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Roll out the red carpet

This spiky Cordyline is a container gardening star

Sometimes we fall in love with a beautiful container before having any thoughts of what to plant in it, but truthfully it’s the plants we really fall in love with. The containers are just vessels to hold all the fun things we want.

Cordyline ‘Red Star’ may not catch your eye at first, but once you have seen it growing in a beautiful container, you will be hooked. Also called false Dracaena, seen here, it starts out as a simple red spike but grows a larger reputation as a bold, striking center of beautiful container designs.

This tropical plant prefers full sun, but is tolerant of part shade. It is vigorous even in the heat of summer. Water it normally and fertilize monthly as you would any container planting and you will be rewarded with dramatic sword-like, burgundy-red leaves from planting until frost. It can be overwintered indoors or you can enjoy it until fall and next spring get another one.

Beautiful on its own, Cordyline Red Star, Cordyline australis ‘Red Star,’ can be combined with many summer annuals. Depending on what you choose, it can appear quite contemporary or country French. The leaves look great with grassy green, chartreuse, hot pink, and bright blue. It makes a deeply passionate display regardless of color combinations.

Overall height depends on the size you start with—plants can be purchased in pots ranging from 6 inches to 10 inches in diameter. The average height is 18 to 36 inches. Also look for ‘Red Sensation,’ which is similar but is slightly brighter and reddish-purple.

Shelly Nold from the July 2015 issue

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