Are Red Star Cordyline Perennial?

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Some key takeaways on whether Red Star Cordyline is a perennial:

  • Red Star Cordyline is a cultivar of the New Zealand native Cordyline australis, which is a large perennial tree.
  • Yes, Red Star Cordyline is classified as a hardy perennial plant that lasts multiple seasons.
  • It has striking, uniquely colored red leaves that make it popular in landscapes and gardens.
  • Red Star Cordyline is quite drought tolerant and low maintenance once established.
  • In colder climates, it can be grown as a container plant brought indoors for winter protection.
  • In warm climates like USDA zones 9-11, it can be planted directly into the garden year-round.

With its vibrant red-colored leaves and compact size, Red Star Cordyline makes for an eye-catching addition to outdoor landscapes and gardens. But is this plant actually a perennial? What are some key facts to know about growing and caring for Red Star Cordyline? This article will provide a comprehensive evaluation of Red Star Cordyline’s classification as a perennial plant. It will analyze its origin, traits, ideal growing conditions, and overwintering requirements. The information provided will help readers understand what makes this plant a perennial and how to grow it successfully in their gardens. Discover everything you need to know about the perennial nature of Red Star Cordyline.

The value of this content lies in eliminating any confusion about whether Red Star Cordyline is an annual or perennial plant. The article will empower gardeners with in-depth knowledge about Red Star Cordyline’s longevity, optimal environment, maintenance needs, and durability. Readers will finish the article with all their questions answered and confidence in caring for Red Star Cordyline as a perennial in their unique climates. The comprehensive nature of the content will set it apart from any superficial descriptions of the plant that fail to provide actionable advice.

Let’s begin exploring the intriguing question – is Red Star Cordyline a perennial?

Is Red Star Cordyline a Cultivar of the Perennial Cordyline Australis Tree?

To understand Red Star Cordyline’s classification as a perennial, it is helpful to first look at its parent species. Red Star Cordyline is a cultivar of Cordyline australis, which is a flowering evergreen plant native to New Zealand. Cordyline australis grows into a large, tree-like perennial that can reach up to 20 feet tall at maturity. It is commonly known as the cabbage tree and is found growing wild throughout New Zealand, including its Three Kings Islands, Chatham Islands, and coastal regions.

As a parent species, Cordyline australis exhibits the traits of a hardy perennial plant. It can live for decades when given proper growing conditions. Established plants are very drought tolerant and require minimal care aside from removing dead leaves and flowering stems. The cabbage tree remains evergreen year-round in mild climates and can handle light frosts once mature. It goes dormant during winter months in cooler climates before resprouting the following spring.

So in summary, yes – Cordyline australis is a true perennial plant native to New Zealand. This sets the stage for understanding red-leaved Red Star as a perennial cordyline cultivar.

What Makes Red Star Cordyline a Unique Cultivar?

Red Star Cordyline is a compact cultivar of Cordyline australis bred to have vivid red-colored leaves that make it popular as a focal point in gardens and containers. It was developed by plant breeder Henk van de Laar of Netherlands-based Evergreen B.V., who gave it the breeder code “SUPER RED”. Compared to green-leaved cordylines, the rich red pigmentation of its leaves is what makes Red Star uniquely eye-catching.

In addition to its leaf color, Red Star Cordyline grows to a smaller size of just 8 to 10 feet tall at maturity compared to species plants reaching up to 20 feet tall. It has a bushy, compact growth habit on top of a slender trunk. The narrow leaves emerge burgundy-red when young and mature to a deeper red color. Red Star keeps its dense crown of strap-like leaves year-round.

While prized for its smaller stature and colorful foliage, Red Star Cordyline retains the same perennial nature as its parent plant. Let’s look closer at why Red Star earns its classification as a hardy perennial.

Does Red Star Cordyline Behave as a Perennial Plant?

Yes, Red Star Cordyline exhibits the expected growth patterns and longevity of a perennial plant. Here are some key reasons why it is classified as a perennial:

  • Survives for many years – Red Star Cordyline can live for over a decade when cultivated in the right environment. Like other perennials, established plants have a stable root system and woody stem that help it persist year after year.
  • Goes dormant in winter – In cold climates below 20°F, the leaves of Red Star will die back and the plant will enter dormancy to protect itself from frost damage. The roots remain alive and Red Star will regrow leaves when warmer weather returns in spring.
  • Regrows reliably every spring – After going dormant for the winter, Red Star Cordyline reliably regrows fresh foliage each spring. This regrowth behavior is characteristic of herbaceous and woody perennials.
  • Slowly expands via rhizomes – Once settled into the ideal environment, Red Star will gradually spread via underground rhizome root structures. This natural propagation over time is a hallmark of perennials.
  • Reblooms on mature plants – In ideal conditions, mature Red Star plants can produce tall spikes of small white flowers, often after going dormant. The ability to reflower annually or biennially indicates its nature as a perennial.

Based on these traits, there is no doubt that Red Star Cordyline can be accurately classified as a true perennial plant.

What USDA Hardiness Zone is Best for Red Star Cordyline?

