Croton leaves falling off

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Croton Leaf Drop – Why Is My Croton Dropping Leaves

Your brilliant indoor croton plant, the one you admire and prize, is now dropping leaves like crazy. Don’t panic. Leaf drop on croton plants can be expected any time the plant is stressed or out of balance. You just need to get to know your croton and how to give croton what it needs to thrive. Read on to learn more about why croton leaves fall off.

Why is My Croton Dropping Leaves?

Change can be difficult for a croton plant. A croton plant dropping leaves is often a new plant’s response to being transplanted or transported from the greenhouse to your home. It’s natural for a croton to drop leaves as it adjusts to environmental changes. Once settled, in three or four weeks, your plant will begin to produce new growth.

If you haven’t changed the plant’s location recently and your croton leaves fall off, then it’s time to look at other possibilities.

Heat and humidity – Croton plants are tropicals, meaning they thrive in warm and humid conditions. If your croton’s leaves fall off, it could be that it’s exposed to cold or hot extremes such as open doors or air ducts. A humidifier or a regular misting with distilled water will also help your croton feel at home.

Light – Croton leaf drop and a lack of fiery color can be caused by insufficient sunlight. There are more than 750 varieties of croton plant, some needing more light than others. In general, the more variegated the plant, the more light it craves.

Water – The watering schedule for your other houseplants may not be suitable for your croton.

  • Overwatering can damage the roots and cause croton leaf drop. When the soil on top feels dry, water until the overflow begins to pool in the tray. To prevent root rot, use a pebbled tray or pour off any pooled water after 30 minutes.
  • Underwatering can also cause leaf drop on croton plants. If you’re watering and misting consistently and your croton still seems dry, consider transplanting in fresh, high-quality potting soil that includes peat moss to help retain moisture.

Diseases and pests – If you think you’ve taken care of every possible environmental reason your croton plant is dropping leaves, look again. Inspect underneath the leaves for signs of disease or insect pests and treat accordingly.

Here’s the best news: crotons are tough. Even if your croton is brown and leafless, it doesn’t mean that your lovely plant is gone forever. Gently scratch the main stem. If the tissue underneath is still green, your plant is alive and may recover. Continue to care for your plant’s watering and environmental needs. In several weeks, it’s quite likely that your patience and care will be rewarded with the first of new, bright leaves.

The croton plant (Codiaeum variegatum) is a popular houseplant that is prized for its lush, dazzlingly colored foliage. It has a reputation for being difficult, as it is common to find your croton plant dropping leaves soon after bringing it home from the store. But don’t be discouraged if this happens with your plant, as a croton plant dropping leaves is normal behavior. I’m going to tell you why it happens, how to fix it and how to prevent it.

Why is my croton plant dropping leaves? When a croton plant drops leaves, it’s a reaction to stress, which can be caused by sudden changes as well as improper care. To avoid inducing stress, provide Codiaeum variegatumwith a stable moist tropical environment. It’s particularly important that you move croton plants as little as possible.

Following a brief introduction to the croton plant, this article will teach you what causes a croton plant to drop its leaves and what to do if your croton plant drops its leaves. I’ll also cover what the specific needs and care of a croton plant are and how to avoid causing stress to your plant in the first place. I’ve also got some handy tips, facts, and answers to questions about Codiaeum variegatum that will help you to enjoy this this vivacious houseplant for many years to come.

The Croton Plant Comes In A Glorious Array Of Leaf Shapes, Sizes, And Colors

The croton plant is a bushy broadleaf evergreen shrub that is native to open forest and scrub areas of tropical Southeast Asia, Indonesia and other islands of the Pacific Ocean, and Australia. It produces striking variegated foliage that is thick and smooth, with a leathery texture and an attractive, glossy sheen, and they come in an astounding variety of shapes, sizes, and bright, bold colors.

The croton plant’s leaves may be narrow or broad, oval or oak like, twisted, curled, or straight, while color tones range from yellows, oranges, and reds to pink, purple, white, bronze, and green.

The growth habit of Codiaeum variegatum shows prolific branching, producing a plant that is very full, due to the way the large leaves cluster together. These voluminous shrubs may grow to as high as 10 feet (3 meters) tall in the wild. But when grown as indoor houseplants, they reach a height of about 3 feet (90 cm) and a spread of around 2 feet (60 cm).

While mature croton plants may produce flowers, they are small and inconspicuous, outshined by gorgeous exotic foliage that will turn any indoor garden into a tropical paradise.

Confusion Over The Croton Plant Versus The Croton Genus

The croton plant being discussed here is a species of plant with the scientific name of Codiaeum variegatum. It belongs to the genus Codiaeum, which only contains a few species; however, there are several hundred cultivars of Codiaeum variegatum that feature a wide variety of leaf shapes, sizes, and colors.

Confusingly, the croton plant is related to but not the same as plants in the genus Croton, which contains over 1,200 species and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants. Both the Croton and the Codiaeum genera are members of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family of plants that are mostly native to tropical regions of Indomalaya and Australasia. Thus, referring to Codiaeum variegatum as the “croton plant” rather than simply “croton” helps to avoid this confusion.

Other common names for Codiaeum variegatum include:

  • Garden croton
  • Variegated croton
  • Variegated laurel
  • Joseph’s coat

Note that you may see the name “rushfoil” being included as one of the common names for Codiaeum variegatum, but this is mistaken. The term refers to plants in the Croton genus, and it may be used as a common name for the entire genus as well as for specific species belonging to this genus.

Help – My Brand New Croton Plant Is Dropping Its Leaves!

If you recently introduced a healthy new croton plant to your home, only to discover that it’s losing its leaves, don’t despair! You haven’t killed your plant. Simply give it proper croton plant care, and after a short period of readjustment, new leaves will appear. The plant should go on to grace your home with its vibrant foliage for years to come, as long as you continue providing it the right conditions and care.

