If I am to be truthful, my favourite specimen plant for a container has to be Cordyline torbay dazzler This stunning foliage plant has spiky, variegated leaves with bold cream stripes and margins. A native of New Zealand, it makes an excellent container plant for patios and elsewhere. The beauty of this cordyline is it doesn't shed leaves like its green relative. It needs warmth and shelter, and is not quite hardy inland but does very well in Cork/Kerry. If we get snow or severe frost, plants are best protected before the winter frosts by bundling up the foliage in a sleeve of sacking, wrapped around in several layers and then covered with a plastic bag to keep the leaves dry.
I find the secret of success of keeping this plant healthy in a severe winter is to use plenty of grit when planting, so plant into 50% John Innes Multipurpose compost and 50% grit. I managed to keep one alive even in the arctic winter two years ago by wrapping the container in bubble wrap and placing it on top of some aeroboard. Positioned in the right place, this cordyline is like rays of sunshine all through winter, which is much appreciated .
So what can I underplant these cordylines with?
Your choices are plentiful: