Also known as variegated Laurel, Crotons come from the South Pacific Islands. The habit of growth varies with the type of plant. Dwarf croton varieties are bushy and compact. The tree-like varieties are tall and have a good spread. Crotons are usually maintained at two to three feet, but if given the opportunity, they can grow into large trees.
Many varieties of different shaped leaves with colors ranging from nearly all black through red, green, orange, pink, cream and any combination. Unusually twisted and sectioned leaves are very ornamental.
Different varieties have differing light requirements. Some crotons thrive in full sun, while others do best in semi-shade to full shade. In general, the more sunlight received by the foliage, the brighter the colors will be. The light requirement indoors is usually about six to eight hours of light. Plants placed in east or west windows do best, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight coming through the glass. Crotons respond well to artificial light from gro-lites.
Keep crotons lightly moist at all times. Never let your croton dry out completely, which cause foliage to drop. Foliage should be misted at least two to three times per week. Do not over-water or allow the plant to sit in water.
Crotons require warm, moist conditions with a minimum winter temperature of 60 degrees. Changes in climatic conditions should be made gradually to avoid defoliation.
Good drainage is necessary. Use a quality potting soil, like Heirloom Gardens Premium Potting Soil.
Fertilize frequently and lightly with a balanced soluble food for houseplants or trees and shrubs.
Scales, thrips, mealy bugs and spider mites are some of the more common pests. Preventative treatment is advised. Spray at least once a month. Always use a spreader sticker with the insecticide. If spider mites are detected, make three applications of a recommended miticide at five-day intervals. Timing of spraying is crucial for killing the egg hatch.
Crotons are popular plants for adding bright colors to indoor gardens and patios. They make excellent specimen plants in a window that does not receive direct sunlight.