How to Care for a Hawaiian Ti Red Sister Plant

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel

  • Compost

  • Epsom salt

  • Fertilizer

  • Hand or pump sprayer

  • Insecticidal soap

  • Natural fungicides

  • Blankets

  • Container

  • Well-draining potting soil


Red Sister ti plant will eventually become leggy. Cut your plant back and stick the cut limbs into the ground or container around the plant. They root easily, and will provide foliage while the bare limbs are starting to put out new growth.

Ti plants are sensitive to chlorine. Let chlorinated water sit out for 24 hours before watering to avoid brown leaf tips. Trim brown tips and edges from plants to make them more attractive.

Bottom leaves will die and fall off as the plant grows. It is safe to remove them. To get your ti plant to branch more, cut an inverted triangle into the stem, removing the top layer of bark. In a few weeks, A branch will grow from the tip of the triangle.


Cordylines are prone to spider mite infestations in dry, indoor air. To avoid these pests, mist your plants daily or place on pebble filled-trays half-filled with water to provide humidity.

Hawaiian ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa, syn. Cordyline terminalis) comes in a wide variety of colors or color combinations across 20 species and dozens of cultivars. "Red Sister" is one widely-available commercial variety, whose name comes from its deep-pink, burgundy-splashed foliage. Red Sister is grown as an outdoor landscape plant in subtropical and tropical areas, and is a widely grown houseplant in warmer climates. Given the proper conditions and care, and protected from cold, a Red Sister cordyline can grow to be a large plant that can bring a splash of color to any space.

Outdoor Care

Step 1

Choose a location in bright light, but avoid planting your Red Sister in full sun, as the leaves may burn. An eastern or southern exposure is optimal, but semi-shade is acceptable. The more light, the more colorful the foliage will be.

Step 2

Remove your ti plant from the container and loosen the roots. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant's container and 3 inches deeper. Add 3 inches of compost to the bottom of the hole.

Step 3

Place the plant in the hole and fill the hole with water. While the water is soaking in, start alternately adding the original soil with the compost in approximately 2-inch-thick layers. Add more water as necessary. Adding the soil and compost while the water is in the hole helps the soil settle and prevents air pockets. Top the hole with soil taken out of the hole. Tamp the soil down well around the plant.

Step 4

Sprinkle a cup of Epsom salt around the plant and work it into the top inch of the soil. Water the plant thoroughly.

Step 5

Fertilize with a slow-release shrub and tree fertilizer containing minor elements twice a year, in early spring and late summer.

Step 6

Check regularly for pests such as spider mites, scales or mealybugs, and treat by spraying the upper and lower leaf surfaces with insecticidal soap according to label directions. Check for signs of leaf spot and blight diseases, and treat with a natural fungicide, such as liquid copper or neem oil, according to label directions. Spray plants only in the early morning or evening hours, when it's cooler, to avoid burning the leaves.

Step 7

Protect your ti plant from freezing temperatures by covering it with a blanket tied around the base of the plant. Do not cut back cold-damaged limbs until new growth comes out in the spring.

Indoor Care

Step 1

Plant your Red Sister ti plant in well-draining potting soil in a sturdy plastic container at least 2 inches wider than its current container. Place the plant in a brightly lit eastern- or southern-facing window.

Step 2

Mix all-purpose timed-release fertilizer pellets into the top inch of the soil at the rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon of pot size. Water the plant thoroughly after planting, and when the top 2 inches of soil are dry.

Step 3

See Step 6 in Section 1 for instructions on controlling pests and disease.

Step 4

Place your ti plant in semi-shade outdoors in the summer if desired. Protect it from freezing temperatures by bringing it indoors.


Mary Francis

Mary Francis is a horticulturist and expert garden writer with more than 15 years experience in the field. With degrees in both horticulture and business management, she has owned her own greenhouse business, an office organization business and now works full-time as a professional writer.