This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Those who have never seen a dinner-table adorned with the foregoing plants can scarcely form a right idea of their exceeding loveliness, while those who have seen them will look upon them as old friends not to be discarded. Whether all seen on the table at one time or in company with other plants, or each variety separate with Epergnes and suchlike things, they cannot but give satisfaction to the beholder. Moreover, they have this to recommend them - they are easy to grow, and their colour is never better than when they are fairly established in small pots, and they will remain in good condition a long time without shifting into larger pots.
All the Crotons may be made useful for the dinner-table, but those best adapted for that purpose are C. variegatum, C. variegatum longi-folium, and C. angustifolium, especially the two last. I always make it a rule to strike a few of each kind every year; November is the month I choose. Having prepared a few pots of peat, loam, and silver-sand in equal parts, with bell-glasses to cover with, I take off the cuttings with a stem 4 inches long, and insert them about 2 inches deep. Here they may remain three or four weeks, after which time the glasses may be taken off and the pots allowed to remain as they are until about the middle of February, when they will be in good condition for potting off singly in clean dry 3-inch pots, using a mixture of two parts loam, one part peat, and one part rotted dung, with a good sprinkling of silver-sand. In about six weeks or two months they will require shifting into pots a size larger, using the same soil as before.
I have generally found Crotons to make nice-shaped plants without any pinching whatever. C. variegatum forms a pyramid, but if they should not break and grow into the desired shape, the top must be pinched off when about 9 inches high; they will then send out branches near the bottom. Much better plants, and a much brighter colour, are got by striking in the autumn instead of in spring. When the plants have grown too large for the table, or require larger pots, their beauty in the stove or conservatory will repay for all the care that has been taken of them. It will be found that the Croton delights in a good turfy loam.