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Yucca-esque plants look dead after winter. Advice?

I have two yucca-like plants that look the worse for wear following the winter just past. See pics below. I pulled the loose/rotting fronds off the top of the first one until they stopped coming away easily. The second one doesn't seem to want ot shed its dead leaves (tried pulling but no luck).

Are they dead? Any advice on how to revive them?

Many thanks in advance,



  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,000
    Hello Gordon

    Your first picture is of a severely damaged (by the cold) purple form of Cordyline australis ; if the stem just above ground is not soft & rotten , it can be cut to ground level and placed somewhere warm and sunny . This is a drastic policy , but Cordylines will regenerate from the base and eventually form a multi-stemmed shrub !

    The second picture depicts a wind-blasted Phormium cookianum (probably var.tricolor); you'll need shears to cut the old leaves off at base ; they are very tough .
    Either let the healthy leaves grow on , or if it looks too sparse , treat as above and it will respond accordingly .
    I cut a massive one down to ground following the winter of 09/10 ; within a few months it had regained its former size and even flowered in July !!

    Looking at the poor things , you've nothing to lose !

  • Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the detailed response. That sounds encouraging - particularly the regrowth rate!

    Any idea how to avoid this problem next winter - hay round the roots/sheet over the plant, that kind of thing?

    Thanks again,
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,000
    edited May 2018
    Fortunately we don't have many visits from the 'Beasts from the East' ; Phormiums normally overwinter without too much damage . Just cut off any brown leaves at base if you don't want to be too severe .

    I can't see whether the Cordyline is potted or not ; if so , the purple/brown varieties can be moved under glass for the winter .
    Alternatively , when new growth shows , thermal fleece can be bought cheaply enough or tie the leaves upright with string and wrap this around them .

    I used to have a 20' Cordyline until the winter of 09/10 , then it collapsed into mush!!

    Eight years on it it still throwing up new shoots ! The root system obviously survived whilst all the top growth didn't .

    Apologies for the belated response ; have just got in from work ! Gardening never stops even on a Bank Holiday !!!
    Hope this helps .
    Incidentally , where are you in the UK ?
  • Thanks again Paul. I'm in Falkirk, so we had a red weather warning during the snows!
  • Just to add - have sheared the Phormium cookianum as recommended. It already looks far better for its haircut!
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,000
    Well done Gordon ; I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results !
  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,053
    Phormiums/cordylines are not that hardy in Scotland. Some years they are fine and then you lose them. Be prepared. 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • I have 3 codylines which look exactly like the top pic. It seems to have happened since the cold snap before Christmas. It hasn't happened previous winters. I will trim them right back as per advise above, but am I OK to do that now in January?
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 11,018
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,376
    edited 12 January
    Phormiums. do it now.  If only for tidiness sake.

    Cordyline.  Don't be over-eager.  Cut back the miminum necessary.  Possibly after a wait and watch.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
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