Skip to main content

Cordyline is a striking indoor plant — this is how to care for it the right way

Indoor plants can add style and sophistication to any room. That’s why we love cordyline for its striking appearance. It has long, thin leaves that spike up and create an effortlessly messy but gorgeous appearance. It helps that the leaves come in various colors like red, yellow, white, green, and even purple, which can add a pop of vibrant color to any decor. We’ll discuss how to care for cordyline the right way so you can enjoy its full, colorful leaves for a long time.

Cordyline proper care guide

While cordyline is not difficult to care for, it is a tropical shrub that has some specific preferences when it comes to indoor conditions. We’ll walk you through the basics of the maintenance of these beautiful plants.

Can cordyline survive winter?

This is truly a tropical plant, so it prefers warm temperatures that are consistently above 62 degrees F. If your plant is potted outside, be sure to bring it in for the winter well before the first frost. Cordyline also enjoys high levels of humidity, so it actually does extremely well in bathrooms since the steam and heat from the shower make it thrive. However, only place the plant in the bathroom if there is a window that lets in lots of natural light.

Make sure humidity levels are high

If you don’t have any natural light in your bathroom, you’ll need to find another way to keep humidity levels high around your cordyline. Try placing it on a tray of pebbles and soaking the pebbles with water. Just make sure that the bottom of the planter isn’t soaked, as this could cause root rot. You can also run a humidifier near the plant to get some moisture in the air, but misting the leaves of this plant is not advised.

Can cordylines grow in pots?

While they grow much larger in the ground, cordylines are great pot plants too. While the stems of this plant typically vary in height, cordylines will still grow up to three or four feet tall in a pot. An added benefit to using a planter for these shrubs is that you can keep them outside during warmer months and then easily move them indoors when the weather gets cooler.

How and when to water cordyline

You should only water cordyline when the top of the soil is completely dry, and you’ll find that you need to water less often during winter months when the plant’s growth slows. Use distilled water only because these plants have been known to react poorly to the chlorine and fluoride found in tap water. Be sure that when you water, you soak only the soil and not the leaves. Wet leaves can lead to rotting, mildew, or leaf diseases.

Do cordylines like sun or shade?

While cordyline enjoys bright light, this plant does not prefer direct sunlight. If your plant will be outdoors, be sure it’s in a location that gets adequate shade for some of the day. Indoors, keep your plant in a room with plenty of natural light, but make sure the sunlight is filtered and not directly hitting the plant’s leaves for too many hours per day.

Fertilizing your cordyline

Only fertilize your cordyline during the growing season, which is between March and September. You can use a liquid house plant fertilizer that’s diluted properly according to the package instructions. It’s best to apply fertilizer when the soil has slightly dried since the last watering.

Common problems with cordyline plants

Since they’re a bit finicky with temperature, humidity levels, and watering routines, cordylines do sometimes present with issues that should be addressed right away.

Brown leaf tips

If the tips of those gorgeous, colorful leaves are starting to brown, there are a few possible culprits.

  • Not enough humidity. Try running a humidifier in the room to see if your plant gets any better.
  • Too much or too little water. Over- and under-watering are common mistakes for many plants. Check the soil of your cordyline; give it a drink if the soil is overly dry, or pull back on your watering schedule if the soil feels too moist.
  • Fluoride toxicity. The plant may be reacting to high fluoride levels in your water. Try giving the soil a good soak with distilled water to flush out the fluoride as much as possible. If you don’t have distilled water, just leave your tap water out for 24 hours so the fluoride can evaporate before you water your cordyline.

Yellowing leaves

While yellowing leaves are a natural occurrence as a plant ages, excessive or frequent yellow leaves on your cordyline could mean it’s not getting what it needs. If the yellow leaves are toward the top of the plant, the culprit could be:

  • Over- or under-watering. Again, check the soil’s moisture level and adjust your watering schedule.
  • Too much direct sunlight. Try moving the plant to a location without direct sunbeams.
  • Fluctuating temperatures. If it’s near a vent or window, try a new location for a while.

Cordyline is a stunning shrub to have indoors. Not only does it add a beautiful aesthetic element to the room, but it’s a pretty hearty plant that’s relatively easy to care for. While it can be finicky with temperature and humidity, our care guide will help your gorgeous cordyline thrive indoors for many years to come.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
How to propagate lucky bamboo in 5 easy steps so you don’t have to buy it
Grow and propagate lucky bamboo at home for decoration or to give as gifts
Lucky bamboo in small pot on wooden table.

Lucky bamboo is an awesome indoor plant that's popular for its minimalistic, chic design and ease of care. If you already have one of these beauties and it's been growing strong, you can propagate it to create more plants if you want more. Once you've propagated, you can then let the new plants grow for a bit and either decorate your home with your own indoor lucky bamboo garden or give them away to friends and family. It is believed that lucky bamboo can bring its owners luck and good fortune, so they're great to give as birthday or housewarming gifts. Check out how to grow your own below.

Is lucky bamboo easy to propagate?
The good news is, not only does lucky bamboo do well with being propagated, the process is super simple. All you need in order to get more lucky bamboo plants is a few tools and supplies:

Read more
How to propagate prayer plants for a flourishing indoor garden
These tips to propagate prayer plants will help yours thrive
how to grow prayer plant in pot

Being a plant parent leads to a satisfying life. Prayer plants, in particular, are great indoor plants to take on as plant babies. They are easy to care for, give the room a splash of life and color, and they're even beneficial to your health. They're also an indoor plant that can be propagated and multiplied easily. We'll discuss the best way to propagate prayer plants so you can enjoy watching new plant babies grow and flourish in your home.

Are prayer plants easy to propagate?
There are many types of indoor plants that you can propagate over and over again to create your own indoor jungle, and some plant varieties are more difficult to propagate than others. When compared to other plants, the process for propagating prayer plants is incredibly easy and requires minimal time and effort.
Can you propagate a prayer plant in water?
While there are a few methods for propagating a prayer plant, including soil propagation, water propagation, root division, and propagating from seed, the easiest method is, by far, water propagation. It requires fewer materials than other methods, demands the least amount of effort on your part, and is a much simpler process that's less messy than soil propagation.

Read more
How to repot a houseplant without killing it in the process
Repot your house plants the right way so they can flourish in their new homes
Indoor plant in wicker container

Having indoor plants has so many benefits on so many levels. Not only are they visual aesthetic, but their also beneficial to your physical and mental health. If you love having your green babies indoors, you want to make sure they're getting all the care and attention they need so they can flourish for a long time. It's a good idea to repot your indoor plants on occasion, and not just to match your newly redecorated space. Repotting is also beneficial to your plants' continual growth. We're going to walk through how to repot plants safely without harming or stunting the growth of your beautiful indoor greenery.

Why repot a plant?
While replacing and updating your decorative pots is a good way to spice up and refresh your indoor space's decor, the biggest reason to repot a plant is for the plant's health. Potted plants often start to outgrow their pots, meaning that their root system becomes too big for the space, stunting growth. Plants eventually need to be transported to a larger pot to continue to grow and flourish. The soil in the pot also needs to be replaced on occasion. As the plant grows, it absorbs nutrients from the soil, and in the case of a potted plant, replacing the soil allows your plant to continue to be fed.

Read more