How to Care for Cordyline (Hawaiian Ti Plant)

Cordyline plants are also known as the Miracle Plant, Tree of Kings, Hawaiian Good Luck Plant, and Hawaiian Ti Plants, a plant very well known for its beautiful foliage. The common names of the Hawaiian Ti plant refer to a myth that the plant brings good luck and prosperity in the house. The Hawaiian Ti plants have multi-color foliage, small size and they are very easy to grow, that is why they are a very popular choice for both indoor decoration and outdoor scenery. The Hawaiian Ti plants are native to Hawaii, but they also grow naturally in Australia and New Zealand and some parts of Asia.

They grow a very large underground stem, called a rhizome. Rhizome plays an important part in their propagation. Different parts of this plant, including leaves, that are used for different purposes. The leaves of Hawaiian Ti plants are very colorful, they start from green, and then gradually turn into red. This transition of colors in the foliage creates a spectacular scene. There are different species of the Hawaiian Ti plants that come with different foliage colors. Each species also has different sizes and shapes as well. A few Species of the Ti plants also produce flowers and berries.

The Hawaiian Ti plants are evergreen and they retain their foliage all year long. Individual plants can grow up to 10 feet in some species but most of them are small and take a very long time to reach their potential height. Apart from their height, they also spread and cover a large space.

Varieties/Species and their special requirements:

There are more than 27 species and varieties of the Cordyline plants. Below are the details about a few prominent and most grown varieties.

Cordyline Australis- ‘Red Star: This variety is mostly known as the Red Star, the red in the name reflects the foliage color and the star represents the shape of the plant. It has extremely red colored foliage and all the leaves of the plant are arranged in a perfect star formation. The Leaves of this variety of Hawaiian Ti plants look like a sword with a pointy end. Grow them in a low humidity soil (slightly dry). The plant also produces white-colored flowers during the blooming season.

Cordyline Pumilio- ‘Dwarf Cabbage Tree’: This is one of the smallest Hawaiian Ti plant varieties. Due to their small size, they are called dwarf cabbage trees as well. They grow a rhizome underground and a small thin stem above the ground as well. The Dwarf Cabbage Tree has green leaves, that are sword-like and have a pointy end. They can only get three feet high after they mature. This variety of Ti plants is grown as a commercial crop as well, they are used as a food flavor.

Cordyline Electric Pink: As the name suggests, this variety of Hawaiian Ti plants have a very beautiful pink color. The leaves of this variety are very large and cover the whole plant. This variety of Hawaiian Ti plants is very popular for outdoor gardens. But you can also grow them indoors. This variety of Ti plants can survive extreme temperatures and even drought for the short term.

Cordyline Baptisii: This variety of Hawaiian Ti plants is specifically grown for its beautiful pink and yellow streaked foliage. All the leaves of the plants have multiple colors. They have green, white, pink, and yellow streaks or lines that are crossing each other. They are an extremely beautiful choice for both indoors and outdoors.

Cordyline Amabilis: This variety has leaves with white and pink spots. They grow like a small tree. Initially, the whole stem is covered with the leaves but once the plant gains a significant height, the stem becomes visible. They are small in size and require very low maintenance and care. These abilities make them a perfect choice for your indoor decoration and outdoor gardens.

Cordyline Tricolor: As the name suggests, this variety of Hawaiian Ti plants have three different colors. The three colors include pink, yellow, and green. The leaves of this variety create stunningly beautiful scenery for both indoor and outdoor decorations. They can grow up to 7 feet tall.

The leaves of this variety are also unique in shape, they are very thin at the start and then wide in the middle while the ends are pointy. They have a weak stem above the ground. You need to properly water them, fertilize them, and keep them under full sunlight, and good soil to grow them.

Cordyline Firebrand: Initially the foliage of this variety of the Hawaiian Ti plants is green but as the plant grows and gains height, the foliage turns into dark red. This variety can grow up to a few feet tall. They are very easy to grow and require a minimum of care and maintenance. You can grow them for both indoor and outdoor decoration. They need a full bright environment, proper water supply, well-draining soil, and timely care to thrive.

Cordyline Minalis: This is one of the most grown and very well-known varieties of the Hawaiian Ti plants. The plants of this variety can grow up to 10 feet and produce flowers in the outdoor environments. But in indoor environments, they only produce beautiful foliage and can only grow up to a few feet. They need full sun to partial shade environment, proper watering, slightly warmer temperatures, fertilizers, and well-draining soil to thrive.

Cordyline Fruticosa: Most of the websites only mention this variety as the original Hawaiian Ti plants. They have very beautiful and colorful foliage that covers the whole plant. They also produce flowers if grown outdoors under the full sun. They spread with the help of their underground stems called rhizomes. They are very easy to grow and require a little maintenance. Keep them in a slightly warm, full bright environment and provide the nutrients to help them grow and thrive.

