What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

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What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by samtobuk » Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:54 pm

I have a substantial australis that is now about 4ft tall, and it's all just 'green' stem with leaves top to bottom. Makes a lovely shape, but why does this one keep growing without forming a proper trunk (it has about 2 inches at the base at a push), whereas I have another (and have seen many, many more in nurseries) that is substanitally smaller but is a say 15 inch diameter 'ball' of leaves on top of a 15 inch trunk.

Is it something specific to each species, or is there something the nurseries do to them in younger life to persuade them to trunk up? Or should I just be removing loads of the lower leaves to form a green trunk that will then over time turn brown? The leaves right at the base are still pristine and green with just one or two tiny ones withering away, so no need to remove them otherwise!

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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by Wilza » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:18 pm

It will trunk eventually, sounds like it's still a fairly young plant. The lower leaves will start to go brown and tatty and can be removed.

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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by samtobuk » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:27 pm

You're probably right, but comparatively this plant is already huge compared to the other one I described, so why does one already have a trunk taller than it's diameter (2ft), while this one is at least 3-4ft across with no trunk at all?

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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by Conifers » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:27 pm

The faster it is growing, the longer the leafy section. So in a year or two it'll have far more trunk than the other one.

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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by Deedee » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:30 am

If you cut the bottom fronds off you will see the trunk, Surely icon_scratch

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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by Dave Brown » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:10 am

The trunk is there, but just covered with leaves. The more leaves it has the more photosynthesis, so the more energy, so the faster it can grow.

If you are desperate for a trunk, you can cut the lower leaves off, and it time the bases dry and fall off, but may slow it down :wink:
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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by GoggleboxUK » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:09 am

I have a Cordyline that is around 7ft tall now and until recently it was leaves from top to bottom.

I was tidying the garden a few weeks ago and noticed that all the leaves at the base had started to shrivel and turn woody brown. When I touched one near the base it just came clean away from the plant. I grabbed a handful and pulled a lot more away so I continued to work my way around the plant removing all loose leaves.

The result, a 7ft Cordyline with 4ft of green at the top and 3ft of trunk that has appeared overnight! :)

If you look at any large Cordyline you'll notice that the green crown tends to be a similar size, about 4ft, and trunk under that. Mine have grown at around 12-18" per year since planting, perhaps a little more than normal due to being behind other plants and stretching for light, and I'm waiting for them to get taller and (hopefully) branch off into multiple heads.
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Re: What makes a Cordyline 'trunk'?

Post by RogerBacardy » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:07 pm

All the answers above are correct, but I just want to add that it sounds healthy.

Sometimes you see cordylines in pots with relatively little in the way of leaf, yet a lot of trunk. That's because of restricted roots and less access to water and nutrients, keeping it in a semi bonsai state. If they're in the ground with decent soil they bulk up in no time, sometimes they can get to 6ft + before you see any trunk.

It just means your cordlyine is doing well where it is and in a few years it will be a monster. :)

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