Fall in love with Crotons! Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is an easy to grow and easy to care for tropical houseplant known for its beautiful, variegated foliage that boasts green, orange, yellow and red colours throughout its leaves.
These unique and colourful plants are native to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and Oceania, so giving them a climate and plant care that mimics its natural habitat is the best way to ensure this plant stays looking its best.
Croton plants enjoy a fair amount of sun. Giving them Bright indirect sunlight is where they do best. The more sun that you expose your plant to, the more its leaves will show its variegation and colored leaves.
If you notice that its new leaves stay green in colour then you can place your plant somewhere that gets more sun than it usually does (ideally a south or east facing window). This will help increase the chances of its leaves becoming variegated and showing its beautiful colours.
Croton plants prefer to be in a well-draining moist soil. They prefer soil that is slightly acidic. A standard potting mix formulated for houseplants which contains a mixture of peat or sphagnum moss, coco coir, and perlite is recommended.
Keep you Croton evenly moist in the summer by watering it weekly, reduce its watering frequency in the winter from weekly to bi-weekly. If you notice the plants leaves start to droop, then this is a sign that your plant needs a bit more water.
A rule of thumb is to feel the top of the soil before watering, if your soil still feels moist then wait until the top few inches dry out before watering again. To increase the humidity, you can mist your Croton with a spray bottle or mister. Another key point is to always check the bottom of your pot to ensure there is no sitting water after you water your croton – as this can quickly lead to root rot and the death of your plant.
Temperature & Humidity
Since crotons are tropical plants, they are sensitive to cold, and therefore should be kept indoors when there is threat of frost or when temperatures may drop below 12ºC (55ºF). Crotons are happiest at temperatures of about 15-25ºC (59-77ºF). They can tolerate temperatures above and below this range for short periods, but extended exposure to very high or very low temperatures can damage the plant. It’s also best to keep them away from being exposed to any hot or cold drafts from windows, air conditioners or heating vents.
Low humidity and temperature can affect its leaf colour. Keeping the humidity in the room between 40 – 80 % is ideal for this type of plant. If you want to increase the humidity you can lightly mist the plant leaves, run a humidifier, or place a humidity tray under the plant.
Croton plants can easily go into shock when they experience change. Changing its watering schedule too quickly or moving it somewhere with different light exposure can cause the plant to go into shock. When this happens your plant may start to loose some leaves.
Don’t worry as this is normal with Crotons when exposed to a new environment. Once it gets some time to adjust to its new environment and changes – your plant will continue to grow as normal. Making sure to give your plant some extra TLC during this time will give it the best chance of recovering and returning to its normal growth.
Crotons can be fed regularly during their growing season with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. However you should not do this more than once every 3 – 4 weeks. As well as if you live in a northern climate, your croton plant will most likely become dormant during winter – so fertilizing is not recommended during this time.
Pruning and Trimming
Pruning is usually not necessary for Croton plants, however if its lower leaves have fallen off you can help encourage its growth by trimming these leaves off.
Propagating a Croton plant can be quite easy. The main factor when doing this is temperature.
The best method for propagating is via stem cuttings. Stem cuttings will encourage new growth and will maintain a consistent size.
1. Cut off the tip of the stem on your croton plant and stick it into soil to help them grow roots.
2. For a Croton to propagate successfully – they need to be in a warm and humid environment. Placing in a mini greenhouse environment or covering with a plastic bag or sheet can help create a humid environment for your cutting to grow healthy roots.
3. Once your cutting begins to grow roots and show signs of growth you can remove it from its humid environment and begin to care for it as normal.
Potting & Repotting
Regular potting or repotting is not necessary for a Croton plant’s health. However, if you would like to stunt its growth you can limit this by keeping it in a smaller pot which will give it limited space to grow. On the other hand, if you want your Croton to continue to grow larger you can repot them into a pot that is slightly larger than its current one.
When you are repotting, gradually increase the size of the pot for the best results. Doing this incrementally will also reduce the chances of it going into shock. Also be sure to perform this repotting when the plant is healthy and during its growing season – as doing this while they are dormant will possibly result in your plant going into shock. Spring is typically a good time to repot crotons.
1. Are Croton plants poisonous?
Croton plants can be toxic to cats and dogs and can also cause indigestion and/or stomach irritation if consumed. It is recommended to keep this plant out of reach of any curious children or pets.
2. My Croton leaves are drooping, what do I do?
If you notice your leaves are drooping on your croton this is a sign that you may need to water your plant more frequently. Once the top few inches of soil dry out you should give your Croton a thorough watering as they can be quite thirsty during their growing period.
3. How much light should my Croton be getting?
Your Croton plant should be getting a fair amount of bright indirect sunlight. If you notice your plant’s new green leaves do not change colour then you can safely give your plant a bit more light to help encourage its variegation of it leaves.
4. How big will my Croton get?
In the wild Crotons can grow to a height of about 10ft, but Crotons grown indoors in containers will grow much more slowly and will remain more compact.