Cordyline (Cabbage Tree)
Common name: Cabbage tree
These striking plants, with their narrow sword-like foliage, have become very popular in recent years. They are best grown as specimen plants on a patio where they can be moved undercover for the winter. In mild districts they can be grown outdoors in a sunny sheltered spot, where they are not subjected to cold winds.
Those most commonly seen are varieties of Cordyline australis (AGM), a native of New Zealand and Australia, Those with coloured foliage include ‘Torbay Dazzler with broad cream stripes and margins, and ‘Purple Tower’ with broader leaves of a rich, plum purple. Others to look for are ‘Albertii’ (AGM), with foliage striped red, pink and cream, and Torbay Red’ with dark red leaves. The forms with coloured leaves are slightly less hardy than the straight species (which has mid-green foliage).
Soil type If grown outdoors, a well-drained, lightis required; these plants will not tolerate cold, wet conditions. If growing in containers, use a loam-based compost and provide plenty of . From late spring to early autumn a fortnightly feed of a balanced general fertilizer is beneficial. Ensure that the plants are not subjected to drought especially in hot weather Move them into a frost-free greenhouse for the winter months.
Planting If you have a suitable spot, cordylines are best planted in the spring. Remember they are sun lovers and require a spot sheltered from strong cold winds.
Maintenance There is little required except to water freely in dry weather Nois necessary. Remove any dead lower leaves.
Propagation Any well-rooted suckers can be removed in the spring, potted up and grown on. Alternatively, sow seed in John Innes seed compost during early spring, in gentle heat Prick out the seedlings to individual pots, and grow them on in the usual way.
Pests and diseases Generally trouble free.