With its bright leaves, the croton appears otherworldly. Despite its extravagant appearance, this evergreen is gentle with the right location and care.
With their bright ornamental leaves, croton plants are unmistakable. Read our profile below to find out all about this evergreen shrub, its different varieties and how to best care for it.
Croton: origin, flower and characteristics
The Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) originates in Southeast Asia, most commonly in India and Indonesia. There, the croton family spurge (Euphorbiaceae) thrives in tropical forests. Crotons grow upright and have evergreen sword-shaped leaves that glow in different colors depending on the intensity of light they are exposed to. Yellow, orange, red and purple are among the most common croton colors. There are clear variations between the different cultivated varieties. In the wild, crotons grow up to two meters tall and flower. Crotons grown indoors tend to be smaller and bloom only infrequently. If they do, the white flowers emerge from the upper leaf axils and are arranged in small flower clusters.
The most beautiful croton varieties
Croton varieties tend to differ in both leaf shape and color palette. Most ornamental plants croton varieties belong Codiaeum variegatum where. picture amount. Among other things, the following beautiful varieties are available in the trade:
- C. variegatum “Petra”: leathery, strongly veined leaves form from the branched main wood
- C. variegatum ‘Patient: broad, yellow-orange leaves
- C. variegatum ‘Aucubafolia’: shiny leaves with yellow spots
- C. variegatum “Norm”: oak-like leaves with red veins
- C. variegatum “Van Ostensee”: narrow, yellow-green mottled leaves
Planting croton: location, soil and more
Croton plants need a location with lots of indirect sunlight, but never direct sunlight, or their leaves will fade. Depending on how bright its location is, the croton differs in color. The more light, the more color variation. Always remember that this tropical wintergreen likes high humidity. Drafts or room temperatures below 18°C should be avoided completely. In winter, a place with an ambient temperature of around 16°C is sufficient for croton plants.
A suitable soil should be able to store a lot of water. At the same time, however, it should not collapse after a short time, because otherwise root rot can easily occur. This can be achieved, for example, by using coconut pulp, which has a particularly favorable ratio between air and water holding capacity. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost consists of a large proportion of coconut pulp and compost. A drainage layer at the bottom of the pot ensures good water drainage. This can be achieved with, for example, expanded clay balls or pebbles.
Croton plant care: the main care measures
When it comes to care, croton plants have surprisingly few requirements.
Fertilization, watering and pruning
During the summer months, fertilize croton plants in a small weekly dose. In winter, a monthly fertilizer is sufficient. A potassium-rich liquid fertilizer is good for croton plants, as it ensures a firm and resilient cell structure. Our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food enables such plant nutrition. The microorganisms it contains also support root growth.
Make sure the crotons are always well watered, especially in the summer. The croton’s soil should also always be kept moist. In addition, the croton likes high humidity. To achieve this, spray the croton frequently with filtered water and wipe the leaves with a damp cloth frequently.
Pruning is generally not necessary, but you can cut off individual shoots to influence the shape if desired. The best time for this is autumn, at the end of the growing season. When cutting off the shoots, a lot of milky juice comes out, which is irritating to the skin and poisonous. Be sure to wear gloves when pruning crotons.
If the entire root ball has taken root or the soil has collapsed and can no longer absorb water, it’s time to replant your croton. A rule of thumb is to replant croton plants every two years. Another indicator that the croton is ready to be repotted is noticeably stunted growth and the need for constant watering. The best time of year to repot is spring. This is when the bush forms new roots to start growing and has the best chance of surviving the transplant well. The new pot should be about 20% larger than the old one. It also makes sense to provide the underbush with a slow-release fertilizer when replanting to provide trace amounts of nutrients and phosphorus. For example, you can use our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, which does not contain any animal components and does not spread an unpleasant smell in the home.
The best drainage layer for croton plants is broken bricks or gravel to prevent root rot.
Croton is losing leaves: what to do?
If your croton plant is losing leaves, it indicates that it has not been cared for properly. We have listed some possible reasons below:
- For a cool place: Croton’s comfortable temperature is 12-20°C.
- Too dry: Croton thrives best if the soil never dries out completely and the leaves are sprayed often.
- Too dark: An optimal location for the croton is about 2-3 meters from the window, where it receives 5 hours of indirect sunlight.
- Nutrient deficiency: Fertilize regularly and replant every two years.
- Attack of spider mites or thrips: This happens especially when the cultivation is too hot and too dry; store the croton in a moister and cooler place after treatment.
The colorful croton can be propagated at home. This is possible through moss, leaf cuttings or shoot or head cuttings. The easiest way to propagate is by cuttings:
- In early spring, cut a fresh, healthy and strong shoot with about two young leaves and place it in a glass of water or directly in moist soil for rooting.
- The wound can be treated with charcoal powder to stop bleeding.
- Stick the cutting in a loose and nutrient-poor soil. Rooting is often successful in simple garden soil mixed with sand. It is important that the soil is kept both warm and moist. In addition, the glass with the cut should be placed in a warm place. Our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost is optimal and bacteria-free.
- Croton roots form well at temperatures between 22 and 30°C.
- It is a good idea to make a small greenhouse for the cutting by placing a bag over it. This keeps the humidity high.
Are crotons poisonous?
Like other spurge plants, croton contains plant milk that is slightly toxic and irritating to both skin and mucous membranes. If eaten, it causes gastrointestinal distress.
The following symptoms of croton poisoning occur in dogs, cats, birds and rodents: Severe irritation of mucous membranes, salivation, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Are you enthusiastic about colorful houseplants? Then take a look at our article about Calathea Plant.