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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cordylines and the Cold

For tropical foliage, captivating leaf shapes and a wide variety of colors Cordyline fruticosa or Hawaiin Ti plants can be the ticket to spice up your Florida garden.

Winter is when they put out their cluster of spikey blooms from the center of the shrub.

These remarkably variegated plants are especially eye-catching when the sun shines through their leaves which can be 12- 30 inches long and 4-6 inches wide depending on the cultivar.
I've never been real fond of them used as focal points or standing alone. But when blended in with other plants allowing the lush tops to be seen and not the bare woody stalks that hold them they add a nice splash of color.

The common name for them it Ti plant. Usually Ti is pronounced like 'hi' but the correct pronunciation is like 'tea'.
My sweet neighbor handed me a lopped-off piece of a Ti plant like the one above a few years ago. I put it directly into the ground and just kept lopping off the tops to make this 'hedge' in the very back gardens.
It serves as a sort of backdrop behind the shell ginger and the split leaf philodendrons. The walking pathway running between them allows for movement around and through the back gardens.
All the information given about these plants note that they do not prefer the cold nor do they even tolerate temperatures below 55 degrees. That means all of mine have already defied the odds so far this week.

All the credit goes to the oak trees keeping them protected from the freezing (and below) temps we've had for the last four nights. But tonight the dew point is dropping along with the temp below 30 which means frost and radiational cooling. Not a good scenario for Ti plants or any tropicals for that matter.

Ti plants even provide a nice tall interest when added to a combination container planter. Often these plants are used as indoor houseplants.
This container (above) is situated in the landscaping and grouped with bloodleaf, dragon-wing begonia and jewel of opar.

The two newest additions from this summer are smaller in size and not as protected as some of the others under the trees. We are hoping they survive.

All these photos taken to remember them before they are bitten.

Most will come back but it will not be pretty while we wait for them to put back on their vibrant colors and do their best to rise to the heights they are now.

So many states are experiencing record lows. I hope you are all staying snug and warm.


  1. It's sad to seem them burn in the bitter cold. I love cordylines, but have none because of this...maybe container gardening for them next year. I hope your garden does not get bitten too bad!! Let us know.

  2. We got a couple of inches of snow last night and now the bitter cold is to blow in. We have already been running 16degrees below normal. Brrrrrrrrrrr. I thought of you and your garden when I heard on the weather that Orlando might have snow flurries. I know you don't live in Orlando but I think of you as being that far south. I hope your tropicals survive this crazy weather. Stay warm.

  3. Darla,
    I can't 'see' outside yet but I did check the two thermometers and they only read 35 this morning. Maybe it didn't get as cold as they predicted. I'll be checking for certain when the sun comes up. You may be having snow if all the conditions line up. It's certainly cold enough for it. I hope your garden isn't in ultra shock. You could definitely put cordylines in a container and bring them in for winter! The containers I featured here are too heavy to move.

    I am not usually an alarmist and I tend to think the weather forecasters lean in that direction. For that reason I am always hoping they are wrong a degree or two or three. That's all it takes around here for a couple of nights to make a big difference. I highly doubt if we will see any snow. We are a little further south of Orlando and closer to the coast which helps for warmth. I don't know how you stay warm in the kind of weather you having unless you just never leave your house. Thanks for thinking of me.

  4. I hope your plants survive this cold spell -- they're gorgeous.

  5. Hi, Meems! Thank you so I'm new to the blogging world, and noticed your blog right away. Wonderful! Thank you so much for checking out my blog, also. It's so much fun!
    Good luck during this cold spell! I'm hoping for the best...what else can we do?! :)

  6. Hey Meems, You have a nice selection of cordylines. I do agree with you that the oak trees provide a lot more protection than if they're in the open. fIt really pays to have large trees. Hopefully, they will continue to defy the odds.

