Key's Magic

Discussion in 'THE CROTON SOCIETY' started by Jerry Shilling, May 1, 2014.

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  1. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Before I start, allow me to thank you all for the kind comments on my recent posts, it's really appreciated.

    I've been asked on several occasions, on how I achieve some of the colors that I do etc. I've been hesitant to respond, because I don't feel qualified to do so. There are some very talented plant people on this forum and I still feel like a rookie.

    With that said, here are some of the things that I do and a few observations I've made along the way. Keep in mind I'm retired and have unlimited time to devote to my hobby. Most days I'm in the garden all day and it's pure bliss for me. For those of you holding down jobs, kids and commitments, you may find some of the things that I do, simply impractical...and maybe a little overboard.
     
    Jodi Shilling likes this.
  2. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    To start, I think it's pretty significant to get your hands on anicely colored, well grown clone. Not all clones are created equal.

    A happy croton is a stress free croton. Stress agents are hydration, drainage, light, insects, nutrition, temperature and pH.

    My plants are in raised beds of black dirt over coral rock. Contrary to what many think, we receive much less rain than on the mainland. Irrigation is absolutely
    mandatory to achieve exceptional specimens. Even relatively short periods of stress due to inadequate hydration will dramatically set plants back. My in-ground plants receive 1 gallon of water per day via individual emitters. (Thank You Jim Glock for introducing and helping me install this system.)
     
    annafl likes this.
  3. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    I'm in the Keys approximately 8 to 9 months a year. When there, I wet the leaves of my plants on a daily basis. Depending on conditions, I may spray them morning, noon and evening. If I have trouble sleeping, you may find me spraying leaves in the middle of the night in my underwear. I think this pays big dividends, especially during the winter months with the dry winds and low humidity. It also discourages the bugs and allows me to keep the use of insecticides to a minimum. If you think how much you enjoy your daily shower and how good you feel afterwards, well it just seems I can sense my babies saying, thanks Dad.

    Additionally, I try to give the plants a hard shower every two weeks, primarily for mite control. Water is expensive in the Keys. My water bill attributable to the garden runs approximately $125 month. If I'm in a hurry, I can wet all the leaves in my garden in 15/20 minutes and provide the hard shower in about an hour.
     
    annafl likes this.
  4. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Even during a cloud burst, you will never see standing water in the garden or runoff for that matter. I couldn't ask for better drainage. When I was farming in my youth, I can recall that standing water in an Indiana corn field, even for short periods, would reduce yields. Crotons supposedly hate wet feet, so I think eliminating this stress pretty important.

    There has been a lot said about light on this forum. Generally, morning sun is pretty much on for a start. But if your fortunate enough to have a palm canopy that provides dancing or filtered light and/or a high canopy that provides non-direct bight light, your crotons will excel.

    I'm constantly working on light conditions. Removing and adding palms is common place at the Daisy Christine. Some of my plants struggled with too much light at first, but in the second year have acclimated fairly well. Others never seem to adjust. For example, I have an Applause in morning sun and it bleaches out too fast. Last summer, an air layer off that plant, that was placed with the hybrids in bright light but no direct sun, was just breath taking. Needless to say, I have 4 air layers on my Applause and will be relocating that plant. Crotons will let you know if there getting too much or not enough light. For me, the effects of light on crotons is one of the more interesting aspects of the hobby.
     
    annafl likes this.
  5. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    No bugs allowed at the Daisy Christine. Of course I still get them, but I'm usually Johnny-on-the-spot taking care of it. When I'm away, I have some friends by the name of Glock who check on things. With the mild winters and the TLC my plants get, there growing at a pretty good clip, so this helps reduce the stress any insects may cause. But you have to stay on top of this one, bugs will definitely keep you from getting an exceptional plant.

    Crotons do love fertilizer. I apply a dry palm fertilizer three to four times a year that I get at Lowes, and spray them every two weeks with the blue stuff from Miracle-Gro at the rate of 1 heaping tbs per gallon. In the past that didn't happen when I wasn't there. This summer, I have a young couple providing the hard showers and spraying the blue stuff every other week. So I can't wait to see them later this summer.

    In regard to pH, I top dress with peat moss prior to mulching every year.

    So that's the story at the Daisy Christine, an old guy spraying crotons in his underwear. All I can say is, when I go, forget the flowers, send crotons.

    Jerry Shilling
     
    annafl likes this.
  6. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Jerry, what a great tutorial! I've been waiting for this a long time. Thanks for taking the time and divulging your methods. I find the topdressing with peat moss very interesting. It makes sense as a method to add acidity. Since I saw you last, I've been showering my plants, but I usually can't get out there more than once a day to do it. Anyway, I think it's made a difference. Thanks!
     
  7. Emmylou

    Emmylou Active Member

    Messages:
    90
    Location:
    Miami
    Jerry, Great information that I am excited to put into practice. I won't have the raised beds, and won't be able to shower 3 times a day, but I think I can manage everything else. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information with us. I've used a 20-20-20 for some time, but only once a month and I've never tried palm fertilizer on my crotons so I'm very anxious to see what happens by increasing the liquid and adding the palm. Very clever to use the peat moss to add acidity. Thanks again. Marnie
     
  8. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Dean, I wonder if we could make this and the hybridizing thread stickies? Is there agreement on this? We've never had a tutorial on the culture of crotons or how to hybridize. If tagged correctly, it may bring people to the forum, too, and serve as a reference for all of us who might need it.
     
