Ask a Question forum→Struggling Indoor Hawaiian Ti Plant (Cordyline minalis)

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Name: Anya
Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
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Achantal
Dec 29, 2019 7:30 PM CST
I rescued, or thought I rescued, a struggling Ti plant bound for the garbage, and I'm ashamed to say it's not doing better under my care.

As you can see, the edges of all of the leaves are brown and crisp, even the newer leaf. I have been watering it with filtered water when the top of the soil is dry, planted it in soil without Perlite, and have it in bright-ish indirect sunlight. I'm worried this light isn't enough, but the only other option is bright direct light from a southern exposure, which is very strong. Too strong, I fear--in fact, I think it had it in bright direct light at first and burned one of the leaves. I fertilize it about once a month. I don't mist it, but can start. Do you think that would make enough of a difference? The air in my apartment is dry, at least in the winter.

Any suggestions? I really want to make this plant happy! Is it too late? Thank you so much.















Thumb of 2019-12-30/Achantal/b36cb6

[Last edited by Achantal - Dec 29, 2019 7:37 PM (+)]
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Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 29, 2019 8:10 PM CST
It may be too dry inside for your Ti. They thrive in hot humid conditions.
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Name: Tara
NE. FL. (Zone 9a)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Organic Gardener Garden Sages Birds Frogs and Toads Dragonflies
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terrafirma
Dec 29, 2019 8:15 PM CST
And I would also add...do not fertilize! It's stressed, and "feeding" a stressed plant is a no-no. If you have potted it in a commercial mix, it already has "food" in it.
Misting won't really help, but you might consider sitting it on a pebble tray. A bit of water amongst the pebbles to help with humidity.
It may just need time to acclimate.
[Last edited by terrafirma - Dec 29, 2019 8:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 29, 2019 8:19 PM CST
Also, I just have to say, the light you give it in your house/apartment cannot be 'too much'. Mine grow outdoors in about half day full sun in Florida. For the best color they need very very high light. Just be very careful to watch this plant for pests indoors....they are very prone to mealy bug in the cooler months if they are grown indoors or in a greenhouse. That is why I now grow mine outside...in the greenhouse I was constantly battling mealies in the fall and winter. Outdoors, predators take care of them.
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Name: Anya
Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
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Achantal
Dec 29, 2019 9:17 PM CST
Thank you so much, Gina! This is really helpful.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Dec 30, 2019 3:25 PM CST
It looks like your Ti Plant has been previously grown in bright indirect light. If so, you could keep it in direct sun, but it would cause the older leaves to discolor while the new ones adapt. Otherwise, the brightest possible indirect sunlight is best for it.

The older leaves are still responding to the care or lack thereof that it received prior to your rescue. You may lose them regardless.

Low humidity is not a problem as long as it is watered properly. Judging from the size of the pot it will probably need water whenever the top half-inch or so of soil feels dry. Tap water is fine. Stop fertilizing altogether.

Be patient and focus on the health of the new growth as the best evidence of your care.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 30, 2019 3:29 PM CST
I disagree about the humidity (of course you know that Will). This is also the time of the year that the Ti here drop their bottom leaves. These plants don;t keep all their leaves....they drop them soon a regular basis to form a trunk.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Dec 30, 2019 3:52 PM CST
Gina - I understand what its native habitat is like and I understand how they are grown in greenhouse environments. However, most of us don't have the luxury of a greenhouse and have to deal with very low humidity in northern climates.

It turns out that Ti Plants and many other plants commonly used indoors do just fine in low humidity as long as they are watered properly. That is based on a lot of experience caring for plants in locations where increasing winter humidity is simply not an option.

I certainly don't think that increased humidity is a bad idea, but it is often not the solution for many indoor plant problems as is commonly believed.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 30, 2019 4:01 PM CST
I don;t grow mine in a greenhouse either, Will. They are yard plants here and commonly planted in the landscape. And yes, humidity is a necessary component of their environment. In winter when it goes down naturally here they can get scraggly from lack of it
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Dec 30, 2019 4:09 PM CST
I don't dispute your experience growing plants outdoors in a warm climate or in a greenhouse, Gina. I hope you understand that your experience may not always apply to plants grown indoors year-round is less hospitable environment.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 30, 2019 5:12 PM CST
I really don't understand your attitude toward humidity in general. It is true that my plants here in this place are lucky to benefit most of the year from high natural humidity. I don't have a greenhouse to alter the humidity. I have a greenhouse to alter the temperature.

If I happened to live in a more arid state like the western portion of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or other places where the natural humidity is very low, in some cases single digit, or where you live in the North where the humidity may be higher in some periods of the year but low in winter, and wanted to grow the same plants outdoors, it would probably be almost impossible. Even with 'proper watering'. And if I had 'the luxury' of a greenhouse in those areas, I would still have to address the humidity issue, by doing something like using a commercial fogger, a swamp cooler, or a misting system.

