The Codiaeums we cherish as houseplants rarely grow to more than 5ft (1.5m) and then as straggly plants unless cut back. Nevertheless, they are a desirable addition to the living space, with shades of red, orange, gold, pink and bronze and splattered foliage being the norm. The leaf shapes are also varied – either being lance shaped or lobed variations, sometimes deeply scalloped. There are many varieties, but you will probably be restricted to the best performing types at your local garden centre or florist.
An added attraction, being that in warm areas they can be grown outside, but certainly not in frost-prone or even cool locations. Tropical countries are their home! Altogether a very fetching group of plants.
Avoid temperature fluctuations, (either sudden heat or sudden cold), as this causes leaf drop. A good well-draining potting mix is essential for good growth, and with a decent sized pot, will ensure a good sturdy plant.
Care: Codiaeums require plenty of water through the growing season, use only a small amount of fertiliser. Protect from cold and draughts, and clean the leaves carefully and regularly for optimum colour and effect.
Good for: A foliage feast! Crotons are excellent colour, either in a display or on its own.
Easy care. Crotons can be grown indoors, in conservatory or even outside in warm, sheltered, frost-free gardens.
Crotons can be propagated by softwood tip cuttings, but will need bottom heat from a heated propagator for best results.
Air layering is a good alternative, with the added advantage of keeping the plant compact and stocky – akin to cutting back but with the result of a new plant as well.