The croton plant is a colorful shrub that reminds me of autumn colors all year long! When all the maple and oak leaves are starting to drop, this plant will be full and vibrant. The croton (Codiaeum variegatum pictum) is actually a tropical plant, and for those living in the Tropical South, these shrubs can be grown outside all year long.
One of the things that I love about crotons is their diverse color range, with leaves that fluctuate from red, orange, yellow, and even purple and bronze. The leaves are tougher than most other other plants that we have, and tend to feel a bit leathery. They are not a messy plant either, and while their leaves do drop – when they are well taken care of, they usually remain a relatively tidy plant.
Here in Tampa, we keep crotons in the ground and also in pots. If we experience a harsh cold spell, we will cover them (you can read more on that subject in my Frost Protection for Plants post). Our older crotons did survive a severe cold spell a couple of years ago; however, those that were not covered were frost-bit all the way down to the ground. It took almost two years for them to grow back and flourish. Since we live in Zone 9, we now always cover them when we know the temps will be dropping to freezing conditions.
Crotons need bright light to thrive and prefer moist and well-drained soil. When planted in the Tropical South, these “shrubs” will grow over 6 feet tall and wide! Indeed, they are a great landscape plant. If indoors, a daily misting is highly recommended. We try to fertilize ours every two weeks, especially in the hot summer months, with a quality fertilizer – like Bloomingo Indoor Plant Food.
I am writing this post in November, which is a time that our crotons seem to look their very best. The weather is not too cold, or too hot. It’s a great time to plant them in the garden, or enjoy them in a pot as a colorful autumn plant. While most of your trees and plants might be starting to hibernate for the winter, the croton plant will be happy to provide you with robust color throughout the season!