Croton: How to Grow and Care for Croton Plants | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Care for Croton

Codiaeum variegatum (Croton, Variegated Laurel, Garden Croton, Orange Jessamine) ; An outstanding colorful, multicolor and shapes of leaves textures. Ornamental plants. close up, natural sunlight.
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Codiadeum variegatum
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Growing Croton Plants: Watering, Lighting, Repotting, and Pests

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The croton is a striking, easy-to-grow houseplant known for its variegated foliage covered in green, scarlet, orange, and yellow splotches. Here’s how to care for a croton in your home or garden.

About Croton

Croton, also called “garden croton,” are native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and Oceania. In the wild, they grow as large shrubs, reaching up to 10 feet tall (in the home or garden, they stay much smaller).

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous—especially the seeds—so it is not recommended for use in homes with curious pets or children. When damaged, croton produces a milky sap that can irritate the skin, too.


Planting Croton

  • When choosing a container for your croton, keep in mind that the plant will grow upright, which eventually may cause it to become top heavy. Pick a container that won’t easily tip over when the croton gets larger. Or, plan to pot up to larger pots over time.
  • Use a well-draining potting mix. Croton likes to be kept moist but not wet.
  • In areas with warm, humid summers, croton can be grown outdoors as a unique and colorful landscape plant. They work well in tropical-themed containers or alongside annuals in the ground. When nighttime temperatures drop to around 50°F (10°C), croton will need to be taken indoors.

How to Care for Croton

  • Place croton in a sunny location such as an eastern, southern, or western window. If croton is getting too little light, its newer leaves will be less colorful. 
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, but let it dry out between waterings.
  • If humidity is low in your home, mist around the leaves with water once a week or keep a tray of wet gravel near the plant.
  • Croton leaves are dust magnets. Gently wipe the leaves with a moist cloth twice a month to keep them clean and dust-free.
  • Fertilize the plant in spring and summer while the plant is actively growing. In fall and winter, fertilize more sparingly or refrain from fertilizing altogether.
  • New croton plants can be started with 4- to 6-inch stem cuttings. Remove the bottom leaves and place the cutting in a glass of water. After roots have formed, plant in a small pot.
  • Repot the plant in the spring if it has grown too large for its current pot.
Croton 'Petra'. Photo by Karl Thomas Moore/Wikimedia Commons.
Croton ‘Petra’ (foreground). Photo by Karl Thomas Moore/Wikimedia Commons.
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  • Croton are members of the Euphorbiaceae family of plants, which makes them relatives of the poinsettia and the cast iron plant.

Croton plants are usually pest and disease-free, though they are susceptible to common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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