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Cordyline Australis Southern Splendour

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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.