I have friends in Florida more South than me (= slightly warmer) that build shade houses with the ability to alter the humidity in winter to increase it because that is preferable to taking plants into the house where it is too dry for them. Those that cannot do that build small indoor greenhouse areas with poly covered tents to provide the necessary humidity to their plants and stack them onto wire shelving. Its not an unknown idea out here in the wide world that tropical plants really do require and benefit from higher humidity in an indoor environment. Even if all the other factors are perfect.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Dec 30, 2019 6:49 PM CST
Shall I stir the pot a bit? I've grown these successfully in my dry portion of Texas. For a few years I had one I overwintered - which neither I nor the plant enjoyed. Yet it lived. It was tall and not doing well so I replaced it. Now I'm sure what I consider success isn't the full expression of what the plants can do under ideal conditions. There are plants that do require more ideal environments, but I don't find this plant is one of them. It certainly would benefit from such an environment, but it didn't require one. My habits can be haphazard too often, so there were also times when it surely could have benefited from having water on a more regular basis. Here's a photo of how it looked under my less than ideal conditions and care. It's incidental to the photo because the object was the little barrel cactus.
Thumb of 2019-12-31/needrain/912ebf
This grew in mostly all day sun with only some protection from the edge of the canopy of an oak tree during the noon hours. The container is a heavy ceramic piece with no hand holds. It's very slick. The weight is required for a plant with this high a profile due to the winds here. Even heavy clay pots can topple over if the profile grows too tall and wide. My biggest problem growing these are they are a favorite food for Differential grasshoppers, which damage a lot of plants here. I left this one out this winter because of an injured back and the grasshoppers and a lack of room and light to overwinter all the plants. But I may still grow it again as an annual plant in spite of the grasshoppers and wind because of the variety it brings.

I believe you both are correct on what is ideal for the plant, but I also find this plant able to manage better than you are giving it credit for. Hopefully, most folks don't have all the issues I have. In that case they should have considerable success growing it.
Donald
Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Region: Pennsylvania Growing under artificial light Foliage Fan Bookworm Annuals
Roses Hostas Xeriscape Daylilies Aroids Region: Mid-Atlantic
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csandt
Dec 30, 2019 8:09 PM CST
Three winters ago I fell in love with fruticosa Pink Pepper, which I saw in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens:


I wanted to grow it as a houseplant in a southeast-facing window of my home and asked the horticultural experts at Longwood if it could be grown that way here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (zone 6) where I live. I was told that it would not do well under my conditions as a houseplant, but would thrive outdoors in the ground as an annual during the warm months. An excellent local garden center, Stauffer's of Kissell Hill, concurred.

But I was smitten and decided to try growing it as a houseplant, in spite of the expert wisdom I was given. Sadly, my Cordyline plant was miserable indoors and eventually died. Since then I have planted Cordyline (not fruticosa Pink Pepper, which is too expensive, but australis Red Star) outdoors as an annual as advised, and it has done very well.

I hope, unlike me, you can save your Cordyline and help it to fluorish indoors. Smiling

Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Dec 30, 2019 8:26 PM CST
Pink Pepper is a nice one. I hate to say this but Ti are really common in FL as landscaping plants, but only a certain few that are routinely sold in the box stores. Like 3-4 standard ones. To get anything nicer you have to go specialty. The ones that are common sell for maybe $8-10 in a 2-3 gallon. But you can pay as much as you are willing to let go of for some of the really cool varieties. Mine are all years and years old, I have a huge Midnight, a Willi's Gold and a Peter Buck. I had a bunch more at one time but I gave some away and sold some off years ago in order to collect different stuff. I love my Midnight, it gets darker and darker the more light it gets. Its out by one of the greenhouse doors with the Willi's Gold.
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Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Region: Pennsylvania Growing under artificial light Foliage Fan Bookworm Annuals
Roses Hostas Xeriscape Daylilies Aroids Region: Mid-Atlantic
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csandt
Dec 30, 2019 8:38 PM CST
Gina1960 said:Pink Pepper is a nice one. I hate to say this but Ti are really common in FL as landscaping plants, but only a certain few that are routinely sold in the box stores. Like 3-4 standard ones. To get anything nicer you have to go specialty. The ones that are common sell for maybe $8-10 in a 2-3 gallon. But you can pay as much as you are willing to let go of for some of the really cool varieties. Mine are all years and years old, I have a huge Midnight, a Willi's Gold and a Peter Buck. I had a bunch more at one time but I gave some away and sold some off years ago in order to collect different stuff. I love my Midnight, it gets darker and darker the more light it gets. Its out by one of the greenhouse doors with the Willi's Gold.


Naturally, I am GREEN WITH ENVY, as you might expect!!! Smiling
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
Image
Gina1960
Dec 31, 2019 7:15 AM CST
You should not be @csandt. There are a ton of very beautiful flowering plants that will grow like demons in PA and more north of the Southern tier that we cannot ever hope to grow here. I have a friend who lives in PA, she is a plant friend of 25 years at least...her property is simply a dream in the growing season. All this stuff I have never even seen and do not know what it is, both flowering and foliage. All I know is out heat zone is way too high for it so it is never sold here. I wanted desperately to grow HOSTAS 15 or so years ago, I could just see beds of many gorgeous varieties...I bought some mail order and made trades for others and guess what? It was way too hot here in summer and they all just melted.

People always want what they cannot have, or cannot EASILY have. People who live outside the warmer climates want tropical plants, people who live in the oppressive heat and humidity of the Spring-Summer-Fall and even some days in winter that is Florida would be tickled pink to be able to grow cooler growing plants. It was 81 degrees here on Monday, almost that high yesterday...the humidity was so high it was condensing on the windows and sidewalks. The low Monday night was 67. We have a cool front for 2 days, then the warm weather comes back for 2 days, then another cool front. We have yet to freeze, we had a light frost a couple weeks ago but that's it. 20's are always a possibility, but it all depends on if a cold front with enough oomph makes it here or not. For the last 3 winters, none have. We have 90's as daytime highs sometimes in February in this part of FL, because we are 50 miles inland from each coast and get no sea breeze. South Florida is actually cooler than we are here in the warm months, but they stay warmer than we do in the cooler months. Its a trade off. If you looked at red Ti plants, Strelitzia, bananas, palms, gingers and crotons growing in just about every condo complex and apartment house in town, and Hibiscus varieties and Thaumatophyllum selloum (tree philodendron) in practically every yard in town, you would become blind to it. It wouldn't be new to you anymore. I greatly admire people who make little tropical plant havens inside their homes. But its not done by accident. It takes nurture and paying attention to the needs of each individual plant. Watering practices can differ from plant to plant even within the same Genus (Alocasia come to mind). Humidity needs can also vary greatly. And so can light needs. The people who are most successful realize that there is no blanket policy that can be applied to every plant. Which is why people in the aroid community especially have thrown out the 'water the the top inch or so of the medium feels dry' axiom. And started addressing the planting substrate, not the amount or frequency of water.
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Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Region: Pennsylvania Growing under artificial light Foliage Fan Bookworm Annuals
Roses Hostas Xeriscape Daylilies Aroids Region: Mid-Atlantic
Image
csandt
Dec 31, 2019 7:31 AM CST
Gina,

How right you are about so many things! I would have a very hard time surviving in all the heat and humidity you live with most of the time. It would be too hard for me to do any gardening. I would certainly miss hostas. Can you grow rhododendrons? I have seen many photos of them growing near streams in places that look like a tropical paradise.

After killing countless tropical beauties while trying to grow them indoors, I have finally decided to resist most of them and have turned to low-light plants pothos and seven cultivars of Chinese evergreen, both of which are very happy here so far. Smiling
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Image
needrain
Dec 31, 2019 7:45 AM CST
@Gina1960
"..there is no blanket policy that can be applied to every plant."

This is true, I think, for nearly all plants. There some plants whose requirements are so specific that asking them to adapt very much is a losing game. Episcias come to mind; okra requires heat to grow well; Perennial Papavers like cool nights in the summer; and I wonder why Delospermas don't seem to adapt well to Texas growing conditions. Some plants, on the other hand, are just tough growers and given the right conditions can be hard to eradicate when they are no longer welcome. Many plants remind me of my current waistline. There's a lot of fluctuation. Cold and heat tolerances along with light and moisture requirements are basic starting places, but they aren't fixed.
Donald
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
Image
Gina1960
Dec 31, 2019 1:21 PM CST
@csandt, we have Azaleas here. They are a mainstay of almost every yard. I actually do not like the ones we have and have been slowly removing them from my property. But the Rhododendrons that grow farther north are spectacular. The only once I plan to keep are the ones they call the 'little native ones' that are actually dwarf. They bloom in Salmon and Deep Rose, mine are in bloom now. The others are not supposed to bloom until late March or early April, but every year for the last 10 years they have been blooming more and more early. They bloom in dark pink, very light pink and white. Mine are also starting to bloom, a couple month too early!

@needrain, I love Episcias! I have some in a couple of my current terrariums and they have been in bloom now for over a month! There is a lady locally who raises them and sells small starts to one of the local mom and pop nurseries.

These 2 are my outdoor Ti's, the larger one I got in the late 1990's. It has been pruned several times, I used it as a stock plant when I had my mail order tropical plant nursery. I also put a start in the greenhouse next to a big Anthurium faustomirandae (Faustino's Giant) in a rock and bromeliad planting. That is the only Ti I still keep in the GH. Its going kind of wild again in this photo...I could probably lop that topmost stem off and start another plant
Thumb of 2019-12-31/Gina1960/b6d68a

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Name: Anya
Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
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Achantal
Dec 31, 2019 2:33 PM CST
This is so thoughtful and helpful. Thank you!

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