The croton plant is a tropical plant that is found in parts of Australia, Florida, the South Sea islands and Java. It has large green foliage that can take on streaks of yellow, red and orange. Crotons are large, rapidly growing plants that give shade and color to landscapes and roadsides in the sandy tones of the tropics.
The croton has enormous leaves that create a thick foliage cover on the top of the plant. At the base, the croton has a thick trunk that is usually deep green with a possible bark-like covering. Some crotons will bloom, but it is rare, and many of the flowers are not as attractive as the foliage can be. The leaves will take on a slurry of colors, including green, yellow, red, orange, purple and pink. These colors may be alone, striped, appearing as a sunburst design or a flaring style on each leaf.
There are several different types of croton plants. The broad leaf croton has large, wide leaves that overwhelm the plant. Most of the heavy foliage will be at the top of the plant as well. The oak leaf croton is distinctive in how it very closely resembles the structure and design of the real oak leaf. The spiral leaf croton has leaves that are twisted in either the left or right direction, or partially. The recurved leaf croton has one of the most limited leaf styles in that leaves curl back over themselves.
Size and Pruning
The croton plant may reach heights of 8 to 10 feet when given plenty of water, sun and room to spread out its roots. The croton may remain as a small house plant, around 3 to 5 feet tall, when contained in a pot indoors. In the garden or landscape, the croton will reach its maximum height and overtake the space it inhabits. To control the growth, pruning should be done at regular intervals, or to tend to broken leaves. Cut back one-third of the plant in the spring and wait for new growth to begin. You may also pinch off some new leaves to encourage a thicker growth and fuller plant.
The croton is a hardy plant that is very durable and sustainable. If you have forgotten to water or fertilize the plant, even if the soil dries up significantly, the plant will most likely still survive. You can wait until the dirt is very dry before watering at all, and fertilizing is helpful, but not needed. The only thing to watch for when tending to a croton, is that the temperature stays above 60 degrees F. This plant is a tropical plant that will loose leaves after a taste of cold weather. The croton will not survive through a frost either.
The spider mite is a natural pest of the croton. The mite has a whip-like mouth that leaves speckles or tiny blotches on the leaves of the croton. After the mites feed, the spot is then left to weaken the leaf by deriving it of valuable nutrients and moisture. Insecticides typically kill of the spider mites' natural predators, therefore, may increase the risk of a growing infestation. To control the spider mite, a miticide is required. The miticide will not attack the eggs, so in two weeks you will need to reapply.