Croton, a perennial with woody stems and roots, features leathery, smooth-edge, oval- or lance-shape leaves in bright colors. These colors are often combined in patterns involving blotching and striping, and sometimes the color changes as the plant ages. Native to Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, and northern Australia, crotons are most often grown as houseplants, but they can be planted in containers outdoors for season-long color.
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You'll find a kaleidoscope of colorful leaves on a croton plant, including yellows, pinks, oranges, bronzes, reds, purples, and greens. While most plants may feature a simple variegated leaf with a clean edge of cream or gold, crotons go all out. The variegation comes in an endless variety of patterns. The most common, though, is a croton leaf boasting brightly colored veins and margins with the bulk of the leaf being a deep green. Other types feature spotting or speckled foliage with a backdrop of green, while still others develop leaves that emerge one bright color and fade as they age. Most crotons have large leaves, but there are some small leaf types and very narrow leaf types that can add lovely texture to a garden.
Croton Care Must-Knows
When you are looking for a home for your crotons, keep in mind that bright light is necessary to bring out the most intense and vibrant colors. In too much shade, the colors can become washed out and muted and the plants' leaves will be much more green.
If you are planting a croton outdoors, select a spot with dappled light. Too much direct sunlight can cause leaf burning and scorching, especially on the lighter-color varieties.
For best results, grow croton plants in well-drained soil. Crotons enjoy being kept evenly moist during summer months, with reduced watering during winter months. Let them dry out slightly between waterings. Crotons also appreciate higher humidity, so if they are grown in a dry environment, try placing the pot on a bed of pebbles with water just below the top of the rocks to increase humidity around the plants.
During the growing season, make sure to give your plants an occasional feeding with either slow-release pellets or liquid fertilizer. Keep in mind that crotons are from tropical climates and will not tolerate cold temperatures. It is best to keep them above 60 degrees at all times; any cooler than that and they will start losing leaves. Crotons will need to be repotted occasionally. When repotting, choose just one pot size larger than the current pot.
More Varieties of Croton
This selection of Codiaeum is one of the most common varieties of croton. It has large leaves with veins in reds, oranges, and yellows.
'Gold Dust' croton
Codiaeum 'Gold Dust' is a smaller-leaf variety with deep-green leaves splashed with specks of gold on well- branched plants.
This variety of Codiaeum variegatum pictum is variegated with a wavy creamy yellow band around its leaf margin and a two-tone gray green central leaf body.