Plants A to Z

How to Grow and Care for Cordyline Fruticosa

Ti, also known as cordyline, is a common decorative plant that grows outside in hardiness zones 9 through 12. However, its tall and spikey leaves make it an excellent houseplant due to its size and shape. This kind of plant comes with a range of leaf colors, including green, red, yellow, white, purple, and purplish-red.

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This genus of plants has aromatic flowers that are followed by berries. The plant will produce cup-shaped white, pink, or pale lavender flowers that are sweet-smelling. They blossom in the early summer and then produce little berries after the blooms have faded. Flowering is more common in outdoor species, however, flowers can also emerge on houseplants. Cordyline should be planted outside in the spring. Dogs and cats are poisoned by this plant.

Cordyline Treatment

If grown in the proper climate, tropical cordyline is a hardy plant. It produces bright and cheerful colors, and it's a low-maintenance evergreen shrub. Ti will add color to your interior or outdoor garden and is simple to care for.

Cordyline got its name from the Greek word kordyle, which means "club," referring to the plant's robust root structure. If you've planted cordyline in a raised garden bed outside, the root system can sometimes become so enormous that it will suffocate nearby plants.


Ti requires intense light, but unhabituated plants should avoid direct sunshine. Furthermore, green-leaved cordylines require direct sunlight, although plants with different colored leaves may prefer brilliant indirect or filtered sunlight.


Cordyline requires a pH of 6-6.5 and a rich, well-drained high-quality potting mix. Ti plants prefer to be watered when the soil's surface feels dry. Water until the drainage holes are full. Do not reintroduce the drained water to the plant. Slow-release pellets can be used to fertilize these plants in the spring. During the growing season, feed the plant with a half-strength liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer once a week. During the winter, do not fertilize.

Humidity and Temperature

Temperatures above 62 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for Ti, as is a high humidity atmosphere. Place the plant away from a chilly draught, such as a window. If you're having trouble with leaf drops on these tropical plants, consider increasing the temperature and humidity.

Cordyline varieties

  • 'C. australis', which has narrow, long, greyish to dark leaves
  • 'Calypso Queen,' which has ruby-maroon leaves
  • 'Oahu Rainbow,' which has dark-green leaves streaked with cream and white
  • 'Firebrand,' which has beautiful pink leaves that darken to maroon; and
  • 'Hilo Rainbow,' which has deep-green foliage with pops


A mature, well-trimmed plant should have stems ranging in height from 3 to 4 feet (some stems can go considerably higher) and be completely covered in leaves down to the soil level. Cordylines can get leggy over time, so you may wish to cut individual stems back in a staggered way to maintain the plant full.

Cordyline propagation

Stem cuttings are commonly used to propagate ti. The straightforward procedure is as follows:

  1. Cut mature stems into 3- to 5-inch lengths and remove all leaves.
  2. Place the pieces in a damp sand and perlite mixture and store them in a place with a temperature of at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Shoots emerge from the stems' eyes and can be placed in potting soil once they have four to six leaves each. You can re-pot as needed in the spring or every other spring.

Cordyline Seeds: How to Grow Them

Ti can be cultivated from purchased seeds or gathered seeds from matured berries that you may find on an indoor plant from time to time.

  1. Squeeze the harvested seeds out of the berry and clean them. Clean the seeds and let them air dry for a few days before planting if you find them indoors. If you picked your berries from the wild, they'll need to be stratified for several months before being planted.
  2. When the seeds are ready, put them on sandy compost that drains well. Germination should take four to six weeks but could take up to a month.

Potting and Repotting Cordyline

Cordyline does nicely in pots, especially if you don't live in a tropical climate: You can easily bring them indoors for the winter. When it's time to relocate the plant outdoors during warmer months, make sure the outdoor soil drains effectively and any fear of frost has passed.

The plant doesn't need to be repotted unless it's growing too large for its pot, which can be every few years. Choose a tall container of any material with ample drainage holes for cordyline to accommodate two to three years of root growth.


If you're near the chilly end of cordyline's hardiness zones (9 through 12), you can tie up your plant's leaves using natural twine to keep them safe in cooler months.

Just be sure they're dry before you do so to avoid rot. Outdoor cordyline plants also need to be firmly secured in tough, windy conditions; The long, thin leaves might thrash in the wind and cause the plant to collapse over.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Cordyline is prone to typical pests and difficulties, such as scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs. All of them can be remedied using either neem oil or insecticidal soap. Ti also draws bacterial leaf spots and root rot. You can try to fight both of these problems using fungicide and by making sure the plants aren't sitting in soil that's too damp.

Common Problems with Cordyline

This normally easy-going tropical plant will let you know if it's in difficulty by the state of its leaves. Here's how to remedy a leaf issue.

Browning Tips

This is a typical problem with many houseplants, including indoor-grown cordyline. The plant may be experiencing underwatering, overwatering, too much fertilizer, root rot, or even extremely dry air.

However, another issue could be the salts and fluoride in the tap water used to hydrate the plant. Cordyline is sensitive to fluoride, which is found in many home water systems. Flush the plant, or before watering, let the water in an open container overnight to decrease chlorine and salts. You can also switch to distilled or bottled water, or harvest rainwater for plants.

  • Leaves Turning Yellow

A second typical concern with houseplants like cordyline is the yellowing of leaves. Most plants naturally lose older yellow leaves. But, if your cordyline's leaves are turning yellow, it may also imply it has a hydration issue or it's getting too much sunlight.

It needs indirect bright light rather than harsh rays straight on the leaves. Yellow leaves could also signal your plant is in a region where there are frequent temperature variations. Check for draughts. Allow the leaves to drop and watch how the plant fares in another area.

If you find that the lower leaves are becoming yellow, that usually signifies there's root rot. Check for soggy or charred roots. Unfortunately, you may not be able to salvage a cordyline plant with root rot.

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Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website, and senior writer of New York Garden; graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.