Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cabbage Palm, Cabbage Tree, Ti Kouka, Torbay Palm, Dracaena Spike
Cordyline australis

Family: Agavaceae (ah-gav-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cordyline (kor-di-LY-nee) (Info)
Species: australis (aw-STRAL-iss) (Info)

Synonym:Dracaena australis

One vendor has this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

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There are a total of 33 photos.
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19 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive UrbanGreenThumb On Jun 30, 2014, UrbanGreenThumb from Detroit, MI wrote:

I was pleasantly surprised to see it come back after this record breaking winter we endured. Even with a thorough mulching, planted about a foot or son away from the house... I figured my spikes were toast. A little over a week ago, I saw new growth come out of the ground... it's my Dracaena!

We seriously may be able to chalk this up as a "die-back" perennial.

Positive LeesWorld On Mar 27, 2012, LeesWorld from Saint Clair, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant does pretty good in my backyard. It dies to the ground every year, but I only mulch it a few inches, so pretty good for minimal protection!

Positive Kenneth_Cabbage On Jan 9, 2011, Kenneth_Cabbage from Mansfield
United Kingdom wrote:

I have a Cabbage Palm on my back garden and it has grown really well each year. It is now approx. 15 feet high and is bending over my neighbours garden. I was thinking of chopping it down when a new shoot came out of the side about 4 feet up the trunk.
Does anyone know what will happen if I cut the tree down to just above the new shoot?
I would be really grateful of an answer as I dont really want to lose the tree altogether.
Thanks in anticipation...

Neutral lehua_mc On Aug 21, 2010, lehua_mc from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I had two of these at my new property, one big (5' tall), one a mere rosette. First winter was cold and snowy, and the big one was a soft, rotten, bent over mess (the small one just went brown). So, I thought I'd dig it out and put something more regionally appropriate there. What I didn't know is that it would have a trunk of a root as thick and as deep as it was tall. I rocked this thing back and forth, digging deeper and deeper to no avail, and even as I understood clearly that it wasn't dead, I sawed off the trunk some feet below ground. Second winter was bitter cold and dry, spring record breaking wet and soggy. This August, sure enough, here come little grassy springs from the old one, about the same size as the little one which hasn't been ruthlessly dug but always comes back for a hey'ya.

Positive stephenp On May 24, 2010, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

Cordylines are one of the staples of the British garden, from the late 90s until 2010 Cordylines, some very tall existed in the British Isles, widespread. I originally wrote my description back in March 2010, but that same year we have an exceptionally cold winter, for recent times, which meant many of the inland Cordylines in the British Isles were cut back down to ground level, and many whilst recovering continue growth. So beautiful plant yes, but as the poster previous has stated, you may only get 10 years good growth out of them before they are checked by a severe winter.

I never owned a Cordyline prior to the winter of 10-11, but I do now, and they are very fast growers without doubt, mine has managed to put on circa 1.5 ft of trunk this year alone, and continues to grow, even into October.

So in retrospect yes, these are not bulletproof hardy for northern high USDA zones, but in coastal parts, they should withstand what winter throws at them most of the time.

Positive peejay12 On Feb 24, 2010, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a plant which people are told 'is hardy', grow it for ten years - and then get a nasty shock when a bad winter kills it.

In the UK it can be killed by frosts below -9 C especially in windy situations. Because areas of zone 9a and below get frosts of -9 C once or twice each ten years, most of the cordylines get killed.

A race of hardier Cordylines was discovered in N.Z. several years ago and were sold under the the name of 'Dipton selection',said to be hardy to -11 C, they do not seem to be available any more. However, it has been found that Cordylines from the colder, more southerly regions of New Zealand have narrower stiffer leaves - two inches or less, useful to know if you live in a coldish region and are considering buying one. Although they always look best, in my opinion, in groups of three.

Even here in Cornwall, (zone 9b) they can be damaged to ground level in bad winters, but they do flower profusely, grow to well over twenty feet tall, and develop massively wide bases. They must be the most frequently sold garden tree in Cornwall. They also grow very fast in our cool summers - they take a couple of years to settle in, and then average two to three feet per year.

When the trunk has reached about five feet they produce their first panicle of flowers, and the trunk divides - usually into two branches, sometimes more. This continues each spring until plants have dozens of branches and flowers. As the plant ages, the trunk slowly shrinks in height and the branches gradually get closer to the ground. Thus, older plants consist of many trunks arising from the same base.

Seeds are always viable.

In theory, other species (C. indivisa, banksii) should grow well in the milder parts of the U.K., but for some reason they are rarely successful.

