10 Secrets to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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Here are all the secret tips and tricks on How to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant in easy steps! Follow these to keep it vivid all year round!

If you’ve ever wondered how to amplify those radiant hues of Cordyline Plant to make them the show-stopping centerpiece of your indoor or outdoor space, you’re in for a treat! Discover science-backed techniques that are not just about maintaining your Cordyline, but about elevating its colors to levels you never thought possible. Read on to delve into the best tips on How to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant!

Here’s all you need to know about growing Cordyline plant


The Science Behind the Color of Cordyline

The green hue that you see on the Ti plant is because of chlorophyll.

When it falls apart, the chemical that’s leftover is anthocyanin, which forms the red foliage. This water-soluble pigment is also responsible for the colors, red, purple, and blue, in fruits and vegetables. The color and stability of these pigments are influenced by pH, light, temperature, and structure.

Learn to grow Cordyline plant in water here


How to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant

1. Bright Light for a Deeper Hue

For the best leaf color grow the plant in a bright spot, that gets at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight every day. Keeping the plant in a shaded spot will make it mostly green with a lower shine on the foliage.

If you are growing it in the garden, choose a spot that gets bright and indirect light for most of the day with direct sun in the morning for 2-3 hours. Also, keep it safe from prolonged exposure to the harsh afternoon sun, especially if you live in a warm area as it might scorch the leaves.

Have a look at some stunning Tricolor houseplants here

2. A Good Balance of Water and Light

How to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant 2

This plant requires a strong light for the best leaf hue; such conditions result in fast water evaporation through the plant’s foliage, raising its requirement for regular watering.

Applying a 2-inch layer of organic mulch helps to preserve soil moisture. It would be a good idea to keep its growing medium slightly on the moist side all the time. To do it, water the plant when the topsoil feels a bit dry to the touch.

Wondering if your plants are thirsty? Look for the signs here

3. Choose a Colorful Variety

Selecting a Cordyline variety that produces colorful leaves is the best way to enjoy its vivid hues. You can get any one or all of these:

  1. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Red Sister’: This popular variety of Cordyline is known for its bright burgundy-red leaves.
  2. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Kiwi’: The Kiwi Ti plant has leaves with vibrant shades of green, cream, and pinkish-purple.
  3. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Ruby’: This variety has glossy, deep red leaves edged with bright pink.
  4. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Hawaiian Boy’: The leaves of the ‘Hawaiian Boy’ are a deep purple color with hot pink edges.
  5. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Firebrand’: This variety is also known as the ‘Red Dracaena’. It has rich red to burgundy leaves.
  6. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Tricolor’: True to its name, this variety has leaves that are a combination of red, pink, and green.
  7. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Black Magic’: An interesting variety with dark, nearly-black, burgundy-red leaves.
  8. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Candy Cane’: This variety has green leaves striped with white, cream, and pink.
  9. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Miss Andrea’: This variety is known for its bold, purplish-pink leaves.
  10. Cordyline fruticosa ‘Maria’: This variety has glossy, reddish-pink leaves that are marked with bands of bronze and hot pink.

Here are the most beautiful Cordyline varieties you can grow

4. Use Banana Peel FertilizerHow to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant 4

Keep 7-8 banana peels in the sun for 3-4 days till they are dry. Grind them in a mixer and make a fine powder. Take a gallon of water in a container, add 6-8 tablespoons of banana peel powder and one teaspoon of Epsom salt.

Stir well and use it as every third watering on the plant. As banana peels contain 42 percent potassium, which is an efficient element that boosts coloring.

Check out our article on banana peel powder feed here

5. Go for Epsom Salt

As Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfur, applying it will enhance the absorption of necessary nutrients needed by the plant to grow well and produce deep colors.

It also prevents yellow leaves and leaf curling that happens due to the absence of magnesium.

Use a pinch of Epsom salt in a liter of water and use it to water the plant once in 4-6 weeks.

Here’s how you can use Epsom salt to grow healthy houseplants

6. Wipe the Leaves

Wipe the colorful leaves with a moist, soft cloth once in 5-7 days. This will keep the dust away and improve the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. It will also help the plant to look shiny.

