In this article on croton plant care, you will learn some interesting background facts, essential indoor plant care advice plus some trouble- shooting tips.
Croton or Codiaeum variegatum is a genus of flowering plants from the spurge family known as Euphorbiaceae. The name croton is inspired by the Greek word krotos which describes the seeds’ shape.
This perennial evergreen shrub is native to Malaysia and India and it’s a tropical plant whose foliage is leathery and thick and varies in colors, shapes, and sizes. Interestingly, with the plant’s aging, the color may darken to entirely black.
In the wild, the plant can reach up to 10 feet in height; however, in gardens and indoors, they remain much smaller.
Crotons are a popular houseplant worldwide. They can be somewhat challenging to grow if they don’t receive high humidity, consistent warmth and bright filtered light.
But given these conditions, it will reward you with attractive foliage that really is quite amazing- it can boast scarlet, orange, green, and yellow spots.
It will further reward you for taking good care of it, by removing VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the air!
It also makes a great gift idea for a friend or family member who’s just beginning their indoor gardening journey- it comes in so many impressive varieties!
Important to note:
All parts of the croton plant are toxic, so they’re not a good option for homes with children, cats and dogs!
How to Care for a Croton Plant
Your croton will thank you if you place it in an area that’s bright, but not directly exposed to the sun.
It enjoys unfiltered, direct sunlight, but it will be the happiest when it’s more filtered. For a more vibrant color, brightness is a must for this plant.
It’s best to place a croton in a room in your house or apartment where the temperature is never lower than 60 degrees F. and ideally, no higher than 76 degrees F.
Avoid placing it where there’s a cold draft or near a heater. This can damage it and impede its growth.
Water & Humidity
Water the plant weekly during the growth period in spring and summer, but only when the top soil is dry when you touch it.
It’s also recommended to grow it on a tray with water and pebbles to raise the humidity. Do not mist the leaves.
Since it’s a plant that likes humid and warm temperatures in its natural habitat, it may lose color when the temperature and humidity drops too much.
In the winter, when the plant’s growth is reduced, you can lower the watering to every two weeks.
When planting your croton, make sure you use a soil based compost that drains well- the plant doesn’t want to stay soaked in water because of root rot!
A croton will enjoy feeding from spring through autumn with a balanced liquid fertilizer, every 2 weeks.
When the plant’s roots begin to grow outside of the pot’s drainage holes, it’s time to repot it. This will usually occur every 2 -3 years. Do it in spring. Choose a pot that’s one size larger than the current one.
Set 2 inches of damp peat-based potting soil on the bottom and gently slide the croton out of the old pot. Set it into the new and add more soil.
Water it and make sure the soil level is around an inch below the rim of the new pot.
This plant is so easy to transplant and share with friends! You can do it with stem cuttings and also consider adding rooting hormone too to improve the chances for success.
You can also do it through shoots that the plants sometimes produce and pot them individually. The seed option is not recommended as they don’t grow well from them because of instability.
Best Types of Crotons
Besides an interesting name, this variety offers stunning narrow-shaped foliage-a real explosion of colours, including red, green, purple, orange, and yellow.
It can reach a height of up to 3 and 4 feet.
Victoria Gold Bell Croton
This impressive croton has a unique leaf structure which dangles off from the plant.
It can have red, green, red or orange color which changes with the levels of light that the leaf is exposed to.
Sunny Star Croton
This variety boasts big elliptical, lime-green leaves with gold color near the base.
It makes an awesome indoor plant with a height that can go between 4 and 6 feet.
Prune crotons only when you need to eliminate unhealthy parts or to keep a desired shape.
Cut the dead branches or leaves to their origin and trim the overgrown ones above a node or leaf set.
Being a perennial plant, it will live throughout numerous growing seasons.
This means that even if part of the plant dies in the winter, it will still use the same root to grow again in the spring.
If the plant becomes dusty, take it outdoors and spray it off or clean it with a wet sponge.
Trouble Shooting – Common Proton Plant Problems
Problem: croton dropping leaves
Cause: Some kind of stress-movement from outdoors to indoors or vice versa or lack of nutrients. If you haven’t moved it, it may be a result of low light, inadequate watering or pests.
Solution: Wait several weeks for the plant to adjust to the new environment. If it continues losing leaves, try to resolve the problem through the process of elimination.
Problem: pest infestation (scale, mealy bugs, spider mites, etc.)
Cause: Not uncommon in a lot of houseplants.
Solution: Remove them using a cotton ball previously soaked in rubbing alcohol. And, focus on prevention.
Problem: brown & crispy foliage
Cause: Probably, improper watering and low humidity.
Solution: Make a more regular watering schedule and up the humidity through misting or a tray with pebbles and water.
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