Lynda Heavrin is the manager of landscape and horticulture at Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at


Cordyline australis
by Lynda Heavrin - posted 06/28/13

Photo by Daryl Mitchell

Photo by Lynda Heavrin
Above and left: The color lends itself to mixing with many other colors.

It is a “spike,” but not your grandmother’s spike; this is a spike in Technicolor…on steroids. This spring’s “Hot Plant” is Cordyline australis and it literally takes the heat, or any other weather condition you can throw at it. Drought is not an issue and I did not see one torn leaf when the derecho tore through our area last summer. The newest cultivars are ‘Red Star’ and ‘Red Sensation’ but the ‘Atropurpurea’ and ‘Purpurea’ types have been around for many years. No need to buy multiples of this plant, you only need one to make a bold statement in your garden.

Photo by Lynda Heavrin
Store your plants in the winter for larger containers the next year.

Botanical Name: Cordyline australis

Common Name: Cabbage palm, cabbage tree

Color: Green to pink to burgundy foliage

Type: Tropical; overwinter indoors in a sunny window

Size: Generally grows to 3 feet in Northern gardens.

Light: Full sun, tolerates part shade.

Soil: Good garden soil with lots of organic matter

Watering: Keep moist but don’t overwater.

Fertilizer: If grown in a container, fertilize every couple of weeks; if used as a bedding plant fertilize once a month.

Uses: Best as a container plant but can be used as a bedding filler plant.


From Indiana Gardening Volume III Issue III


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