ti plant

Growing and Caring for the Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa)

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The ti plant is a wonderful easy-to-maintain indoor plant for adding a tropical air to the interior of temperate homes. These beautiful evergreens are available in a variety of different colors to suit anyone’s taste.

Although these plants can grow as a shrub or small tree of 15 feet (4.6m) tall if grown outdoors in tropical climates, they make a manageable medium-sized houseplant. These plants have broad, 2.5 foot (75cm) long leaves that grow in spirals around the top half of stems. 

Unfortunately, this plant rarely flowers indoors, but it more than makes up for this with its fantastic foliage. Read on to learn how to grow and care for these terrific flowering tropical plants

Plant Facts

Scientific nameCordyline fruticosa
Common namesTi Plant, Cabbage palm, Palm lily, Good luck plant, Hawaiian ti plant
FamilyAsparagaceae
Plant TypeHouseplant, Tropical Garden specimen
Height and Width3-5 ft. tall (indoors), 2-3 ft. wide (indoors)
OriginSoutheast Asia, Australasia, Pacific Islands (1)
Flower colorsWhite, Pink, Red
Foliage colorGreen, red, variegated
Sun ExposureDirect sunlight, Bright indirect light
Soil Type & pHWell-drained, acidic soil
Special featuresSacred plant, Edible plant, Air purifier

How to Grow a Ti Plant

Ti Plants are just as popular for growing outdoors in the garden as they are for growing indoors in pots. If you live in USDA zone 10-12 or equivalent, this plant will do just fine outdoors. Indoors, they grow at a moderate rate and usually reach about 5 feet (1.5m) in height. 

Propagation

These plants can be grown from seed but the easiest way to propagate Ti plants is with cuttings. 4-6 inch (10-15cm) long cuttings take well but you can go larger, and stems of about a foot long (30cm) set in water or soil will begin to develop roots after just a few weeks.  

Soil

These plants need a soil that drains well but holds enough moisture to keep the root zone evenly moist but not wet. A well-drained potting mix with some compost content is perfectly adequate in most situations. 

If you find that your soil is holding too much water, consider mixing in a little coarse sand or perlite. If your soil is drying out too fast, adding vermiculite will help it hold on to the water a little longer. 

Ideally, your soil should be slightly acidic. If your water supply is alkaline, adding peat moss to your soil will help to keep the pH lower. 

Pruning

The ti plant is very undemanding when it comes to pruning. Its natural habit is to shed its lower leaves as it grows taller, eventually developing a naked trunk with the leaves crowded at the top of the plant. 

When grown indoors, the cabbage palm is a slow grower. All you’ll really need to do is remove the lower leaves as they die off while the plant grows

Repotting and Transplanting

Ti plants do well in relatively small containers but will need to be repotted from time to time. If you notice roots growing out through the drainage holes of your pot, your soil is no longer draining correctly, or the plant is not growing as expected, it might be time to repot. If you’re not sure about the timing, repotting in the early spring, every second year is good practice. 

If your good luck plant is growing well, you can step up by about 4 inches (10cm) in pot diameter (2). If you would like to keep your plant in the same size pot, you may wish to trim the outermost roots a little. If so, try not to take off more than about 30% of the root mass.  

How to Care for Hawaiian Ti Plants

The ti plant is an undemanding specimen, although it does need good light and moderate to high humidity to thrive. Read on for more detailed information. 

Water

This plant has moderate water needs and should be allowed constant access to moist soil. In the winter, the plant will accept drier conditions. 

When you feel the soil in your container has dried down to about an inch (2.5cm) below the surface, it’s time to water your ti plant. Usually, this will mean watering once or twice each week.

The leaves of underwatered plants will tend to develop dry, brown margins, so keep an eye on the performance and health of your cabbage palm. There are other possible water-related causes for this issue, however.  

Fluoride, which is often found in tap water, can be harmful to these plants. If you notice your plant reacting with drying leaf edges, consider watering your plants with distilled water. 

Sunlight

The ti plant does enjoy the sunlight for a few hours a day but should be grown behind a thin curtain if grown behind a large south-facing window. Alternatively, a little direct sunlight and some good bright but indirect light near an east or west-facing window will do just fine. 

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures between about 60 and 80°F (15-27°C) are ideal for this plant. In nature, these tropical plants grow in humid environments, so they will definitely appreciate a daily misting. This can potentially cause fungal infections, however, so another option is to set your pot on a shallow tray of water-covered pebbles. 

Growing this plant in the bathroom, kitchen, or using a room humidifier is another great option for naturally dry environments (3). Avoid positioning this plant in an area with a draught because this airflow can dry out the leaves and cause changes in temperatures that the plants don’t enjoy.

Fertilizer

A nitrogen-heavy organic or inorganic fertilizer will keep your ti plant growing at its best. Provided you are growing the plant in a good quality potting soil that contains some nutrients, you will not need to feed these plants much, however, so diluting the fertilizer to about half strength will bring good results.  Avoid fertilizing in the winter. 

Pest and diseases

These plants are generally pest resistant but may be affected by spider mites and mealybugs. Dry, brown leaf tips are a common sign of underwatering or plants not getting enough humidity, while too much water could cause root rot and yellowing of the leaves. Leaf color can vary throughout the year though, so don’t be too alarmed if the colors start to shift. 

Common Varieties and Cultivars

Ti plants come in a great range of different cultivars. The leaf size, shape, and arrangement vary by cultivar, but the biggest difference between the different forms is the beautiful array of different foliage colors available. 

Some of the most popular Cordyline fruticosa varieties and cultivars include:

  • ‘Hawaiian Boy’
  • ‘Candy Cane’
  • ‘Black Mystique’

Conclusion

The ti plant deserves a place in any home with a suitable warm, bright and humid spot. These plants look great, have beautiful colors, and help purify the air we breathe. Besides, a good luck plant can only be a good thing, right? Happy growing!

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