How To Care For A Croton Houseplant

The croton is a low-maintenance houseplant distinguished by its variegated leaf with spots of green, scarlet, orange, and yellow. How to take care of a croton in your house or garden is shown here.

About Croton

The tropical woods of southeast Asia and Oceania are the natural habitat of croton, sometimes known as “garden croton.” They develop as substantial bushes in the wild, growing up to 10 feet tall (in the home or garden, they stay a lot smaller).

Note that this plant should not be used in households with curious dogs or young children because it is deadly in all parts, especially the seeds. Croton trees when injured release a milky sap that can also irritate the skin.

Planting Croton

  • Remember that your croton will grow upright and eventually risk becoming top heavy when selecting a container for it. Choose a container that won’t topple over easily as the croton grows. Alternately, prepare to gradually move to larger pots.
  • Use a potting mix that drains effectively. Croton prefers to be kept damp but not submerged.
  • Croton is a unique and vibrant landscaping plant that may be cultivated outside in regions with hot, muggy summers. They work well planted with annuals or in containers with a tropical theme. Croton must be carried indoors when the evening low falls to about 50F (10C).

How to Care for Croton

  • Croton should be placed in a bright area, like an eastern, southern, or western window. A croton’s younger leaves will be less vibrant if it receives insufficient light.
  • Allow the soil to dry between waterings while keeping it equally moist.
  • If the humidity level in your home is low, spray the leaves once a week with water or keep a tray of moist stones close to the plant.
  • Croton leaves attract dust. To maintain the leaves clean and dust-free, gently wipe them with a wet cloth twice a month.
  • While the plant is actively growing, fertilize it in the spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing more frequently or at all during the fall and winter.
  • Cuttings of 4- to 6-inch stems can be used to start new croton plants. Place the cutting in a glass of water after removing the bottom leaves. Plant in a tiny container once roots have developed.
  • If the plant has outgrown its current container, repot it in the spring.
  • Petra is a well-liked cultivar. It features a green leaf with veins that are crimson, orange, and yellow.
  • “Gold Star” has leaves that are green with dazzling gold “stars” all over them.
  • Slim leaves of the plant ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’ come in a variety of hues, from burgundy to lime green. The leaves have brilliant yellow splotches on them, as though they had been spray painted.
  • ‘Oakleaf’ has dark green or bronze leaves that resemble an oak leaf and have yellow, orange, and red veins.
  • The cast iron plant and the poinsettia are distant relatives of croton, which is a member of the Euphorbiaceae plant family.

Although common houseplant pests like mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects can affect crotons, they are typically free of pests and diseases.

Does croton require direct sun exposure?

Croton plants are unique among houseplants because of their multicolored foliage. They also make excellent outdoor landscape plants for year-round enjoyment if you live in zones 10 to 12. There are many different leaf colors available for croton plants, the majority of which have variegated leaves in hues of red, green, yellow, orange, and purple. A few types only have leaves that have two colors (green and yellow, or red and green). There are two common leaf shapes: a narrow, long, strap-shaped leaf and a larger oval or oblong leaf.

Where to Grow Croton Plants

Plants grown in bright light produce the most vibrant colors. They need to be placed in a sunny window because they are indoor plants. Although they won’t grow much and their leaves may turn back to plain green, they may handle medium light indoors.

How to Plant Croton Plants

When producing crotons, it’s crucial to manage soil moisture to prevent overwatering, which can result in root rot. Use Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix, which contains coconut coir, to plant indoor croton plants. This substance facilitates simple soil rewetting by holding and releasing water as the plant requires it. Additionally, because it doesn’t contain compost or bark, two materials that are known to serve as a haven for these specific pests, it has been created to be less susceptible to fungus gnats, a common issue with indoor plants like croton plants.

Choose a container that is 1/3 bigger than the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in the container with the top of the root ball about an inch below the rim, then fill it up to the 1/3 mark with Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix. (This will make space for watering the plant without spilling over.) More potting mix should be added to the area around the root ball. After giving the plant plenty of water and allowing it to drain, relocate it to its final location within the home.

How to Water Croton Plants

Due to the waxy covering on their leaves, croton plants are fairly drought-tolerant, yet it is simple to overwater them. Water thoroughly when the top 2 inches of soil have dried off. Another indicator that it’s time to water your croton plant is some wilting of new growth at the ends of the stems. Never let plants stand in water that is still.

