Codiaeum species, hybrids and cultivars
Intense color all year round AND easy to grow... what more could you ask for? Crotons used to be dismissed as old-fashioned plants, but who could ignore such stunning plants for long, especially with so many new varieties on the market?
The fact that you see crotons in old and neglected gardens in Queensland attests to their survival skills, but for best results avoid the hottest and driest positions. A little attention with respect to water and fertiliser will be rewarded. They will need plenty of light for good colour development, but some shade is acceptable and even helpful in Qld's harsh climate.
New varieties developed for indoor cultivation in cool climates (where they won't survive outdoors) are more tolerant of low light. If attempting to grow such cultivars in Queensland, we might expect that greater shade will be tolerated (if not demanded), compared to some of the older landscape types.
Crotons are generally not fast-growing, but this means less maintenance over the longer term. For a fuller effect faster, cheat by planting 3 or more in a group.
In old gardens, you sometimes see crotons growing 2-3 meters high. However, if left alone like this they end up the foliage at the ends of the branches with bare trunks and woody stems showing below, which is hardly attractive. Cut back occasionally to keep bushy, with plenty of vibrant foliage at eye level.
Some varieties are naturally shorter and more compact. They'll need little if any pruning, except to improve shape.
Planted in front gardens, along driveways and around patios, you won't have to worry about rampant growth getting in the way. These high-visibility areas are also ideal for admiring the amazing colours.
Crotons in the Landscape
These pictures should help you understand the growth habit of crotons and the kind of landscape situations you might use them in. All photographs taken in Brisbane. Click for larger images.
Possible misspellings: codieum, codiaum, codium, croaton