Image by daryl_mitchell
By Heather Rhoades
Croton plants (Codiaeum variegatum) are incredibly varied plants that are often grown as a houseplant. The croton indoor plant has a reputation for being fussy, but in reality, if you know about caring for a croton houseplant properly, it can make for a resilient and hard to kill plant.
Croton Indoor Plant
The croton plant is often grown outdoors in tropical climates, but also make excellent houseplants. Crotons come in a wide variety of leaf shapes and colors. Leaves can be short, long, twisted, thin, thick and several of these combined. Colors range from green, variegated, yellow, red, orange, cream, pink and black to a combination of all these. It is safe to say that if you look hard enough, you will find a croton that matches your décor.
When considering croton growing, check the variety you have purchased to determine the light needs of your specific variety. Some varieties of croton need high light while others need medium or low light. In general, the more variegated and colorful the croton plant, the more light it will need.
Tips on the Care of Croton Plants
Part of the reason that these plants have a reputation for being fussy is because they tend to make a bad first impression. Oftentimes, a person will bring home a new croton from the store and within days, the plant will have lost some and maybe all of its foliage. This leaves the new owner wondering “how did I fail in caring for a croton houseplant?”
The short answer is that you did not fail; this is normal croton behavior. Croton plants do not like to be moved, and when they are moved, they can quickly go into shock which results in leaf loss. Therefore, it is best to avoid moving the plant as much as possible. In situations where moving the plant is unavoidable (such as when you buy one), don’t panic at the leaf loss. Simply maintain proper care and the plant will regrow its leaves within a short period of time, after which, it will prove to be a resilient houseplant.
Like many houseplants, caring for a croton involves proper watering and humidity. Because it is a tropical plant, it does benefit from high humidity, so placing it on a pebble tray or regular misting will help keep it looking its best. Croton growing in containers should only be watered only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Then, they should be watered until the water flows out the bottom of the container.
The plant should also be kept away from drafts and cold, as it cannot tolerate temperatures below 60 degrees F. If it is exposed to temps lower than this, the croton will lose leaves and possibly die.