How to grow cordyline: Top tips for a healthy plant

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Whether you live in a city or by the coast, the cordyline is a striking choice for your garden beds, borders or pots. Although these subtropical plants prefer sunny, warmer climates, they can flourish in your British garden when they are well-cared for – and with these top tips you can be sure that your cordyline will flourish into a bold-leaved evergreen.


Officially known as the cordyline australis, this plant is renowned for its exotic, palm-like appearance and varying shades of foliage.

The cordyline can flourish with green, bronze and purple leaves and is a versatile plant that does well in the garden, conservatory and around the house as a large-leaf display.

How to grow a cordyline

If you’re adding a cordyline to your house plant collection, plant in full sun to light shade for best growth.

The same goes for outdoor-grown cordylines, which should also be planted in full sun with light shade, and are best suited to fertile and well-drained soil.

Coloured-leaf varieties of the cordyline should be in semi-shaded areas to avoid too much exposure to strong sunshine.

Growing from seed

Cordylines can be propagated from seeds, cuttings or suckers – which are growths that appear from the root system and should be taken between April to June.

Hardwood stem cuttings are also ideal for propagating cordylines.

It is a lengthy process, taking around three to five years for the plant to grow to a decent size.

You can take sections out from healthy stems, about 10cm long and is easily done with a sharp knife for a clean slice before laying them wound side down in free-draining compost, water and keep in bright shade.

Container grown

Container grown cordylines should be watered freely throughout the growing season but more sparingly in winter – they do well with liquid fertilisers, used monthly from spring to late summer.

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Protect container grown plants by moving them to a frost-free area like a greenhouse, shed or conservatory during particularly cold or wet bouts of weather.

Seed and ground rooted cordylines

Growing from seed is easily done by scattering seeds in fertile soil – it is important to make sure the soil is not too wet for best chances of germination.

RP Seeds warns that germination can be very erratic, so sow thinly and prick out the seedlings as they become large enough to handle disturbing the rest of the compost as little as possible.

Sow very thinly in trays or pots of a moist seed compost and allow to grow for a few months before transferring to flower beds outdoors.

Plant cordylines in flower beds or borders to fill-out soiled patches with their tender shrubs and bold leaves – simply dig and plant then water well for a well-rooted plant.

When to plant a cordyline

Despite their tropical origins these evergreens are surprisingly hardy – though they grow best when they are established before the first frost.

The Royal Horticultural Society recommends planting cordylines out in spring to let the plant get established before the onset of winter.

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