Kentucky Living Home

Good luck Cordyline

By Shelly Nold from October 2013 Issue

ONE OF THE BIG GARDENING DILEMMAS OF FALL is deciding which summer container plants to bring indoors to overwinter and save for next year. First, I like to consider what plants mean the most to me and then look at which plants are the easiest to overwinter.

CORDYLINES MOVE WELL BETWEEN OUTDOORS AND INDOORS, and have an interesting history. Their leaves were used for cooking, were believed to dispel evil, and were part of hula skirts. In our area, Cordylines, commonly called good luck or ti plants, were simply great houseplants before the outdoor container gardening boom.

THERE ARE MANY VARIETIES OF CORDYLINE available to Kentucky gardeners. Some have solid green leaves, some solid pink or red, and others are multicolored or even striped. Leaf shape varies from thin to wide, but all leaves are long and are excellent in cut-flower arrangements.

PART SUN TO BRIGHT LIGHT IS NECESSARY indoors or out for adequate Cordyline growth and leaf color. Use a potting media that retains enough moisture, because extremes from wet to dry can cause leaf tip burn. Fertilize every two weeks from April to October to maintain vigor, especially if you harvest leaves.

WITH ITS PINK AND IVORY STRIPED LEAVES, Cordyline terminalis 'Exotica' is a beautiful plant. It grows slowly and looks great in a wide variety of containers and settings. Grow it as a houseplant year-round or grow it outdoors in the summer and bring it inside for the winter—you won't be disappointed. It is one of the few plants that I overwinter that looks as good when I take it out in the spring as it did when I brought it inside in the fall.


ASK THE GARDENER
by Angie McManus

Q: Can you treat evergreen trees so they will not produce pine cones?

A: Plants that produce pine cones are considered conifers. This group of plants is known as gymnosperms. These woody plants are most commonly evergreen trees but there are some smaller shrubs as well.

The cones they produce are actually organs necessary for reproduction. The female cones contain seeds inside of them. The male cones produce pollen and are usually much smaller than the female cones. When the cones become mature, they fall off and break open or break down, allowing the seeds inside to be dispersed either by wind or sometimes birds, depending on the species.

So, to answer your question, there is nothing you can spray or treat your plants with to make them not produce cones. This is their survival tactic and unless the tree or shrub is no longer living it will continue to produce cones.

For the home gardener, this can become a maintenance issue, but nothing a rake and a little time won't cure. You can give them to your friends for holiday decoration or cover them with peanut butter and seeds for the birds to enjoy.