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Resprout a cabbage tree

I have three large cabbage trees growing in my front garden, the largest however is growing against the spouting. This is damaging the spouting and eaves, but I don't really want to remove the tree. A friend advised that cabbage trees regrow if their tops are cut off — is this true? If it is true, would it survive and resprout if a third of its height was removed (to bring it under the spouting)?


Cabbage trees (Cordyline australis) produce carrot-like rhizomes deep under the ground, and these commonly can produce new shoots if the main trunk is damaged or destroyed.  The presence of this underground stem is also the main reason that large cabbage trees are difficult to transplant.

It is very difficult to predict whether your particular tree would resprout if you chopped it back.  It is likely that the larger and more developed the underground rhizome is, the better your chances are for getting new sprouts.  If your cabbage tree has produced branches (as most older specimens do), then that is probably a good indication that the rhizome is quite large.

It sounds like you have nothing to lose — the damage to your spouting and eaves means the tree has to go.  I suggest you cut the cabbage tree down to a tidy stump (maybe a metre in height) and keep you fingers crossed that it will resprout. Of course in a few years the tree will be causing problems again with your guttering!

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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