Complete Cordyline Genus Guide

1 Apr 2022

The Cordyline genus is a fantastic houseplant if you’re looking for a tropical plant. It adds a pop of color and it’s super eye-catching when well cared for.

If you’re looking for the ultimate care guide full of information that’ll help you grow a thriving houseplant then you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to explain how to look after, maintain, care for, and grow a thriving Cordyline plant. We’ll also touch on how you can revive a dying plant too.

Main Characteristics

This easy-to-care-for houseplant belongs to the same family as the Dracaena genus; the Asparagaceae family. This genus originates in the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia, which means it thrives in a tropical environment.

It sprouts stunning, lush leaves that have a pointy tip. The foliage has a leathery texture and comes in an array of colors such as purple, red, green, creamy-white, pink, and yellow. A few varieties also produce amazing-smelling flowers that are followed by berries.

This evergreen shrub will sprout amazing growth when placed in the right environment. Don’t worry because we’ll explain exactly how to create the perfect conditions for your houseplant.

Fun fact: The word “Cordyline” originates from a Greek word meaning “club”. It gets its name from its large rhizomatous rooting system.


There are numerous different varieties of the Cordyline genus, and each sprouts uniquely colored and shaped foliage. Let’s take a look at the top five different types below.

  • Cordyline australis: It’s also known as the ‘New Zealand cabbage tree’. This hardy houseplant is native to New Zealand and has a palm-like appearance. It grows sword-shaped, green leaves atop thick and woody trunks. It also sprouts white flowers which are followed by white berries.
  • Cordyline fruticosa: This plant is also commonly referred to as ‘Ti plant’, ‘Hawaiin good luck plant’, and ‘Ti’. It has lance-shaped, green and pink leaves that are arranged in a fan-like shape. This species also blooms scented flowers followed by red berries.
  • Cordyline fruticosa ‘maria’: It grows long, greeny-red, lance-shaped leaves that arch over its stem.
  • Cordyline fruticosa ‘glauca’: This houseplant produces a cluster of emerald green and sword-shaped leaves.
  • Cordyline terminalis: It is well-known as the ‘Ti tree’, and it sprouts elongated and broad leaves in an array of different colors.

Fun fact: The Cordyline genus is made up of 15 different species of plants.

How Big Does It Grow?

A mature Cordyline houseplant will reach a mature height and width of around 2 to 4 feet (61 – 122cm). The mature size of your plant will vary depending on the species and the care it receives.

How Fast Does It Grow?

This plant has a fairly slow growth rate and will grow an extra 3 feet (91cm) over the course of five years. Typically, you can expect it to sprout 5 to 10 inches (12 – 25cm) per year.

How Long Does It Live?

The Cordyline genus has a pretty long lifespan and will grow in your home for decades to come. The average houseplant will live for around 50 years.

Fun fact: An outdoor Cordyline has an extraordinarily long lifespan as they survive for several hundred years.

Is It Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

The Cordyline genus is toxic to both cats and dogs. The saponins and small amount of calcium oxalate raphides found in the plant’s leaves, stem, and roots can cause numerous side effects when ingested. If your pet eats any part of this plant then it may become quite ill.

Check out the list of potential symptoms that your cat or dog may experience:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heart palpitations

It’s imperative that you contact your local vet as soon as you suspect that either of your pets has consumed part of the plant.

Fun fact: Although the Cordyline houseplant may be toxic to your pets, it is beneficial to your health. This plant filters harmful chemicals from the air you breathe such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

Cordyline Care

So, we’ve covered the key characteristics of this houseplant, and now it’s time to delve into the exciting part. We’ll be explaining exactly how to care for a lush Cordyline houseplant.

How Often to Water It

This genus thrives in moist potting soil, however, it shouldn’t be soggy. This means that you’ll need to evenly water it once every 1 to 2 weeks during the spring and summertime. As it gets cooler in winter and autumn then you can water the plant once every 2 to 3 weeks.

The best way to determine whether your plant needs a drink is by feeling the soil. When the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) are dry then you can water it. You’ll also want to use lukewarm water to avoid shocking the plant.

Top tip: The Cordyline genus is sensitive to the fluoride found in tap water, so you’ll want to make use of distilled water.


A lack of drainage will cause the houseplant to wither away and develop root rot. It’s important that you grow it in a well-draining potting mixture. You can enhance the soil’s drainage by adding some perlite to your potting mix.

Additionally, you can ensure that all of the excess moisture drains out by using a container with 3 to 5 drainage holes. This way your plant won’t become waterlogged.

When and How to Prune It

Regular pruning is a great way to maintain a healthy and lush houseplant. It’s a good idea to remove any dead, unhealthy, and leggy growth.

Just like the hens and chicks houseplant, you should trim your Cordyline during the springtime.

