Cordyline Australis Southern Splendour


In the olden days, when we were young rookies, the common Cordyline Australis would be the first plant we would recommend when somebody came into our nurseries looking for a ‘toughie’ to plant in a pot or to use as a focal plant in a garden.

This green ‘Cabbage Tree’, with its crown of strap-like leaves and slender main stem covered in rough bark, proudly withstood drought, flood, frost and bitter winter cold. When cats used it as a scratching pole it didn’t simply repair the damage, instead it produced more leafy heads and side branches from these injuries. (And if there was no cat around, and a specimen was too lazy to branch out on its own, then a foxy gardener could get it to produce the same multi-stemmed effect by inflicting a few injuries with a sharp bread knife).

Many a suburban garden still sports this stalwart, but growers must have decided that it was in need of a serious face-lift because the new Cordyline varieties are multi-coloured and smaller, making them ideal foliage plants for containers and small gardens. Amongst these, you will find our star plant: Cordyline Australis ‘Southern Splendour’. The background colour of the strap-like leaves is dark bronzy-green, but the bright pink stripes in the centre and on the edges of the leaves turn this shrub into a luminously bright plant that catches the eye of even the most cynical plant critic. It grows to approximately 2 metres x 1 metre.

Other Cordyline stars:
* Cordyline Australis ‘Sunrise’ – has narrow leaves with a reddish-pink mid-rib and pink edges.
* Cordyline Banksii ‘Electric Pink’™ – is very tropical looking, with shocking pink edges to the leaves. Its smaller size (1 m x 1 m) makes it ideal for pots on balconies.
* Cordyline ‘Red Fountain’ – a dwarf, clump-forming plant with lustrous burgundy-coloured strappy foliage that cascades into a rounded ball. It bears large sprays of small, star-shaped, blush-pink flowers in late spring and summer.
* Cordyline Terminalis ‘Caruba Black’ – broad, glossy leaves that are dark maroon to nearly black. It has a multi-stemmed growth habit and is suitable only for light shade in protected spots – a perfect patio plant.

The Gardener