By Kathy Esfahani
As fall nears, the colorful leaves of croton plants begin to stand out around Northeast Florida. Crotons (“crow-tun”) are tropical plants known for their bright and varied foliage featuring hues of red, orange, yellow, green and pink. There are an unlimited number of shapes and colors of croton leaves. These plants are easy to maintain and perfect for adding a splash of color to a landscape!
Crotons are perennials in the warm, humid climate of a tropical environment. Because they love the heat, they may lose their leaves in cooler temperatures, but they will recover as warm weather returns. Northeast Florida’s climate supports these plants, but they can struggle if temperatures stay too cool for too long — a freeze lasting several days will cause crotons to drop their leaves and may kill the plants.
Crotons look stunning when grouped together! They can be planted to line a walkway or fence, surround a palm tree, or accentuate an entryway. In a landscape, crotons grow well with ixora, hibiscus, loropetalum, podocarpus and viburnum. Crotons are also successful in containers and can be potted to add interest to a patio, porch or pool area.
Consider the space available when selecting croton plants. There are dwarf varieties and also larger options that can grow up to 10 feet tall. When planting crotons, space the plants 2-3 feet apart. Crotons are well-suited to areas of full and/or shifting sun, but some varieties can tolerate partial shade. A reliable light source will allow the plant to develop and maintain its vibrant colors. Remember to water crotons regularly, but be very careful not to overwater. The plant needs water if the soil is dry to the touch or new leaves begin to wilt. The most popular croton varieties in Northeast Florida are the “mammy” and “petra” crotons.
Although crotons can be a wonderful addition to a landscape, they can be dangerous to curious children or pets! All parts of these plants are poisonous to humans and animals, particularly the seeds. In addition, the milky substance that oozes from a damaged croton can be irritating to the skin. Careful consideration of placement can allow safe use of this beautiful plant!
Flower of the Week: Croton
Please email Kathy at email@example.com for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information & ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.