To the genus Cordyline australis or Cordilinea belong about twenty species of shrubs or small evergreen trees, spread in Asia, Australia and South America, as well as several cultivars. These plants, utilized only in apartment in Europe, develop an erect short stem, from which depart some ramifications, turned upwards; at the apex of the branches develops a wide tuft, formed by long leaves, often of papyrus consistency.
The leaves of cordilinea can be of various colours, from the dark green, to the pale green, often variegated; there are also varieties with pink or purple-brown leaves. In the wild, the adult specimens produce small spikes of flowers of whitish or light blue colour; the specimens cultivated in pot hardly bloom and, usually, they maintain of rather contained dimensions, less than one metre of height, whilst, in the wild, the cordylines can reach the two-three metres, depending on the species.
The most common species are Cordyline australis, with thin, arched leaves; C. terminalis, with wide, slightly leathery, leaves.
The Cordyline australis plants don’t like cold weather, and usually prefer winter temperatures above 10-15°C, even if in fact they could bear slightly lower temperatures for short periods.
They are grown in an apartment, choosing a luminous position; in fact, the plants of cordilinea develop without any problems in places not too bright, but the colour of the leaves tends to become dull, not very lively, with the protraction of the lack of light; this inconvenience is particularly found with those varieties with pink or purple variegation. During the summer months, the cordilines can be placed outside, in a bright place, but sheltered from direct sunlight.
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From March to October, water the cords regularly, letting the soil dry between one watering and the other; during the cold months, water only sporadically, but taking care to vaporize the canopy with demineralized water, every 6-10 days, to increase the humidity environment. During the growing season, provide fertiliser for green plants every 20-35 days.
Cultivate the cords in a good, rich and well-drained soil; a suitable substrate can be prepared using balanced soil, mixed with little river sand and little perlite or lapillus. Usually, they do not develop a conspicuous rooting apparatus, and they repot every 3-4 years.
The basal suckers are removed in March or April and are potted in containers of about 10 cm. They are cultivated in a protected environment, taking care that the temperature is about 10°C, and after one year they are repotted and planted in the open air.
As cuttings you can use the stems of old plants cut into portions of about 8 cm that are potted vertically in a compound of peat and sand in equal parts. When the tips of the shoots begin to appear, the cuttings are potted into about 8 cm containers.
Multiplication can also take place by sowing in April in containers with a seeding compound. When the seedlings are large enough, they are repotted in containers of about 6 cm.
Cordilinea – Cordyline australis: Pests and Diseases
They can suffer the accesses of watering, or the lack of drainage, developing radical rottenness; sometimes they are attacked by aphids or by the cochineal.