Crotons, whether grown indoors or outdoors, prefer bright light. They do fine in light shade, but sun really brings out the colors. Give them fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Feed them according to label directions with a slow-release granular fertilizer that works for several months. If your plants become sparse at the bottom, cut them back from the top to spur new growth. Keep the milky sap off of your skin, though, as it can be irritating. Don't expose these plants to freezing weather unless you're a really spiteful person.
Spider mites are the bane of crotons grown indoors. Look for tiny webs strung between the leaves and stems or tiny dots moving on the undersides of the leaves. Control mites by thoroughly spraying the leaves (especially the undersides) with soapy water or horticultural oil. Regular misting to humidify the air around the foliage also deters the little fiends. A final word: A croton and a crouton are two different things. Don't serve the first one in salads.
"Dazzling Foliage" is from the October 2007 issue of Southern Living.