  9. bahadawn

    bahadawn Active Member

    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    palm beach gardens, fl
    Jerry - If I may echo Ana's sentiment - Thank you for this informative post. I've learned so much from all the generous "croton friends" here on the forum, and all the advice is extremely appreciated. What is it about walking around your plants once or twice a day and tending to their care - I remember now - you said it - Pure Bliss!!! Having been away from this forum for a while has made my recent attempts to catch-up on what I've missed all the more enjoyable. Thanks to all of you!
     
  10. Perry Edge

    Perry Edge Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Great info Jerry. If only I could move my shabby collection to the Keys. Have you ever had a hurricane or tropical storm threaten your babies with a salt water flood? That's a constant concern for me because I'm at rather low elevation, very near the water (Tampa Bay). I've always understood that if that happens, the plants need to be flooded with fresh water ASAP. But even that has risks...as you pointed out, crotons don't like wet feet.
     
  11. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    This is so true! :Weeding1.gif

     
  12. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Hi Perry - yes hurricane season is an uneasy time for the Keys. Before I was aware of the wonderful world of crotons, and shortly after we acquired our place on Summerland Key, we were hit with a 2 ft surge from Wilma. It came in from the Gulf then from the Atlantic. It looked like a war zone down here...it was very depressing.

    Actually, that event is what prompted me to start raising my beds. Unlike you guys up north, I welcome the winter months.
     
  13. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Comte\' de Castelaine 1.JPG

    What this thread needs are some photos. Tim just gave me this Comte' de Castelaine. It's a monster standing 4 ft in the pot. It has the largest most colorful leaves I have ever seen on this cultivar. I used to believe that the Madam Butterfly was a pink version of Compte' de Castelaine which has yellow and orange hues. Not any more ... :eek:
     
  14. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Comte\' de Castelaine 2.JPG

    Sorry for the foggy photos. Its so muggy that the lens keeps fogging even when wiped.

    Testimony to "the Keys Magic" this croton is in a two gallon pot. I have to keep it in a bucket with some water in it to keep it from toppling over in the slightest of breezes. The colors on the older leaves of this Comte' de Castelaine look fabulous! :D
     
    Kingdavid likes this.
  15. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    ... more Keys Magic photos. Originally got this croton from Mike Woolery as a Van Houtii. As it grew we realized it was not but was unsure what the original name was. It ended up being put in a 7 gallon container. I donated it to Tim for the Audubon House so they could have a big croton with nice color. Now he put an air layer on it and sent it here. Two gallon container, monster plant, never looked this good when I had it. Van Houtii 2.JPG Van Houtii 1.JPG
     
  16. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Check out the size of the leaves that the Keys Magic provides ... Van Houtii 3.JPG Van Houtii 4.JPG
     
  17. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Just like the Compte' de Castelaine, I gotta keep it in a container with a 1/2 inch of water to keep the soil weighted so it won't tumble over in the breeze. Great colors on the older leaves! :cool:

    Van Houtii 5.JPG
     
  18. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Further "Keys Magic"evidence. Dr. Lin Yu Tang 5 ft. tall in a 3 gallon container from Tim. Its also in a bucket to prevent it from toppling over from the slightest breeze.

    Dr. Lin Yu Tang 1.JPG Dr. Lin Yu Tang 2.JPG Dr. Lin Yu Tang 3.JPG
     
  19. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    They are in the ground now! Yeah! :happy-dance:
     
  20. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Keys Magic continued ... was thinking about this song yesterday

     
  21. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Back when Jimmy really did live in the Keys and was really poor ...

     
  22. Native son

    Native son Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    878
    Location:
    10a
    image.jpg An update on Jodi S and best wishes for the Shilling tribe.
     
  23. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    That Jodi S. is a real looker, alright. Gorgeous! Yes, I'm thinking about Brenda and Jerry too, and wishing them the best.
     
  24. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Hi Lamar - thanks for the update. I know I'm a little biased, but Jodi S is a real beauty. The TLC shows!

    Brenda & I are in Houston (M.D.Anderson) undergoing a myriad of tests. Very impressive facility & doctors. Looks like Houston will be home the next 3 to 4 months.
     
  25. Jim Glock

    Jim Glock Active Member

    Messages:
    85
    Location:
    Fort Myers/Cudjoe Key
    Awsome news Jerry about being in Houston. You and Brenda are now a lot further South than Indiana. We can't wait to see you again in the Keys. And to think that you are halfway here.
    Moose, my favorite Bertie Higgin's song is Just Another Day in Paradise. I think of that when I hit the Monroe County Line.
     
  26. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    OK Jim - here you go. By the way, 'ol Bertie is 69 years old now and lives in Tarpon Springs, Florida

     
  27. Native son

    Native son Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    878
    Location:
    10a
    Great hearing from you, big hugs for Brenda. My sister Jodi worked in research at MDA while still on duty and has a great deal of respect for the work they are doing. Jodi S is very pastel in color and slow is not slow enough to describe the growth rate. I am hoping to get a second one out in the world this coming season. Get well soon Shillings.
     
  28. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,952
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Officially reported 49 F in Key West - that don't happen very often
     

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