Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Crotons - Tropical Beauties

Crotons, Codiaeum variegatum, always remind me of Autumn! That's a little ironic since Crotons are tropical plants. Originating in Australia and the South Seas, they are grown as houseplants in most of the United States.

Its usually in the Fall when I purchase Crotons - I think they look as Autumnal (is that a word?) as mums do. Mix potted ones in with a few pumpkins and mums and you have a great welcome at your front door. After the season, use them, either potted or in the ground, for a tropical punch.

If you are lucky to live in a temperate climate (or if you don't mind using them as annuals), plant your Crotons in part sun. The sunlight will bring out their vibrant, varied colors. But it's been my experience that too much direct sun tends to burn them. Actually they can handle it if they've been "seasoned" a bit. When I plant one in full sun in the winter, it can usually handle the summer's full sun.

Crotons come with a variety of leaves. The first photos shows the most common broad leaf variety.

The plant on the left is a spiral leaf croton. My favorite (and the one I have the hardest time finding) is the oak leaf croton.

You can propagate Crotons from green stem cuttings or air layering. Personally I have only had success with air layering.

I'm still trying to decide exactly how I'm going to use these - but that's the fun, isn't it?


Sunita Mohan said...

Crotons are really colourful, aren't they? They grow beautifully here in India (but I can never keep track of their names !). It has to be one of the most low-maintenance plants here.
Do post how you used it finally. I'd love to see it.

Jan said...

I always think of crotons as autumn plants, too. I used to place potted mums next to them starting in late September. I used to have several, but since they can't take the cold and I don't have the space to protect them, I have not replaced them when they died.

Always Growing

Debbie said...

I have a beautiful Spiral Croton growing in the ground. The Croton is bluming for the first time that I have seen. It also has a stem with some pods of some type on it, can anyone tell what these are?

Mary Beth said...

I have never seen a croton bloom! On Dave's gardening site there are a couple of photos of croton blooms but I couldn't see any pods. How long have yours been in the ground? I need to get some planted!