Cordylines Large

The modern fashion for tropical and foliage gardens is fine if you live in a frost-free climate, but it can be a challenge if you’re gardening in a cooler area. The answer is to grow a cordyline, because there’s a variety to suit almost every climate.

Cordylines are palm-like plants that will bestow a tropical ambience to just about any garden. Of course there are many tropical cordylines, with the most popular having red, pink or maroon leaves, but their need for warmth means tropical cordylines are largely restricted to warm areas or indoors. Fortunately, nowadays it’s easy to find coloured-leaf forms of cold-hardy cordyline species.

Cordyline australis is a widely grown, trunk- forming, cold-tolerant cordyline. Although its name makes it sound as if it should be an Australian native, it hails from that other great southland, New Zealand. Many of the newer forms of cold-tolerant cordylines have reddish or purple leaves. One of the best is Red Sensation, while a recent release, Cordyline Red Fountain, doesn’t develop a trunk but remains as a low-growing mound of attractive, claret-coloured, strap-leafed foliage.

Cordyline stricta , the native palm lily, is an amazingly versatile plant. It’s useful for creating a tropical effect, even in a less-than- tropical situation. Cordyline stricta’s sprays of tiny lilac blooms (pictured) are followed by dark- coloured berries. This is a very adaptable understorey plant that will grow just as happily in an exposed, sunny position.

Once established, cool climate cordylines can get by with a minimum of watering. Tropical varieties, by contrast, with their larger, softer leaves, need more regular watering. They do best in a brightly-lit, sheltered spot in the garden. Watch out for snails; they love the leaves, so a sprinkling of Blitzem pellets may be required.

Cordyline pests and diseases

In spite of their hardy constitutions, cordylines can be affected by a number of pest and diseases. The leaves, especially older leaves, can be marked with rust-like, fungal spots. It’s best to treat this problem by trimming off the worst-affected leaves and spraying the plant with Yates Rose Shield Insect & Disease Spray.

Watch out for scale insects on the leaves. Try wiping them off with a cloth that’s been moistened with a small amount of PestOil. Again, remove the most-affected (which are usually the lower) leaves.

Mealybugs can infest the leaf bases of plants that are grown in protected positions. Try spraying with Nature’s Way Citrus & Ornamental Spray, and spray through the root systems of the plants.

At flowering time keep an eye out for those flower-munching caterpillars called bud grubs. These can usually be removed by hand but if numbers grow rapidly then think about a quick knockdown with Baythroid.

Feeding Cordylines

Cordylines aren’t particularly hungry plants but they’ll appreciate an occasional feed with some gentle Dynamic Lifter pellets or a long-lasting plant food like the new Yates Shake ‘n’ Feed sprinkle pack.


This area is for general comments from members of the public. Some questions or comments may not receive a reply from Yates. For specific gardening advice visit Ask an expert Alternatively you may wish to contact us.