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Decapitate Cordyline Australis?

At 4m this is now pretty well as high as I'd like it to be. 
So what to do?
We saw lots of multi stem and branched trunk specimens in Devon last year where it seems every other house has at least one of these in the garden.
How do I encourage my Cordyline to form side shoots and grow into a multi headed specimen?
Just another day at the plant...


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,710
    I live in Devon, and agree about how many of them there are down here. 
    I'd certainly have the top off, and the middle and bottom, and roots. 
    Am I biased? lol

    I've never seen one have the top cut off and it successfully make a multi-branched specimen.
    After "The Beast" a couple of years ago, lots of them lost the tops due to the cold and sprouted many side shoots all the way down the trunk. IMHO none of them were attractive, so I'd say cutting the top off is a huge gamble.
  • thanks @Hostafan1
    Not a fan of Cordyline then I take it...
    Whilst it would not be something that I would likely plant, I inherited 3 with the house move a couple years back and I do like the structural interest that they provide.
    Trouble is, if I leave this one to grow much taller it will become impossible to work on.
    With a ladder against it, the trunk flexes too much for my liking already at this height.
    So I may have to take a chance and lop the top off it hoping for regeneration from the sides, which intuitively it seems it ought to do.
    I note your comments, but not much alternative so nowt to lose really I guess.
    Just another day at the plant...
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,710
    thanks @Hostafan1
    Not a fan of Cordyline then I take it...

    For me , they're in the same league as  hanging baskets, rockeries and lavender hedges: for every good one you see, there are 100 hideous monstrosities.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,820
    I agree with @Hostafan1 - deeply unattractive plants, especially when they're effectively a spiky pompom on a big stick.   There have to better specimens to give height and structure to you garden so I would take the risk and cut it down to 3' or so and see what happens. 

    If it bushes, you can then decide if you like it enough t keep it and if it fails, you'll still have a stump to help you heave the thing out so you can plant something good.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,710
    Obelixx said:
    I agree with @Hostafan1 - deeply unattractive plants, especially when they're effectively a spiky pompom on a big stick.   
    or a big loo brush?
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    i love them.  i'm sticking up for the cordyline here.   Of course it depends if you want that big leaf/strappy leaf look.  i do in certain parts and mix it with the obvious others.   Cordyline adds good value...reasonably fast grower ( compare waggys and Trackies), it's everygreen, doesn't need much feeding.   

    I don't know if it can be 'cut down' for regrowth.   i've just asked the question in a FB group for uk jungle/tropical look plants and will revert if we have a clear answer.

    meanwhile, i can advise perhaps let it flower?  has it ever flowered?   mine sent off two pups, immediately whilst/during flowering.    
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,710
    I LOVE the big leaf / strappy leaf look, but for me, these cordylines are more often ugly than beautiful.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,710
    UpNorth said:
    i love them.  i'm sticking up for the cordyline here.       
    Me too - in the right situation, they can enhance a garden. 
    Would Torquay be known as the English Riviera without them ? ;)
    So what do you both suggest OP does about his dilemma?  ;)
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530
    I acquired two of these when I moved house, hated them, and had a tree man cut them to stumps.  That was five years ago.  They kept sprouting tufts of leaves, no matter how many times I pulled them off, so I decided to try and dig them out.  I discovered the root is like a giant carrot, no side roots, it just keeps going down and down.  (Hence the name australis?  Trying to get back where it belongs?)  So I called the tree man back, and he chopped and sawed at the stump and root to about 15" below the soil surface.  I piled the soil back and planted over it.  Nothing that year, but the following summer, "Hallo, I'm still here!" the leafy tufts were pushing through again.

    I have discovered that the tufts are 50% rootable in water, so if you can find a way to kill off the ones you have, you could grow yourself some freebies and plant a clump of them.  Or try Phormiums which look like the top of C. australis minus the bare trunk.
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    As Joshua47 says above, i have had a strong concensus for this in a FB group.... and yes wait until last frosts definitely gone.

    "I had one that was 6 feet tall and it had an 'accident' where it was reduced to a stump. Still grew back with 4 new shoots."

    "Yes it should shoot give it time, 2010 all local cordis were chopped to the ground all regrew

    "Mine died in the cold winter of 2010, it threw up 2 new plants that are 10ft tall

    " Just thinking. Any new shoots will be tender just now, wait until May before taking a saw to it"
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