This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
This genus of plants comprises some of the finest ornamental leaved plants in cultivation. Of late years from the South Sea Islands have been introduced some of the best species, some of which are not only attractive in the coloring of their leaves, but in the peculiar shape of them. In the collections of Messrs. Veitch and Mr. Bull, London, England, I saw, this last spring, some exquisite species of but very recent introduction, some of them surpassing anything hitherto introduced, as being decidedly distinct in general appearance, and especially in the shapes of the leaves.
Crotons are easily managed if sufficient moisture and heat be given them during their season of growth. If grown in too dry an atmosphere, they soon get covered with red spider, which soon discolors the leaves and destroys the vitality of the plant. A soil composed of turfy loam and peat with a good mixture of sand is the most suitable. As they require a good supply of water during their growing season, perfect drainage is indispensable to insure the water passing freely through the soil, nothing being more injurious for the welfare of the plant than stagnant water around the roots.
The species being so numerous I shall mention only such as are well worth growing even in a small collection. Not but most all kinds are worth growing, but some are more distinct and more easily managed than others.
A narrow-leaved species from the East Indies; the leaves are long, drooping, of a bright yellow color and very attractive.
The leaves of this one are short and broad, of a bright green mottled with yellow, having a pinkish tinge on the mid-rib and veins. Its compact habit gives it a distinct appearance from most of the others.
This beautiful species is from the South Sea Islands; the leaves are about 8 inches long and 3 inches wide, of a deep green color, spotted with yellow, the mid-rib being also yellow.
An exquisite species of compact habit; the leaves being dark green the veins bright crimson on the upper side; on the under side they are of a dark red color. It is well adapted for decorative purposes, where such compact plants are required.
A species assuming often on the same plant very different leaves in shape, sometimes a spiral form is seen and in others nothing but the mid-rib exists for a space in the centre of the leaf. On a plant here about 6 feet high scarcely two leaves are alike in shape, some of them assuming the strangest shapes imaginable. The color of the leaf on the upper side is a dark red, the mid-rib very bright, the under side a dark purple.
This, when well grown, is a fine looking plant; the leaves are about 10 inches long and 4 inches broad, of a bright yellow, with a dark green stripe on each side of the mid-rib.
An old species in cultivation, but has few superiors in general appearance; when well grown the leaves are about 8 inches long, and from two to three in breadth, of a bright crimson color, spotted with green and black. It is one of the finest-growing species we have, but like all Crotons, requires plenty of light to bring out the true colors. The reason so many poor colored plants are seen is from keeping them too much shaded when growing. No plants we have endure a higher temperature with plenty of sun than Crotons, so long as plenty of moisture is kept in the house.
In Mr. Bull's establishment I saw a fine specimen of this species; every leaf characteristic of the name. The leaves are about 10 inches long and one inch broad, twisted like a cork-screw; they are green, with a yellow midrib, changing with age to a bright crimson. Although interruptum sometimes shows this spiral form of leaf, I never saw it so perfectly done as seen in this species. It is one of the most distinct I and beautiful in cultivation.
Of the many Crotons now in cultivation, I think this the most beautiful; the beautifully undulated edges of the leaves give it a very attractive appearance, the ground color of which is dark green, blotched with yellow when young, changing to crimson with age. It is of free growth and excellent habit: native of South Sea Islands.
This species I also saw in Mr.
Bull's collection and derives its name from the peculiar manner in which the leaves are rolled, about 6 inches long and beautifully colored, the ground color being bright green, the mid-rib, veins and edge of the leaf a bright yellow.
This species is an old inhabitant of the hot-houses, having been introduced about the beginning of this century from the East Indies. The ground color of the leaves is green, the mid-rib and primary veins a bright yellow.
C. Weismannii - This is a very handsome Cro-ton, and one of very free growth: the habit is very graceful, the leaves grow about a foot long, the ground color being a shining green, the midrib and margin a bright yellow, also large yellow blotches scattered over the surfaces. For culture in a small collection this one is to be highly recommended.