The colorful, eye-catching leaves of the crotons make all the work of growing these challenging plants worth the time and effort. The plants thrive in warm, humid climates when grown in the ground. Otherwise, croton may be grown as an indoor plant, offering fiery-colored foliage and veined leaves sure to grab attention throughout the year.
Varieties of croton are based on their leaf type. The major leaf types include broad leaf, spiral leaf, recurved leaf and narrow leaf. Another leaf type, the oak leaf croton, features leaves that resemble oak leaves. Crotons with very narrow leaves sport foliage less than 1/2 inch in width that appears long and droopy.
While many people think of crotons as indoor plants, plants growing outdoors may reach up to 10 feet in height with the heaviest foliage appearing at the top of the plant. As perennials, crotons feature glossy foliage in a variety of bright colors such as red, yellow and orange with heavy veins forming along the leaves.
Croton grows well in the garden as long as it receives full sunlight and warm temperatures year-round. Better yet, the plants thrive in shifting sun, important for keeping the bright colors in their leaves. Croton planted in partial shade develop more green color in their leaves. The plant grows well in areas with high humidity, making it ideal for places like Florida. To prevent the plant from unexpected cold temperatures, croton may also be planted in a container that can be moved inside when necessary.
Crotons thrive indoors as long as they receive plenty of bright light and year-round warmth away from cold drafts. The plants also require lots of humidity--a humidifier helps create the kind of moisture the plant requires. Like most house plants, croton needs to be watered weekly to keep the soil moist. In low-humidity areas, the leaves should be misted frequently.
Crotons feature such bright-colored leaves and veins that careful thought should be put into where to place them in the garden. A good place for croton are areas where flowers do not grow, since the leaves of the croton won't be competing with other colorful flowers. Croton also works well where low-maintenance texture is needed.