The colorful foliage of the ti plant really lets you know that you are in Florida now! The most popular cultivars are generally reddish-pink to maroon in color, but there are many other types to grow and enjoy. While often kept as a container plant for the house or patio, there are some landscape uses to consider as well. When foliage shape and color is needed for that tropical look, the ti plant may be your answer.
Ti plants are versatile in their growing conditions as they are happy in full sun to deep shade. Just remember, as with all plants, not to suddenly plunge one that has been a shady environment out into the full sun. Sunburn will occur — make a gradual shift over several days to weeks to help the plant acclimate to the new sun exposure.
Ti plants are not salt tolerant, and only medium in drought tolerance, so keep this in mind concerning placement. The foliage is the main show-stopper with ti plants although they can on occasion produce interesting flower spikes. While cool weather brings out the best color (November through May), the ti plant is a bit cold-sensitive and does best in hardiness zone 10. In zone 9b, keep these foliage plants in containers for easy moving to protective cover if necessary.
There are many beautiful cultivars available for the collector including “Baby Doll” which has small maroon leaves trimmed with a pink edge, “Firebrand” with large dark burgundy foliage, and ‘Tricolor’ with leaves marked with green, pink and white. One real colorful cultivar called “kiwi” has relatively small leaves with marginal red around a green leaf with an irregular internal pattern of yellow-green, yellow and ivory stripes which follow the leaf veins.
Full grown ti plants can grow up to 10 feet tall and four feet wide with multiple, cane-like branches well-suited for displaying this colorful foliage.
If you intend to install ti plants in the landscape, consider mass planting individual specimens about three-feet apart for the best visual effect. Make sure that the soil is well-drained and water as needed. While nematodes, mealy bugs, and mites can be problematic, one particularly common problem experienced by gardeners may be linked to fluoride damage manifested as tip and marginal leaf burn.
I had a ti plant as a child and started it from a cane section. It was a great treat to see it grow from a small “log” into a long-lasting foliage plant! As such, new ti plants are easily started via cuttings or by cane pieces laid horizontally in a sterile potting medium and kept moist.
Cultivate plants not just for flowers, but also for their colorful foliage which can make or break a landscape masterpiece. Ti plants will give you an eyeful of color and style! For more information on all types of foliage plants suitable for landscapes in our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1- 4 p.m. at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.
Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times — https://bit.ly/2lKFHv1.
Our Eastport Environmental Demonstration Garden is always open to the public outside the gate at 25550 Harbor View Road. Master Gardener volunteers tend this garden on Tuesday mornings from 8-10 a.m. and are available for questions.
Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or email@example.com.