Mayan Garden Club -Tip of the Month- May 2017
Crotons-beautiful color leaves all year long.
Known for their bold, tropical foliage, crotons are perennial evergreen shrubs. These plants grow easily in the Yucatan and can be raised as decorative houseplants as well.
Grown for their bright colored and marked leaves they (Codiaeum variegatum) come in a wide variety of leaf shapes and colors which include reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, purple, greens, and white. Native to India and Malaysia, this tropical plant usually quite full and the leaves form clusters to create maximum color patterns. Some varieties grow up to 10 feet tall, but there are smaller varieties and they can be pruned to shape.
Many crotons grow best in full sun, but others prefer partial shade.
As houseplants, crotons add texture and color to dull interiors. When used indoors choose a cultivar such as the petra croton, that can remain brightly colored in indoor light conditions.
Caution- Like most jungle plants, the leaves possess irritating and poisonous qualities if eaten, the sap may also stain.
Planting and Care
. When used in landscapes, plants should be located 2 to 3 feet apart. Crotons thrive in warm, humid weather and should be watered frequently, but not excessively. Rain water may be adequate in the tropics.
To propagate a croton plant, use a stem cutting that is 3-4 inches long and has 3 to 5 leaves. Dip the cut end of the cutting in an off-the-shelf rooting hormone and plant them in a small pot. Keep the soil moist, but not over watered. Cuttings will root in less than a month if temperatures stay between 70°-80°F.
In the Yucatan, just stick a cutting in the ground during a rainy season and it will grow. New foliage will begin green and will develop color with maturity.