If, however, you’ve had your plant for a while and it begins losing leaves, you will have to do a bit of detective work to identify the cause so you can remedy the situation.

What Causes Croton Plants To Drop Their Leaves?

The crux of the problem of croton plants dropping their leaves is that, while it is a resilient and robust houseplant, Codiaeum variegatum is very averse to change, and its reaction to the shock of sudden environmental changes is to drop its leaves. This behavior often causes a newly purchased croton plant to drop some or all of its leaves within days – which can come as quite a shock for a new croton plant owner who is unaware of this habit!

So, if your croton plant is dropping leaves, it could be caused by any kind of alteration in environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, light, and location. Thus, the move from the nursery to your home or a mere relocation to a different spot in your home can stress your plant out.

The sudden changes that affect these plants can also come in the form of fluctuations in temperature that can occur if the plant is located near an exterior door or window, close to a heating or cooling vent, or in a drafty room. The temperature of the water you use when you irrigate your croton plant can also cause shock to the plant.

In addition to being sensitive to environmental changes and extremes, croton plants are also very particular about their growing conditions. Native to habitats that are warm, sunny, and moist, these plants will begin dropping leaves if they aren’t receiving the heat, light, and humidity they crave.

Beyond these peculiar sensitivities, Codiaeum variegatum is like other houseplants in being at risk of the damage and diseases that can result from improper care such as over-watering and allowing the soil to become soggy. Under-watering will also cause stress in many houseplants, including the croton plant, as will over- and under-fertilizing and allowing the plant roots to become pot bound.

How To Fix Problems That Are Causing Croton Leaf Drop: Proper Croton Plant Care

In a nutshell, the remedy for a croton plant that’s dropped its leaves is to provide the plant with the proper growing conditions and care. This section covers the care instructions you should follow to correct a problem that is causing your plant stress, so you can revive your Codiaeum variegatum and make sure it is getting everything it needs for robust stress-free growth moving forward.

Soil For Croton Plants

Choose a humus-rich potting mixture for your croton plant that will allow you to provide your plant with plenty of water but doesn’t remain soggy, as this will cause root rot, which will stress the plant and lead to leaf drop.

A soil-based mixture that includes peat-free compost works well for Codiaeum variegatum, while adding a medium such as grow rocks or pumice stones will improve drainage as well as aeration of the plant roots.

Choosing A Container For Your Croton Plant

As with the potting soil, the container for your croton plant should be one that prevents harmful sogginess in the root zone. So make sure the pot you choose has drainage holes in the bottom of it. You may also want to place some gravel in the bottom of the pot to help ensure that excess moisture can drain out every time you water your plant.

Use a pot that is about one-third larger than the size of your croton plant’s root ball, and repot the plant into a larger container every two years in the springtime to prevent its roots from becoming pot bound.

Light Requirements

Croton plants need 6-8 hours of bright sunlight and at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight each day. But don’t overdo it with the direct sunlight, as excessively hot or harsh midday light can scorch the leaves, which results in gray patches on the leaves.

On the flip side, not only will insufficient sunlight stress the plant and cause it to drop leaves, but it will also cause croton foliage to lose its fiery color and fade to green. It’s the bright lighting that brings out the magnificent coloration of Codiaeum variegatumleaves. And generally speaking, the more variegated the foliage, the more light the plant needs.

Temperature

Provide your croton plant with consistent temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (16-30 °C). While this temperature range is typical of modern indoor environments and is therefore not difficult to achieve, the main concern with Codiaeum variegatum is consistency.

To avoid severe temperature fluctuations that will shock your plant, make sure it is not positioned near or exposed to any external doors or windows, heating or cooling vents, ventilation fans, or drafts.

Humidity

To mimic the tropical environment that Codiaeum variegatumoriginates from, generate a high level of humidity around your plant. It needs to be in the range of 40-80 percent, with 70 percent being optimal. To ensure that your croton plant is receiving the amount of moisture it needs and avoid stressing the plant, consider using a hygrometer so you can monitor the humidity carefully.

There are several ways you can generate the high local humidity that the croton plant craves:

  • Humidifier: A humidifier is a great option if you want to improve the humidity level in your home generally, or if you have a lot of plants that have high humidity requirements. They are fairly inexpensive and are very reliable. Check out the reviews of this model on Amazon that would be ideal for increasing humidity for your houseplants.
  • Humidity tray: Place pebbles in a shallow tray, fill it with water, set the potted plant on top of the pebbles, making sure the bottom of the pot is not sitting in the water, and then just make sure there’s always some water in the tray
  • Misting:Mist the foliage every morning (allows time for the water to evaporate before nightfall to prevent fungal disease), being sure to use lukewarm water so as not to shock the plant
  • Bathroom: Locate your croton plant in a bathroom where the use of the shower will create a moist environment that will make your plant feel right at home

Watering Croton Plants

Water your croton plant when the top half inch (13 mm) of soil feels dry during the spring, summer, and early autumn, cutting back and only watering when the dryness at the top of the soil reaches about an inch (25 mm) during the plant’s dormant period in the late fall and winter. The idea is to keep the potting soil moist but not soggy.

When you water, use lukewarm water to avoid shocking your plant’s roots. Water the potting soil thoroughly, irrigating until water begins to flow out of the pot’s drainage holes, making sure that you never leave the pot in standing water for more than about 15 minutes while you allow all the excess water to make its way out.

Fertilizing

Croton plants require plenty of nutrients to produce their lush,vivacious foliage. During the spring, summer, and early fall, feed Codiaeum variegatummonthly with a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen and potassium, but hold off on fertilize during the plant’s dormant period.

Cleaning

To make sure the thick, leathery leaves of your croton plant are able to perform photosynthesis at their greatest potential, thus maximizing the energy production of the plant, periodically clean them with a damp cloth. This will not only help with plant health, but it also enhances the beauty of the leaves, allowing there colors to shine at their brightest.

