Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Croton Flower and Propagating Croton

I was talking with a neighbor and got a complement.  "Your yard looks so nice!"

We were talking about placement and variety of plants here, and I said "You know, everything I have a lot of I propagated myself."  After getting a semi-blank stare, "It's all from either seeds or cuttings."

The property was planted well by the prior owner, and we liked what we saw.  So when we settled in, I took the attitude that I would figure out what grows, what works, and what I can make more of.   I have a row of pots in the back by the pool in the sun that has all sorts of cuttings in it.  That row is on "drip feed irrigation" which gets a blast of water for only 10 minutes a day, and it is legal even under water restrictions in South Florida.

All by design.

If you are moving into a place where you can garden on your own and wonder what you can grow, look at your neighbors, and take a general view of what they have.   If you like the stuff, plant it.

When I lived in Horsham, PA, I liked the Rose of Sharon that someone had about a mile away that I saw during my walk, so I grabbed a few seeds.  That Rose of Sharon grew, bloomed, and was planted when I got my own house 10 years later in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA.

Here I did the same thing with all sorts of things.  Dracena, Screw Palms, Mango (of course), and Podocarpus.  Mango from seed, the rest from cuttings.

But everything here was only green with no color.  I introduced that with Croton.  Now if you are above the freeze line, Zone 8 or so, you really only know Croton as a house plant.  It was a house plant that was a plot point in a British Sitcom called the "IT Crowd" where they brought a palm sized plant I would use as a cutting in their dank basement office and then went back to "Switching things on and off again".

Here, it's everywhere.  It grows fairly slowly even under ideal conditions.

To propagate the stuff from cuttings, you take a hand to arm sized piece cut on a bias, remove the lower leaves, dip in rooting hormone, and place in wet soil.  6 weeks later it should be growing.  I get about 90% success rate.

I have two different sets of the stuff growing in the nursery pots right now because I started them on different months.  They will go in the ground a month from now, minimum.

But the strangest thing I have ever seen is a Croton Flower.  They are tiny things, only about the size of a child's smallest fingernail.  Of all things, this is on one of my original plants that I have butchered and am ignoring to let it recover.  It's little more than a stick with a few leaves and must really like where it is at.

Since I am trying to fill in the front gardens with Croton, I harvest the plants, make cuttings and limit myself to when the plants get waist high.  

For now, that seems to be once every two months, but I have time.

Besides, I still have a podocarpus plant that is chest high that needs to go in when one of the existing plants thins out.

I did say our landscapers are overly aggressive around my plants, didn't I?

The bottom line is that if you see something you like, try to propagate it.  When Lisa across the street was fighting off the cancer that eventually took her, she planted a bottle brush tree.  It's supposed to be able to be propagated but I have had no luck. 

I know, if I don't have luck with it, who knows what I am doing wrong.

But I want some cuttings from Her Tree, so I took some seed and dropped it in my pot with the Basil.  I will look after that every time I make pizza.  Just like Lisa looked after everyone else.

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