How to Grow Cordyline Indivisa (Cabbage Tree)

Cordyline indivisa tree with large glossy lance-shaped leaves against blue skies

The Spruce / K. Dave

A slow-growing evergreen tree, the Cordyline indivisa is commonly referred to as the mountain cabbage tree, blue dracaena, or Toi in its native New Zealand. These easy-to-grow trees were introduced to the United States during the 1800s and now add tropical flair to temperate gardens.

C. indivisa typically grows as a small, single-trunk understory tree with large, glossy, lance-shaped leaves. The stem typically has few, if any, branches. It is distinctive from other related Cordyline species due to its broad, blue-green leaves and its small, tightly compacted inflorescence, produced underneath the foliage. Its small yet fragrant flowers range in color from green-white to purple-brown, and they can be expected to bloom in dense clusters in the late spring to early summer if there is ample sun and warmth.

C. indivisa can also be grown as a container plant to be enjoyed outdoors on the patio in the summer, as well as kept indoors year-round.

Common Name Mountain cabbage tree, blue dracaena, toi, dracaena spikes
Botanical Name Cordyline indivisa 
Family Lomandroideae
Plant Type Evergreen tree
Mature Size Up to 10-18 ft. tall
Sun Exposure Partial shade
Soil Type Moist, fertile, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Late spring/summer
Flower Color White/green, purple/brown
Hardiness Zones 8-12 (USDA)
Native Area New Zealand

Cordyline Indivisa Care

Potential C. indivisa growers should know that while this is a very attractive tree, it does have a tendency to suddenly collapse during periods of high temperatures or water shortage.

It's important to strike a balance with moderate sunlight, water, and cooler temperatures, and to choose your tree's location wisely when planting. They should always be kept in a sheltered position.

These plants are not associated with any serious insect or disease problems. However, indoor plants can attract mealybugs, scale, and spider mites.

Cordyline indivisa trees with lance-shaped leaves on thin stems next to outdoor wall

The Spruce / K. Dave

Cordyline indivisa tree with glossy lance-shaped leaves closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave


The tree will grow best when planted in partial shade.


When growing a Cordyline indivisa, it's important to keep the soil evenly moist. You can water freely in dry weather.


These plants will grow best in cool, moist, and fertile soil that's rich in organic matter and well-drained. The soil can be chalky, loamy, or sandy.

Temperature and Humidity

C. indivisa is best suited for growth in tropical climates, but it can also tolerate somewhat cooler temperatures. These trees may not be able to tolerate an abundance of direct sunlight, and they generally can't survive frost.


C. indivisa can be fertilized; just be sure that if it's being grown outdoors, you wait until the middle of the spring. A balanced fertilizer can help promote new growth. You should fertilize regularly for the best display.

Types of Cordyline

  • Draceana: Stiff-leaved, attractive plant that's easy to grow indoors
  • Cordyline terminalis: Wide leaves, showy, flowers in a range of colors
  • "Red Sister": Popular cordyline variety in nurseries with fuchsia-colored growth (older leaves appear to be a deeper reddish-green)


The Cordyline indivisa isn't typically pruned, but you can cut back any shoots that are growing off the side of the plant.

Propagating Cordyline Indivisa

Cordylines are easy to propagate. The plants can be lopped during the warmer months. You can either place the tops in a container of water or plant them in pots that contain a mixture of peat moss and sharp sand or potting mix. The old plant will regenerate new growth while you grow a crop of new plants.

How to Grow Cordyline Indivisa From Seed

C. indivisa grows well from seeds that are planted in trays or small pots in the spring and then transplanted in warm, sunny locations after the threat of freezing has passed.

Potting and Repotting Cordyline Indivisa

You can grow Cordyline indivisa plants in containers, either placed outside on patios in the summer or grown indoors as houseplants throughout the year. But, potted plants rarely flower.

Container soil should be kept consistently moist in the summer, and then you should reduce the amount of moisture indoors in the winter.

A patio potted plant can be expected to grow slowly (to about 3 to 6 feet tall), and develop a short, stocky trunk over time. They are often sold as houseplants for their interesting foliage.


If you live in an area that experiences freezing winter temperatures and you grow your Cordyline indivisa plants outdoors in the ground, they should be transplanted into pots and brought indoors for the winter. These can be replanted in the garden after the last frost in the spring.

Large plants that can not be brought indoors should be wrapped in horticultural burlap or fleece to protect them from freezing.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Cordyline indivisa is generally problem-free, but indoor plants may experience leaf spot or aphids.

  • Leaf spot, a fungal disease, can be treated by removing affected leaves and spraying the remaining plant with copper fungicide.
  • Aphids can be eradicated with pyrethrum-based insecticide or soap spray.
  • Does Cordyline indivisa grow well in pots?

    C. indivisa can thrive in a pot, but it will not grow as large as a ground-planted specimen, and it is much less likely to flower.

  • How long does Cordyline indivisa live?

    Well-tended plants can live to be well over 20 years old.

  • Is Cordyline indivisa a perennial?

    In warm regions with mild winters, C. indivisa thrives as a perennial. In colder areas, potted plants will also survive year-round.