Try New Varieties of Hawaiian Tropical Plants Ti

Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy”. See more of Norman’s columns at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/.

Our taste for the tropics has grown even stronger this year, as Proven Winners has added five new Hawaiian Ti strains under their Proven selections label. This brings the Cordyline group to a total of eight selections. Most of us have never seen a named variety of Hawaiian Ti known botanically as Cordyline fruticosa or Cordyline australis.

I say this in reference to the fact that these plants have often been sold generically and most of us certainly haven’t had the opportunity to go to the garden center and have options or choice when purchasing. I already see them on the market as well as in Proven Winners ready mixes where they are used as suspense plants.

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It couldn’t come at a better time as Southern states crave Cordylines for use in high-profile landscapes like community entrances, front entry yards, and office complexes. Commercial landscapers have been bold, challenging us in all the misconceptions we’ve had about the Hawaiian Ti plant.

When Hawaiian Ti is grown in combination with other tropical foliage, the look becomes magical, synonymous with the islands.

Consider names like Calypso Queen, Bali Red, and Hilo Rainbow. These should make all tropical plant lovers impatient, to say the least. On the other hand, know that the Prince Albert and Red Sister varieties, while not having a jazzy tropical name, defy logic with their leafy backs that seem to glow in shades of bright pink and iridescent red.

A misconception that commercial landscapers put to rest is that in a economy of scale, these are a good buy. Landscapers think big, planting many. They also teach us that if you’re going to use a tropical to create “Martinican magic,” why not use partners like crotons and gingers? The look will have you imagining steel drums playing in the distance.

Varieties like this Red Star are used as suspense plants in containers mixed with Supertunia Mini Vista Petunias and Heart to Heart Caladiums.

The biggest misconception rejected by the commercial landscape trade is that the Hawaiian Ti cannot take full sun. Time and time again, whether on a coastal highway in Savannah or a hot street in the city of Columbus, Georgia, these guys can take it and look like a million bucks all summer long, hitting heights of four to six feet.

The Garden Guy’s biggest surprise came after winter froze them to the ground in my zone 8a home. I simply cut just above ground after the freezing temperatures turned the foliage a crisp brown.

This gray tree frog adds its personality to The Garden Guy's Hawaiian Ti as it nestles in the tropical red foliage.

Incredibly, when I was getting ready for spring planting, I noticed every clump was turning. I would have liked to leave them in place, but I was doing a redesign. I stuck them in pots with Calibrachoas Superbells and Primo Peachberry Ice will heuch. It took them a short time to reach 30 inches in height.

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The common name “cabbage palm” is associated with cordyline or Hawaiian Ti which is a bit strange but is often the case in common names. They get much taller in the tropics, which is probably associated with the idea of ​​a palm tree. The Red Star variety, botanically known as Cordyline australis, resembles to the world a thick burgundy red dracaena.

This Red Star Hawaiian Ti or Cordyline is one of five new selections that have been added to Proven Winners' Proven Selections label.

If you’ve ever returned from California wishing you could grow Phormium or New Zealand flax, this will quench your thirst. This one has been out for a number of years but it is very inconsistent to find it in the market. We hope that with the addition of Proven Winners to the Proven Selections label, we can all get our hands on it on a regular basis.

A long, hot summer awaits us and we have months to create that special place or island-like piece of paradise. With actually named varieties of Hawaiian Ti plants, we can let our artistic design run free, maybe we’ll add flamingos too!

This Red Sister strain from Hawaiian Ti is paired with Luscious Royale Cosmo lantana and tropical hibiscus for a festival of color.

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