per year

Botanical name: Cordyline australis

Other names: Cabbage tree, Palm lily, Cabbage palm, New Zealand cabbage palm, New Zealand dragon plant, Torbay palm

C. australis is a architectural, palm-like, evergreen tree with long, sword-shaped, leathery leaves and large panicles of fragrant, creamy flowers in summer.

Cordyline australis is: Evergreen

Flower: Insignificant or absent, Cream in Summer

Foliage: Green in All seasons

Fruit: Blue-green in Autumn

Fragrance: Flowers are highly scented.

Tree shape: Single stemmed palm, cycad or tree

Awards: RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit)

Plant with: Callistemon citrinus 'Splendens' (Crimson bottlebrush 'Splendens'), Callistemon rugulosus (Scarlet bottlebrush), Correa 'Dusky Bells' (Australian fuchsia 'Dusky Bells'), Verbena Sandy Series (Vervain Sandy Series)
[Source: ]

In containers
Cordylines are ideal container plants. They are strongly architectural and make a simple, bold statement. There is no need to fill the containers with hundreds of smaller plants, which are quite fiddly and require lots of attention. Instead, just keep it simple with a cordyline in a pot topped with pebbles, cobbles or gravel for an elegant centrepiece. If you do want to fill the pot up, try the tumbling Sedum 'Ruby Glow' under the red leaved 'Atropurpurea' for a drought-tolerant combination. Or used billowing bedding in contrasting or complementary colour.

The biggest problem with containers is that they tend to dry out really quickly. Cordylines are very drought tolerant and can withstand the rigors of this fairly harsh environment. The best compost to use is the loam-based John Innes No2 which is still quite free draining, but does tend to hold water much better than many of the peat-based multipurpose composts. You can also add water retaining granules - these look like crystals but swell up to form a jelly-like substance when full of water – which can also help.

Growing guide:
Cordylines are dramatic and eye-catching and yet solidly dependable garden plants which are easy to maintain and rarely suffer from pests and diseases. However, they do need a well-drained soil that is in sun or part shade. They are surprisingly hungry plants, too, so the soil needs to be quite fertile for them to really flourish. It is worth digging in some well-rotted farmyard manure before planting. This will add lots of nutrients to the soil and help to retain moisture without making the soil water-logged. As the cordyline grows the lower leaves start to droop down and eventually turn yellow and then brown. These can be either left as they are, or cut, so you get a clear trunk with a shock of leaves on the top.

Although they have a tropical air, cordylines can cope with temperatures down to –5oC (20oF), so are hardy in most areas. In very cold regions it is worth tying the leaves up to the stem so that the crown is protected from the worst of the winter weather. Use a forgiving material, such as fleece, raffia or a pair of old tights, to tie that plants so the leaves aren't bruised or cut.

Cordylines grow surprisingly well from seed and this is the best way to propagate C. australis. Seeds should be sown in the spring and are best started off in a propagator and then moved into a warm, sunny spot once the weather really warms up. In their first winter they are best moved into a greenhouse or conservatory for some protection while they are still young. Cordylines also can be propagated from hardwood stem cuttings, although it will take between three and five years to get a decent-sized plant. It sounds brutal, but take sections out from healthy stems, about 10cm (4in) long. Make sure you take the sliced cuttings with a sharp knife. Lay them wound side down in free-draining compost, water and keep in bright shade.

Pests and disease:
Cordylines that are grown outdoors are generally trouble free, but can occasionally rot at the base of their stems if over watered or if planted in soil that remains wet. Once this happens, the cordyline topples over and there is nothing that can be done to revive them.

Make sure that the foliage of the cordyline is thoroughly dry before you wrap it up for the winter, so wait until there has been a dry spell with a drying wind. If cordylines are wrapped wet they are liable to rot.
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Photos of this plant

Reminders for this plant

Due over 12 years ago:


The response to hard renovation pruning (best undertaken in mid-spring) is usually good. Cut back to sideshoots, basal shoots, or to ground level
After pruning, encourage new growth by an application of balanced fertiliser in spring
Create multi-stemmed plants by removing the growing point before growth begins in spring
Remove dieback or winter damage just above a new sideshoot, or cut back to a sound point on the trunk (below rot and damage)

Due over 11 years ago:


Prevent winter damage by tying up the foliage to reduce wind damage to the leaves and prevent water collecting around growing points and so causing rotting. In areas prone to severe winters, wrap the trunk with layers of fleece and place a 15cm (6in) layer of mulch, such as bark, over the root area.
Move container grown plants to a frost-free location, such as a greenhouse, during periods of cold or wet weather.

Due about 11 years ago:


Propagate cordyline from seed, cuttings or suckers, ideally from April to June. Pot up individually using well-drained cuttings compost. If possible, provide bottom heat.
Take terminal (shoot tip) cuttings 10-15cm (4-6in) long. Remove all the leaves apart from the terminal tuft
Prepare 5-7.5cm (1-2in) stem-section cuttings from thicker stems that include a bud. Insert the stem cutting horizontally in the compost with the growth bud just visible at the surface
Sever rooted suckers that arise from the base in spring and pot up individually. If the suckers have only a few roots treat as terminal cuttings (see above)
Sow seeds at 16°C (61°F) in spring

Prune + fertilise

See previous notes

Due over 10 years ago:


See previous notes