Go Crazy for Cordylines, or...other cool stuff

Go Crazy for Cordylines, or...other cool stuff

    Ok, so winter has finally left us for the season, and if the weather will co-operate, you can finally start outfitting your yard with some handsome plantings to chase away the winter blues.  Many tropical flowering plants need alot of full sun in order to do their best, but what do you do if you want the look of lush color but have more shade?  Well, you could go crazy...for cordylines!

     Cordylines are related to our friends the Dracaena, which is probably in your house already in one form or another.  Native to the Pacific Asia region and New Guinea, people have used colorful cordyline leaves to make clothing and such for ages.  They would also wrap food in them that would be cooked in a pit.  But I'm sure you're not going to want to strip the leaves off of your yard decor once you find a home for these beauties.  The leaves can be narrow and strap-like or much wider.  Some varieties are short and compact while others are 3 feet tall.  In your yard, they will be happiest in sun that filters through some trees, or full morning sun and afternoon shade.  My favorite thing about cordylines is the way they look when backlit by the sun, making their colors really stand out.     

    Unless the soil in your yard is fast-draining, you'll want to keep your cordyline in a pot.  Don't let the soil dry out all the way, but don't keep then soggy either.  Online websites tell you to feed them a few times a year (try Miracle-gro) to keep them happy and colorful.  If your cordyline is in too deep a shade, they won't be as bright-looking as they would with some sun. The leaf edges may brown a little bit from the flouride in our water.


    Here's more ideas for part shade.  Most palms do well in those conditions.  Here is a date palm in one of our new pots with angel wing begonias tucked underneath.  The  begonias will grow and bloom all summer long--just keep 'em watered and throw in alittle plant food too.  Another stately palm is the fan palm. Since teal is one of my favorite colors, I like both of these combinations. 

    Here is a pair of contemporary lighter weight containers with 2 very different plants.  On the left is a fiddle-leaf fig, on the right, a jade plant.  The jade will do best if protected from the hottest sun.  Try placing it on a covered porch or such; we've found that too frequent downpours may cause it to rot. The fiddle leaf can probably take more sun, as long as temperatures aren't in the 100's.

    This cute compact agave named "spiky cream" came to us this year. You can always do agaves in part shade, they just won't grow as fast, which may be a good thing, considering I've had more than one plant get so big I had to give it away when it wouldn't fit through the door.


    This grouping holds anthuriums, cordylines, and others that do well in filtered sun.  Combining a riot of color in plants and containers is such a feast for tired eyes at the end of a long work day.  That's one of the things that Calverts does best.  

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