Codiaeum - Croton
DESCRIPTION: This is a tropical shrub from Asia and the Pacific islands that is grown for its ornamental leaves. Their leaves can be smooth or wrinkly and a few are twisted like corkscrews. Their colors can be white, yellow, orange, red, or a combination of these colors with each other and green. In southern Florida and California, Codiaeums can survive outside in sheltered, sunny positions. They prefer soil that is rich and reasonably moist, but can survive in almost any type. These plants require a minimum winter temperature of 60 degrees.
POTTING: The best compost to use should consist of equal parts fibrous loam and peat, with sand added generously. Repotting older plants should be done in March. Young plants should be repotted during the summer. To get the best coloring, the plants should be exposed to a great amount of sunlight. During bright weather, the foliage should be sprayed two or three times a day. During the summer, the plants need a large supply of water and pot-bound plants should get weekly doses of liquid fertilizer. In the winter the soil and atmosphere must be kept drier.
PROPAGATION: Cuttings about 3 inches long can be placed into a propagating case in the spring or summer until rooted. They are then potted in 3-inch pots and returned to the case until established. At this time, they are placed on the open benches and, later, repotted in 5-inch pots. Large plants shed their lower leaves making them look stringy. This can be fixed by air layering. A ring of bark one-fourth of an inch wide is removed just under the lowest leaves. Damp moss is wrapped around the cut and kept moist by binding it up with polyethylene plastic film. When roots have formed, the top is cut off and the film is removed. The new root system is planted in a pot of sandy soil. The old stump will break out into a number of shoots that can be used as cuttings.
VARIETIES: With narrow leaves: Delicatissimum (green, yellow & red), Graciosum (dark copper w/ yellow spots) and Grusonii (green, yellow & red). With broad leaves: Reidii (yellow, purple & bronze), Harvest Moon (bright green & yellow) and Bravo (yellow, red & green). With twisted leaves: Golden Ring (golden yellow), Rex (green, red & yellow) and Masterpiece (red, green & yellow).
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