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Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Family: Euphorbiaceae

Broward County Cooperative Extension Service
3245 College Avenue
Davie, FL 33314

Crotons with their colorful, glossy foliage and variation of leaf types are one of the most popular plants in South Florida. It is a native of the tropics from Java to Australia and the South Sea Islands, and because of its susceptibility to cold injury, is restricted to the southern and warmer parts of central Florida. Cold injury normally shows as leaf dropping soon after periods of cold weather.

Crotons may be pruned heavily during spring or other mild periods of the year. Crotons may attain a height of 8-10 feet , and tend to produce the heaviest foliage at the top of the plant. It is wise to cut back rather heavily to force new foliage lower down on the stem. It is best to prune about one-third of the branches, then wait until new growth has started before pruning again. This keeps the plant more uniform in shape and more attractive during the pruning process.

Crotons are easily propagated from greenwood cuttings, leaf bud cuttings, or if plants are desired quickly, by air layering. Make your cuttings from 4-12 inches in length and insert them in sand or peat, or in a mixture of the two, for rooting. In air layering, a ring of bark is removed from the branch to be layered, from two cuts spaced from one-half to one inch apart, exposing the wood. The cambium layer, a slight green area immediately underneath the bark, should be completely removed to prevent new bark from forming again rather than roots. Wrap the cut surface with a ball of moist sphagnum moss about as big as a man's fist. This is held in place with a waxed string or rubber band and the entire ball wrapped with plastic film or aluminum foil. The plants will root quickly at the point the cut was made, and after the roots are established, the branch is removed from the parent just below the roots, and planted in a pot or in the garden where it is to grow.

Crotons develop their best leaf colors when planted in full sun. Plants spaced in shade or semi-shade tend to develop a large amount of green color. Soil should be enriched with compost, muck, or peat moss, and the plants fertilized regularly with a general purpose fertilizer such as 6-6-6 or 6-4-8 three times per year.

Pests: scale, mites, thrips, and root rot diseases.

Prepared by: Broward Extension Service
3245 College Avenue

Davie, FL 33314