The Q&A Archives: Cordyline Care

Question: How to care for a young Cordyline tree plant. It only has a few maroon leaves on the plant, which keeps fading brown so I remove the leaves. How do I take care of the leaves and the plant itself. I've seen pictures of different cordylines and just need to know how to care for mine.

Answer: Cordyline australis is also called the Cordyline tree. It is the hardiest of all, surviving to at least 15F. In youth it forms a fountain of narrow leaves; in matureity it grows 20-30' tall with branching high on the trunk in tufts, similar to a Yucca. It grows best in full sun and fastest in soil deep enough for the big, carrotlike roots. Give your plant regular applications of water (deeply soak the soil once each week). Aside from watering, your plant won't need much more care. I'd allow the leaves to wither and turn brown before removing them. Even if they begin to fade from maroon to brown, they're still going through the process of photosynthesis where they convert the sun's energy into food for the roots. If you cut the leaves off prematurely, the roots won't get the carbohydrates they need.

Best wishes with your Cordyline tree!

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