Follow the steps listed below to successfully prune your plant:

  1. Wipe down a pair of pruners with a diluted bleach solution. This step is important as it prevents the spread of harmful bacteria.
  2. Start by cutting off the lower level leaves by slicing them off just below the leaf node.
  3. Slice off any diseased stems at the base of the mother plant.
  4. Water your houseplant if needed and place it back under bright light.

When and How to Repot It

You should plan on transplanting your Cordyline once every 2 to 3 years during spring, just like the canna lily. Additionally, it should be repotted when the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.

The new container only needs to be a few inches bigger as the houseplant doesn’t require much room.

Check out the steps listed here:

  1. Water the plant a day before you repot it.
  2. Lift the plant out of its pot and brush away the soil around the roots.
  3. Get out a new container and fill it one-third of the way with fresh soil.
  4. Plant your Cordyline and cover the roots with extra soil and water it well.
  5. Now you can take your plant back to its original home.

Winter Care

The care you provide your houseplant may need to differ slightly during the wintertime. This extra care is required as the plant isn’t frost-tolerant.

The plant needs to be kept at a temperature around 60°F (16°C). It’ll require less water during the cooler months and it doesn’t need to be fed as the plant isn’t actively growing.

Another way to protect your plant from the frost is by adding a layer of mulch on top of the soil. This will not only provide it with plenty of nutrients but the mulch will also act as a protective layer.

Environment Conditions

Does It Like Full Sun?

The amount of sunlight needed by a Cordyline plant will differ from species to species. Typically, it thrives in full sunshine or indirect light. A green-leaved plant will do well under direct sunlight, whereas colorful foliage only requires filtered sunshine.

If your houseplant receives too much light then it’ll lose its lush appearance. You may need to shelter the plant from the harsh sun rays during the summertime.

During spring and summertime, it should soak under bright light for about 4 to 6 hours per day. In winter and autumn, it’s important that it receives at least 1 hour of direct sun a day.

Best Soil

The best type of soil is one with a pH between 6 and 6.5, and it needs to be rich too. The potting mixture should be able to retain some moisture, however, it needs to be well-draining.

You can use clay, sandy, and even loamy potting mixture. If you’re worried that the soil may not allow for adequate drainage then you can add horticultural grit or vermiculite to the potting mixture.

Top tip: To boost the nutrient density of the soil, you can throw in a handful of compost.

Fertilizer Schedule

The Cordyline genus should be fed once every two weeks during the spring and summertime. This will ensure that your plant produces healthy, vibrant, and lush foliage.

The ideal fertilizer is well-balanced and water-soluble with a ratio of 20-20-20, which is the perfect type for a Schefflera plant too. If you want to avoid over-feeding your plant then you should dilute the fertilizer to half its strength.

Top tip: You can also use a fertilizer with the following ratios too; 10-10-10 or 16-16-16.

Pot Size and Type

The best type of pot is one made from plastic and it needs to have drainage holes too. Plastic will allow excess moisture to drain out and it doesn’t dry out the soil quickly either.

The Cordyline will thrive in a container with a width that is 6 inches (15cm) larger than the rootball.

Temperature Tolerance

The perfect temperature for this houseplant ranges between 60 to 85°F (15.5 – 29°C). It cannot withstand frost, so make sure to keep your plant in a warm location.

Humidity Level

The plant loves tropical conditions, so you’ll need to maintain a humid environment. The ideal relative humidity is between 60 to 75 percent.

You can increase the humidity level surrounding your houseplant by placing a humidifier nearby, misting its foliage, and positioning it on top of a humidity tray.

Outdoors vs. Indoors

The Cordyline can thrive indoors and outdoors. It is easier to grow one indoors as you can control the environment. If you do take your plant outside then make sure that you reside in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 12.

During the summertime the plant must be placed under indirect sunlight, however, in the spring it will need full sunshine. It will still require frequent watering and feeding outdoors too. When temperatures dip below 50°F (10°C), then you will need to bring it inside immediately.


The Cordyline genus rarely blooms when grown as a houseplant. Outdoors you will notice white, pink, red, or purple flowers bloom during the summertime.

These cup-shaped blooms have a sweet smell and are followed by berries too. They usually last for 2 to 3 weeks before dying.

You can encourage your houseplant to produce flowers by creating the ideal environment. It needs ample humidity, moist soil, and it should be fed regularly during its active growing seasons.

How to Grow It

So if you’ve fallen in love with this genus like us, then maybe you’re considering expanding your collection. In this section, we will explore how you can grow your very own houseplant.

Whether you decide to propagate it or plant its seeds, you’ll need to carry out each method during the springtime. Additionally, you will need to clean your tools to prevent spreading bacteria from one plant to another.