Pests And Diseases

You generally don’t have to worry too much about diseases attacking your croton plant, beyond those that can develop if moisture in the soil or on the foliage is never allowed to dry out.

As for pests, watch out for common houseplant pests such as scale, spider mites, and mealybugs, which will cause stress and leaf drop if the infestation gets out of hand. To prevent such insect infestations, spray your croton plant down with a good blast of water from a garden hose once a week.

Preventing Croton Plant Shock And Stress From The Outset

The best way to deal with the sensitivities and intolerances that cause croton plants to drop their leaves is to do your best to prevent them from happening in the first place, and there are a couple of things you can do when introducing a new croton plant into your home that could make a big difference in the overall health of the plant.

First, consider what season of the year it is when you go to purchase a new croton plant. If you buy one in the wintertime, you will likely end up exposing it to cold when you transport it home. So it’s a good idea to wait until warmer weather to buy a new croton plant.

Upon bringing your new croton plant home,the most important decision you will then have to make is where to put it. Remember, you want to avoid moving Codiaeum variegatumas much as possible.

Consult the croton care section of this article and then determine what location will provide the best lighting, temperature, and humidity for your plant from the get-go. This way, you will be preventing the plant from becoming stressed by a lack of proper growing conditions as well as avoiding having to move it, which piles an additional shock on top of the stress a plant that was not thoughtfully positioned is already experiencing.

Why Are My Croton Plant Leaves Turning Brown At The Edges?

If your croton leaves are turning brown at the edges, it could be due to lack of the proper level of humidity, soil that is too dry, or exposure to temperatures that are too cold.

Are Croton Plants Poisonous To People Or Pets?

When injured, Codiaeum variegatum bleeds a white, milky sap containing an oil that has strong irritant and purgative properties. This sap is a skin irritant that can cause contact dermatitis while ingestion of the sap by both people and animals induces nausea and vomiting. Additionally, be very careful with the seeds of this plant, as they can be fatal to children if consumed.

If you have a croton plant or seeds in your home, make sure they are out of reach of children and pets – especially cats.

Also, care must be taken when handling the croton plant. Always wear gloves and avoid contact with your eyes. If the sap does happen to come into contact with your skin, wash the area well with soapy water.

Do Croton Plants Need Pruning?

No, croton plants generally don’t require pruning to grow healthy and strong. As long as you give your plant plenty of space to accommodate its bushy growth, the only pruning you may need to do is to remove any dead leaves or branches. It’s best to prune croton plants in early spring, just before the growth season begins. Don’t forget to wear gloves!

Preventing problems with your houseplants comes with a combination or knowledge, experience and the right tools and equipment. Check out my recommended resources page to see what books, resources and tools I recommend for looking after your houseplants. Happy growing.

Crotons

Known for their bold, tropical foliage, crotons are perennial evergreen shrubs. Not only can these plants be grown outdoors in warmer parts of Florida, but some cultivars can be raised as decorative houseplants as well. The beautiful leaves of the croton are also used to enhance floral arrangements. This plant will draw attention with its stunning color and make a bold statement in your house or yard.

Characteristics

Grown for their fantastically marked leaves; crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) come in a wide variety of leaf shapes and colors which include reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, purple, greens, and white. Native to India and Malaysia, this tropical plant usually quite full and the leaves form clusters to create maximum color patterns. This shrub can grow up to 10 feet tall, but there are both dwarf and larger varieties. Crotons are easy to propagate, and are reasonably priced.

Many crotons grow best in full sun, but many cultivars can tolerate, and even prefer, light shade partial shade. Crotons are best grown in subtropical South and Central Florida. Frosts or freezes will damage them, but they quickly recover. When used outdoors this plant looks most attractive when grown in groups. Use them to accent green shrubbery and add a splash of color to any yard or container.

As houseplants, crotons add texture and color to dull interiors. When used indoors choose a cultivar such as the petra croton, that can remain brightly colored in indoor light conditions. Even these cultivars will eventually lose partial color if adequate light is not available. Keep children and pets from nibbling on crotons’ leaves, as they’re known to possess irritating and poisonous qualities. The sap from this plant is also known to stain.

Planting and Care

Croton shrubs can be purchased at most garden centers. If grown in containers, use a good quality potting media that provides adequate water drainage. When used in landscapes, plants should be located 2 to 3 feet apart. Crotons thrive in warm, humid weather and should be watered frequently, but not excessively. New foliage will wilt when thirsty, and can be used as a watering guide. Plants located indoors will become dusty in time and should occasionally be taken outside into a shady location to be washed off. This will also help manage spider mites which are occasional pests.

Again, bright sunlight will maximize croton colors, but overexposure can cause fading and restrict proper foliage growth. For outdoor crotons, full or shifting sun is ideal. Acclimated indoor plants respond well to partial sun and will still provide continuous color.

To propagate a croton plant, use a stem cutting that is 3-4 inches long and has 3 to 5 leaves. Dip the cut end of the cutting in an off-the-shelf rooting hormone and plant them in a small pot. Keep the soil moist, but not over watered. Cuttings will root in less than a month if temperatures stay between 70°-80°F. Transplant your new croton plant when a new roots system has have been established and there is noticeable new growth. New foliage will begin green and will develop color with maturity.

Crotons are usually pest and disease free, but can occasionally have mealybugs, scales, mites, thrip, and fungal problems. Keep a close eye on your plant and learn to recognize changes in leaf texture and insect residues.

For more information on crotons, contact your county Extension office.

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UF/IFAS Sites

  • Florida Plant ID: Croton

UF/IFAS Publications

Croton, Codiaeum variegatum, is grown as an ornamental for its striking foliage.

