I planted my first Cordyline australis 14 years ago and since then, I have propagated several new cordyline plants that have thrived.
The Cordyline australis is a native plant of New Zealand. Characterized by their stout trunk and meter-long sword-like leaves, these plants have become prevalent throughout Europe, mainly because of their subtropical appearance but hardiness to cold weather.
Also known as a cabbage palm or cabbage tree, these trees can grow as tall as 20 meters in the right environment. However, it needs plenty of water and sunshine to thrive.
Back in 2006, we planted a pair of cordylines standing at 6 feet tall. These trees are now standing over 20 feet tall and have supplied us with many bonus plants over the years. It's definitely the plant that keeps on giving!
The Many Beauties and Uses of Cordylines
- In New Zealand, the cordyline tree leaves are put to many uses, including house construction, rope making, basket weaving, and other textile projects.
- It produces a one-meter-long flower that will fill your garden with the scent of jasmine in Spring. It can take up to 6–10 years before the first flower spikes are produced, but if the conditions are right, it could be as early as three years for the cordyline to reveal its spectacular display of flowers. It is well worth the wait!
- The flowerheads attract insects and bees, turning the plant into a hive of activity as they all compete for the tiny white flowers' sweet nectar! The flower spikes last for a month or longer before the flowers die back, leaving purple seeds that the birds love to eat.
- They are extremely durable in winter conditions. We have had some winter nights where the temperatures have plummeted down to -12°F. Yet all our cordyline plants have been completely unaffected, even with a dusting of snow.
- Throughout the year, cordylines remain splendid to look at and, even in the depths of winter, they give you a glimpse of the summer to come.
- One of the delights of planting cordylines is how easy it is to generate new plants from your initial purchase.
How to Propagate Cordyline Australis
As your cordyline plants gain height and start to thrive in your garden, you will see young, new stems growing from the base of the plant or existing branches. It's these new stems that I utilize to create new plants.
- With a sharp knife, cut the new stem from the mother plant at the base of the new stem. With the new stems on existing branches, I tend to remove as soon as I see them. But every now and then, a new stem will grow from the base of the mother plant. I would recommend allowing that stem to grow for a year before separating it from the mother plant. The hope is that the new stem will have its own root system in place and will be very easy to transplant once cut from the mother plant.
- Dip the base of the cut stem in rooting powder and plant in either a large container or directly back in your garden. The most important part of planting the new stem is to place it in a location where it will not be knocked by anyone walking by—all the new plants that were lost in the past were the ones that had been knocked over by children playing in the garden. I now plant my new cordyline plants in a quiet corner of the garden and allow them a year or two to grow and develop a strong root system before moving them to my preferred location.
- Water your new cordyline plants regularly, and do not allow them to dry out.
How to Care for Cordyline Plants
Growing and caring for your cordylines is very easy. We have just two jobs to do each year with ours. As long as they have plenty of sunshine and you water them frequently, they will thrive! Both steps are simply cosmetic because the plants are extremely self-sufficient.
Remove the brown leaves from the plant, which is a simple process of pulling them away from the tree. Don't worry if you cannot reach the highest leaves, because, in high winds, all the brown leaves will eventually blow down.
Remove the dead flower spikes after flowering has finished.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.