Common name: Croton
Botanical name: Codiaeum variegatum
Easy to Moderate. Crotons are resilient plants that can thrive in almost any indoor environment. They can, however, be a tad temperamental if moved around frequently.
Croton – General Description
Crotons are tropical shrubs that feature stunningly beautiful rainbow-coloured foliage. Their exotic variegated leaves come in an inspiring variety colours: shades of red, yellow, orange, green, and purple. Some varieties have bicolour leaves—e.g. red/green or green/yellow—while others are multi-coloured.
The leaves of the Croton can be either long and narrow; or a wider oval shape. The mature plants can grow to be five to six feet tall. While Crotons rarely flower when grown indoors, their gorgeous foliage still makes them a favourite among houseplants.
How To Care For Your Croton:
Here’s some basic guidance on how to take good care of your Croton.
In order to maintain its gorgeous multi-colored foliage, the Croton will require six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Placing the plant in an east- or west-facing window is the best way to accomplish this.
Soil & Water:
Crotons do best in rich soil (e.g. a combination of organic compost and peat moss) that is kept moist but well-drained. Water the plants frequently during their growing season, and less during the winter months. Never allow the plant to sit in standing water.
Temperature & Humidity:
The Croton prefers a warm and humid environment: around 21 degrees Celsius is perfect. Chilly drafts or temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius can result in the plant losing its leaves, or dying. If the local atmosphere is dry/arid, it’s good to occasionally mist the Croton’s leaves, to artificially create a more tropical level of humidity.
Nutrients & Fertiliser:
To encourage growth, you can feed your Croton once a month, with a fertiliser that’s high in nitrogen and potassium. During winter months, decrease the amount of fertiliser, and the frequency to once every other month.
Crotons are part of the poinsettia family—all of whose members have a milky sap inside the stems, which can ooze out during pruning. While typically not fatal, this sap is toxic, and can cause digestive distress in pets or small children if it is ingested. The sap can also cause a skin rash for some people, so it’s best to wear gloves when pruning the Croton.
Pests & Other Problems:
The Croton is susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and caterpillars, as well as bacterial and fungal diseases. To get rid of pests, wash the plant with a gentle soap and water mixture, and then rinse it thoroughly. To remedy a disease, you may need to transplant the Croton into a new pot and soil.
Helpful Hints & Additional Care Tips
- If your Croton’s leaves lose their vibrant colours and become a homogenous green, this probably means it’s not getting enough direct sunlight.
- While pruning isn’t necessary, you can use it to shape the plant to a desired height, or encourage a bushier plant—by snipping off branches or stems.