Cordyline Red Sensation???

Amandas GreenhouseOctober 29, 2004

Does anyone grow this plant for sale? It looks like a red leaved dracaena. I imagine it grows with less vigor, but still it would be gorgeous in combination pots if it grows ok. I start my first rooted cuttings the first week of March. I see Doug Cole offers this plant, but you have to get ten trays from him and IÂve already ordered most of my stuff. Any other source? Is it worth my interest?

Thanks - Amanda in north central Vermont

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I adore this plant and have two of them potted up in containers surrounded by and underplanting of succulents.

They are available in California by Monterey Bay Nursery and Suncrest.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 6:22PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

It is a great plant for outdoor use in mild climates, but is entirely unsuitable for interior situations with low light and little air flow. It is not a tropical plant, and is probably only suitable in a cool greenhouse that doesn't freeze in winter and very good natural light. I don't think this plant is a good fit with the conditions in Vermont.

It is in fact much faster growing and more vigorous in zone 9/10 conditions, and can easily get to be a 30 foot tall tree here in coastal northern California. The only down side to it is that older foliage gets bleached out and yellowish, and the foliage is also as attractive to snails as are the Dracaenas. It does great with wind, fog and salt off the ocean here, and is not great in drier more inland and hot locations here in California.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2004 at 11:42PM
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just a note, palmandan. i use a broker for my annual plugs and liners to get around the flat minimum. it is one of the few things a broker is useful for.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2004 at 6:22AM
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Amandas Greenhouse

Well thanks everyone. Don - I do use Michells and I had just assumed that I still had to order the minimum (8 trays) even if I went through them. But acting on your idea I called my broker and he said he would physically go to the place and pick up the tray for me !!! (He's a nice fellow).

I plan on using the plant like dracaena - in a combination pot which will get dumped at the end of the year.

I would get it in early March and grow it on. I was wondering if it will size up at more or less the same rate as dracaena.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 6:32AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I don't think you will get sufficient growth from a liner sized plant to warrant using it as the taller growing specimen in such a container, but go ahead and try it to see for yourself. I think you would be better served getting this as a 1 gallon or 5 gallon sized plant for such purposes.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 12:30PM
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I grew the red leaved dracaena a couple years ago, thinking it would be a great novelty plant and look stunning in combos, but I couldn't give it away. go figure.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 1:51PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I found Cordyline australis in the Thompson and Morgan catalog. It is probably a bronze form rather than the red, as it is not illustrated? I saw a photo that looks like a nz flax, I can't picture it as a 30 ft. tree. It says it has fragrant flowers, any reports on the flowers?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 3:21PM
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Amandas Greenhouse

Calliope - I'm still tempted - of course we try new things every year and lots of them bomb (for me anyway). The liners are expensive - $1 plus, so considering all aspects (particularly the fact that nobody has ever aske me for it....) I may not buy some in afterall.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 8:21PM
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There is sometimes a curse in being too far ahead of your time in this business. I hear a lot of lip service from consumers who want the new and different, and I've spent a lot of time in trade shows scoping them out, but I've found that nine times out of ten, they have to see it somewhere mainstream before they even look twice. I always dedicate a few benches to trialing novelties. It often happens I have to give one away as a bonus with a purchase of someting mundane. I do this when I know it's gonna be a hot item somewhere down the line, and when people ask where they got this plant, they will tell them. The peak sales window it seems on new varieties of plant material are when it first shows up in box stores, and gets sold out immediately. Then you start getting phone calls to the more upscale places from desperate people. LOL.

It impacts me more than a retailer because I have to convince my marketing niche, and they don't be convinced until their customers ask them.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 1:45AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

It most definitely will grow to become a 30 foot tall branched tree in milder climates such as California. The flowers are fragrant, and somewhat showy, but probably not the reason to grow the plant. If you would like to see pictures of how big Cordylines can get, check out the book by Yvonne Cave and Paddington on New Zealand Plants, or visit the web sites for some of the New Zealand Botanic Gardens. This has also become a very popular plant in the mildest parts of England. The boring old green leaved varieties of Cordyline are easily seen as very large specimens here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they were popular landscape accents in 1950's and 1960's gardens.

Cave and Paddington's book is probably very useful for PNW gardeners, as it features both North and South Island plants, many of which are useful in Oregon and Washington.

As to trying to guess what will become the public's next fave plant introduction, it is often a crap shoot. I find that it really helps within a retail setting to have display plants at a larger size, to get people excited about new intro's. Signage with color photos and descriptions of the mature plant and inset photos of flower detail, laminated and included with the display can also generate sales even when the plant is still small or nonblooming. If you know enough about the new plant to be able to talk up its useful qualities to your customers, it also helps generate more interest. Fragrance, uncommon bloom season, hardiness, adaptability to difficult conditions such as dry shade or poor drainage or ease of care can be used to market plants effectively. It may also be useful to group rarities/new introductions in their own section, to get customers to seek them out, rather than miss them grouped in with the more ordinary stuff.

Two examples of this approach have worked well for plants which although not particularly rare, are not generally available here in California retail nurseries. The fall blooming tender South African perennial, Plectrantus ecklonii with blue flowers flew out the door as 4 inch pots when displayed with a large 7 gallon tubbed specimen in full bloom. Another fall/winter bloomer, the deep purple flowered perennial groundcover Coleus lanuginosa from Ethiopia has been equally popular this month because of the unseasonal bloom and vivid color. I would expect that both will be even more popular next fall as they become more familiar to those who can grow them easily here in mild coastal California. Neither plant has been picked up within the trade, but caught my eye in local botanic gardens as they were so colorful in November and December, and I have used them heavily in landscape designs for fall/winter interest in lieu of the more predictable and shorter bloom period mums.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 1:50PM
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Regarding the flowers - if you look at the award winning NZ Tourism "Garden of Well Being" display at the Chelsea Flower Show of 2004 you'll note a small bronze Cordyline with a flower spike in the centre of the garden. See this site for a picture.

Having lived with the Cabbage Tree (Maori name: Ti) I can say that yes it does get very big, the flowers are beautiful and sweetly scented but watch out for the leaves if mowing near the plant. They rot down eventually if composted but can wrap around your mower in a flash and you need need a box cutter to extract them!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 4:54PM
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