Croton, Codiaeum variegatum, is a common houseplant grown for its striking foliage. It is one of six species of broadleaf evergreen perennials, shrubs, and small trees in this genus in the euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae) which are native to tropical Asia and the western Pacific region (not to be confused with Croton, another genus of more than 700 species in the same family, in which it was formerly incorrectly classified as Croton variegatum). This evergreen shrub or small tree varies widely in leaf color and pattern, and numerous cultivars have been developed. It is a tender perennial, hardy only in zones 11-12. In subtropical and tropical climates they are frequently used as landscape shrubs for dramatic hedges, bold focal points in gardens, or potted specimens around buildings.

Croton is a small shrub used as a landscape plant in tropical climates.

In its native habitat croton is a branching, bushy shrub that grows up to 10 feet tall, but those offered as houseplants are usually much smaller than the wild plant. The large, thick, leathery leaves are 2 to 12 inches long and quite variable. The shiny, alternate leaves may be linear to oval, have a smooth or lobed margin (sometimes deeply cut to the midrib), and some are wavy or twisted into a spiral. The foliage color ranges from green variegated with white, pink, orange, red, yellow, or purple in various combinations that may change as the leaves age. Markings may follow along the major veins or may be blotches on any part of the leaf blade in regular or random patterns. Sports, or shoots that are completely different in appearance from the parent plant, are not uncommon. As with most plants in the Euphorbiaceae, the milky sap that bleeds from cut stems may cause contact dermatitis in susceptible individuals.

The leaves of Codiaeum variegatum vary in color even on the same plant (L) and in shape from oval to linear, with entire or lobed margins (RC) and can be twisted or wavy (R).

When grown as a houseplant it rarely flowers, but when growing in the ground in frost-free climates in spring it produces insignificant flowers in long axillary racemes. The white male flowers with five small petals and 20-30 stamens that give a starburst-like effect are produced on separate inflorescences than the yellowish, petal-less female flowers.

The male flowers are produced on long inflorescences (L-RC) with many stamens (R) that give a starburst effect.

Pollinated female flowers are followed by fruits which are a small tripartite capsule about a third of an inch in diameter containing three small seeds.

The female flowers are produced on stouter inflorescences (L), each with three stigmas and no petals (LC and C). Fertilized flowers are followed by rounded fruits (RC and R).

Croton is usually offered as a houseplant, but can also be used as a seasonal accent plant outdoors.

Croton is typically offered as an indoor plant, but can also be used outdoors as a seasonal accent plant in containers or plantings of annuals or mixed ornamentals. If growing in containers, indoors or out, think about choosing a pot color that accents the color of the foliage, either echoing one of the leaf colors or something that contrasts with the dominant color. Try combining croton with other tropical plants grown as annuals that have flowers in colors that repeat the color(s) of the leaves, such as orange-flowering lantana, yellow golden shrimp plant, or red pentas. Or choose something with purple flowers, such as angelonia or mealycup sage, to contrast with a croton cultivar with orange and red foliage.

Croton has the best color in bright, indirect light.

Croton does best in fertile, well-drained, moist soil. They need bright, indirect light when grown indoors. Outdoors they thrive in partial shade, and in cool climates can tolerate full sun if kept moist (and are acclimated first when moved from inside). Higher light produces more vibrant color in the leaves and a more compact plant. The colorful leaves may revert to shades of green in insufficient light, while too much direct sun makes the leaves gray and dull looking. These plants have moderate water needs and should be watered only when the top half-inch to an inch of soil dries out. Reduce watering in the winter. Plants will drop leaves if they are too wet or too dry for extended periods. As a tropical plant, it does best with moderate to high humidity and warm temperatures.

Several varieties of croton in a landscape in Hawaii.

Croton does best at temperatures between 60 and 85F, often suffering leaf drop if temperatures remain below 50F. Protect them from drafts and severe fluctuations in temperature. Changing environments too quickly can shock the plants and cause leaf drop. Fertilize once or twice during the growing season, or more frequently if you want faster growth. Repot when the plant outgrows the container, moving up to a pot only 1-2 inches larger. Plants can be pruned hard in early spring, before new growth begins to stimulate branching and new growth if they get leggy. Croton has few pest problems other than the usual insects that commonly infest houseplants (mealybugs, spider mites, scales).

Croton is easily grown as a container plant.

Container-grown plants can be moved outdoors for the growing season once temperatures are consistently above 50F, gradually acclimating them to the different light levels outside, and moving them back inside in the fall before temperatures drop below 50F (colder temperatures can cause leaf loss). Plants used as seasonal plants planted in the ground can be lifted and potted in the fall.

This plant is easily propagated by air layering in spring or by taking softwood cuttings in summer. Although it can be grown from seed, the offspring won’t resemble the parent, so asexual propagation is the only way to maintain specific cultivars.

‘Gold Dust’ croton.

There are several hundred cultivars of this popular foliage plant, selected and bred to offer a wide diversity of leaf shapes and colors, plant sizes and improved tolerance of low light interior conditions (although the names are often not indicated when offered for sale), including:

  • ‘Andreanum’ has broadly oval yellow leaves with gold veins and margins.
  • ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’ has long, slender leaves of medium green dotted with golden yellow spots, changing with age to dark red. ‘Franklin Roosevelt’ is similar, but splashed yellow, orange and pink.
  • ‘Gold Star’ croton.

    ‘Evening Embers’ has unusual metallic blue-black leaves highlighted in red and green.

  • ‘Gold Dust’ has bright green rounded oval leaves spotted with golden-yellow.
  • ‘Gold Star’ is similar to ‘Gold Dust’ with yellow spots splashed across the bright green leaves, but with much narrower leaves.
  • ‘Magnificent’ has green and yellow variegated oval-pointed leaves spattered in brilliant shades of red, orange, pink and sometimes bronze or purple.
  • ‘Majesticum’ has pendulous branches and linear leaves with yellow midrib veins that mature from deep green to red.
  • ‘Mammy’ croton.

    ‘Mammy’ (or ‘Mammie’) has elongate, twisted, multi-colored leaves tending towards greens and purples with bits of red.

