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How to Care for Croton

Codiaeum variegatum (Croton, Variegated Laurel, Garden Croton, Orange Jessamine) ; An outstanding colorful, multicolor and shapes of leaves textures. Ornamental plants. close up, natural sunlight.
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pisitpong2017/Shutterstock
Botanical Name
Codiadeum variegatum
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Sun Exposure
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Flower Color
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Growing Croton Plants: Watering, Lighting, Repotting, and Pests

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The croton is a striking, easy-to-grow houseplant known for its variegated foliage covered in green, scarlet, orange, and yellow splotches. Here’s how to care for a croton in your home or garden.

About Croton

The croton, also called “garden croton,” is a stunning houseplant known for its vibrant foliage, brings a touch of the tropics indoors. Native to Southeast Asia and the Oceania, these evergreen shrubs boast leaves splashed with dramatic greens, yellows, oranges, and even reds.  They come in a wide variety, with unique leaf shapes and color combinations. In the wild, they grow as large shrubs, reaching up to 10 feet tall (in the home or garden, they stay much smaller).

Beyond their captivating looks, crotons are generally easy to care for, making them ideal for both seasoned plant parents and enthusiastic beginners.  The key lies in mimicking their native tropical environment.  They thrive in bright, indirect sunlight, mimicking the dappled light filtering through a rainforest canopy.  Watering needs to be consistent, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.  Think of it as a light rain shower that drenches the earth without flooding it.  Regular misting can be a welcome addition, especially in drier climates, as crotons appreciate a moderate level of humidity.

So, if you’re looking for a houseplant that adds a pop of color and a touch of the tropics, look no further than the croton.  With its stunning foliage and relatively easy care requirements, this vibrant plant is sure to become a focal point in your home. With proper care, your croton can live for many years, bringing its unique beauty to your home!

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous—especially the seeds—so it is not recommended for use in homes with curious pets or children. When damaged, croton produces a milky sap that can irritate the skin, too.

Planting

Planting Croton

  • When choosing a container for your croton, keep in mind that the plant will grow upright, which eventually may cause it to become top-heavy. Pick a container that won’t easily tip over when the croton gets larger. Or, plan to pot up to larger pots over time.
  • Use a well-draining potting mix. Croton likes to be kept moist but not wet.
  • In areas with warm, humid summers, croton can be grown outdoors as a unique and colorful landscape plant. They work well in tropical-themed containers or alongside annuals in the ground. When nighttime temperatures drop to around 50°F (10°C), croton will need to be taken indoors.

Growing

How to Care for Croton

  • Place croton in a sunny location such as an eastern, southern, or western window. If croton is getting too little light, its newer leaves will be less colorful. 
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, but let it dry out between waterings.
  • If humidity is low in your home, mist around the leaves with water once a week or keep a tray of wet gravel near the plant.
  • Croton leaves are dust magnets. Gently wipe the leaves with a moist cloth twice a month to keep them clean and dust-free.
  • Fertilize the plant in spring and summer while the plant is actively growing. In fall and winter, fertilize more sparingly or refrain from fertilizing altogether.
  • New croton plants can be started with 4- to 6-inch stem cuttings. Remove the bottom leaves and place the cutting in a glass of water. After roots have formed, plant in a small pot.
  • Repot the plant in the spring if it has grown too large for its current pot.
Croton 'Petra'. Photo by Karl Thomas Moore/Wikimedia Commons.
Croton ‘Petra’ (foreground). Photo by Karl Thomas Moore/Wikimedia Commons.
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Wit and Wisdom

  • Croton are members of the Euphorbiaceae family of plants, which makes them relatives of the poinsettia and the cast iron plant.

Pests/Diseases

Croton plants are usually pest and disease-free, though they are susceptible to common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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