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Cordyline

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  • Indoor Plants
Cordyline stricta
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Cordyline terminalis is a species native to moist tropical forests in Southeast Asia, Australia and Hawaii. It can grow several metres tall in its natural habitat. As a houseplant, it is a small single-trunked shrub that rarely grows to more than 1 metre. It is a slow grower and does not flower indoors. The cultivars have highly colourful lance-shaped leaves often splashed with red or pink.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Cordyline terminalis 'Atom' has fully orange-pink leaves. Cordyline terminalis 'Amabilis' has bronze-green leaves spotted with white and pink. Cordyline terminalis 'Baptistii' is a cultivar with dark green leaves streaked with pink and yellow. Cordyline terminalis 'Kiwi' has large leaves splashed with yellow and green and edged with maroon. Cordyline terminalis 'Red Edge' has small red-edged green leaves. Cordyline stricta (syn. Cordyline congesta) has narrow dull green leaves.

Toxicity

As a precaution, keep this plant out of the reach of children and pets.

Common name

Cordyline / Good luck plant

Latin name (genus)

Cordyline terminalis

French common name

Botanical family

  • Agavaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

To keep the leaves colourful, this plant needs bright indirect sunlight. It is best to place it near a west- or south-facing window, but protected from direct sunlight. It requires warm temperatures and high humidity. This plant prefers temperatures between 18 and 24ºC, but never below 15ºC. It tolerates warmer temperatures provided it has high humidity. Protect it from cold drafts.

Easy to grow?

This plant is fairly difficult to grow because it requires fairly high humidity and bright light in order to keep it colourful.

Watering and fertilizer

Water sufficiently to moisten the soil mixture, without soaking it. Avoid extremes (overly wet or dry soil mixture). Allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings. Cut back on watering when temperatures are cooler, especially in winter. Fertilize three or four times during the growing period with indoor plant food or all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20.

Pruning and maintenance

Remove brown leaf tips. Cut back leggy plants to encourage bushier growth. Clean dusty leaves under a tepid shower or with a damp sponge.

Repotting

Repot every two or three years in a well-drained peat-based potting mix. For larger plants that are harder to handle, you can simply add potting soil, being careful not to damage the roots near the surface.

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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