Updated: July 2, 2023

Nematodes are microscopic worms that can cause significant damage to plants, including the popular Party Time Plant (Cordyline fruticosa). These pests feed on the roots of the plant, leading to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and even plant death if left untreated. Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to effectively get rid of nematodes and save your Party Time Plant.

Identifying Nematode Infestation

Before delving into the different control methods, it is important to identify whether your Party Time Plant is indeed infested with nematodes. Some common signs of nematode infestation include:

  1. Stunted growth: Plants affected by nematodes often exhibit slow or stunted growth compared to healthy plants.

  2. Yellowing leaves: Nematode feeding on the roots can hinder the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, resulting in yellowing leaves.

  3. Root damage: Carefully dig up the root system of your Party Time Plant and examine it for signs of galling, lesions, or knots. These are indicative of nematode infestation.

If you observe any of these symptoms, it is crucial to take immediate action to prevent further damage to your plant.

Cultural Control Methods

Implementing cultural control methods can help reduce nematode populations and minimize the risk of future infestations. Here are a few practices you can adopt:

Crop rotation

Avoid planting Party Time Plants or any other susceptible species in the same area for consecutive growing seasons. Nematodes often linger in the soil and switching to a different crop can disrupt their life cycle and reduce their numbers.

Soil solarization

Soil solarization is an effective method for controlling nematodes using solar heat. Start by clearing the area around your Party Time Plant of any weeds or debris. Moisten the soil thoroughly and cover it with a clear plastic tarp, securing the edges to trap the heat. Leave the tarp in place for at least four to six weeks during the hottest part of the year. The intense heat generated under the tarp will kill nematodes and other soil-borne pests.

Soil amendment

Improving the overall health and fertility of the soil can help plants withstand nematode attacks. Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil before planting. This will enhance the soil structure, promote beneficial microbial activity, and make it less favorable for nematode survival.

Biological Control Methods

Biological control methods involve introducing natural enemies of nematodes into the garden to suppress their populations. Here are two effective biological control options:

Beneficial nematodes

Certain species of nematodes, known as entomopathogenic nematodes, are parasitic to plant-parasitic nematodes. These beneficial nematodes can be purchased from garden centers or online suppliers. Apply them to the soil following the instructions provided. The beneficial nematodes will seek out and infect the harmful nematodes, reducing their numbers over time.


Biofumigation involves incorporating specific plants into your gardening rotation that release compounds toxic to nematodes when their tissues break down. Plants like marigold (Tagetes spp.) and mustard (Brassica spp.) are known for their biofumigant properties. Planting these crops and then incorporating them into the soil can help reduce nematode populations.

Chemical Control Methods

If cultural and biological control methods fail to provide sufficient control, chemical treatments may be necessary. However, it is crucial to choose a pesticide specifically labeled for nematode control and follow all safety precautions and usage instructions. Always consider using chemical control methods as a last resort and prioritize environmentally friendly alternatives.


Nematodes can be a pesky problem for Party Time Plant owners, but with the right approach, they can be effectively controlled. Identifying nematode infestation early on and implementing cultural control methods, such as crop rotation and soil solarization, can help reduce nematode populations. Biological control methods, such as beneficial nematodes and biofumigation, provide natural options for nematode suppression. If all else fails, chemical control methods can be used sparingly as a last resort. By following these strategies, you can protect your Party Time Plant from nematode damage and ensure its healthy growth and development.