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How to grow Cordylines

Cordylines are striking ornamental plants that add a touch of tropical elegance to gardens across the UK. With their vibrant foliage and architectural presence, cordylines have become increasingly popular among garden enthusiasts. While they might evoke images of tropical paradises, these plants can thrive in the UK climate with proper care and attention. This guide will walk you through the steps to successfully grow and care for cordylines in the UK.

Choosing the Right Variety

Cordylines come in various species and cultivars, each with unique leaf colours, sizes, and growth habits. Some popular choices for UK gardens include Cordyline australis (the common cabbage tree), Cordyline ‘Red Star,’ Cordyline ‘Pink Passion,’ and Cordyline ‘Electric Pink.’ Consider the mature size of the plant and the colour scheme of your garden when selecting a variety.


  1. Location: Cordylines thrive in well-draining soil and prefer a sunny or partially shaded location. Planting them in a spot that receives morning sunlight and afternoon shade is often ideal in the UK climate.
  2. Soil: They prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil. Consider amending your soil with compost to improve drainage if it is heavy or poorly drained.
  3. Container Growing: Cordylines can also be grown in containers, a great option with limited garden space. Ensure the container has drainage holes and use a good-quality potting mix.

Planting Process:

  1. Dig a hole that is about twice the size of the root ball.
  2. Place the cordyline in the opening and refill with soil, delicately packing it down as you go to eliminate air pockets.
  3. Water completely in the wake of planting to settle the dirt around the roots.


Cordylines prefer consistently moist soil but do not tolerate waterlogged conditions. During the growing season (spring through early autumn), water regularly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Reduce watering in the winter when the plant is dormant.


Fertilise cordylines with a balanced, slow-release fertiliser in the spring and early summer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates. Avoid over-fertilising, as this can lead to weak growth and excessive foliage at the expense of vibrant colours.


Regular pruning helps maintain the Cordyline’s shape and encourages healthy growth. Remove any dead or discoloured leaves by cutting them back to the stem. If you wish to control the plant’s height, you can trim the top growth, but be cautious not to remove too much foliage at once.

Protection from Cold:

While cordylines can tolerate cool temperatures, they are not fully hardy in all parts of the UK. In colder regions, it’s advisable to protect them from frost. You can wrap the plant in horticultural fleece or straw and cover the base with a layer of mulch to insulate the roots.

Pest and Disease Management:

Cordylines are generally resistant to pests and diseases but occasionally face issues such as aphids, mealybugs, and leaf spots. Regularly inspect your plants and treat any problems promptly. A strong jet of water can help dislodge aphids, and using neem oil or insecticidal soap can control infestations.


Cordylines can be propagated through stem cuttings or by removing offsets (small plants that grow at the base of mature plants). Plant the cuttings or offsets in well-draining soil and keep them warm and humid until they establish roots.


In conclusion, cordylines are stunning additions to UK gardens, offering exotic beauty and lush foliage. By selecting the right variety and providing proper care in terms of watering, feeding, and protection from the cold, you can enjoy these captivating plants in your garden for years to come. With their vibrant colours and unique forms, cordylines will make a bold statement in any outdoor space.

Updated on September 8, 2023

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