Cordylines are available in a variety of shades, but the pink and purple pairing of Charlie Boy is a must-have for the border. It’s like a richly coloured garnet that stands out amongst the rest of the precious stones when placed in a border – and will shine just as beautifully in a pot on your patio.
How to grow Cordyline Charlie Boy
Flowering time: July-August
Location: Border, patio pot
Soil: Moist but well-drained
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Water: Water freely in summer and sparingly in winter
Care: Needs frost protection during very cold winters, prune dead leaves in spring
Size: 250cm height and spread
How was this plant created?
The plant was first noted by Graeme Richards at his Lincolnshire nursery, back in 1996 (or thereabouts). When packing a green batch of Cordyline, Graeme noticed that one of the plants was clearly different on one side, with stand-out pink and purple leaves. The plant was selected out and potted on for a year with a yellow variegated seedling from the same batch. The plant which became Charlie Boy grew much quicker, and in 1999 was potted into a three-litre pot.
New Year’s Eve 1999 was extremely cold (about -12C). This burnt off all the top growth. Grame thought little of it and put the plant to one side. He explained, ‘had it been a tidy nursery, it would have been thrown away’.
In June 2000, three young shoots were spotted emerging from the “dead” plant. All three were exactly the same. Graeme thought, ‘Bingo. Now people will take the plant seriously’. The plant was potted deeply in effect, layering the young shoots which were divided apart, and so the stock was then started into micropropagation by Pat Fitzgerald.
It turned out to be very difficult to propagate, and if it were not for Pat’s tenacity and foresight, the plant would never have come into production. Graeme said ‘Pat is responsible for the commercial introduction; I only found a rogue seedling. We shall forever be indebted to him’.
Graeme named the new Cordyline ‘Charlie Boy’ after his father. He explains, ‘My father was called Charles Mann Richards, the Mann being part of a dying out family name. In such days the name was included, it gave the owner some advantage over siblings.
‘When my Father was a child and my grandmother would call for Charles they would both come running. The family then referred to Grandfather as Charlie Man, and my father as Charlie Boy.
‘It was odd growing up, as my aunts would refer to my father as “Boy” and my mother would use it as a term of affection. As my Father had died a few years prior to finding the palm, it seemed a good tribute to call the plant after him’.
What’s different about this plant?
Cordyline Charlie Boy’s standout characteristic has to be its sword-like jewel-toned foliage. From the get-go, its cerise leaves create an eye-catching feature in borders and pots, standing out amongst surrounding greenery.
The plant is hardy down to around -7C, and it’s tolerant of cool, damp conditions (though it must never be waterlogged), so it’s ideal for British gardens despite its exotic appearance!
Did you know?
The genus name, Cordyline, comes from the Greek word for ‘club’, which is kordyle. This refers to the enlarged underground stems or rhizomes.
Where can you plant Cordyline Charlie Boy?
This plant is just as at home in a border as it is in a pot on your patio. When planting in a border, make sure to give it plenty of space – Charlie Boy features a vigorous root system and a foliage spread of around 250 to 300cm.
Where can you buy this plant?
Cordyline Charlie Boy is available in the UK from RHS Plants, and in the US from Monrovia.
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We have a Charlie boy cordyline that says 3ft max height. It is about 2 ft from concrete. Will it ruin the concrete or fence?