Positive Golo On Oct 18, 2009, Golo from Nottingham
United Kingdom wrote:

I bought mine in a pot from Paignton about 1985.
The trunk, if thats what you could call it, was as thick as a mans finger. We kept it in the pot till around 1989 when I planted it outside in the garden. That year the frost and snow killed it off, or so I thought.
It rotted to a stump, but come spring it started to shoot, it is now about 9 feet tall and has been flowering for some years now. I just cut off the flowering stems when the seeds appear, we had 10 stems this year. It appears to be very hardy here, nothing seems to effect it. Apart from trimming the stems I only pull off the dead leaves from the trunk when necessary.
I am going to try to propagate it this year.

Positive ArchAngeL01 On Apr 2, 2009, ArchAngeL01 from Myrtle Beach, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

This tree is tree hardy here in myrtle beach s.c (zone 8-8b) i love this plant and see them at a height of 7 feet so far but i use to live in 6b and they were root hardy and retuned in spring

Positive baiissatva On Sep 12, 2008, baiissatva from Dunedin
New Zealand wrote:

Wow, its pretty surreal to see all the accounts of this plant from all over the world (we live in its native habitat.) It deserves its popularity, being peculiar, hardy, undemanding and easily propagated.

Here it is originally a plant of swampy wetland and forest margins, being completely unfussy about soil or exposure, though shelter will result in a more 'profuse' or branching form. The huge white flowers are disturbingly fragrant and attract native birds.
If you wish to increase your stock of cabs from an aged or past-its-best plant, simply fell the trunk, dump it on the ground as is, or hack to pieces and half-bury on its side wherever you would like more. Suckers will grow from the bole.

The original green form is the hardiest by a country mile, and in the long run is the most rewarding, with the purple and pink cultivars being much less tough and often short-lived. They look cute in the nursery but in my experience just dont cut the mustard in my large coastal garden, languishing without full sun and a lot of fussing.
Rub the old leaves from the trunk to reveal the rough bark and create a more 'palmy' look.
The only thing they dont enjoy is prolonged drought. This will shrink the leafy head, cause yellowing and slow growth right down. I feed mine with a manure/seaweed tea, but not too often. Some moth larvae can hide in the heads and munch the leaves as they emerge, creating a tattered look- fix them good with a dousing of neem in spring.

They look great as large background subjects in a garden of succulents, being part of the agave family.
Im glad so many people appreciate the cabbage tree!

See some of our plants and gardenalia at The Blackthorn

Positive Hikaro_Takayama On Feb 12, 2007, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is definitely hardy down to 0*F/-18*C or lower: There are 4 containerized specimens and 1 specimen in the ground at someone's house that survived such temperatures with little or no damage this winter, and that low was repeated 2 nights in a row, followed by a week of temps that didn't get above freezing.... Only one bit of caution: Make sure to buy a trunked/large specimen or put hardware cloth/chicken wire around it, otherwise rabbits WILL eat it down to the ground, as happened to all 8 of my plants.

Positive SW_gardener On Feb 5, 2007, SW_gardener from (Zone 6a) wrote:

These plants are hardy way beyond zone 8.
I saw some growing around the corner from me in containers covered in snow, surviving below -25 C.
I have some overwintering in an unheated greenhouse where the night temps get very cold and the dirt in their pots is frozen solid. These could very well overwinter outside in a sheltered spot in zone 6a.

Positive ChusanPalm On Sep 10, 2006, ChusanPalm from Sheffield
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

Cordyline australis is a wonderful plant for giving structure to a small garden --- if you're prepared to wait for it to grow about a foot a year, even in a cold area of the UK. We planted a small, bushy plant but, if you've got money to spare, you could pay 20 ($37; 29) per foot for a more mature plant. I feel good that, 7-8 years later, we've got a tree that's admired by vistors who want the same 'feel' to their garden and would cost well over 100 to buy. It has flowered twice, first time 2 years ago. Afterwards the stem divided in two. This year, both branches have flowered (picture uploaded) so we're expecting more branches. And not only do we enjoy it: the flowers attract bees (where's the honey?) and early butterlies and the birds enjoy the seeds. That said, I must admit to a bit of a love affair with coconut palms (long story about the the Kenya coast) and this is the next best plant to sustain it in a cold climate.

Positive MonkeysMommy On Jul 7, 2006, MonkeysMommy from Albany
United States wrote:

Thanks to this website, I was able to figure out what in the heck I have growing! I love this tree. I don't have any problems with it spreading as it is in an above ground 8ftX8ft container. After my yearly pruning this year, I found that it was branching out into 5 "fingers" - which totally makes this tree more interesting! I would like to know how to fertilize, as it seems to need it by the looks of the yellowing leaves. I cut off the flowers each year because I don't care for the look when the flowers turn to berries - it doesn't hurt this tree a bit!

