Great Design Plant: Cabbage Tree

25 Dec

Great Design Plant: Cabbage Tree

Garden sculptures and decorations are treasures in the landscape, but they can have big price tags. To get a more affordable alternative, let us proceed to the botanical world, where there is an architectural summer-flowering tree that fits the bill.

Cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) is a low-water, sun-loving New Zealand native impaling landscapes with color and texture through its swordlike leaves and rocky trunk. This summer stunner draws the eye with its foliage and shape — and using the geometric shadows it casts on the garden as the sun beats its way throughout the skies.

Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture

Botanical name: Cordyline australis (syn. Dracaena australis)
Common names: Cabbage Tree, New Zealand Cabbage Palm, Grass Palm, Green Dracaena
USDA zones:8 to 11 (find your zone)
Water necessity: Moderate to routine
moderate requirement: Full sun
Mature dimensions: 20 to 30 feet tall; 6 to 12 feet broad
advantages and tolerances: Drought and coastal tolerant; flowers and fruit draw hummingbirds and butterflies
Seasonal interest: Evergreen foliage; flowers in summertime
When to plant: Plant in spring to establish before winter

The right species of Cordyline australis contains green foliage and may reach huge sizes. Colorful cultivars, like C. australis ‘Dark Star’ (shown within this planting by Shades of Green Landscape Architecture), have become especially popular in cultivation.

Donna Lynn – Landscape Designer

Distinguishing attributes. Cordylines are related to yuccas and agaves, making these plants natural garden companions. See the resemblance between the cordyline as well as the agave in this layout by Donna Lynn.

Leaves branch high on the stiff and vertical trunk of Cabbage Tree. Swordlike, 3-foot-long leaves high tough, spongy bark. Colors differ by cultivar. Leaves towards the top of the crown are vertical, while they droop and splay out as they proceed down the crown.

Cabbage Tree creates fragrant white flower clusters in summer followed by little berries. If you decide to grow cordyline indoors, flowering typically doesn’t occur. After the plant flowers for the first time, the only trunk divides to form a multitrunk crown. Feel free to cut it back to keep it at a manageable size.

Donna Lynn – Landscape Designer

How to utilize it. Consider cordyline as a more temperately inclined palm tree when designing your plantings. It is a plant suited for the tropics and the desert, but it can survive in temperatures reaching as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Poolside coastal and landscapes gardens commonly include cordylines. They’re tolerant of indirect sea-coast conditions and make exotic flows directly in the yard. Paired with brightly colored and clean-textured succulents, they create a tasteful and visually energetic minimalist and modern garden.

Debora carl landscape layout

You might also grow cordylines in raised beds and containers to keep their size down. C. australis ‘Paradise’ is shown in this layout by Debora Carl.

Planting notes. Cabbage Tree, native to New Zealand, grows well in temperate marine climates with mild winters. Although it is the hardiest of the cordylines, ponds which dip much below 15 degrees Fahrenheit are too extreme.

Plant in full sunlight and permit because of the deep root system to become established. Cabbage Tree prefers abundant, well-drained dirt — moist dirt may lead to root rot. Provide additional water during extremely dry periods and when setting the plant, but for the large part Cabbage Tree will survive without additional irrigation. Cordylines in general are resilient trees, are long lived and may even regain trauma as intense as fire.

See more guides to good design crops

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