How to grow Croton
The Croton (Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph. Ex A. Juss.) Is a shrub plant of the Euphorbiaceae family from Malaysia and the Pacific Islands. It is the only species cultivated as an ornamental plant among the various species of shrubs with persistent foliage of the genus Codiaeum. It has leathery, persistent and glossy leaves, of different shape and size with mottled colors ranging from green to yellow, pink, red, purple, orange with more or less regular speckles. In this sheet we see how to grow the Croton and the tips for the best vegetative growth both in the garden and in the pot. It is a species that is grown as an ornamental plant especially for the colors of the leaves that need particular microclimatic conditions and substrate that can make it difficult to grow as an apartment or in the garden. It is, in fact, a plant that needs a warm humid environment and if kept in a too dry environment, the leaves tend to become yellow, to thin and fall.
For this reason the plant should be in an environment with temperatures never below 16-18 ° C and with high humidity. In the absence of these conditions the plant, within a few months begins to suffer until completely defoliated and eventually die. The ideal could be the cultivation in a closed veranda with glasses, with non-direct light and with humidity and temperatures held to optimal values, with the foresight to frequently turn the vase on itself to allow a homogeneous development and maintenance of colors of foliage; it will also be essential to vaporize water on the foliage. As for the substratum on which to grow it, this plant needs forest soil or leaves with sludge with balanced fertilizations in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to allow a balanced growth (fertilizer for green plants with balanced concentration of the elements are already available); an excessive nitrogen fertilization even if it leads to vegetate more predisposes the croton especially to attacks of aphids and cochineals. The optimal period for fertilization is spring – summer with small but frequent inputs. If instead you have to transfer the plant in a larger vase, the most suitable period is spring. Wherever it is grown, the croton should not be exposed to particularly cold drafts. Regarding irrigation it should be considered that the soil must always be kept humid but without stagnation; in addition, both for irrigation and for spraying on the leaves, water with a very low saline content is recommended; better if demineralized. As for the multiplication, the Codiaeum variegatum is a species that propagates well by cuttings, taking care not to come into contact with the latex coming out of the cuts that is strongly irritating to the skin. For this reason pruning and cutting must be done with suitable gloves. In general, both latex, seeds, bark and leaves should not be ingested, with consequences that in some cases can also be lethal. Finally it is emphasized how the croton is frequently attacked by mites, aphids and cochineals. In these cases it is possible to clean (with great delicacy) these mites or insects with small sponges and periodic spraying with solutions based on Marseille soap.