I first saw a Croton plant in a beautiful container display at a mall. You might have seen this interesting plant before as the brilliant colors and the exotic look is a real attention grabber. It is a plant that many people are intrigued by but don’t know the name.
Croton plants or Codiaeum variegatum is a perennial evergreen shrub, native to Indian and Malaysia. The word “croton” comes from a Greek word for tick. The shape of a croton seed actually resembles a tick. This tropical plant has thick leaves that come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. The leaves get darker as the plant ages and can darken to nearly black.
Crotons are a very versatile plant as they can be grown as a houseplant, an annual plant, or a shrub. As a houseplant, they can add bright color to your home during dreary winter months. The plant needs high light in the home. They prefer warm temperatures and above-average humidity. If they start shedding their foliage, they are not getting enough light. As an annual, they add colorful foliage to a container or border. They look great with Lantana and do well in hot, humid conditions. In Southern or Central Florida, they can be grown as an evergreen shrub. Crotons are perennials from hardiness zones 9 and higher. The plant is toxic to pets, so beware if you bring this plant into your home.
Crotons are drought tolerant once established and very easy to care for. There are varieties that thrive in full sun and others that prefer part shade, making it easy to use them in your landscape. The plants have many different varieties. The leaves are different shapes and the colors include green, orange, pink, purple, orange, yellow, and white. Three of the more common varieties include:
Petra Croton - is the most common variety of croton. The plant has large, oval green leaves with veins that are shaded orange, red, and yellow. This variety can be grown indoors and grows up to 5 feet tall. If grown outdoors as a shrub it can grow up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Mammy Croton – is a popular croton with long, narrow leaves that curl or twist as they grow. The foliage is dark green with variegations of orange, purple, red, or yellow. There are times new growth does not show any green. This variety can grow up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Sunny Star Croton – is a smaller variety. It has lance-shaped green leaves speckled and splattered with bright yellow. If grown outdoors as a landscape shrub, it can grow 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
If you grow Croton, share with us your photos and growing experience!