Drought loving plants – Cordyline Australis

A favourite drought plant with UK gardeners is the Torbay palm  or Cordyline Australis which is now a very popular sight all over the UK, inspiring thoughts of tropical islands even on a miserable winters day.

Sadly many specimens did not survive the hardest winter for 100 years in 2010/11 but do not let that deter you from buying one of these  plants If you are planning to have one in your garden ,plant it in a very sheltered section of the garden and make sure it gets any  early morning sun to chase any hard overnight frosts away.

They are best planted as a single trunked specimen and will grow quickly with very little care and attention – the ultimate low maintenance plant which, after a few years, should have its first first flowering which will cause it to become multi trunked from the top.  The greyish-green, strap-like leaves, up to a meter or more long are produced from the trunk tops with bare stems.  There are several coloured and variegated hybrids available if you want a splash of colour, although they tend to be less hardy.

The beautiful white/yellow flowers arrive in spring and their scent attracts a multitude of bees and butterflies.

Its a really striking tree thriving in well drained soil and dry conditions and reaching many meters high over the years. Interesting that the Cordyline Australia, originates from New Zealand and is now called the Torbay Palm in the UK  – truly a global specimen I think!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyline_australis

Hardiness: Hardy to about -10C for short periods but not for weeks of cold weather as many gardeners found in the winters of 209/10. If cut to the ground by severe frost it will re-shoot from the base the following spring.

Height: 1-5m

Position: Full sun to dappled shade away from desiccating winds

Soil: Any well-drained garden soil with added organic matter

Water: Water well to established then mulch well to keep moisture in

Usage: Becomes a very tall plant over the years, so needs a position where all its glory can be appreciated. The trunk becomes fissured and cork-like which is very attractive.

If you are tempted to buy one check out these nurseries:

This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

Contact the author

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Emma Says:

    Looks like an interesting plant, and it was eaten and used for other things by the Maori: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyline_australis#M.C4.81ori_cultural_uses although it looks like one of those native foods that won’t catch on here due to the amount of processing required!

  2. Philip Says:

    Hello Debbie. We have a Cordyine Australis which I planted approx 16 years ago & is doing well the question I have been asked regarding the tree by my local Essex council building regulations officer do these type of trees have a high. moderate. or low. water demand as we are hoping for a side extension for our house if low it’s not a problem but moderate or high will mean the palm will have to be cut down due to new foundations which would be a shame. Do you have any information regarding the water demand so we can resolve this matter Kind regards & many thanks Philip & Sheila