Cutting back plant

JudiOctober 1, 2006

We, my husband & I, decided to use the "Red Star Spike" also known as cordyline in landscaping around our new tree. The red spike is doing great, but it seems a little tall. Can this be cut back without damaging the plant? If so, is now a good time to do this? I'd appreciate any help I can get - we are novices at this. Thanks

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've seen Red Star grow to about 3 feet tall. Can't really make a plant like that become any shorter....at least not in any method that I know of. I kind of doubt that it will be hardy in your location anyway, so it might be a moot point in the coming weeks.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 1:42PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

If you cut it back it may sprout from the base with more than one growing point - thus losing the effect.

They are not hardy in sustained frost/snow. They will grow in pots/containers for a few years at least.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:50PM
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judim_isnightbb_com

The nursery told me this was a perennial & would come back every year. So if it dies due to the frost & snow will it come back?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 6:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

'Red Star', if you do your research, is one of the hardier Cordylines. Frost and snow are not the problem with this plant, by the way. It is temperature. According to the literature (I have not grown it myself), it can withstand temperatures of about 20o without damage to the growing point. The tops may die back before then, but I don't know that. It is the crowns that you need to worry about.

Again, cutting this plant back because it is too tall is not really an option for a plant that pushes the new growth from the ground. I guess you could give it a hair cut, but that would look pretty awful. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 10:38PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I notice it's a variety of Cordyline australis. The ordinary, garden variety cabbage trees can lose their growing tips and survive but they will usually break from the ground or whatever trunk they've formed. As juveniles they have that spiky appearance. When they get older they develop (most of them) a multi-trunk form for putting out their flower sprays. (Lovely scent. Worth waiting for.)

If it was the colour and form you were wanting then you may well get the same effect with one of the hybrid Phormiums - and that will probably keep within your height requirement eg 'Jack Spratt' or 'Thumbelina' - although I'm pretty sure there are better forms than the latter. That one's been living in a container with me for about eight years now - and repotted three times to renew the soil. It has yet to outgrow two feet in height.

C. indivisa will tolerate more cold and snowfalls - but it needs regular misty drifts to stay happy, with cooler nights - and it doesn't stay short 'n' cute for too long, either.

Could you do a swap with someone?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 12:45AM
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