  7. Ooh, this is one of my favorite plants. I've been growing ti plants for over a decade (in different gardens) here in Central Florida. I've never protected them. Usually the damage is minimal, and I just cut off damaged limbs above new growth. But last year, temps reached 25 degrees in my garden, and all were destroyed. But...every single one had come back by summer. They are so pretty right now, all the more because cold damage has kept from getting leggy. This year, though, I protected my favorites with lights, blankets, and garbage cans. Just can't bear to go months without them again. Hopefully, this ridiculous marathon of freezes will not be too much!

  8. What lovely foliage they have, and the flower spikes are very unusual. I like them a lot. I really feel bad for all of you that live in the normally tropic areas when you get these cold temps. I am so used to them, -4F as we speak, but its really hard to see your plants get frost bitten. Stay warm. Kathy

  9. Wow, that is cold for you! I hope your plants pull through relatively unscathed. What is it with the cold air in the South this year?

  10. Your Cordy's are beautiful! I've got the plain old green variety growing in my Portland, Oregon garden. We had 3 nights of unheard of cold in December (12-13 degrees!), I had mine wrapped to protect them and I'm praying they make it through. The new growth is a little brown. Good luck!

  11. I have one in a pot and a couple in the ground here in North Florida. So far they look fine, even with lows in the teens a couple of nights. I always considered them as houseplants, but I got some on sale and decided I would try them outside. Good luck with yours!

  12. well i sure hope your grand oaks can protect those beauties. they are so pretty.
    isn't it funny with global warming we are having so many record
    it has been so cold for so many days...but our fireplace has been burning non stop. that is the only way i can survive it.
    trying to stay warm and hope you are too.
    happy chilly january.

  13. Get out the longjohns, Meems! (Hope all your plants survive this cold spell)

  14. Dear meems, How is the garden? How are you? gail

  15. Mother nature gives us some incredible gifts, but also takes them back from us....doesn't she?
    Here in Central Florida, I am sure that tonight, as predicted will be the night that the garden is tested for sure.

  16. Nancy,
    Thanks so much for the well wishes.

    All my Florida friends...Kimberly, Susan, Floridagirl... it is so nice to share with fellow Floridians who are making the same gamble of which plants to cover and even whether to cover. I lost so many of the cordylines last January in that quick frost of two nights.It took them all summer to regain their height. I'd hate to start all over again.

    Gardening Angel,
    It does seem to be a little harder for us to accept cold damage ... for the very reason you stated. We are not used to it... nor do we count on it happening. We have been several years in a row in the past without a freeze. These last three years though ~~ not the case.

    What is it indeed? Back to back cold fronts is a very uncommon thing for us.

    Danger Garden,
    I didn't know there was a plain old green kind... I'll have to check that out as I'm a big fan of green. :-) Glad to hear yours made it ~~ 12 degrees is WAY cold for cordylines.

    I DO love putting houseplants right in the ground. I'm glad for my micro-climate here under the trees... so far, so good for the cordylines. Good news that yours are still doing well further north.

    A fireplace sounds really nice. I would have mine burning if I had one. Put a log on and think of me wishing I was there with you. :-)

    We've got a couple of nights left before we can un-cross our fingers for the plants. Ha... if only they could put on some longjohns... I don't really need them.:-)

    Thank you for stopping by to ask. Last January the garden suffered much more damage than it has so far this week. If we can get by without too much more through the weekend I will be a happy gardener. Lots of surface damage but nothing at the roots. I'm doing fine... this is my kind of weather except for its effects on the garden. We have had some beautiful days this week. Blue skies, warm sun, temps in the 50's.

    Orlando Realtor,
    Mother nature can be our friend and our nemesis at times here in Florida.

    I hope you are doing well over there in the interior. You typically get so much colder than us. We are not predicted to get to freezing tonight (34 tonight). Tomorrow & Sunday night will be the garden's biggest test so far.

  17. Question....if the Ti plant freezes, can you lop off the top of the plant for new growth?


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