How to Move Croton Plants Outdoors for the Summer

Croton plants thrive in strong light indoors, but if you merely take them from your front room into the scorching heat outside on the patio, they will suffer from shock. Croton plants must first be prepared for the move if you want to enjoy them outside during the summer (a process called “hardening off). Start by keeping them outside during the day and bringing them inside at night in a protected spot like a porch or patio. Start leaving them outside full-time after 3 or 4 days. Move them to the preferred outdoor area in full or dappled sunlight a few days later. Croton plants will shed a few leaves as they acclimate to their new environment when you bring them back inside during the fall.

How to Feed Croton Plants

Use Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food a month after planting to provide croton plants with the nutrition they require for the maximum growth. Apply directly to the soil and water as usual once every week, as directed on the label. Use two pumps for larger pots and one for smaller pots (over 6 inches in diameter). Reduce feedings in the winter, when growth is slower, to once a month.

How to Prune Croton Plants

Croton plants don’t need to be pruned, but if lower leaves have fallen off and you want to promote new growth, just cut the branches or stems off at the right height, and the plant will quickly fill out. Snip each stem’s developing tips off to promote a bushier plant.

Poinsettias include crotons in their family. A sticky, milky fluid seeps from pruning wounds or areas where leaves or petals have fallen off on all members of this family of plants. Always use gloves when pruning these plants because the sap could give some people a rash.

Are you prepared to begin growing croton plants? To learn more about a product, to buy it online, or to locate a retailer near you, click on any of the product links above.

Keep the Soil Evenly Moist

You risk drowning or overwatering your croton if the soil is not consistently moist. Watering too much while it’s dry can result in isolated soggy areas around the roots, which will invite fungal diseases.

You run the risk of leaf drop, brown leaf tips, sunburns, and general weakening if you don’t water after presuming the soil is moist.

Water deeply until the water drains out of the bottom holes to maintain soil moisture evenly. To avoid waterlogging, let it soak for about 10 minutes and then drain the extra water.

Let the Soil Dry Out Between Watering

This would be the one and only rule I would give you. Yes, you have to wait till the potting mix’s top 1/2 inch is completely dry before you water again. That applies to seasons of rapid growth, such as spring, summer, and flowering.

However, during the period of low growth, particularly during the winter, you must stick your finger or a stick up to three inches into the ground. once the top one or two inches have dried out, only water once more.

Drain Excess Water

Your croton does adore water, it’s true. Nevertheless, if you water it excessively and the soil becomes flooded, you risk killing the plant.

As a general rule, after the soil is sufficiently moist, tip out extra water from pot saucers, trays, or sleeves. This will aid in avoiding soil that is too wet, which drowns roots and encourages illnesses like fungal root rot.

Ensure Water Reaches the Roots

Make sure water gets to the roots whether you water from above or below. You don’t want a situation where the earth is dry and the leaves are damp.

This is simple. To regularly moisten the potting mix, either soak or water the soil. Additionally, you should water until water starts to emerge from the bottom holes.

Use Well Drainage Capacity Soil

Consider adding wood, sand, vermiculite, or perlite chunks if the soil isn’t properly draining water. By doing this, water won’t be able to seep into air spaces and smother the roots.

Don’t Count Days

In the summer and spring, you should water your croton every 3–7 days to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. However, you shouldn’t actually keep track of the days before watering. Check the soil moisture instead, and water when the top inch of soil is dry.

Avoid Tap Water

If your croton prefers distilled or filtered water, you should find out. Avoid drinking water straight from the faucet in either situation since it includes minerals, chlorine, and fluorides that will burn the leaves and roots.

Why are my croton’s leaves falling off?

A croton plant may have trouble adapting to change. A new plant’s reaction to being moved or carried from the greenhouse to your home is sometimes seen in croton plants shedding leaves. A croton will naturally shed leaves as it adapts to its environment. After settling, your plant will start to sprout new growth in three to four weeks.

It’s time to consider different options if you haven’t recently moved the plant and your croton leaves are falling off.

humidity and heat

Croton plants are tropicals, which means they do well in warm, humid environments. If the leaves on your croton start to fall off, it may have been exposed to extremely cold or hot conditions, including open doors or air ducts. Your croton will feel more at home with the help of a humidifier or a daily misting with distilled water.


Insufficient sunshine can result in croton leaf drop and a lack of flaming color. Croton plants come in more than 750 different types, with some requiring more light than others. Generally speaking, a plant needs more light the more variegated it is.


It’s possible that your croton won’t benefit from the same watering routine as your other houseplants.

  • Croton leaf drop and root damage are two effects of overwatering. Water until the tray’s overflow starts to pool when the top soil seems dry. Use a pebbled tray or drain any standing water after 30 minutes to avoid root rot.
  • On croton plants, underwatering can also result in leaf drop. Consider transplanting your croton in new, premium potting soil with peat moss to help it retain moisture if your plant is still feeling dry despite regular misting and watering.

