Got cordylines at home? Here’s how to keep them in top shape

One of Richard Nunn's cordylines (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Oh my cordyline!

Cordylines, or Ti plants, are colorful, hardy plants from the tropics and subtropics. Today these plants are grown around the world and are a mainstay for southern landscapes.

Our windy winter and start of spring might have left those in the cold and wind a little leaf tattered. Or maybe they were not pruned last year and are now looking straggly and ragged looking.

No worries, though, as these hearty tropical plants are tough. And with a sharp set of shears, they’ll be a bright spot in your lawn once again.

Remember the queen from Alice in Wonderland? Her words should be your mantra when you grip your sharpened shears. “Off with their heads!” Or at least the tops of the plants.

Want to propagate those cordylines? (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

To keep your cordylines in shape, be ruthless like the queen and chop the tops! How much should you remove? Some gardeners say decapitate them with gusto and they will come back leafier and stronger.

Cordylines look bushier when kept to a low profile. These can also add height to your lawn, but letting them get too tall can leave them looking spindly and straggly. And that’s not a good look for any lawn.

With a set of clean, sharp shears, remove the damaged leaves and the top growth, leaving about 12 to 16 inches of bare stem. The amount of stem is not critical and may depend on what height you wish to maintain your plant. For instance, taller growth at the back of a bed, shorter growth in front.

Now is the time to get this done. Technically, this can be done at any time of the season, but extreme cold or hot temperatures are not recommended for pruning. I use the evidence in front of me: when new shoots and spouts start, the plant is waking up and ready for a new do.

What do you do with the tops? Plant them! Yes, the tops can propagate roots and leaves, so poof, you’ve got a new plant. I use planters for ease of watering, which is important for new growth. I also get help from science by using a root starter. Make sure to keep soil damp, not wet. In 6 to 8 weeks, you should have new growth and enough roots to plant in a new spot.

You can get a little help with propagation from a root starter. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

To encourage new growth when warm weather starts, add some compost or fertilizer around the base of the plant. Water well, but don’t overdo it because cordylines do not like saturated soil for long periods. Like most tropical foliage plants, cordylines benefit most from light watering or regular misting.

To review: sharpen and clean your shears and then off with their heads! Transplant the chopped tops to a planter with damp, soil. Then relax with your beverage of choice and enjoy the colorful new growth.

About the Author:

The Morning Show forecaster, comic foil, culinary expert, home improvement expert and beer connoisseur.