The Teddington Gardener

Prickly customers – Yucca and Cordyline

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Cordyline australis, in my garden today, flowering extravagantly – again

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Yucca with dramatic flower spike – Twickenham, today

The long tail of Autumn and the mild weather that has continued for these past few weeks has triggered a second flowering for the Cordylines in my garden – the one closest to the house is branching out on at least three chunky stems, while the one at the bottom of the garden is going for the Guinness Book of Records – a  tall trunk about 18′ (6m) tall now, with a spiky Kajagoogoo hairdo on top.

The serious cold spells we have had these past three years have not affected these plants, though I have seen casualties aplenty elsewhere – younger plants maybe, in less sheltered spots.

The strappy leaves of the cordyline are sharp tipped, and lethal for that, but not held so stiffly and pointy-uppy as the Yucca – and care is needed when choosing either a garden for it (possibly not a family garden then) and if you must have one – somewhere these lethal eye-popping spikes are unlikely to be a hazard. In my garden, you would need a ladder for the Cordylines to do you any harm, but this doesn’t detract from the Health & Safety Caution these plants should come with.

For both, they prefer hot and dry, the Yucca preferring poorer and drier soils – and winter wet is a killer – some fleece to protect them in all but the most tried and tested of situations – and especially for new plants, rural locations and Northern climes.

In my garden, the Cordylines provide elements of the jungle (rather than arid desert), climbing through bamboos and wide leaved banana, adding a strong architectural form, height and as now, the most glorious inflorescences. The leaf shape is  picked up in many Phormiums, including the 6′ Phormium tenax, as well as a number of knee-high varieties – that rambling roses thread their way through the scheme give me one more reason to coin the style English Country Jungle

One comment

  1. Lorna Hartwell

    Hi Teddington Gardener, what a marvellous website showing so many wonderful plants! I have what was referred to as a Cornish palm in my front garden which is now far too big for comfort. I have been desperately trying to find out how best to proceed with it but can’t find even its proper name! It is like your Yucca photo above – with the central spike and large roundy petals. Could you give me the proper name and perhaps where to find out how to split it? it is now in five or more overlapping sections and has 4 plus flower spikes. I love it but it is just getting far too big!

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