Positive chinookale On Jun 9, 2006, chinookale from Everett, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I'm from Everett WA, about 25 miles North of Seattle. I have this plant growing in my yard and it is great. I just found out that it is a Cordyline, the previous owner said it was a Palm, but I had my doubts. Mine is sprouting now and I may attempt to harvest a plant a new one just to try it. It is really fragrant. I have seen sprouts that match the description in one of the other posts in my yard.

Positive AnnCarter On Jun 6, 2006, AnnCarter from Near Grimsby, NE England
United Kingdom wrote:

This plant is growing in our front garden and as Bill says it's a wonderful architectural plant, giving the garden a focal point during the winter when most of the other perennial plants have died down to nothing. Like Bill, this year the largest of the two cordylines had produced a flower spike which I am realiably informed will soon be covered with thousands of small white flowers (inflorescence?). I was wondering if I should trim off the spike when it had finished flowering as I didn't want the plant to fail, but after reading the other comments on this site I doubt I could kill the thing with a flame thrower. We have other plants in the garden that have very thuggish properties and cannot be gotten rid of for love nor money. We have campanulas, violets, lily of the valley and euphorbias growing out of every nook and cranny. The cabbage palm is the least of our problems.

Positive bill1943 On May 29, 2006, bill1943 from Hartlepool
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

The plant I have is 7 years old and has withstood the winters in the North East of England,these have been as low as 15 degrees over the years, it has just sprung its first flower head so I am waiting to see what happens.I would recommened them to anyone as they make a good focal point and require the minimum of care and maintenance.

Positive hothaus On Feb 16, 2006, hothaus from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

These grow like crazy in my garden! They must grow a couple feet a year in spite of neither being watered in the summer nor protected from winter frosts.

Positive growin On Dec 30, 2005, growin from Vancouver, BC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Often called "Dracaena Spike" for box planters. Occasionally killed by hard winters below -10C. Slow growing to multi-trunk.

Positive xyris On Jan 10, 2005, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

To explain my zip code note that this grows in Bremerton, Washington .... I have had a plant of this species, bought as a tiny seedling, growing outdoors for seven years now. It reached 6 feet tall by its fifth year, then was top killed by temperatures near 20 F. The next spring, it sprouted five new rosettes from near the base of the trunk, which could then be separated to form new plants. I just today saw that we are forecast to perhaps get down to 20 F again this week, so I am playing it safe and have dug them up and put the young plants into my new cool greenhouse until spring. So, in my garden in a very protected microclimate near Puget Sound it might be possible to winter over this species in most years ....but it is not guaranteed!

Negative angelam On Apr 16, 2004, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

I hate this plant with a passion. The previous owners of our house planted it in any space they had to fill as it is unkillable and will propagate from the smallest piece including any piece of root left when removing a plant.
Despite years of effort I can't claim to have successfully removed any plant yet, not even where the plant was bulldozed and the site covered in concrete-I still get shoots coming up alongside the concrete.

Clumps will spread by short runners, and those stalks are very brittle, so they need to be dug out carefully.We have it growing in soils varying from good quality garden soil to heavy clay. It also grows in all positions from full sun to deep shade. It is very drought tolerant.

Positive EuSou On Aug 5, 2003, EuSou from Marina, CA wrote:

This plant is quite common around the Monterey Bay Area. There are several weather worn specimens in Pacific Grove with two foot thick trunks, but a bare thread of bark and living tissue. In other words, they're hardier than one would think.

When taken care of they grow quite beautifully with big clusters of leaves, and fine airy inflorescences. When cut back these will often from multiple trunks. By far the hardiest of the Cordylines.

I've been told these plants will often wash up on New Zealand beaches and refuse to die.

Neutral Baa On Oct 20, 2001, Baa wrote:

Large, evergreen shrub from New Zealand.

Has linear - lance shaped, light - mid green leaves grown in a tuft formation. Older plants may bear white flowers followed by blueish or white berries. The whole plant may grow upto 30ft with a possible spread of 12ft btu often smaller.

Flowers June - August

Likes a well drained, fertile soil in sun or light shade. Isn't very hardy and will stand temperatures down to about 37F. In frost prone areas mature plants may be protected by drawing the leaves up around the crown and tieing them loosely and or covering with fleece.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Clayton, California
Long Beach, California
Marina, California
Pasadena, California
Salinas, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Covington, Georgia
Detroit, Michigan
Saint Clair, Michigan
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Albany, Oregon
Florence, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Alice, Texas
Houston, Texas
Humble, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Artondale, Washington
Bremerton, Washington
Everett, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Kirkland, Washington
White Center, Washington

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