How To Propagate Cordylines From Seed or Cuttings – Step by Step Guide

How To Propagate Cordylines From Seed or Cuttings – Step by Step Guide

Last updated on January 20th, 2022

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The majestic aura that Cordylines present may tempt you to add more of them into your garden, after all, who doesn’t like palm-like trees in their garden to give off a tropical vibe. If you have fallen in love with Cordylines and would like to add a few more of them to your garden, using cuttings is my top recommended method and there are two methods I use. One is to take small shoots off the main stem and the other is to remove ground shoots from the base of an established Cordyline.

By taking cuttings from the mother plant, you have the assurance that any new Cordyline will present the characteristics you admire. I also explain how to sow Cordylines from seed, although this is a method that takes longer to get decent-sized plants, however, some people enjoy growing them from seed so I have also included a guide for this too.

Let’s get started!

Propagating Cordylines from cuttings

Taking cuttings in spring or summer is simple to do and is my preferred method because you don’t have to go through the germination process as you do with seeds and you can usually have a garden-ready plant in around 12 months.

There are two types of cuttings I like to take. The first is to use the small side shoots that shoot from the main stem. If you have ever pruned your Cordyline, you will have noticed it sends out lots of new shoots off the main stem.

New shoots from cordyline that had been pruned back, I recommend leaving 3 shoots at the top and them using any other shoots as cuttings
New shoots from a Cordyline that has been pruned back. I recommend leaving 3 shoots at the top and then using any other shoots as cuttings

Ideally, you should leave 3-4 shoots at the top of the trunk. These will become the new heads and form a multi-headed Cordyline but you also get lots of new shoots up the trunk that you can remove to use as cuttings. If you leave the shoots to mature a little, you can remove them at a later date and use them as cuttings to grow new plants.

Small side shoots on cordyline that can be removed and used as cuttings to grow new plants
Small side shoots on a Cordyline that can be removed and used as cuttings to grow new plants

Sometimes you naturally get some new shoots off the main stem of established Cordylines and you can also use these shoots as cuttings.

You can learn more about pruning Cordylines here if you are interested

The second way I like to take cuttings is by removing any shoots at the base of the main trunk. These are usually larger and can be separated from the main plant with a sharp knife and potted on or moved and planted directly to a new part of the garden.

If you’re interested in a detailed guide in growing Cordylines from cuttings I have a guide here

How to transplant Cordyline cuttings

The link above is a more detailed guide on how to take Cordyline cuttings, but if you are somewhat experienced in gardening, this is basically what you need to do.

Method 1 – taking cuttings from the side shoots

If you have recently pruned your Cordyline and have some side shoots on the main stem you can simply remove these with a sharp knife or pair of secateurs.

The next step is to plant them up into small smaller pots. I like to use 9cm pots and plant them into a seed and cutting compost or mix 50% multipurpose compost with 50% grit.

You can also dip the end of the cutting into a rooting powder to encourage rooting.

Grow them on for 12 months, ideally in a cold greenhouse but you can leave them outside in a sheltered position too and keep them well watered but not too wet. Allow the surface of the compost to become dry between watering.

You can plant them directly into the garden or into patio containers the following spring or summer.

Method 2 – taking cuttings from the ground shoots

Cordylines will often sprout new shoots at ground level, once these are a little established, you can use a sharp knife to cut down right into the soil to separate the ground shoot from the main plant. Try to get as much of the root as possible. These cuttings can actually be quite large, a foot or taller in size and you might need to use a lot of effort to cut and separate them from the main plant.

Once you have done this you can sprinkle a little rooting powder over the roots and plant them directly in the garden or pot them on into suitably sized pots for the size of the cutting. We strongly recommend using seed and cutting compost or 50% multi-purpose compost mixed with 50% grit sand. Keep them well watered until they establish, usually around 12 months.

Growing Cordyline from seeds

I don’t often grow Cordylines from seed as it takes quite a long time to germinate and grow into a decent-sized plant but I have done this process in the past so the steps below are the method we used. It is worth noting you can buy the seeds online, using more specialist seed retailers and even on Amazon. This way you have the opportunity to get hold of some of the more exotic varieties but these will not be frost-hardy and need to be kept indoors.

They are really easy to grow from seeds but just take a little time to establish. You can sow them in seed trays or using individual pots in multipurpose compost or with a John Innes seed compost.

I like to keep them in my greenhouse but you can also grow them on a sunny windowsill and often no special treatment is required. They can grow like grass sometimes, sometimes even growing where the seeds have fallen in your garden.

Once they have germinated and have a decent root system I like to pot them on into small pots (if they have been sown in a seed tray) or let them grow in the pots I originally planted them in.

Once fully established, usually a year or two, they can be planted in their final positions.

You can learn more on how to grow Cordylines, if you just getting started, with my guide here

Final conclusion

If you make it a habit of propagating Cordylines, the tropical vibe attached to Cordylines will soon fill your space, whether indoors or outdoors. Try growing them and discover the beauty they have to offer.


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