  • ‘Oakleaf’ has multicolored leaves with indentations resembling those of an oak leaf in greens to bronzes with red, orange, or yellow veining.
  • ‘Petra’ is one of the most common croton varieties available with variously colored bold yellow, pink and orange to red markings along the veins of the dark green pointed-oval leaves that creates an almost lacy appearance when viewed from a distance.
  • ‘Petra’ croton.

    ‘Mrs. Iceton’ or ‘Red Iceton’ has pointed-tipped oval leaves that start out a bright, warm yellow and change into pink and red as they age.

  • ‘Spirale’ has narrow red and green leaves that twist in a spiral.
  • ‘Thai String’ has multicolored, very narrow leaves.
  • ‘Zanzibar’ has long, slender, grassy-looking leaves in shades of purple, red, orange, and gold.

Other croton cultivars (L-R): unknown, ‘Irene Kingsley’, unknown, ‘Iceton’, ‘Thai String’ and ‘Ramshot’.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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Diseases of Crotons

Crotons, a tropical garden plant, are native to Indonesia. Crotons are colorful shrubs that can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10a through 11, or indoors anywhere with proper care. Green, yellow, orange and red leaves make the croton a colorful attraction to any garden or décor. Generally, crotons are healthy plants, but can succumb to different diseases. If you notice a problem with the croton, diagnose the problem and treat accordingly to protect other plants around the croton.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose (Colletotrichum sp), is a disease that leaves the croton leaves with tan dead spots according to the University of Florida. The fungal disease can spread quickly. Leaves affected with anthracnose must be removed immediately to prevent spreading. Plants that have the fungi can infect other plants if any infected leaves touch other healthy plant leaves. In cases of severe infestation, fungicide with a copper-based can be used, but some plants will need to be cut and destroyed.

Stem Gall and Canker

Stem gall and canker (Kutilakesa pironii) is a fungal wound pathogen that is somewhat similar to crown gall according to the University of Florida that can affect crotons. Although this fungal infection should be diagnosed by a pathologist to determine if it is crown gall or stem gall and canker and the best treatment to use if any, plants that have this fungal infection are commonly destroyed at once to prevent other plants from becoming infected. The disease produces callus tissue along the stem according to the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry.

Crown Gall

Crotons infected with crown gall (Agrobaterium tumefaciens), which creates swollen veins on the leaves and thick stems on the plant must be cut down and destroy according to the University of Florida. A bacterium typically develops where clippings have been taken. Once the plant has the bacteria, there is no cure. In order to prevent the disease from spreading to other crotons, the plant must be removed from the surroundings.

Xanthomonas Leaf Spot

Xanthomonas leaf spot is a tiny dot on a water soaked leaf, which rapidly spreads in size to 1/4 inch or larger according to the University of Florida. The bacterial is found between the leaf veins and appears blackish or brownish. Some spots may have a yellowish border. Bactericides with a copper based compound can be used for prevention, but plants with xanthomonas must be destroyed.

Growing Tips for Crotons

Crotons like a lot of sunlight, so grow them in a sunny spot. Being in a sunny area, allows a croton to grow all of those beautiful and colorful leaves. If the croton doesn’t get enough light, the croton plant grows tall and lanky, with few leaves that don’t have deep, rich hues.

Water your croton plants as soon as the soil starts to dry. If they stay too wet or too dry for a long period, their leaves will start to drop. A croton plant is not as thirsty as most other common houseplants.

Croton plants like plenty of humidity, if you grow them indoors, placing them in the kitchen or a bathroom where there is more humidity will be great. You can also place them near a small humidifier.

Fertilize croton plants during the spring and summer months to keep it healthy and growing. Crotons only need to be fertilized once or twice during the season, but you can get them to grow faster by fertilizing more frequently. Follow the directions on the fertilizer package whenever feeding your plants. Just be careful not to over fertilize.

They will grow well outside just as long as there is no frost, so in the United States, they will only do well in warm climates like south Florida, parts of Arizona, and southern California.

Croton Plant Care

Do you love plants and greenery? For some of us, caring for plants is second nature, and they seem to flourish under our care no matter what we do. For others of us, however, plant care is something we have to work at and study. Whether there’s any truth to the myth of a green thumb or not, it’s impossible to deny that plants come much easier to some gardeners than others.

Whether you’ve been gardening since you were a child or you and plants have never exactly gotten along, we think you can master the art of caring for crotons. These lovely plants make a beautiful addition to a yard or greenhouse, and with just a little bit of time and dedication, we think anyone can develop the skills it takes to keep them alive.

Today, we want to walk you through the basics of croton plant care. Follow these tips, and before you know it, you’ll have a blossoming croton garden of your very own.

What Are Crotons?

The croton plant is a perennial evergreen shrub that’s native to tropical regions of India and Malaysia. These striking plants are multicolored with thick, leathery leaves and a distinct variegated pattern. A croton’s bright colors are its most recognizable feature, and these shades will vary from one croton variety to another, ranging from green and gold to blue-green and pink. While all mature crotons possess these vibrant colors, the leaves will darken as the plants age, eventually turning almost black.

The name “croton” itself is derived from the Greek word for tick, since the heavy veins that criss-cross the leaves bear a striking resemblance to these insects. This name is pronounced phonetically, and sounds like “crow-tun.” Crotons are commonly confused with a plant called Rushfoil but don’t be fooled. Rushfoil is a subspecies of crotons — one of the many different varieties that fall into this larger plant family.

Croton height will vary slightly depending on the variety. Most will be around 3 feet tall although some can grow as tall as 10 feet. Dwarf varieties exist as well, and these will be much shorter. Crotons are also exceptionally full plants, with the large leaves growing in clusters to give the plant greater volume.

A mature croton plant will also begin to produce small flowers, not unlike the berries found on a holly bush. These flowers will be shaped like small bulbs and may produce tiny off-shoots that look like fireworks stemming from the bulbs. Neither these flowers nor the leaves themselves are particularly poisonous, but they can still cause harm if consumed in large amounts and should be avoided.

