The Q&A Archives: Cordyline Terminalis Care

Question: I just purchased this plant and the nursery person told me to plant it in a bigger pot so it would grow and look brighter. My mom got different advice, that the roots were small and it didn't need more room. How do I best care for this plant and when should it be repotted? I bought a bigger pot, some soil and some fertilizer per the nursery persons suggestion.

Answer: Most people know the Cordyline as the 'Ti Plant'. These are the plants that are started from logs or stems imported from Hawaii. There is some confusion as to whether the plant is 'Red Dracaena' or a true Cordyline, which is related to the Yucca. Whatever the true name of your plant, it will thrive in average household temperatures (minimum 55F degrees in winter), and bright light, but not direct sunlight. Keep the potting soil moist, except in winter, but don't allow it to dry out completely then, either. You can mist the leaves occasionally to provide the humidity it likes. If your newly acquired plant looks out of proportion to the pot size, you can repot it. Generally, though, it only needs repotting every 2-3 years. If you choose to repot, don't fertilize at the same time or the plant might go into shock. I'd put the plant in the location I expect it to grow and let it become accustomed to its new surroundings before making any changes like transplanting or feeding. Once you're sure it's happy in its new home, you can repot it. A general rule of thumb is to fertilize houseplants only when they're actively growing, not to make them grow. And, since the roots are held captive within the pot, fertilize sparingly or you may burn the roots. It's usually best to dilute the fertilizer and use it twice as often than to give it a big dose all at once. With the proper exposure and occasional misting, the color on your Ti plant leaves should improve.

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