The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

United Kingdom Gb

I have a 7-8ft Cordyline in the garden of my new house that I have just moved into. It has a long stem with two branches with clumps of leaves at the top. On the photos taken of the property from a year or so a go the clumps of leaves on the top look a lot fuller, will they grow back if we look after it? Also there is a large very full and healthy looking growth of leaves at the base of the plant. Should I leave this or would pruning encourage growth at the top? I would rather it grew at the top as it looks nicer.



Before you do anything, inspect the trunk all the way up and all the way round. You're looking for any sign of damage or infection, so soft areas, wounds, missing bark, or anything that looks like it might have been weeping. If all is healthy, you can remove the basal growth, but sometimes these plants produce growth at the base because there's a problem higher up in the main trunk. Other times, they just decide to shoot at the base anyway.

If you find a problem, then you need to take a different course of action, so inspect first.

28 Jul, 2015


That's a great answer thanks. I'll have a look tonight. Hoping that all is well as I really like the garden and especially this plant.

28 Jul, 2015


My wife has just had a look and it looks fine, no damage or soft areas.

So on this basis would we be wise to remove the growth at the base and would this encourage growth at the top (or not, I'm very new to this but very interested too)?

There is a lot of weeding required as the property was rented for a year before we bought it and the previous tenants didn't do much. So we are hoping a bit of TLC will help the plants prosper and we are also going to put some compost (or fertiliser) down and water it (although very wet up here on the east coast of Scotland so not required at the moment). My question is, will this TLC improve the amount of leaves at the top or is that it now. In the old photos the top looks very full and impressive.

Thanks again for any help from a befuddled novice! ;-)

28 Jul, 2015


Frankly, given where you live, its a miracle its survived - these plants can succumb during a very cold winter, usually from cold damage to the trunk. Many people had to cut theirs down 4 or 5 years ago after that bad winter, particularly the purple leaved variety (the green seems to be a little less sensitive to cold) and allow them to regrow from the base instead, if they were lucky enough that the roots survived. If you're within 10 to 15 miles of the sea, that might explain why its coped with the weather.

I'm still a little concerned there might be something wrong up the trunk somewhere, even if you can't see it now, but my advice is this - if you can bear to, leave the basal growth in place till next spring, around April. The reason for this, as much as anything, is that we're already well past the longest day, which means the growing season is stopping, so the tree wouldn't put on much extra growth anyway till next year, its too late, particularly where you live.

If the tree comes through the coming winter intact and undamaged, (there's a rough one coming, apparently), then remove the extra growth around mid to late April. Even if you left the growth permanently, it would form a trunk of its own, attached at the base to the original plant, so it wouldn't be at ground level as time went by anyway.

Mulching or feeding makes no difference, this particular plant couldn't care less, its needs are very slim! A topdressing of Growmore in late spring, raked into the soil at the base is all it needs. Smaller plants are sometimes given extra shelter in winter, but yours is past that stage.

28 Jul, 2015


Great advice, I live in Dunbar which is east of Edinburgh on the coast, so not too far up into Scotland and the town get's very little frost apparently (the golf course advertises as being playable all year round and locally the town is know as Sunny Dunny, although that's based on Scottish standards which isn't much). However, if there was a bad winter in 4 or 5 years ago then that would fit with the timings of the photos I've seen (there are some old ones online from about 6 or 7 years ago which shows really thick foliage).

I'll check the stem myself tonight and do as you say as far as leaving it goes. Thanks a lot for your help. I've tried to look online but hard to find the specific requirements for this situation.

28 Jul, 2015


So quite near the coast then - believe it or not, that grey, heaving, freezing sea keeps coastal regions warmer than inland in winter...

28 Jul, 2015


Ha! Yes very near, we even have a beach but not the weather to use it.

28 Jul, 2015

How do I say thanks?

Answer question


Not found an answer?