Cray cray for Croton!


It sounds like something off Star Trek, right? Crotons should have pointy ears and wear tunics, I’m pretty sure. Or have very dark, straight bangs. Or be prone to angry outbursts.

But no. Croton is a plant — a VERY COOL plant!

The above specimen is a “gold dust Croton,” according to my research. Check out the Jackson Polluck-y yellow spatter on its bright green leaves, which look like they’ve been scissored into thin ribbons, like they belong on top of a birthday present. DREAMY.

I got this fantastic plant — and the Vancouver Centennial geranium* (whole ‘nother topic) and sweet potato vine — from a very cool plantseller/propagater named Raquel at the Rietta Flea Market. (If you live ’round these parts, you should go see her, she sells under a tent with her mom, a plant genius.) By the time I got to Raquel last weekend, she didn’t have much color left. So I was scooping up the last of her pretty coleus, when she said, “Hey, I have a lot better stuff at my house in Fitchburg, why don’t you come by in a few hours?”

Yes, please!

Raquel’s small yard was filled with all manner of interesting specimens, which I’ll be sharing here soon. I loaded up on the croton, geranium, more coleus, euphorboa, crown of thorns (!) and a butterfly bush. (I now have a pretty fantastic container garden coming together on my lower patio…)

I love plant people. I left Raquel’s house feeling all warm and fuzzy, cuz’ I got to learn more about plants from someone with the magic touch. And buy all kinds of great stuff for $1-4 per plant. And support real people, doing what they love, out of their homes… feeding the “alternative economy.”

I loved how her small yard was just FILLED to the brim with pots of all kinds, taking full advantage of her full sun side. They need (and get) tons of water, she says, thanks to her mom’s vigilance — especially in that 90-degree weather we were having a few weeks ago.

Anyway, my croton makes me crazy with happiness. I did a little research and it turns out, it’s a variation on this well-known type below… a very popular houseplant.

I, in fact, have one of these in a big pot but it’s not doing very well. The winter was hard on it — not enough light, it seems — and the toddler’s indoor basketball court didn’t help some of its branches. Apparently, it wants several hours of bright, direct sunlight every day, and leaves may fall off in low light. Ahem. Think I will be moving my long-suffering croton from its spot on the too-shady enclosed porch to the sunny patio below pronto.

The croton is reportedly also a common housewarming gift, and good for those with thumbs of death, as they are hardy and difficult to kill. Awesome.

There’s even a Croton Society, dedicated to worshiping this colorful, vibrant friend.

I wonder if they wear tunics?

* Now, about that Vancouver Centennial geranium. Being from the Northwest, I kind of love the BC reference. BUT this is also one of the plants I was totally lusting after in the Tower Hill Botanic Garden orangerie last fall. This leaf is amazing! I bought three from Raquel. I hope they thrive, and that I can move them in for winter too.

Be still, my heart!

I loved this plant so much I took a picture of it at Tower Hill and named it “cool leaf plant,” as I apparently did not note its name. Now, I know what it is. And I have it in my garden. Score!


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
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