Green, yellow, red, orange, brown, purple, black – flamboyant Croton brings autumn’s glow into your home. The best-known is the multicoloured Croton (officially named Codiaeum variegatum), but there are also varieties with just yellow and green markings and with varying leaf sizes and shapes.
A benefit of growing crotons at home is that they are one of the few foliage plants that can tolerate direct sunlight.
Croton grows in South-east Asia and the Indonesian archipelago. The plant is used as a hedge in many countries. In those regions Croton can grow very tall and spread outwards as a woody shrub. As a houseplant you usually encounter medium to XL specimens. The name is derived from the Greek word ‘kroton’, which means ‘tick’ and refers to the plant’s seeds, which look like ticks. Codiaeum is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, which also includes other familiar houseplants such as Poinsettia and Crown of Thorns.
There are many forms from large to small, including cultivars with various leaf shapes and leaf markings. They are all part of the species C. variegatum, which means variegated and refers to the multicoloured leaves. Some large-leaved cultivars are: Excellent, Petra, Norma, Mrs. Iceton, Nervia, Tamara and Wilma. Some small-leaved cultivars are: Gold Star, Gold Finger, Gold Sun, Mammi and Yellow Banana.
- Croton prefers a light to sunny spot. Allow the plant to acclimatise to a sunny spot first to prevent the leaves from being scorched.
- Never allow the soil to dry out completely, and be wary of water that is too cold in the winter, since this can cause leaf drop.
- Croton likes a shower and being sprayed. In the summer the plant can also be placed outside in the rain.
- Yellow or ugly leaves can be removed.
- If the plant has got too tall or less attractive, it can be pruned. It’s best to do this during the winter months when there is less light.
- Give houseplant food once a month.
- Preferably place in a cooler room (although it must still be at least 15°C) during the winter months to allow the plant to hibernate.
- During the summer months Croton can go out on the patio or balcony, provided that the temperature does not drop below 15°.
- Be aware that the sap in Croton’s stems is moderately poisonous.
- Brown leaf tips or edges can be a sign of insufficient humidity.
Text courtesy of The Plant Council Holland.
Images courtesy of The Joy of Plants.co.uk