Pests and illnesses If you believe you have addressed every environmental factor that could be causing your croton plant to drop leaves, think again. Look for illness or insect pest indicators under the leaves, and then treat as necessary.

The good news is that crotons are resilient. Even if your croton has lost all of its leaves and is brown, your beautiful plant is not necessarily extinct. Scratch the primary stem lightly. Your plant is alive and may recover if the tissue beneath it is still green. Continue to take care of your plant’s environmental and watering requirements. Your perseverance and attention will likely be rewarded in a few weeks with the first of the season’s colorful leaves.

What temperatures do croton plants tolerate?

Croton plants love warm climates because they are tropical natives. The plant’s leaves may start to turn brown if the temperature falls too low, below 55F. The croton plant prefers temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or lower because it does not fare well in extremely hot climates.

How often should croton plants be watered?

The croton plant prefers a warm, humid climate because that is where it originally evolved in the tropics. The croton should be planted in soil that is consistently damp but not always wet during the spring and summer when the plant is growing. If the soil feels dry to the touch, watering may be necessary. The croton may need misting in a dry area to sustain healthy leaf growth.

Watering croton plants can be a delicate science, just like with other plants. Watering the croton plant frequently is necessary, but avoid overwatering. While too little water can dry out the humidity-loving plant, too much water can lead to root rot. New croton foliage can be used as a gauge for when it needs water because it will start to wilt when it is dehydrated.

How much light do croton plants need?

Although croton plants need full light, several species can tolerate some partial shade. The plant’s color intensity will depend on how much sunlight it receives. The plant has to remain in bright light in order to develop full, brilliant color.

Are croton plants perennial?

Croton plants are perennials, so yes. Perennial by definition means “across the years. A perennial plant, such as the croton, can endure numerous growth seasons. Even if a portion of the plant dies (often during the winter), it will regrow in the spring using the same root system.

What kind of soil is best for croton plants?

The optimum soil for croton plants is one that can drain well while still holding onto enough moisture to support growth. The plant may develop root rot if the growth media holds on to too much water.

My croton plant appears to be dying. Can I revive it?

There are a number of ways to revive a croton plant, depending on the cause of the stress on your plant. Try transferring your plant to a location that receives at least 4-5 hours of sunlight each day if it is not currently in a well-lit region. Make sure your croton plant isn’t situated in an area that receives very chilly or hot air. If neither of these are the cause of your croton plant’s poor performance, check to see if its soil is either too wet or too dry. Both of them have the potential to harm the croton plant. To get rid of any bugs that could still be hiding around your plant, you might also want to take extra care to clean or spray the leaves.

Why is my croton plant losing its leaves?

Many factors might cause croton plants to lose leaves. Usually, some kind of stress causes this plant to lose its leaves. This stress may be from relocating the plant from the outdoors to the indoors or vice versa, or it may be caused by an imbalance in vital nutrients. Give the plant some time if it’s simply adjusting to its new surroundings. It will settle down and restart growing after a few weeks. If you haven’t recently relocated your plant, leaf loss may be caused by exposure to high or low temperatures, a lack of light, improper watering, illness, or pests.

How do you prune a croton plant?

Croton plants only need to be pruned to get rid of unhealthy parts of the plant or to keep a particular shape. Overgrown leaves or branches can be clipped just above a node or leaf set, but dead leaves or branches should be removed back to their source. Be careful not to cut more than one-third of the stem height off at once. Allow further growth before trimming once more.

How do you propagate a croton plant?

The best way to propagate a croton plant is via a 3–4 inch stem cutting. The cutting can be started in a small container and should have three to five leaves. Keep the plant warm (preferably between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and the soil moist. The plant will most likely begin to take root in a month under these circumstances, at which point you can move it to a new location. The croton plant will get colored as it gets older.

What should I do with my croton plant in the winter?

Crotons do best in warm climates; they do not do well in harsh frosts. Outdoor croton plants can be covered to protect them from frost if you reside in the southern United States, where it rarely gets cold. Croton plants thrive best when grown in containers in colder climates so they may be brought within when the weather turns too chilly. They can bounce back after a severe frost, but you shouldn’t subject them to constant frost. If you do bring your croton plant indoors, make sure it is in a room with enough of light. This means that you might want to think about using a humidifier or misting the plants manually since they also enjoy humid settings.

What are the common croton plant diseases?

Croton plants often do not have many pest or disease problems. They can, however, occasionally be harmed by common plant pests such mealybugs, scale, thrips, or spider mites. With a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol, you may get rid of these pests from your croton plant. Keep a close eye on the croton’s leaves so you can see any potential pest infestations early, before they have a chance to really harm your plant.