Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum

Although the genus Codiaeum has 14 species distributed throughout Malaysia and on Pacific islands, only one is grown as an ornamental plant. It is often grown in pots and can be found in almost every heated greenhouse. Croton is a shrub that may attain a height of 2 m (79 in). The leathery, evergreen leaves may be ovate or variously lobed, sometimes very narrow to linear. Their coloration is also variable – green combined with yellow, orange, red or violet. The flowers are inconspicuous. The cultivar ‘Norma’ has very narrow leaves clustered in tufts on the stems. The markings on the leaf blades are irregular, each blotch being of a different size and shape. Another exceptionally lovely cultivar is ‘Golden Star’ . It has broadly ovate leaves with long-pointed tips, and lovely golden-yellow markings.

Crotons require a very light position sheltered from direct sunlight. They tolerate sun without damage only in winter. Crotons need a high temperature; the optimum temperature in winter is about 20° C (68° F); in summer it should be much higher. At low temperatures, the leaves begin to drop. The relative humidity must not be less than 60 per cent. Water liberally and mist the plants regularly, even in winter. Because they do not tolerate draughts the room should not be aired too much. The best growing medium is a mixture of two parts leaf mould, one part frame soil, and one part each of peat and sand. Put a drainage layer at the bottom of the container. Repot young plants every year; older plants every two or three years. Prune the plants to promote bushy growth. Propagate by air layering.

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