Dracaena (Cordyline) evergreen shrub or small tree, 3 ft. to over 20 ft. in height depending on variety, single or multi-stemmed – branches high on trunk, foliage may be red, purple, green and sometimes striped with other colors, full sun to light shade, drought tolerant, good container plant.
Cordylines are grown in for their handsome long leaves, small tree-like growth and remarkably colored foliage. The name Cordyline comes from the greek word, ‘kordyle’, for club in reference to the typical club-like root.
Many of these plants grow in a tropical environment and make colorful house plants, but there are many varieties that grow well outdoors in our Bay Area climate. Cordylines have been developed for their colorful leaves streaked and blushed with brilliant magentas, greens, yellows, whites and pinks. They are useful to add a vertical effect in the garden. The long, clustered leaves can give a tropical effect when used around water, like a swimming pool or fountain. The sparse habit of growth can be equally effective in a cactus/succulent garden or a drought-tolerant design. Use them in groups or as taller focal points in the garden. They make a nice contrast to the usual rounded green shrub-like form of most green plants.
Dwarf Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinesis ‘Little Zebra”) winter deciduous, upright to arching growth to 3-4 feet in height with 3 foot spread, M.s. Dwarf Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinesis ‘Little Zebra”) winter deciduous, upright to arching growth to 3-4 feet in height with 3 foot spread, M.s. zebrinus to 6 ft., yellow to gold banded bright green blades, long feathery purple-red panicles in fall, sun to light shade, regular water.
Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils from well-drained sandy soils to the heavy clays present in much of the St. Louis area. Prefers moist soils. Best in full sun. Less vigorous with decreased flowering and tendency to flop in too much shade. Tolerant of summer heat and humidity. Clumps slowly expand in circumference by short rhizomes, but retain tight clump shape. Foliage should be left standing throughout the winter for visual interest and to provide protection for the crowns. Cut foliage to the ground in late winter just before new shoots appear. Propagate by division of the crown.
Zebra grass (see Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) is a clump-forming grass noted for its horizontally banded foliage. It typically grows in a substantial clump to 4-6’ tall, but sends up flower stalks to 2’ above the foliage, thus bringing the total height of the grass to 6-8’ tall when in flower.
‘Little Zebra’, sometimes commonly called dwarf zebra grass, is a compact cultivar that typically grows in a clump to 3-4’ tall and to 2-3’ wide. It is noted for its compact size, upright form, horizontally-banded foliage and wine-purple flower plumes. Leaf blades feature, at irregular intervals, distinctive horizontal yellow bands (to 1” in height) that retain good coloration throughout the growing season. Flowers appear in corymbose panicles of 10-13 racemes (each to 6” long) above the foliage in late summer. Tiny flowers emerge gray-purple with the plumes having an overall wine-purple coloration. As seeds begin to form, the flower/seed plumes fade to creamy tan, often providing some winter interest. Foliage fades to tan after frost.
Spanish Shawl (Heterocentron elegans) evergreen, low spreading growth to 2-3 inches in height with 2-3 ft. spread, 1 inch magenta flowers spring and summer, sun to light shade, regular water, cascades.
Colorful Mexican and Guatemalan native formerly known as Schizocentron elegans. Grows just 2–4 in. high, 1 1/2 ft. wide, with creeping, vinelike habit. Glossy, oval evergreen leavesmay take on reddish tones as the season advances. In summer, inch-wide magenta flowers appear among the leaves; calyxes remain after blossoms have withered. When used as a groundcover, blooming plants look like a carpet of bright bougainvillea. Great in hanging baskets. Needs frost protection inZones 15, 16, 18–20. Best in partial shade but tolerates full sun (in cooler climates) as wellas full shade. Protect from snails and slugs.