The garden has exhibited crotons since the early 1950s, but the collection, now named The Croton Patch, has grown considerably lately, thanks to the efforts of the Croton Society.
I've seen people get into arguments to the point where they'll lose friendships over names of crotons.
Brown, 86, who recently released an updated version of his 1960 book Crotons of the World, agrees, "They're back like gangbusters.
And therein lies part of the croton's intrigue: Many of the plant enthusiasts who hybridized crotons in those early years were secretive about their work.
Thomas Edison was such a fan of crotons that for a time his winter residence in Fort Myers was reported to have the largest collection in the country.
Edison's three remaining original crotons were purchased at Reasoner's Tropical Nursery, which had developed several popular hybrids, according to Bob Alonzo, a croton enthusiast who lives in Fort Myers with Robert Halgrim Sr.
Crotons are known to be genetically unstable, which means the seedlings don't usually look like parent plants.