Plants

Croton

Codiaeum variegatum

Verena Schmidt Verena Schmidt

Croton is a houseplant which decorates your home with vibrantly colored foliage. Here’s the correct way to care for this ornamental foliage plant.

Growth type
  • shrub
Growth characteristics
  • upright
Flower color
  • green
  • white
Flower shape
  • Cluster
Flower characteristics
  • unimpressive
Leaf color
  • multicolored
page format
  • broad
  • full margined
  • lobbed
  • narrow
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Light
  • scattered light
Soil type
  • sandy
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to moderately humid
ph value
  • neutral
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf ornaments
Use
  • Interior greening
  • Planters
  • Winter garden
  • Warm House
Garden style
  • Pot garden

Origin

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) originates from South East Asia. There, it grows in tropical forests as a colorful bush belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family. As with other Euphorbiaceae, its plant parts contain a white, milky sap which is slightly poisonous and therefore irritates mucous membranes.

Growth

Croton is an evergreen and upright growing shrub which can grow up to seven feet tall over time.

Foliage

Different shaped and colored leaves are characteristic of croton: narrow or wide, full margined or lobed, the leathery, shiny foliage has a wide color pallet - from yellow to green, orange, orange-red and purple. Depending on the variety, Croton can also have flecks or sprinkles of color on its leaves.

Croton leaves

The plants generally have different colored leaves, only the older leaves have solid color

Flowers

The greenish-white, inconspicuous flowers are arranged in long clusters and grow from the top leaf axils. However, they only rarely appear on plants which are cultivated indoors.

Location

The colorful leaves of Crotons require a humid location in the house and lots of light, but not direct sunlight as otherwise the colors fade. It is essential to avoid drafty locations, cold feet and room temperatures below 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, it will drop its leaves and the lower trunk area will become bare. During the resting phase in winter, a spot with temperatures around 61 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient.

Croton

The ideal location for Crotons is a light, humid spot but not with too much sunshine

Substrate

Standard commercial potting soil is a suitable substrate. A layer of gravel in the pot as drainage ensures that water can run off.

Watering

Give Crotons plenty of water in summer in particular and ensure the air is humid. It’s best to spray the leaves daily with water and frequently wipe them with damp cloth. Waterlogging and water in the flower pot saucer should be avoided, otherwise the roots will rot. Crotons are also suitable candidates for hydroponics.

Caring for Crotons

Leaves should be regularly sprayed and occasionally wiped with a damp cloth. This increases the air humidity and also removes any dust which has collected

Fertilizing

In the summer time, Crotons can be given a low dose of standard liquid fertilizer once a week, diluted in its water. During the winter months, fertilizing in a three to four week tact is sufficient.

Repotting

Crotons can be repotted into a new plant pot every two years. The best times for this are spring and summer.

Pruning

It is not necessary to prune a Croton.

Varieties

Varieties belonging to pictum (Croton variegatum var. pictum) vary in leaf shape and color. Commercially available varieties include:

  • Aucubafolia has shiny leaves wtih yellow dots;
  • Norma has leaves which are visually similar to oak foliage, but with red veins;
  • Van Ostensee’ has extremely narrow, yellowish-green sprinkled leaves.

Propagation

Crotons can be propagated with head cuttings head cuttings. These can be cut from January to March. Important: It requires soil temperature of around 86 degrees Fahrenheit and a highly level of humidity in order to take root. It can also be propagated through layering.

Diseases and Pests

If the cultivation temperature is too cool, this can lead to the croton dropping its leaves and becoming susceptible to spider mites and thunder bugs.

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