Ti Plant or Cabbage Tree – Cordyline

Originally from Asia and Australasia, Ti Plant has gained fame as an Hawaiian good luck symbol. It is an interesting and colourful plant which is remarkably easy to grow.

Botanically, Ti Plants are varieties of the species Cordyline terminalis and are closely related to dracaenas.

The most common green-leaved form of Ti Plant is the plant from which the traditional grass skirt for hula dancers is made. This variety is usually sold in the form of ‘Ti logs’, which are 10-15cm (4-6in) long pieces of stem. When placed in water, the logs soon produce roots and, eventually, side shoots.

In the wild, Ti Plant can reach a height of 3m (10ft), but will be much smaller—about 90cnn (3ft) — when the roots are confined in a pot or tub. The plant has an upright habit of growth, bearing long, lance-shaped evergreen leaves in a variety of pretty colour combinations. Mature plants may produce clusters of pinkish-purple aromatic flowers followed by small red berries.Ti Plant or Cabbage Tree - Cordyline

Many cultivated varieties of C. terminalis have red or dark pink leaves. Others vary from deep copper-red to white and creamy yellow with striking wine-red markings. C.t. ‘Tricolor’ has dark green leaves with pink, red and cream markings. ‘Firebrand’ has curving, reddish leaves, and ‘Red-edge’ has bright purplish-red leaves with green markings.

C. australis, the Cabbage Tree or Palm Lily, is also a native of Australasia and can reach tree-like proportions in the wild. As a house plant it needs to be kept cool in winter. It has arching green leaves and clusters of fragrant white flowers, but these are seldom seen in the home. C. stricto makes an attractive foliage plant, with dark green leaves.

Propagation

Propagate Ti Plants from seed or by taking stem or tip cuttings.

Growing from seed

Sow seeds in February or March. Soak seeds overnight in lukewarm water and sow 2cm (3/4in) deep in a mixture of two parts soil-based compost and one part sharp sand. Keep the seeds warm, at 27°C (80°F), ideally in a heated propagator.

Alternatively, put a ventilated polythene bag over the seed tray and keep it warm until germination.

Cuttings

All forms of Ti Plant can be propagated by stem cuttings. Use pieces of stem about 8cm (3in) long. These will grow roots and then side-shoots when kept in water. They will also root in moist compost in about two months.

Keep the cuttings at a constant 21°C (70°F).

Tip cuttings from mature plants can be rooted in water.

Pests And Diseases

Webbing on the undersides of leaves is a sign of red spider mite. Treatment: For minor attacks, hold the plant under running water and rub mites off with your fingers. For severe attacks, spray with an insecticide, repeating the treatment at regular intervals.

D White woolly patches on the stems and leaves are a sign of mealy bugs. Treatment: Remove by dabbing with methylated spirit. Rinse plant with water after treatment to remove spirit.

Silvery spots on the surface of the leaves can indicate thrips.

Treatment: Spray plant with a suitable insecticide and repeat the treatment at 14-day intervals.

PLANT CARE

Ti Plant is very easy to care for. Mist with a hand spray during hot weather, and never let the plant stand in water as this may cause root rot to develop.

Potting: Repot young plants every year in the spring, older ones every two years. Use a soil-based compost, adding one part sharp sand to every three parts compost.

Water moderately throughout the year, and allow the compost to dry out between waterings. Do not leave excess water in the plant saucer.

Feeding: Feed with a liquid fertilizer every four weeks during the growing season. Do not feed during winter.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Ti Plant can tolerate low light levels, but will thrive in good light in an east or west-facing window. Protect from strong sunlight in the summer.
  • Temperature:Will thrive at normal room temperatures or above throughout year, provided the night temperature does not fall below 13°C (55°F).

Buying Tips

  • Ti Plant is available throughout the year at garden centres. Choose from plants, `Ti logs’ or seeds. Spring and summer are good times to buy, as the foliage is at its best.
  • Look for healthy foliage and a well-shaped plant.
  • Choose a strongly variegated specimen with clear colours and avoid plants which have damaged lower leaves.

Ti Plant is a perennial and will thrive for many years with a little care.

The Ti Plant symbolizes good luck in Hawaii, where its dried leaves are used to make the skirts for hula dancers. Many colourful varieties can be grown quite easily in the home.

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