Cordyline australis ‘Torbay Red’

Red Cabbage Tree

The Cabbage Tree, is one of the most renowned plants indigenous to New Zealand, and has since become very popular in cultivation in the UK.

It typically grows as a single or multiple trunk tall tree with pale to dark grey corky bark, sporting iconic sword-shaped leaves that grow up to a metre long, and produces panicles of fragrant, sweetly perfumed white flowers in late spring.

Cordyline australis ‘Torbay Red’ is a new variety, naturally occurring cultivar which is dark red leaved and slightly shorter than the original species.

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Origin: New Zealand
Genus: Cordyline
Species / Cultivar: australis 'Torbay Red'
Common Name: Red Cabbage Tree

Plant Biography

Native to New Zealand where it’s known to the Māori as ‘tī kōuka’, and grows at the margins of forests, frequently near swamps. It has historically been eaten by native New Zealanders, who bake the root or brew it into an intoxicating drink. The Māori also use parts of the plant to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses.

You may have seen Cordyline Australis with either single unbranched stems or forked branches. This is because the plant only divides into forks after its first flowering, which typically occurs at 6 to 10 years of age. Each branch may fork after producing a flower stem, which appear within pink tinged bracts with protect the flowers before they open.

Cordyline australis 'Torbay Red'
Growth Rate: Fast
Expect to see prolific growth, especially during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Eventual Height: 4-6m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 2-3m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.

Expert Tip

Cordyline australis' branches may fork after producing a flower stem. The flowers appear within pink tinged bracts which protect them before they open.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

The  Cabbage Tree is smaller than the original species and thus is more suitable for container growth. Specimens grown in a container are unlikely to flower.

Planted in the ground it usually flowers (and thus forks) after about 6 to 10 years, but the right conditions can bring the flowering to 3 years of age.

The ‘Torbay Red’ cultivar is marginally less hardy.


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