This genus can be propagated in soil and water. So, you have a few options to choose from but before you begin, you need to sterilize all of your tools.

Propagating in Soil

A Cordyline can be propagated in soil by either planting a stem cutting or dividing its rootball. The best type of soil to use is one that is quick-draining, rich, and it needs to contain some perlite too.

How to Grow It from Stem Cuttings in Soil

This method requires you to cut off a healthy stem cutting and then plant it in some fresh soil. It’s really that easy!

Take a look at the steps below:

  1. Slice off a stem from a mature plant and make sure that it is at least 4 inches (10cm) long.
  2. Remove all of the leaves attached to the stem by plucking them off.
  3. Fill a small container with moist potting soil and plant the cutting.
  4. Water the stem cutting well and position it under bright sunshine.
  5. In about 4 to 6 weeks, you will start to notice new growth emerge from the stem.
  6. You can transplant the cutting in a bigger pot during the next spring.
Propagation by Division

You can easily divide the rootball by slicing it in half and then you will need to plant these sections in their own containers.

Follow the steps provided below:

  1. Slide the plant out of its container and gently shake off the excess soil surrounding the rootball.
  2. Get out a sharp knife and slice through the rootball. You may need to carefully untangle the roots too.
  3. Apply some rooting hormone to the cut areas and plant the divisions in a pot with moistened soil.
  4. Water the divisions and find a sunny home for them.
  5. In 2 to 4 weeks the plant will produce new growth and can be cared for like a mature plant.

Propagating Stem Cuttings in Water

You can propagate a healthy stem cutting in a glass of water. It is super simple and only requires you to snip off a cutting, place it in water, and then transplant it into soil.

Follow the guide below:

  1. Snip off a cutting that is between 3 to 4 inches (7 – 10cm) long, and remove the leaves attached to the lower half of the stem.
  2. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and place the cutting in a jar of room temperature water.
  3. Place the jar under indirect sunshine and replace the water when it becomes murky.
  4. The cutting will sprout new growth in approximately 4 to 6 weeks.
  5. You can transplant the cutting in soil when its roots are 3 inches (7cm) long.

How to Plant the Seeds

After harvesting the seeds from your plant’s berries, you can plant them and watch a new plant emerge.

Here’s a detailed guide:

  1. Collect the seeds by slicing open a ripened berry. Next, you’ll need to rinse them under some water and place them in a dark room for one week.
  2. Prepare a shallow tray with damp potting soil and scatter the seeds across the surface.
  3. Mist the seeds and place them under indirect sunshine. It’s important to water the seeds lightly every couple of days to maintain a moist environment.
  4. In 4 to 6 weeks the seeds should germinate and you’ll be able to see new growth sprout.

How to Revive a Dying Plant

Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan and your poor houseplant may need to be revived. In this section, we will fill you in on what you’ll need to keep your eye out for as well as how to revive your plant back to health.

Brown Leaves

When the leaves develop brown splotches, the houseplant may be watered improperly, placed in a dry environment, or is exposed to chemicals found in tap water.

You will need to make sure that the plant is watered frequently so that the potting mixture is neither too dry nor soggy. You can feel the top of the soil to determine whether your houseplant needs a drink.

It loves a humid environment and when the air is too dry then your plant will begin to die. You can spritz its leaves with lukewarm water several times a week.

This plant is sensitive to the chemical contained in tap water, so you should opt for filtered water instead.

Yellow Foliage

Yellow foliage is a sign that your houseplant may be over- or underwatered, placed under harsh sunlight, or is left in extreme temperatures.

It’s best to water your plant when the top of the soil is dry. If the potting mixture is too dry then give it a deep watering, however, when the soil is soggy then allow it to dry out before watering it again.

A few species cannot tolerate full sunshine and should be placed under indirect light. This is especially important during the summertime as the houseplant may not be able to withstand such harsh sun rays.

The houseplant cannot survive when temperatures are too low or too high. You will need to find a new home for your plant where the temperature remains within a consistent range.

Brown Tips

The tips of a Cordyline’s leaves will brown when the plant is overfed or positioned in a dry location.

The houseplant should only be fed during its active growing seasons to prevent the build-up of fertilizer salts. You can flush the soil by running a gentle stream of water over it for 15 minutes.

A lack of humidity can be detrimental to this plant. You can increase the humidity levels surrounding the plant by positioning it among other houseplants or placing it close to a humidifier.

Closing Remarks

The Cordyline genus is a great addition to your collection of houseplants as it adds that much-needed tropical feel to your home.

It’s fairly simple to care for as long as you’ve created the optimal environment. Once you have nailed down those basic care requirements then you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, evergreen shrub.

Leave a comment if you have something to share with us

Your email address will not be published.