This may be the perfect plant for fall gardening because the striking colors of the Croton’s foliage is almost always associated with the coming of the autumn weather.
My wife loves these plants, and you will always see our porches peppered with them, amongst the mums and pumpkins and hay bales that we decorate with for the season. The leaves are variegated with all those colors you associate with a fall palette – Red, Yellow and Orange amongst the dark green based, and speckled with some maroons and purples.
Now here’s the catch: Since crotons start getting stocked at nurseries and garden centers (even big box stores and grocery stores) around September, many people like to think that they are somehow ‘cold weather’ plants. But they’re not! They are in fact a tropical plant that loves our humid climate. Which is why they also make great houseplants… especially where you have tons of indirect light. They aren’t so good in the darkest reaches of the house. And for those of you who prefer minimal gardening, and thus are into container gardening, these will look spectacular in all kinds of “potted” arrangements, offering a one-of-a-kind blend of texture and colors.
If you want to keep them healthy for a long time, you have to be overtly consistent with them. Crotons have a reputation for being fussy, but I say that only comes when you aren’t consistent with the soils, the moisture and the light. They love filtered sunlight if they are outdoors. Do not let them get hammered by the late afternoon sun for sure. But you also don’t want to put them in a situation that is overtly shady. Crotons need proper water and humidity. They should get the humidity outdoors here in SE Texas, right?! Indoors you may need to mist them once a week. I even know some gardening enthusiasts who sponge the leaves down with water to keep them shiny too.
When it comes to watering crotons, you need to focus first on that consistency and only water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Most people, I believe, over-water them because they think that’s being consistent. Keep the plant away from a cold draft as it doesn’t like temperatures below 50 degrees. You should bring your potted crotons inside when there is a threat of a freeze or cover them up if they’re in your garden beds!