An Introduction to Crotons
Increasingly from the 1920’s to the 1960’s as Florida became more populated, the plants were welcomed as part of the home and commercial landscape design and unwittingly became one of South Florida’s most popular shrubs especially in areas where sultry conditions prevail, and for good reason: Few plants can surpass their colorful foliage and variety of leaf shapes and sizes.
Leaves vary from oval to narrow, small to large, oak leaf to semi-
As Florida landscaping and garden designs came into vogue and faded with the times, so too, the popularity and desirability of crotons has fluctuated. Hugely popular in 1920s Miami and Tampa where the shrubs were extensively used as foundation plantings throughout the region, garden trends in the 1970s and ‘80s began to view the shrubs as too flamboyant or gaudy and even in poor taste engendering a croton prejudice which exists to the present. Thankfully, large, beautiful original plantings can still be seen flourishing in older, more established residential and commercial neighborhoods in those cities and the surrounding areas.
Crotons are enjoying a well-
The shrub thrives from the Florida Keys to south and central Florida and along both coasts as far north as Tampa on the west coast and Melbourne on the east coast. Further north along both Florida coasts crotons will tolerate some cooler weather, but only in small, localized micro-
Peters Croton Nursery strives to locate viable, hardy, historic, unusual, and rare cultivars for propagation. As with every croton grower, one of our greatest challenges is accurate cultivar identification. Mother Nature only adds to the confusion because the species is genetically, or reproductively unstable. This phenomenon leads to the common incidence of new offspring or “sports” showing up, or appearing unexpectedly together with new growth which may resemble but are not exact likenesses of the parent plant.
Alongside our passion for crotons, in the big picture our larger mission is:
Codaieum variegatum plants, known more commonly as crotons, are ornamental, tropical shrubs native to Indonesia and Malaysia.
Europeans discovered the plant c. 1680 when its vividly colored leaves caught the eye of amateur naturalists/explorers from the English & Dutch East India Companies. In the 1800’s crotons were being shipped back to England and Holland to be propagated in commercial hot houses to meet the growing demand for exotic New World flora. It wasn’t long before growers were producing shrubs whose leaves sported evermore vivid color patterns and unusual shapes to satisfy the burgeoning coterie of garden collectors throughout Europe, for whom the prized plants epitomized exotic, faraway sultry lands of the Tropics.
Sometime after 1850 crotons were introduced into the United States from Europe. In cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia with emerging public gardens built to emulate London’s Kew Gardens, crotons were favored for growing in glass houses as Victorian bedding plants and were desirable both as hot house and indoor potted plants.
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