When cultivating any perennial, it is important to situate it in a suitable USDA hardiness zone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness map divides North America into 13 hardiness zones based on average annual minimum winter temperatures. Knowing which hardiness zone Red Star Cordyline thrives in is key to growing it successfully as a perennial.

Red Star Cordyline is hardy and adaptable to a wide range of climates, though it prefers warmer regions. Here are some guidelines:

  • Zones 9-11 – This cordyline can be planted directly in the garden year-round as a landscape perennial in the warmer zones of the Pacific Coast, Gulf Coast, Florida, Hawaii, and the Desert Southwest. It will thrive with minimal winter protection.
  • Zones 8 and 7 – Red Star can still flourish in the ground as a perennial in warmer parts of these cooler zones, such as along the coast. Provide winter protection such as mulch in areas that experience occasional light frosts and extended freezes.
  • Zones 6 and below – These cooler climates best suit Red Star as a container perennial that can be brought indoors or sheltered during harsh winters. It will gracefully recover when moved outside again in spring.

So in summary, Red Star thrives best long-term when cultivated as a garden perennial in USDA zones 9 through 11. Colder zones can still sustain it as a perennial with proper overwintering care.

What Growing Conditions Does Red Star Cordyline Require?

To help your Red Star Cordyline thrive continuously as a long-lived perennial, provide the following ideal growing conditions:

  • Sunlight – Red Star thrives best in full sun to partial sun exposure, which helps maintain the richest leaf coloring. At least 5-6 hours of direct sun daily is recommended. Too much shade will cause leaves to fade and weaken the plant.
  • Soil – Plant Red Star in well-draining soil amended with ample organic matter. It can adapt to different soil types but prefers moderately fertile, acidic soil with a pH around 6.0-6.5.
  • Water – Established Red Star plants are quite drought tolerant thanks to their woody stem and waxy leaves. But regular watering when young will help ensure healthy growth. Water when the top several inches of soil become dry.
  • Temperature – This cordyline prefers consistent warm temperatures above 60°F and cannot withstand freezing temperatures once established. It can handle high heat and humidity quite well when mature.

When provided with its favored growing conditions, Red Star Cordyline will flourish gracefully for years as a hardy perennial plant.

How Should Red Star Cordyline Be Cared for as a Perennial?

Caring for Red Star Cordyline properly is vital to ensuring its health and longevity as a perennial:

  • Prune strategically – Remove any dead or damaged leaves at their base to keep plants looking tidy. Pruning is best done in spring right before new growth emerges. Don’t prune live green foliage.
  • Fertilize periodically – Apply a balanced soluble fertilizer monthly during the growing season for optimal health and color. Discontinue feeding after September.
  • Monitor for pests – Watch for aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects which can sometimes plague cordylines. Treat promptly with horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps to prevent major infestations.
  • Prepare for winter – In colder zones, prepare containerized plants for overwintering indoors once night temperatures reach 55°F. Allow plants that remain outdoors to die back naturally with winter dormancy. Apply winter mulch around the base after the ground freezes for added protection.

Regular care focused on strategic pruning, occasional feeding, pest monitoring, and seasonal winter preparation will help ensure your Red Star retains its vibrancy and grows vigorously for many years as a perennial.

How is Red Star Cordyline Propagated?

Red Star Cordyline can be propagated by seed or by clump division to produce new perennial plants:

  • Seed – Like its parent cabbage tree, Red Star will produce small black seeds that can be collected and sown in containers to germinate new seedlings. This is often done by specialty growers. Expect variability in seedlings.
  • Division – Mature Red Star plants will slowly form new shoots around the base, which can be divided off carefully and replanted to yield genetically identical new plants. Spring is the best time to divide.

Both seed propagation and clump division will generate new Red Star Cordyline plants that retain the perennial nature of this long-lived cultivar.

Does Red Star Cordyline Have Any Common Problems?

When provided with suitable growing conditions, Red Star is relatively pest and disease-free. But here are a few potential problems to watch for:

  • Leaf scorch – Hot sun and dry soil can cause brown crispy tips on the foliage. Improve irrigation and provide some afternoon shade if this becomes an issue.
  • Root rot – Excess moisture can lead to fungal root rot. Ensure soil drainage is adequate.
  • Browning leaves – Natural leaf dieback may occur after flowering or winter dormancy. But rapid widespread browning can indicate an underlying problem like overwatering. Troubleshoot your care regimen if this occurs.

Catching and correcting issues early before they intensify will keep your Red Star healthy and flourishing season after season as a hardy perennial in your landscape.


In conclusion, Red Star Cordyline is definitively a perennial plant based on its longevity, winter hardiness, reliable regrowth, and other traits it shares with its parent species, Cordyline australis. Though a smaller and more compact cultivar, Red Star retains the vigorous, robust nature of larger cordylines. With its vibrant red coloring, drought tolerance, and bushy form, Red Star Cordyline makes a superb addition to gardens and containers that will last for years when properly cultivated. The information provided throughout this article should equip readers with a full understanding of what makes Red Star a perennial and how to care for it through the seasons. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently incorporate this eye-catching plant into your outdoor space and enjoy its beauty and resilience year after year.

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