WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHORMIUM AND CORDYLINE?

Specimen Cordylines

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What is the difference between Phormiums and Cordylines? This may seem to be an odd question at face value if you are familiar with the respective mature specimens, but if your only experience of there two genera are the 3 litre potted plants found on your local garden centres sales bench's then there are most definitely a lot of genuinely similarities. They both have evergreen sword-shaped leaves, the leaves themselves are approximately 2 feet long in that pot size, they both have various single blocked colour as well as multi-coloured leaves. Furthermore both genera are indigenous to New Zealand, although Cordylines are also found further afield in the western Pacific Ocean region.

Specimen Phormiums

Now let's looks at the differences between Phormiums and Cordylines. Taxonomically they are both in the order of Asparagales but that is as close as it gets. When looking at pot specimens, Phormium leaves are all produce from the base of the plant in a kind of linear, bulbous sheath and they are usual thicker than those of Cordylines. Cordyline leaves are formed in a cluster around a central stem however on smaller plants the stem may not be visible. However on smaller cordylines they do tend to have a characteristic 'rosette' of leaves.

Once they are mature the differences between Phormium and Cordyline are super easy to tell. Cordylines will grow into a widely branched tree with a stout trunk. In northern European countries you can expect them to grow to a height of 4-5 metres tall, however in their native habitat they can achieve a height f 20 metres! Phormiums, on the other hand, are herbaceous perennials monocot with leaves grow up to 3 metres in New Zealand although 1.5-2 metres os more likely in the UK.

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