Botanical Name: Cordyline terminalis
Ti plant makes a stunning accent, lending a colorful, tropical feel to a sunny room.
Its broad leaves grow up to 2 ft (60 cm) long and are carried on upright stems that emerge from a narrow, central stalk. As the plant grows, it naturally drops its lower leaves, becoming more tree-like with a trunk topped with a cluster of colorful foliage.
Some ti plants have solid green leaves, but the most popular house plants include varieties with red, pink, cream, orange or copper variegation. In the wild, plants will produce pink or yellow flower spikes, but don't expect them when grown indoors.
Clean leaves. Wipe leaves gently with a damp cloth or spray with a fine mist of room-temperature water to keep them clean. Cleaning the leaves has another advantage -- it helps to prevent spider mites that love dry conditions.
Raise the humidity. This tropical native prefers moist air, especially in the hot summer months. Dry air will cause leaf tips to turn brown. Keep ti plant away from drafts and heat/AC vents. A room humidifier works best to add humidity around your cordyline plant. It also loves to be misted.
Repot young plants in spring when their roots have filled the container. Move it to a pot only one size larger. Be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole to prevent root rot. Older, larger ti plants can be top-dressed instead.
How to Top Dress: Remove the top 2-3 inches of soil and replace with fresh soil every couple years. Take care not to harm any roots that may be near the surface.
Too tall? Top them. You can control the plant's height by cutting it back. New branches often grow from the base of the plant after pruning. Use sharp pruners to avoid tearing the stems.
Origin: Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands
Height: 3-5 ft (90 cm-1.5 m) indoors
Light: Bright, indirect light. Leaves that lose their color and variegation aren't getting enough light.
Water: Keep soil evenly moist spring through fall. In winter, allow the top inch (2.5 cm) to dry out between waterings. Use rainwater to avoid adding fluoride and chlorine that's often present in tap water. If that's not practical, allow tap water to sit for 24 hours so that the chemicals in it will dissipate.
Humidity: Moderate to high humidity
Temperature: Average to warm 60-85°F/16-29°C
Soil: Peat moss-based potting mix
Fertilizer: Spring through fall, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced fertilizer diluted by half. Choose one that includes micronutrients -- a magnesium deficiency will cause leaves to turn yellow. In winter, feed monthly.
Propagation: These are easy to grow from cuttings. Take 4 in (10 cm) stem tip cuttings in spring and root them in moist potting mix. Keep young plants warm and humid.
Give your ti plant plenty of light to maintain good color and variegation.
Moving the plant near a window where it gets bright, filtered light is ideal.
Many named cultivars are available to choose from, including some with pink, red and orange streaked leaves.
'Tricolor' is a common variety with pink, red and cream variegation. 'Rededge' has a compact growing habit with red-bordered leaves. 'Red Sister' is another popular variety heavily streaked with red.