Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cordylines and Crotons Galore

Scouting for awesome plants at the booths at the Leu Gardens plant sale, I met Mark Peter, grower-owner of Peters Croton Nursery in Fort Pierce, Florida.  He had a magnificent display of cordylines and crotons.

Colorful foliage is a great way to bring light to a shady corner. Cordylines and crotons cover the color spectrum with splashes of whites, creams, and pinks, to red, yellow, orange, and black frilly, elliptical, or piecrusted foliage.  Used in the Florida landscape frequently, both types of plants are often seen painfully in full sun conditions during the harsh hot summers, but cordylines and crotons thrive better and need less water when they get bright morning light but afternoon shade.

Do you know your cordyline or croton's cultivar name?  Their botanical names are cordyline fruticosa and codiaeum variegatum. When I worked in nurseries, I was just used to seeing and hearing Mamay crotons on labels or from the box store order sheet.  But there are several hundred named cultivars of crotons and cordylines.

My favorite cultivars out of Mark Peter's available product?  The creamy white and yellow or pink foliage varieties. I have never seen them for sale in the garden centers.  I do love to use the Picasso's Paintbrush and Zanzibars planted in chimeras representing a blazing fire.  Very nice accent for warm Spanish-themed outdoor rooms.

Both ornamental shrubs need partial sun or shade, moist, rich soils - do not let them dry out, even in winter - and can be fertilized on a monthly (or as fertilizer label recommends)  basis with slow release fertilizer.  They are tropical plants suited best for Zone 10 - 11 but can be grown in Zone 9A and 9B if protected in temperatures below 50 degrees.  Above Zone 9, plants should be grown indoors or in a greenhouse.

Take a look at these fancy plants:

Cordylines and Crotons

More links:

Croton Production and Use - UF/IFAS

The Croton Society

Floridata - Codiaeum variegatum

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