Growing Conditions and Requirements

The Hawaiian Ti plants like to be grown in the full sun to partial shade environment. During the summer they need more water but in winter, they can tolerate a short-term drought as well. They can be grown in different types of soil including clay, sandy, and loam, but they prefer the soil to be well-draining.

You can prune them regularly and report them as well, this helps the plant grow. Fertilizers are also important for their growth; you might have to regularly fertilize them during their early days. The plant is mostly propagated with the help of its rhizomes. Plant care also involves looking for the pests and pathogens that attack the different parts of the plant.

Below are the details about the growing conditions and requirements:

Water Requirements

Proper and regular watering is essential for the growth of Hawaiian Ti plants. They like to be in moist soil for most of their life. But they can also survive the shortage of water for a short time. The plant has different water requirements that depend upon the variety, season, and plant age and height.

Consider you have planted one plant indoors and another plant outdoors, their water requirements will differ greatly. Below are the scenarios based on watering requirements and how to fulfill them.

How to Properly Water the Hawaiian Ti plant?

●     As soon as the plant is planted or transferred in the pot, you need to water it. Watering starts from the first day, as you plant and continues unless you discard the plant or your plant dies. The baby plants need a low amount of water, but they need it more frequently than the older plants. After planting the rhizomes or cuttings, you can water them. After that for almost two to three months, keep watering them every 2nd or 3rd day.

●     Once the plant gains a height of almost 6 inches, you can change the watering frequency and increase the quantity. The plant that has gained 6 inches or plus in the height, needs more water. Now, you can give more water than you were giving before. But you can also change the frequency of watering. You can water them once every third or fourth day.

●     As the plant grows 1 year old, its roots spread deep down the soil, and it can obtain water from the deep down in the soil. So, if you have planted them in outdoor gardens, you can now water them less frequently but you will have to increase the quantity of the water each time. You can gradually increase the amount of water you were previously giving to your plant. But if you have planted them in a planter or a pot, they will not be able to get water from the soil. So, in this case, you will have to provide them more water each time without changing the frequency.

●     As the plant matures, you can water it less frequently, watering once a week to a mature plant is considered enough. But each time you give them water, you will have to make sure that the water reaches the bottom layers of the soil in the pot.

●     Watering also depends upon the seasons, as you know that summers are hot and in summer, the potting soil and ground soil becomes dry very quickly. So, during the summer, you need to protect your plant from the drought by providing it water more frequently and abundantly.

●     While in the winter, the pot soil and ground soil take more time to become dry and it traps water inside. That is why the water in the soil is available to the plants for the long term. So, in winter you can water your plants less often. Watering once every 10 to 12 days during the winter is enough for a mature plant.

You can prepare a watering schedule based on these requirements and keep following it. This will help you properly water your plants and also monitor its health and growth rate.

Lighting Requirements

The Hawaiian Ti plants prefer to be in bright environments. They grow very well under the full sun to partial shade environments. They need sunlight to properly grow and if they do not receive the full sunlight, they do not produce any flowers. The foliage color of the plants is also impacted by the amount of light they receive.

If it is possible, grow the Hawaiian Ti plants in a way that they receive the sunlight during the morning but are protected from the heat and Ultraviolet light during the hot middays. In outdoor gardens, keeping them in partially shady environments is recommended. While the indoor plants must be kept in a way that they receive direct or indirect sunlight for almost 5 to 6 hours each day. Keeping them in a window that opens the east side is the best idea.

Temperature Requirements

The Hawaiian Ti plants like to be grown in a slightly warm environment. They thrive when the temperature is between 65-80º F. but you can also grow them in much colder and much hotter environments. Growing the Hawaiian Ti plants in the cold areas is possible if you can keep them indoors to protect them from the extreme cold. They do not like the frost at all, so if you grow them outdoors in a cold region, they will die due to the extreme cold and frost.

If you are looking forward to growing them in a hot area, you may need to protect them from the adverse temperatures. You can either keep them indoors or provide them a proper shed during the summer. More frequent watering will also help if you are growing them in a very hot zone. Keeping them indoors where the temperature is maintained at a certain level (below 90 F) is the best way to grow them in hot areas.

Soil Requirements

These plants can be grown in any type of soil including sandy, loam, and clay. All they need is that the soil must allow the water to quickly drain. They are rhizomes, meaning that they have underground stems. These stems need protection from rotting. If the soil traps water for the long term, it can damage these underground stems.

They can grow very well in slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils. The soil for the Hawaiian Ti plants must be nutrients rich as the plants need plenty of nutrients to properly grow. You can add cocopeat, compost, organic matter, pumice, perlite, to make a perfect soil for your Hawaiian Ti plants. Adding a layer of mulch will help the soil retain water for a few days to avoid drought conditions.

Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilizing your Hawaiian Ti plants is important, this helps them properly grow and thrive. Most of the time when you plant something in the soil, it consumes all the nutrients of the soil to grow and creates a deficiency of certain nutrients. This also happens with the Hawaiian Ti plants as well. The nutrients of the soil quickly deplete and plants depend on fertilizers to fulfill their nutrients requirements.

