The Croton (Codiaeum) is a popular house plant and its attraction is obvious – vivid foliage colors and varied leaf shapes. Stiff leaves are borne on an upright plant – the usual pattern is large and lobed foliage on which there are distinctly colored veins. A tough-looking plant in the shop or garden center, but before you buy one of the hybrids of Codiaeum variegatum pictum you must make sure that you can satisfy its fussy requirements. It will need a fairly constant temperature which will not drop below 60°F and it will need high air humidity.
Myrtle (Myrtus) has been grown as a decorative plant for thousands of years and yet it is still a rarity indoors. The small oval leaves are shiny and aromatic – the white flowers appear in large numbers in summer. In the fall the purple berries appear. In midwinter, many of the shoots are crowned by a series of radiating pink stems that are themselves topped with small heather-pink stars. These are immature fruits that eventually berry into purple-black, but in their unformed state they brighten the foliage and give this ancient, egg-shaped evergreen extra sparkle.
The Jacobinia genus is a large one that includes about 400 species of plants throughout the tropical world. The main species of Jacobinia grown indoors are the J. carnea and the much less common J. pauciflora. Both plants are grown primarily for their foliage, especially the J. carnea, which is sometimes called the King’s Crown because of its large and lovely red flower head. When in bloom the King’s Crown seems a most desirable house plant. Unfortunately the flowering period in late summer is short.
It can reach 4 ft or more, but old plants are unsttractive. Cut plants back after flowering – during winter keep the pot in a well-lit, fairly warm spot. In summer bort air and compost must be kept constantly moist.