From the Sperry Garden – August, 2010

I thought this slightly different photo might give you a better perspective of the true size of this wonderful plant. I don’t even remember where I bought it, and I don’t know its variety name. All I know is that I’m really attached to this beautiful plant.

Spider mites almost got my buddy one winter. I got busy with the old garden show week in Arlington, and when I came home, the mites had knocked probably half its leaves to the ground. I sprayed it, and I trimmed and reshaped the skeletal remains. It was mid-summer before it caught back up again, but catch up it did.

More recently, due to a HVAC company’s error, my gas greenhouse heater was installed with the wrong orifice, and propane gas fumes and smoke filled the greenhouse. Lesser plants were lost. My pal coughed and leaf-dropped, but it survived another near-miss, and again it regrew by summer.

There have been a couple of times when power outages in mid-winter storms knocked out our electricity and prevented the gas heaters and their electric blowers from running. My greenhouse has been to 35 degrees a couple of times, but that’s been resolved with the installation of an automated generator back-up power supply.

To the best of my memory, this big croton has been in three pots. It started in a 5-gallon container. A few years later, I shifted it into one about half the size of this one. Then, perhaps 10 years later, it made the move into this largest of all my pots. It’s been in this one for 6 or 8 years. Luckily this is a faux terra cotta pot – it’s made from plastic, and it weights just a few pounds. But, that does mean that we have to stake the plant all summer long. It blows over easily.

I made a decision a few days ago to try several air layers on this plant, to see if I could get a few more young ones growing. When I find a flavor of gelato I like, I tend to stay with it for a long, long time. I’m that same way with my plants. I’ll let you know how those air layers work out.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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