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Published on Jul 16, 2013
Crotons [Codiaeum variegatum: Euphorbiaceae] provide an exciting sparkle of color to our otherwise, all-to-common, monochromatic world of green hedgery. Croton foliage colors range from various, ever-changing (even on one plant) shades of white, yellow, pink, orange, red, black and purple.
It is the "Walt Disney" technicolor plant in the landscape. Leaf shapes are so variable and unstable that it is rare for two leaves to be exactly the same on any plant. Leaf shape ranges from broad, linear, spikey, oak-leaf, turkey-foot, spiral, interrupted and more. See Dr. B. Frank Brown's book, " A Codiaeum Encyclopedia: Crotons of the World".
Crotons are now under attack by a soft scale species which is new to science, Phalacrococcus howertoni. This insect is difficult to detect on crotons from two standpoints: the insects resemble the gnarly leaf bud scars and the sooty mold that grows on their honeydew excretion blends in with the variable colors of the foliage. If left uncontrolled, this scale will kill plants. This video shows what to look for and how to best manage the pest. The croton scale attacks firebush (Hamelia patens) and gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba) and about 70 other plants which aren't commonly found in the landscape.