Check out some easy DIY leaf shiner recipes here

7. Optimum Temperature and Humidity

How to Enhance the Color of Cordyline Plant 7

Cordyline prefers a temperature between 60-85 F (15-30 C). Avoid keeping the plant near A/C vents of windows where it could catch cold drafts. Sudden temperature fluctuations can make the leaves yellow.

As the plant prefers humidity between 30-40%, it would be a good idea to keep its pot on a pebble tray filled with water. You can also use a humidifier.

Try easy ways to raise humidity for your houseplants here

8. Stressing the Plant

Understanding Plant Stress

  • Drought Stress: Limiting water intake can lead to increased anthocyanin production, intensifying leaf colors.
  • Temperature Stress: Exposure to cooler temperatures, especially at night, can enhance coloration.
  • Nutrient Stress: Controlled limitations on specific nutrients like nitrogen can impact leaf color.

Drought Stress

  1. Watering Schedule: Cut back on your regular watering schedule slightly to induce mild drought stress.
  2. Monitoring: Keep a close eye on the plant’s health, as extreme water deprivation can cause harm.

Temperature Stress

  1. Cool Nights: If possible, expose the Cordyline plants to cooler night temperatures of around 50-60°F (10-15°C).
  2. Morning Sun: A combination of cool nights and morning sun often brings out the best colors in Cordyline plants.

Nutrient Stress

  1. Reduced Nitrogen: Slightly reduce the nitrogen level in your fertilizing regimen, as excess nitrogen can lead to a more lush, but less colorful, plant.
  2. Balanced Fertilization: Use a balanced fertilizer to ensure other nutrients are not lacking, which could harm the plant.

Note: This should be done carefully, however, as too much stress can harm or kill the plant.

9. Manipulating pH

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Manipulating soil pH levels can have a significant impact on the nutrient absorption rates, thereby affecting the color vibrancy of your Cordyline plants.

Why pH Matters

  • Nutrient Absorption: The availability of essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is affected by soil pH. These nutrients play a vital role in color development.
  • Metal Availability: Trace metals like iron and zinc, also crucial for pigmentation, become more or less available depending on the soil pH.
  • Stress Management: A balanced pH aids in overall plant health, reducing stress which can otherwise dull the color of the leaves.

pH Targets for Cordyline

  • Slightly Acidic to Neutral: Cordylines generally prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0 to 7.0 for optimum growth and color development.

To Increase Acidity (Lower pH)

  1. Sulfur Additives: Elemental sulfur can be applied to the soil and is converted to sulfuric acid by soil bacteria, effectively lowering the pH.
  2. Organic Matter: Incorporating organic materials like pine needles and peat moss can also acidify the soil.

To Decrease Acidity (Raise pH)

  1. Lime Application: Dolomite lime or calcium carbonate can be added to the soil to raise its pH.
  2. Wood Ash: A more organic way to raise pH is to incorporate wood ash into the soil.

Monitoring and Adjustment

  • Soil Testing: Before making any changes, test the current soil pH using a pH meter or a soil test kit.
  • Incremental Changes: Always make incremental changes and monitor the pH levels and plant response over time.

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10. Use Colored Grow Lights

Cordyline plants, known for their vibrant foliage and exotic appearance, can benefit from specific types of colored growing lights to optimize their coloration and overall growth.

1. Red Lights (630-660nm)

  • Benefits: Promotes flowering and fruiting, and can also encourage vibrant coloration in red or pink-hued Cordyline varieties.
  • Application: Suitable for mature plants and can be used in the later stages of growth.

2. Blue Lights (440-470nm)

  • Benefits: Stimulates vegetative growth, leaf development, and can enhance the green pigmentation.
  • Application: Useful during the plant’s growth phase to establish strong and healthy foliage.

3. Green Lights (500-550nm)

  • Benefits: Though plants reflect most green light, some evidence suggests it can help in deeper penetration of the foliage for even growth.
  • Application: Often used in combination with other colors rather than in isolation.

4. Far-Red Lights (720-740nm)

  • Benefits: Can help in simulating natural sunset conditions and may encourage flowering.
  • Application: Use cautiously and typically in conjunction with red lights.

Top Brands to Consider

  • Philips
  • GE Lighting
  • ViparSpectra
  • Mars Hydro

Note: Pay attention to your plant’s response to the colored lights. Signs of stress, such as leaf discoloration or wilting, may indicate the need to adjust light type or duration.

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