The Croton Plant Will Transform Your Garden Or Home Into an Explosion of Color

Plant Type) Houseplant, Shrub

Light Needs) Partial Shade to Full Sun

Height) 4 feet to 8 feet

Width) 3 feet to 6 feet

Grow Zone) 9a — 11

Foliage Color) Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Variegated, And Yellow

Pros) Attractive multi-colored leaves

Cons) Some plant parts are poisonous.

Croton plants can be grown inside the home or planted outdoors if you have favorable climate conditions. In the warmer climate of the South, the croton plant is grown side by side or used as a stand alone ornamental plant.

These colorful leaved plants belong to the Codieaum family. Depending on the species, its leaves can be red, yellow and green. Reaching 6-8 inches in length, they point upwards and look and feel as if coated in wax. Common varieties include Croton Petra and Croton Mammy.

Caring for the Croton

Adequate lighting is important to the croton. Whether grown indoors or outside, place the croton where it receives bright light a minimum of 3 hours a day. Inadequate lighting will cause its vibrant colors to fade.

The croton will do best when provided plenty of water and occasional misting. The soil or pot used to grow the plant should be well drained. Do not allow the plant to stay in saturated soil for long, as this can lead to some fungal diseases.

Ideally you want to keep the croton warm, which is around 80 degrees F. When grown in warm, sunny locations you’ll find the croton colors and foliage sparkle with life.

This lovely shurb is relatively easy to grow and has few pest or disease problems. The plant can recover from a hard freeze, although it many take many months to do so.

Container Gardening Ideas For Your Home

Many gardeners have given up on the idea of a garden because they lack space, time or lots of experience. But if growing plants is an interest of yours container gardening could be your answer. Container gardens will allow you to enjoy “playing in the dirt” without investing a lot of time or money. You can get very creative in container gardening using vegetables, decorative grasses or flowers and herbs. You can plant a container garden with any plant that would grow outside. The trick is to come up with some creative ideas for your container garden.

You should do some research at your local nursery or on the internet to choose the plants you wish to grow to help you come up with some ideas. Try to use plants that complement each other and have the same basic needs for water, air and light.

A container garden idea that has taken off recently is the landscape container. Some people plant a simple evergreen tree in a container with good drainage to place at their front door. Or you could plant an assortment of flowers for a bright and beautiful vista. If you do plant flowers, add plants that spill over the sides of the container to add more visuals and interest. What ever container gardening idea you can come up with can be placed on a deck, patio, and balcony or by the front doors. Put them somewhere that your family and friends can enjoy.

You can grow vegetables in containers but choose wisely. Vegetables like squash and pole beans need lots of space, while tomatoes need a deep pot. When you grow your own vegetables you will have tasty produce not the bland stuff that is in the grocery store. Nothing tastes better than a tomato right off the vine. There are many chefs and good home cooks that grow their own for just this reason. Don’t forget to pot some herbs, they are pretty plants and add zest to your meals.

But don’t just stick to vegetables and herbs; why not add fruit trees too? Instead of using an evergreen tree, pot a fruit tree instead. There are many dwarf varieties available that work best in pots since with pots there is less soil therefore less nutrients to draw from. If you live in a year round warm climate citrus trees are perfect. In other regions, stick to pear, apple and cherry trees. Another good container gardening idea is to grow strawberries. With strawberries climate does not matter since you can bring the container inside. Fresh strawberries are amazingly sweet and delicious. Imagine how good a bowl of fresh strawberries will be, strawberries that you have just picked.

Remember that container gardens dry out more quickly than traditional gardens. Be diligent about watering your plants if you don’t want your container gardening ideas to wither and die. Container gardens must be fertilized too. Keep a small notebook handy so you can write down the needs of your plant so you will always know when to water or feed. Keep an eye out for pests. If you find a container that has an infestation, isolate it immediately and treat it with a natural pesticide. You don’t want harsh chemicals on fruits, vegetables or herbs. A good natural pesticide recipe is:

In a jar, combine 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 1 cup vegetable oil. Shake vigorously. In an empty spray bottle, combine 2 teaspoons of this mixture and 1 cup water. Use at ten-day intervals (or more often if needed) to rid plants of whiteflies, mites, aphids, scales, and other pests.

 

So, do some research, come up with your own unique container gardening ideas, gather your materials and get to work. The fruits of your labor will be amazing.

Happy Container Gardening!

Copyright © Mary Hanna, All Rights Reserved.

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Spring Garden Care – Pruning Landscape and Fruit Trees in Mediterranean Climate Home Gardens

Deciduous trees should be pruned in their dormant season, which in Mediterranean and similar mild winter climates, means towards the end of winter. They should not be pruned in the spring as pruning causes the sap that is rising in the plant to “bleed” thereby depleting the tree of valuable energy and nutrients. If you have missed the boat, either wait till next year or carryout a very light pruning in the summer.

On the other hand, broadleaved evergreens and trees that come from tropical or sub-tropical climates are likely to be sensitive to cold and late frosts, and can incur severe damage if pruned too early in the year. They should not be touched until all possibility of frosts has passed.

In Mediterranean climates, spring is the best time for pruning because it anticipates the plants’ principle growing season. There is little point in allowing the tree to expend energy on new growth only to remove that growth a month or so later.

As opposed to shrubs and bushes, the aim of pruning landscape trees is to develop and maintain the tree’s natural shape. For this reason, it is a mistake to shorten branches as this detracts from the natural “flow” of the tree.

Instead, whole branches and limbs should be removed at their base, which is either where the branch is attached to the main trunk or a thicker branch. An exception is when a stem shoots forward into a long, thin branch that is out of proportion to the rest of the branches on the tree. It is best to clip such stems.

Pruning Fruit Trees

There is considerable confusion amongst home gardeners as to how best to prune their fruit trees. It is common to see the branches cut back as though the tree is a rose bush or some other flowering shrub. This is a technique borrowed from agriculture where the farmer is more interested in maximizing yields than in maintaining the natural look and beauty of the tree.

In my view, garden trees are ornamental, landscaping elements first, and providers of fruit second. In fact, by pruning fruit trees as one would landscape trees, (i.e. by removing a few limbs entirely) one gets the best of both worlds – a worthy, natural-looking specimen that produces enough fruit to supply the needs of the average family.

The Health of the Tree

Another reason for not pruning fruit trees according to the agricultural method concerns the long-term health of the tree. Persistent pruning that involves the removal of large volumes of material, depletes the energy potential of the tree, and renders it more susceptible to pests and disease. Remember that the tree, whether fruiting or otherwise, is the most precious element in the garden, and that pruning should be carried out as carefully, conservatively, and judiciously as possible.