Most commonly used varieties: Codiaeum ‘Andrew’ and Codiaeum ‘Banana’
Codiaeum – no wonder we all use the common name of croton! Hard to get your tongue wrapped around all those vowels. Yet even if it’s hard to say we love to use Codiaeums in all their many varieties. Crotons can be used in so many ways and so many locations that they are one of the staples of the industry. Yes, they almost always have mites and yes, they tend to lose their color in less than ideal situations. But WOW can they add a splash of vibrancy almost anywhere.
From a single glorious plant in a sunny window, to several placed at the base of a tree as ground cover, to rows and rows in a large interior planting, crotons bring pizzazz to a dull situation.
Codiaeums with their bright yellows and reds are one of those plants that just scream, “Look how beautiful I am!” The vibrant colors of red and yellow bring life to otherwise dull spaces. Use a croton for color spots, seasonal color changes, exterior color in warm temperatures, interior color pots, ground cover and just about anywhere that you need to add a bit of spice. Use a variety that has some interesting leaf texture and go wild! So many to choose from!
Codiaeum variegatum pictum is the most widely used in our interiorscape industry and has a large number of forms; their leaves varying in size and shape.
Crotons are branching, bushy shrubs that seldom exceed three feet in height, with a spread of about two feet indoors. There are only a few species of Codiaeum, though there are many varieties with widely varying leaf shape, size and color. Practically all of the kinds of Codiaeum now available are forms of just one variety of a single species, C. variegatum pictum.
The smooth and leathery leaves generally have short stalks, but in almost all other respects croton leaves differ enormously. They may be long and narrow, lance or sword-shaped, broad and oval. Some edges may be straight others undulating or they may be twisted into a kind of spiral. Their margins may be slightly indented in any one of a number of patterns or they may be cut almost to the midrib.
All available forms have variegated leaves, with colors appearing as spots, blotches, veining, etc. and the colors themselves are similarly variable. In some forms old and young leaves look alike; in others the colors change as they age. Mature plants produce fluffy, cream-colored flowers, but these are small and insignificant. Their beauty lies in their color and leaf shapes.
Medium to high light (150fc – 250+fc). To care for these colorful additions give them bright light, with at least two or three hours of direct sunlight daily, to keep their color. In less than desired light conditions normal leaf loss of older crotons will occur.
Water plants thoroughly, then allow to dry sufficiently. In medium light (150fc – 250fc), allow to dry down 1/3 of container; in higher light conditions, allow media to dry down two to four inches from the top of the of container then water through to saucer. Overwatering symptoms include pale foliage, brown tips, leaf drop and stem rot. Underwatering symptoms include drooping foliage, leaf drop and withered stems.
Crotons will drop leaves due to water stress, pest infestation, cold drafts and soluble salt build up. Allow plant to become root bound to overcome overwatering problems. Crotons lose variegation in lower light conditions. Hand wash or spray foliage to keep clean and pest free. Almost every croton has spider mites. Watch for and spray frequently. Use Pro-tekt® weekly for added protection.
Spider mites, scale, mealybug, thrips, stem rot and occasionally excess soluble salt damage. Don’t forget, spider mites love them. Never use a feather duster on them (because you will spread the mites to other plants) and always assume they have mites and treat accordingly.