Cordylines

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In recent years an exciting new range of cordylines has become available. They are hybrids of the tropical Cordyline fruticosa (also known and sold as C. terminalis). They come in a wide range of fabulous leaf colours, including bronze, purple and even pink. In Hawaii this cordyline is known as the good luck plant, or Ti, and is used to make the traditional ‘grass’ skirts worn by hula dancers.

Varieties

Don visited Palm Fascinations, a wholesale nursery in Nambour, Queensland. They grow over 100 different tropical cordylines, including tall, strong coloured varieties such as ‘Schubertii’ (green with red stripe through the centre of each leaf) and ‘Negra’ (striking, almost black leaves). There are also varieties with small leaves and dense, compact growth such as ‘Cameroon’ (chocolate coloured leaves), ‘Maui Silva’ (light green mini leaves) and ‘Miss Hawaii’ (elongated pink leaf).

Growing cordylines

Cordylines add a permanent spark of colour to the garden, and mix beautifully with green foliage plants such as palms and cycads. Although they will survive in quite low light, they need a brightly-lit position for best foliage colour. They are surprisingly hardy, and grow best in Sydney, Perth and areas north. However, they’re are also worth a try in frost-free areas of Melbourne in a warm, sheltered position.

Propagation

Don showed how to propagate cordylines from stem cuttings, also known as ‘logs’. This is a useful technique if your plants become too tall. It can be done from late October through to about February.

1. Use a sharp pair of secateurs to cut the main stem off around 50mm (2″) from the base. Leave the stump in the soil, as it will reshoot and form a new plant.

2. Cut the stem into sections about 70mm (3″) long. As you go, shave a sliver of bark off the base of each cutting so you’ll know which is the right way up – if you plant the cuttings upside down they won’t grow.

3. Plant the sections in propagation mix or even potting mix. They will soon strike, and when large enough can be planted out in the garden.

4. The top part of the plant with the leaves can just be pushed back into the soil. It should grow if you plant it in a sunny position, keep the water up to it and perhaps reduce the size and number of leaves.

Cost and availability

Cordyline fruticosa Hybrids (also known and sold as C. terminalis) cost about $10-$20 for 200mm (8″) pots. They are readily available in Queensland. In other areas try your local nursery (they may have to order them in for you), or the nurseries listed below.

Further information

Our segment was filmed at:
Palm Fascinations (Wholesale)
311 Petrie Creek Road
Nambour, QLD 4560
Phone: (07) 5441 5221

The garden at Palm Fascinations will be open to the public in February 2003 with Australia’s Open Garden Scheme. For details phone 1902 21 026 closer to the time.

The song featured in the segment was ‘Lady Next Door’, written and performed by Rebekah Brown. Her band is called ‘Fluffystumps’ and they are currently touring Australia. Tour dates:

April 24: New England Hotel, Armidale, NSW
April 25: The Alley, Paddington, Brisbane
April 26: The Rotunda, Valley Mall, Brisbane
April 27: The Friendly Railway Hotel, Byron Bay, NSW
May 2: Up Front club, Maleny, Qld
May 3: Noosa Blue Resort, Noosa Heads, Qld
May 5: Nimbin Hotel, Nimbin, NSW
May 6: Save the Planet Concert, Pink Palace, Brisbane
May 22: Grass Roots Night, Excelsior Hotel, Surry Hills, NSW

For more information on the Fluffystumps tour, email: fluffystumps@start.com.au