Ti plants were well-established in Hawaii when their beauty first caught the eye of discriminating voyagers, especially over the years as cultivars with more diverse and colorful foliage began to emerge.
An 1884 British plant dictionary lists its common names as Club Palm, and Palm-Lily. Early on the plants were classified—incorrectly—as Dracaenas, members of the Lily family, until late into the twentieth century when modern scientific methods at last revealed the Cordyline as its own genus, reclassified it as part of the Agave family and, officially deemed it Cordyline terminalis.
These plants thrive in conditions anywhere from deep or dappled shade to no more than a few hours of direct sunlight daily, preferably early morning or late afternoon. A good rule of green thumb is the lighter the leaf colors, the less sun they will tolerate well.
Three varieties that can take more sun, even full sun, are the long, languid leaved Black Magic, brightly colored fuscia/burgandy Red Sister, and to a lesser extent, banana-like maroon leaved Auntie Lou. That’s one of the reasons these three are among the most popular varieties in Florida.
Watering requirements are about ½ an inch per plant per week; a little less in the shade; a little more in the sun.
Some varieties are more apt to flower than others. In Florida this takes place in our winter, i.e. from mid-November to mid-January, and what a glorious show! Inflorescences of pink, maroon or green sprays of berryish buds burst out seemingly overnight. Within days, little white, pale yellow or lavender tissue paper resemblant flowers appear with orange pollen and a faint, mild sweet scent.