Ti Plant Profile

Vibrant red/purple/magenta foliage of tropical Ti plant (Cordyline).

Marje / Getty Images

Native to Eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, the folklore of the Ti plant is as lush as its foliage. This "good luck plant" was believed by early Polynesians to have mystical powers. Legend has it that the more stalks on your ti plant, the greater fortune you will have in matters of the heart, mind and more. Foliage comes in an array of vibrant colors though most commonly in plum purple and hot magenta. Beloved for their colorful, lasting foliage, the Ti plant comes in dark glossy green, deep glossy red, as well as other shades of green, red, maroon, rose, pink, orange, yellow and white. Some of the showiest varieties include "Firebrand," "Painter’s Palette" and "Oahu Rainbow."

Seedlings show such true color as the leaves mature; older leaves turn yellow. Leaf clusters make up spirals at the tips of branches. Smooth and flexible leaves are large, narrow-oblong, each one to two feet long and about four inches wide on most varieties. The plant can be grown as an evergreen in USDA Zones 10 through 12, hardy to a brief cold snap to 30 degrees Fahrenheit while truly thriving where temperatures remain between 65 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In places where it is cooler, the plant should be potted and taken indoors in winter.

Come spring, small six-petaled star-shaped florets may appear on a dropping branched stem known as a panicle. Blooms come in white, pink, lavender or yellow, revealing six yellow stamens and a single white pistil. Later in the season, one-and-a-half-inch fleshy round berry fruits are born in green, yellow or red.

Botanical Name ​Cordyline terminalis (Others include Cordyline minalis, Convallaria fruticosa, Dracaena terminalis, Terminalis fruticosa)
Common Names Ti plant; ti; green ti; Hawaiian good-luck plant; ti tree; good-luck plant; tree of kings; common dracaena; dracaena; dracaena palm; lily palm; miracle plant; kï, lau kï, lä‘ï (Hawaiian)
Plant Type Evergreen (tropical, decorative foliage)
Mature Size Ten feet tall, three to four feet wide
Sun Exposure Part sun
Soil Type Loamy or sandy
Soil pH Slightly acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White, pink, yellow, lavender
HardinessZones 10, 11, 12
Native Area Eastern Asia, Australia, Pacific Islands
Tropical foliage with red Ti plant (Cordyline).
Marje / Getty Images

How to Grow Ti Plants

Popular in Hawaii, this upright evergreen shrub is pictured above in a tropical landscape. It has single or branched stems that will reach 10 feet high and the entire plant will spread three to four feet wide moderately fast. These plants do well as specimens, accent plants, and shrubs to make up a privacy hedge. To prepare an area for this plant outdoors, shovel and till to loosen the soil and remove weeds.

Light

Select a location that gets a whole day of full to partially filtered sunlight. While Ti can tolerate lots of heat, this "good luck plant" doesn't have quite enough fortune to handle drought. Ensure that the roots stay moist in light filtered shade. Too much direct light and heat may cause the foliage to burn.

Soil

Ti plants prefer slightly acidic soil that is fertile and well-drained. Maintain moisture in sandy or loamy soil (avoid wet or hard clay and sites where there could be salt spray). If planted in an area that is too shady or soggy, roots and stems may rot, snail and slug damage may occur, and the plant will be susceptible to leaf spot.

When planting, gently remove the ti plant from its pot. Dust off any excess soil from its roots. Cut any damaged or dead roots so all that is left of the root system is healthy, firm and white. Establish in the ground. Firmly cover with soil around the root ball.

Water

Water deeply at soil level to keep the foliage dry. Continue to water regularly during the growing season. Tepid, not cold, water will encourage the soil to dry out somewhat, but not completely, in between irrigation. A two- to -six-inch deep layer of mulch, four inches away from the trunk's base, will keep the water from evaporating. In fall and winter, water sparingly.

Fertilizer

Whether potted or planted outside, feed ti plants with a slow-release fertilizer that is well-balanced in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (8-8-8 or 10-10-10). Spread the fertilizer evenly around the soil at least one foot away from the plant's base. Water deeply.

Pests

Common pests to look out for are scale, aphids, mealybugs, nematodes and thrips. To prevent infestations and fungal diseases, wipe the foliage with a clean, damp cloth. Continuously rinse the foliage of any insects or pests that may be living on the plant. Be sure to do such rinsing in the morning so that there is time for the water to evaporate. Sitting water makes the plant susceptible to fungal diseases. Signs of pests or disease include nibble marks and spotted, wilting, or yellowed foliage. If needed, cut the plant back or treat with fungicidal spray.

Propagation

Propagate by simple layering or divisions. Learn to spread the good fortune of the Ti plant around your garden and you'll be rewarded with vibrant foliage for years to come.

Toxicity

The ASPCA cautions that this plant is toxic to cats and dogs. If these furry friends live in your home, consider an animal-friendly houseplant instead.