How to Care for Crotons

From their wide leaves to their bright colors, crotons are gorgeous plants that light up any space they inhabit. They do need a bit of loving care to remain beautiful, however, and if they’re neglected, they will not take long to droop, fade and die.

If you’re taking a croton plant under your care, here’s what you need to know about keeping it healthy and strong.

1. What Temperatures Are Best for Crotons?

Because crotons are native to the tropical climates of South Asia, they will do best in warm climates. Ideally, they love it when the temperatures hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s too much hotter than this, the croton may begin to wither. On the other hand, if the temperature drops much lower than 55 degrees, the plant will not survive long.

2. Where Should I Keep my Crotons?

If you live in a part of the world where the outdoor temperatures never drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, then you should have no problem planting your crotons outside. If you live in a region with a robust four-season cycle, however, this will likely not be possible. Instead, try keeping your crotons indoors in a pot. Whether you decide to keep your crotons inside or out, make sure to place them in a spot where they’ll get plenty of sunlight throughout the day. Without this, those gorgeous colors will quickly begin to fade.

3. How Do I Plant Crotons?

To plant crotons outside, start by selecting a location with plenty of sunshine and good drainage. Dig a hole that’s several inches deeper than the crotons root ball, remove the croton from its container and gently separate the roots before placing the plant in the hole. Backfill the hole, covering the root ball so that there’s about an inch of soil over it. If you’re planting multiple crotons, space them at least 2 or 3 feet apart to allow room for growth. Once you’re finished, give the crotons a generous drink, but don’t drown them.

To plant crotons in a pot, begin by choosing a planter with several drainage holes that is roughly one third larger than the croton’s root ball. Fill the container about a third of the way full of potting soil before carefully nesting the ball on top of this soil bed. Continue adding soil around and over the roots until the pot is full and the roots are buried about an inch below the surface. Water the plant, let it drain and then set it in its new home in a sunny location.

4. How Often Should I Water My Crotons?

As with so much of plant care, knowing how often to water crotons is more of an art than a science. Every plant experiences a different combination of soil, air, shade and sun, and thus will have slightly different needs. The trick is in getting to know your plant and recognizing when it needs water and when it doesn’t.

It’s crucial to remember that crotons favor a warm, humid environment. If you’re planting them in a very different climate, your goal is to mimic these conditions as much as possible. To achieve this, the soil in which crotons are planted should remain moist but not soaking, particularly during the spring and summer when crotons will be doing most of their growing. To judge if the plant needs water, feel the soil. If it’s starting to feel dry and crumbly, give it a little water. If it still feels moist to the touch, it probably has all the water it needs.

If you’ve felt the croton’s soil and still can’t determine whether or not it needs water, let the plant’s foliage be your guide. If the leaves are drooping or curling up, that’s their way of asking you for more water. If they’re perked upright, however, they’re probably doing just fine. If the air inside your home is especially dry, or if you have the croton planted outside and live in an arid environment, you may need to water it a little more often. You may even want to mist the leaves with a spray bottle to keep the leaves healthy and growing.

Remember that just as crotons should not be allowed to dry out, neither should they be kept too wet. Too much water can rot the roots and kill the plant just as easily as if it had been left too dry.

5. How Much Light Do My Crotons Need?

Most crotons are full-sun plants, meaning they should be planted or placed in a space that enjoys direct sunlight all day long. This means that it’s best to avoid planting them by the side of your house where they’ll only receive a few hours of morning sun before falling into shadow. There are many different types of crotons, however, so always be sure to research your particular variety. You may just have stumbled across one that can tolerate partial shade.

6. How Do I Prune My Crotons?

Cut all dead leaves and branches back to their origin, making sure to remove the entire unhealthy portion. If the section you’re pruning isn’t dead, but you’re just looking to remove excessive growth, you only need to trim it back to just above the leaf set or node in question. As you cut, try not to get carried away. You never want to trim off more than a third of a stem’s length in one fell swoop.

The secret to knowing how to trim a croton is to understand that they don’t often need pruning in the first place. The only reason you might need to prune them is if there are unhealthy portions you want to remove, or if there’s a particular shape you’re trying to achieve. If you do decide to prune your croton, be sure to allow a significant amount of growth between pruning sessions so the plant stays healthy.

7. How Do I Propagate Crotons?

Propagating crotons isn’t hard as long as you have a basic understanding of the procedure. Begin by taking a 3- or 4-inch stem cutting, ideally with three to five healthy leaves on it. Find a small pot and carefully place this cutting in rich potting soil. To ensure the plant flourishes, keep it in warm temperatures — 70 to 80 degrees — and keep the soil moist. Under these carefully controlled conditions, it should take about a month for this cutting to grow a root system, at which point you can transplant it to other locations.

8. How Do I Fertilize Crotons?

You don’t necessarily need to fertilize your croton but supplementing their diet of water and sunlight with plant food will often help them grow faster and stronger. If you do decide to fertilize your crotons, limit this treatment to no more than once a month and choose a fertilizer with high levels of potassium and nitrogen for the best results. It’s also a good idea to decrease the amount of fertilizer you feed your plant during the winter months, as this is when it is mostly dormant anyway. By letting them sleep all winter, you help maximize their growth in the spring.

9. What Should I Do With My Crotons in the Winter?

Crotons love warm summer temperatures but don’t do well in the winter. If you live in a climate that experiences mild winters, you may be able to get away with simply covering the crotons to protect them from the frost. If your climate brings heavy snows and intense cold every winter, however, you’ll have no choice but to bring the crotons inside or give up on them altogether. If you do bring outdoor crotons inside, be sure to mist the leaves every so often, or perhaps consider buying a humidifier to raise the humidity levels in your home.

