Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plant of the Month – Cordylines

Cordylines add a permanent spark of colour to the garden, and mix beautifully with green foliage plants such as palms and cycads. Although they will survive in quite low light, they need a brightly-lit position for best foliage colour. They are surprisingly hardy and there are several frost-tolerant varieties that grow well in Canberra.

While Cordylines like regular watering for optimum growth, once established they will tolerate dry spells better than most plants. Another great aspect to these plants are all the different colours available. There's everything from black to pink to burgundy to green and yellow. One of our recent favourites at Bliss is the Electric Pink (pictured) - yes it looks just like it sounds!

Cordylines are super easy to propagate as well.  A great solution for when they start getting too tall. Just cut the stem about 5cm from the base. This stump will then produce new shoots and a brand new plant. The cutting you can then divide into 'logs' about 7cm long and plant in propagation mix or even regular potting mix and they will soon strike. Once established they can be moved to garden or pot. The top part of the plant with the leaves can just be pushed back into the soil. It should grow if you plant it in a sunny position, keep the water up to it and perhaps reduce the size and number of leaves.

Unfortunately, cordylines are not just attractive to us though. They're also quite appealing to grasshoppers and snails. If you find you're having problems of the slimy variety give these ideas a try. As far as snails go, it's easy - use traditional control methods like pellets, beer traps or just squishing... (eww!) But for grasshoppers, boil up a cup of hot chillies in a litre of water. When it's cooled, strain the liquid and add a third of a cup of soap flakes. Then spray the plant with this mix. Some like it hot, but grasshoppers don't. 

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