Dark Cordylines

Over in the Tropical Potager I have started to use cordylines as flowerless colour accents and here in the Dark Verandah, they are similarly an important resource for dark chocolate tones that come in a variety of shapes and textures.

Pictured right is Cordyline Fruticosa 'Earthquake' purchased unlabeled at a nursery but relatively easy to identify because of its unusual twisted foliage. It has never looked this good in its previous two locations where it sulked and had most of its leaves eaten. Here in a much sunnier position its starting to come into its own, its dark sculptural shape standing out against its neighbours.

On the left, most probably Cordyline Fruticosa 'Compacta', identifiable by its much smaller compact leaves is a freebie from a nearby abandoned house where a huge shrub is spilling over onto the sidewalk. Cordylines have a wonderful ability to be easily propagated by simply cutting a branch and sticking it into the ground. Without the slightest complaint, it takes it from there and before very long is rooted and part of the colony. It can flop when it get taller, so Ive been cutting and re starting them to get a clump thats full but shorter. Quite often they end up in a vase in the house as they are almost like chocolate flowers with the lower leaves trimmed off.

Not so easy to propagate is my Cordyline Fruticosa Black Magic -see how dark it is here when I first got it. Now it is quite magnificent, almost like a small palm in the center of this picture. It hasn't sent up any other branches to propagate though, so it's charms remain solo. Thankfully it doesn't seem to need much, and remains healthy in a relatively small pot.

Despite the extraordinary choice of shape and color available with this plant genus that I've drooled over on the International Cordyline Society's website, the recurring problem here is availability. Nurseries generally stock popular varieties - typically the green and pink ones. Flower shows in Singapore tend to be a good source for more unusual choices, I need to be on the lookout at the next one for more of this superb choice for the tropical garden.

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