Croton: A Strikingly Different and Colorful Plant

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is an attractive tropical shrub native to southeast Asia. They are known for their vibrant, variegated foliage which includes leaves that are curled twisted, oak- leaf like, narrow, broad, and oval shaped.

These leaves display nearly every color of the spectrum.

They are intolerant of cold weather and thrive in warm conditions, making the croton suitable for indoors.

As an indoor plant, the 'Bravo' brightens the decor with deep green leaves etched with bright yellow or red veins. The thick, leathery leaves come in various shapes that grow from 3 to 18 inches long. When grown in high light, the foliage explodes in vibrant colors of red, yellow, orange, pink, copper, or brown.

Gold Dust' plants have green leaves splashed with golden dots and make dramatic floor plants. They can grow to a maximum height of 3 feet and spread to 2 feet wide.

Plant must have adequate light in order for to keep these distinctive yellow dots.

How to Care for Your Croton

Light: High within 3-5 feet near sunny south or east window. Proper light is crucial to maintain leaf color.

Water: Water plant thoroughly with room-temperature water. Cold water will shock the plant roots and stunt the growth if watered repeatedly this way. Drain and pour off excess water.

This is necessary to prevent root rot that will kill your plant. Keep soil evenly moist in the summer and reduce watering in the winter. Less water is required when the plant is not in the growing season.

Humidity: Plant thrives on high humidity. A daily misting is good for the plant when the air is dry; however, a local humidifier or humidity tray will provide the constant moisture these plants need.

Fertilizer: Feed during its growing season with a good quality all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. May be applied every 3 weeks during the growing season. Don’t overfeed. Too much will burn roots and leaves and may kill your plant.

Temperature: Plant has a low tolerance for cold. Keep at 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime and a few degrees cooler at night. The lower night temperature induces physiological recovery from moisture loss, intensifies leaf color, and prolongs plant life. Keep away from cold drafts.

Soil: A well-drained potting soil is perfect. It should be able to supply the plant with water and nutrients as well as be porous for drainage of excess water to allow the plant to get oxygen to the roots.

Pinching: Container plant can be maintained as a small, bushy shrub by pinching out the tips. This will encourage multi-branching and therefore, a more attractive, fuller specimen.

Propagation: These plants are are easily propagated through stem cuttings and can be rooted by placing the leaves into a sterile medium.

Pests: The plant  may be attacked by spider mites, Check undersides of leaves; if present, spray with a horticultural soap or any appropriate pesticide.

Croton is toxic and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. If ingested, the plant can cause nausea and vomiting, burning in the mouth, throat and stomach. The sap from the plant is very irritating and may cause blisters and skin rashes. Handle plants with care and avoid getting the white sap on the skin.

With proper care your plant will reward you with beautiful, vibrant colorful leaves to brighten your home.