10. How Do I Avoid and Remedy Common Crotons Diseases?

Crotons aren’t susceptible to very many diseases. It’s more common for crotons to experience problems with pests such as spider mites, mealybugs and caterpillars. These tiny bugs can damage the crotons, causing them to lose leaves. If you notice these pests taking refuge in your crotons, remove them by washing the plants with a gentle soap-and-water solution, rinsing the plant afterward to get rid of any soap suds. Another remedy is to rub the plant gently with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.

It doesn’t happen often, but crotons may also fall prey to fungal or bacterial diseases which hurt a plant’s growth. These are typically caused by root rot due to overwatering and can be treated by removing the croton from its pot, trimming away any dead or diseased roots and repotting it with new soil in a clean planter.

Both of these problems are easy to avoid. By being careful to never overwater your croton, you ensure that root rot won’t become a problem. You can also steer clear of insects and pests by cleaning the leaves of your plant regularly and inspecting them frequently to catch any signs of an infestation before it begins in earnest.

What Types of Crotons Are There?

With almost any type of plant, dozens of different varieties exist across the world. Crotons are no different, and these colorful plants have many different faces, all of which look and behave differently while still maintaining the distinctive appearance of a croton. Just a few examples of some of the other interesting and unique varieties you may stumble across include:

  • Banana Croton
  • Eleanor Roosevelt Croton
  • Gold Dust Croton
  • Mammy Croton
  • Mrs. Iceton Croton
  • Petra Croton
  • Sunny Star Croton
  • Zanzibar Croton

Some crotons are tall and some are short, some are green and some are more blue-ish, and some need full sun while others can tolerate a little shade. Each one brings with it a beautiful rainbow of colors and an arresting look that immediately catches the eye whether you’re planting them in a garden or keeping them in your sunroom.

Contact Bee Green for Expert Croton Care

Do you have a question about caring for your crotons that we didn’t answer here? If you live in the central Florida area, the Bee Green Pest Control wants to help. We’ve got years of experience helping plant-lovers just like you to care for their plants. Whether you’re dealing with an infestation or wondering how you can better prevent one in your crotons, we encourage you to contact us or schedule your estimate today.

Croton at home

Written by Helen Price Feb 26th, 2019 Posted in House

Croton plant (lat. Croton), or codiaeum (lat. Codiaeum), or rushfoil, belongs to the genus in the family Euphorbiaceae. The gardeners liked the name “croton” more than the scientific “codiaeum” that means “head” in Greek. But what does ”croton” mean? Well, no one knows for sure. Perhaps, this name came from the name of the city in southern Italy, where Pythagoras once founded his school, and probably in some dialect this word means “shrub”. The homeland of wild croton is the islands of the Pacific and Northern Australia, India, as well as the Southeast Asia. According to various sources, the number of species in the genus varies from 17 to 1,200, but in indoor horticulture croton flowers are represented only by variegated croton and its hybrids. Croton flower is one of the most beautiful ornamental-deciduous houseplants that serves as a beautiful decoration of the interior and, as a rule, does not take too much space. In some countries, the indoor croton plant is considered to be the keeper of the home, protecting the house from bad energy.

Croton flower – requirements for growing

Indoor croton flower is a bush with leathery leaves of various forms: asymmetric, oblong-lanceolate, pointed or blunt, entire, three-lobed, sinuate, broad-ovate, etc. Young leaves usually have light yellow-green color, gradually they become greener and burgundy, so your indoor croton flower is colored like an autumn forest. A common feature of the leaves of all species and varieties is a distinct venation. Probably, you will not admire flowering croton as its flowers are drooping axillary racemose inflorescences of plain cream color.

Indoor croton flower has achieved the fame as one of the most capricious plants. What are the special features of care for croton?

  • Croton sap is toxic. It causes diarrhea, vomiting, contact dermatitis, so all work with croton should be done with gloves.
  • Croton at home needs not only spraying of the leaves, but also wiping with a damp sponge. In summer, you should monthly arrange a warm shower for croton.
  • Croton does not tolerate watering with cold water and drafts!
  • Sometimes at the beginning of the growing season the leaves of croton get strange shapes. Nobody knows what the reason is, but croton has a high degree of mutability that has consequently resulted in creation of a great number of varieties and hybrid forms of this plant, and they differ only in the way a leaf of this or that variety of croton looks.
  • Plain-looking flowering of croton takes a lot of energy from the plant, and if you are not going to engage in breeding experiments, it is better to remove flower buds or flower stalks immediately.

Care for croton at home

How to care for croton

Croton loves a bright light, but direct sunlight is preferable only in the morning or before sunset, so in summer it should be kept on the northern window-sill, and in winter, when the sun shines but does not heat, it can be placed on the southern window-sill. If in summer you have the opportunity to keep croton outside and arrange bright diffused light, do not neglect it. The most comfortable temperature for croton in summer is 68-72 ºF, in winter it should be no lower than 61 ºF.

As to watering, the soil clod should be constantly kept slightly moist, but at the same time, you should avoid water stagnation in the roots that can cause decay. Water for irrigation should not be cold, and what is the most important is that it should be filtered or at least sedimented. Air humidity is very important for croton, so you will have to regularly spray or wipe the leaves with a damp washcloth, and in summer you should arrange a warm shower once a month, but without water getting into the pot.

Croton is fertilized with a solution of combined mineral fertilizers applied on the pre-moistened soil from April to November twice a month. In winter fertilizers are used only once a month. To form a beautiful leafage you should prune croton if it is an adult plant, or pinch it if it is a young croton. You should pinch the plants that have reached 6 inches in height, and then pinch the shoots every time when they are 8 inches long. After pruning, the cuts of adult plants should be treated with sulfuric or charcoal powder. Flower buds or young peduncles should be removed, because flowering that does not have any ornamental value wears out croton, and this affects the health and beauty of its leaves.