Different types of fertilizers are used to treat the deficiency of certain nutrients in the soil. In the case of Hawaiian Ti plants, they mostly need an extra amount of the nitrogen to grow, so the nitrogen in the soil will quickly deplete.

It is better to have a soil test to know the deficiency of nutrients and use fertilizers accordingly but if you don’t have a test, then you can use general-purpose nitrogen-based fertilizer. Below are a few ways about how to use the fertilizers on your Hawaiian Ti plants.

How to use fertilizers:

●     Use fertilizers according to the guidelines and recommendations that are provided with the fertilizer packages. Each fertilizer can have a different method that should be used to fertilize your plants. But below are two general ways that are used for most of the plants.

1.    In this method, you need to take a specific amount of required fertilizer and mix it in the potting soil or ground before the plantation. This is mostly done to boost the initial growth of the plant. This method is also helpful if your soil is weak and lacks basic nutrients that are necessary for the growth of Hawaiian Ti plants. This is a very effective method; it involves spreading the fertilizer in the soil and then mixing it properly. Once done mixing, you can plant the Hawaiian Ti plants and then provide some water. This water will allow the fertilizers to dissolve and become available for plants.

2.    The second method involves creating a mixture of plant fertilizer and water. If you are using a liquid fertilizer, you can create a mixture. All you need to do is to take the required amount of fertilizer and measure the water as well. Create a mixture of water and fertilizer according to the requirements and then feed this to your plants. You can feed such a mixture to your plants once every three weeks.

Pruning Requirements

Hawaiian Ti plants are evergreen and they keep on growing all year long. Their leaves can create a mess if you do not trim them when the time comes. They will not only cover the stem of the plant but will also hinder the growth of the new leaves. You can prevent this and encourage new leaves growth by pruning and trimming the old and dead leaves.

You can do this before the spring, as in the spring new leaves grow. You should only prune the leaves that are dead, or out of shape. After pruning, provide them some water and keep them in a slightly warm, and bright place.

Repotting Requirements

Hawaiian Ti plants are very small in their early days, but they grow bigger and bigger gradually. During their growth, they outgrow the pot they are kept in and when this happens, you must re-pot them otherwise the growth of the plant will stop.

It is better to re-pot them before the spring, you can use a two-inch bigger pot. Carefully uproot the plant from one pot and transfer it to the other pot. After repotting, provide them some water and place them somewhere bright.

Common Diseases and Pests Control

The Hawaiian Ti plants are attacked by different pathogens and pests. These include Spider Mites, Mealybugs, and Thrips. If your plant is under the attack of any pathogens, it is better to identify the problem and use a proper chemical spray or remedy to kill them or control their population because severe attacks of these pests can cause the death of your plants.

Other common problems faced by the Hawaiian Ti plants include fading of foliage color, leaf spots, root rotting. These mostly happen if the plant is not receiving proper sunlight, water, and nutrients. You can control these problems by properly taking care of your plant.

How to Propagate?

The Hawaiian Ti plants can be easily propagated with the help of their stem cuttings. All you need to do is to take cuttings from a mature plant and then keep them in the rooting hormone for a few days. Once the roots appear you can transfer them into the soil. After planting the cuttings in the sandy soil, you need to water them and keep them in a bright place. The cuttings will take a few days to sprout and grow new leaves.

Growing them from seeds:

You can also grow some of its varieties with the help of seeds. You need to take healthy seeds and sow them into the soil. Provide them water and cover the pot with a plastic sheet. Keep the soil moist unless you see small seedlings appear above the soil.

Frequently Asked Question:

Question: How to care for Hawaiian Ti plants outdoors?

Answer: If you are looking forward to growing the Hawaiian Ti plant outdoors, you will need to provide them water regularly. Apart from water, try to provide them cover if it is too hot or too cold outdoors. Outdoor plants need protection from the sunlight during the hot days and frost during the cold days. Fertilize your plants regularly and also keep looking for the signs or any type of pest attack.

Question: How to propagate the Hawaiian Ti plants?

Answer: There are two different ways to propagate Hawaiian Ti plants, the first one involves taking cuttings from the stem and planting. While the second one involves planting the seeds into the soil and waiting for them to sprout.

Question: What is the solution for Hawaiian Ti plant brown leaves?

Answer: Leaves of your plants can turn yellow or brown if the plant is not being watered properly, or it is not receiving the required amount of sunlight. Sometimes it can also be due to a nutrient deficiency in the soil. You can treat this situation by fertilizing your plants and keeping them in a bright place, properly watering them, and avoiding overwatering.

Answer: In different cultures, there are different myths that are related to Hawaiian Ti plants. One of the most common myths is that this is a good luck plant, it can bring luck to the person and to the house where it is planted. It is also called a plant of the kings, referring to the same good luck related myth about this plant.