Croton transplanting

Small young crotones are transplanted twice a year. Adult plants are transplanted once every two years. Each new pot should be 0.8 inch bigger in diameter than the previous one. When your croton takes a pot of 10 inches in diameter, it will be its last repotting, but later on you will have to remove the topsoil from the pot every year and replace it with a fresh substrate. The soil for croton should be approximately the following: turf, peat, leaf soil and river sand in equal parts. When transplanting, it is advisable not to break the soil clod of croton, but simply transfer it from the old pot into a new container with a drainage layer of about a quarter of the pot volume.

Croton in winter

When the cold season comes, croton is taken away from the northern window-sill and placed on the southern window-sill. Watering should be reduced, but the principal remains the same: the soil must be slightly moist. You should keep on water procedures – spraying and wiping the leaves with a damp sponge, but do not do it as often as in a warm season, and it’s better to forget about the shower until summer. You should feed croton no more than once a month, but some professionals are sure that in winter croton does not need feeding at all.

Croton propagation

Propagation of croton by seeds

At home croton can be propagated by stem or leaf cuttings, or by seeds if hybrids are cultivated. Croton seeds quickly lose their germination capacity, so you need to sow freshly harvested seeds. It should also be noted that the germination process takes a long time, and what is the most important is that usually the varietal characteristics are not preserved with generative propagation. Before planting, large croton seeds should be kept in a warm water at a temperature of 140 ºF for half an hour and leave them for a day for swelling. Sowing is carried out at a depth of 0.4 inch, the temperature necessary for seed germination is 72 ºF. The soil in the container with seeds is moistened through the bottom watering until the shoots appear. When the third leaf appears, the seedlings are planted in separate pots with a diameter of 3 inches and are cared as an adult croton.

Vegetative way of croton propagation

How to propagate croton by cuttings? The easiest way is to root the apical cutting 2.3-4 inches long, but if you need several cuttings, then the shoot is cut into pieces so that the cuttings have at least one internode with one healthy leaf. The lignified or semi-lignified cuttings are the best for rooting. The poisonous milky sap that bleeds from the cuts should be rinsed off, and then let the slices dry in the air for three hours. The leaves on the upper part of the apical cutting are shortened in parallel to the veins in half. The leaves on the lower part are removed. The cut of the cutting should be dry and processed with a root hormone. Then the cuttings are placed in a container with water heated to 73-86 ºF (to avoid decay of the planting material), and placed to grow roots under bright diffused light. When the stem roots are 0.8 inch long, the seedlings are transplanted into the substrate for croton. For transplanted seedlings it is necessary to arrange a high humidity by frequent spraying during the first ten days after repotting. The sign that the cuttings have taken roots is restoring of the leaf elasticity.

Pests and diseases of croton

Insects of croton

Croton can be attacked by mealybugs, nematodes, scales and spider mites, and mostly it is affected by mites. What makes croton so attractive for them is difficult to say, but sometimes the struggle with them extremely irritates the owner of the flower, and in despair he just throws out the croton. But let us remind you that if you comply with all the rules of care, neither insects nor diseases are dangerous for your plants, and the appearance of mites is explained by the fact that croton is rarely washed and irregularly watered, so you can blame only yourself. To fight with spider mites, mealybugs and scales, you should process the ground parts of croton with a soapy tobacco solution that should be rinsed off in an hour and a half to prevent getting it into the substrate.

Croton lowered the leaves

If the plant has lowered the leaves, it means it can not drink. It happens if the roots are cold. Rearrange the plant in a warm, bright place, regulate the moistening regime, letting the soil clod dry out a few inches deep between waterings, stop feeding the plant, spray the leaves well and put a transparent plastic bag or cap on the plant.

Croton dries

If only lower leaves of croton are drying, then there is no need to worry: the gradual denudation of the lower part of the stem is a natural process for croton. The dry tips of the leaves indicate that the plant suffers from a low air humidity, and for croton a comfortable moisture index is 70%. If the edges of the leaves dry and brown spots appear on them, then the room is not warm enough and the croton is cold. If the croton leaves not only dry, but also fall off, then its roots definitely lack moisture.

Croton drops leaves

Often the readers of the site ask why the croton leaves are falling off. The first two reasons we have already mentioned are chronically insufficient watering and low air humidity. It also can be the result of too low temperature in the room, temperature fluctuations or drafts. What to do if croton drops leaves? First, carefully read the rules of care for croton. Secondly, analyze what rules you might have violated. Third, correct your mistakes and do not repeat them.

Croton species and varieties

Variegated croton is cultivated in indoor horticulture. Its distinctive feature is the ability to change the coloring and shape of leaves depending on growing conditions. This quality made the species a base for experiments in breeding that resulted in the breeding of many varieties and hybrid forms.

Variegated croton (variegatum)

is native to Pakistan and China, sometimes reaching 10 ft tall. Leaves are short-petioled. Leaf color is green with brown. This species has several forms, differing in the shape of the leaves: appendage, lobate, flat-leaved and variegated that served as the basis for creating of many remarkable varieties:

  • Mrs. Iceton is a large tree or a bush with brightly painted maroon leaves with bright pink spots, although there are a variety with golden leaves with almost black sections and a yellow-pink variety;
  • Petra grows up to 13 ft tall in nature. It branches well. The shape of the leaves is oval, lobate or pointed. The color is dark green with a bright yellow edging and contrasting veins and speckles have the same color;
  • The Black Prince has broadly oval flat leaves of black-green color and with a lot of yellow, red and orange spots. It looks very exotic;
  • Disraeli has lobate form of leaves, the upper part of the leaves is green with yellow veins and speckles, and the lower part has a brick-brown tint;
  • Excellent is primarily characterized by the shape of the leaves that look like oak leaf, the lower part of the leaves is reddish-brown, the upper part is yellow-green.

The varieties of variegated croton that are also very interesting are molucca croton minus, croton genuinum, oval-leaved croton, croton tortile, curled-leaved croton and spiral-leaved croton. But whatever variety you choose, it will certainly become the most noticeable decoration of your interior.

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