Gardening Houseplants How to Plant and Grow Croton This easy-care houseplant adds plenty of color to any space through its foliage. By Viveka Neveln Viveka Neveln Instagram Viveka Neveln is the Garden Editor at BHG and a degreed horticulturist with broad gardening expertise earned over 3+ decades of practice and study. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing for both print and digital media. Learn about BHG's Editorial Process Updated on April 6, 2023 Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Where to Plant Planting Tips Care Pests and Problems Propagation Types FAQ Croton, a perennial with woody stems and roots, features leathery, smooth-edge, oval- or lance-shape leaves in bright colors. These colors are often combined in patterns involving blotching and striping, and sometimes the color changes as the plant ages. Native to Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, and northern Australia, crotons are most often grown as houseplants but can be brought outdoors for the summer. In warm climates, croton can also be planted in the landscape to be enjoyed year-round. All parts of the plant are toxic to humans and pets. Croton Overview Genus Name Codiaeum Common Name Croton Plant Type Houseplant, Perennial Light Part Sun, Sun Height 1 to 8 feet Width 1 to 6 feet Flower Color White Foliage Color Blue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold, Purple/Burgundy Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance Zones 10, 11 Propagation Stem Cuttings Where to Plant Croton If your winters are mild enough for croton to be planted in the landscape, you can plant it outdoors. As croton needs sun but does not do well in the scorching sun, choose a location with partial or dappled shade. Make sure the soil provides excellent drainage, with a pH between 4.5 to 6.5. Single specimens add a splash of color to the back of a perennial flowerbed. A line of croton planted alongside a walkway, driveway, or pool makes an attractive cheerful hedge or barrier. As the plant likes dappled shade, you can also plant croton in groups below a palm tree. 9 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Houseplants Healthy How and When to Plant Croton As a houseplant, croton can be planted any time of the year. Select a container that is about one-third larger than the root ball of the plant to allow for growth. Fill one-third of the pot with potting mix, then place the plant in the pot and backfill with potting mix to about 1 inch below the rim. Spring is the best time to plant croton in the landscape. After carefully selecting the site to make sure the soil has excellent drainage, dig a hole that is at least twice as large as the root ball. Backfill the hole with original soil and mulch around the base of the plant, which keeps the soil moist and weeds out. Whether it’s a container plant or an outdoor shrub, water it slowly and thoroughly after planting. Croton Care Tips Light Indoors, find a sunny window for the plant. While croton can tolerate medium light, bright light is necessary to bring out the most intense and vibrant colors. In too much shade, the colors can become washed out and muted and the plant's leaves will be much greener. If you are planting a croton outdoors, select a spot with dappled light. Too much direct sunlight can cause leaf burning and scorching, especially on the lighter-color varieties. Soil and Water Crotons enjoy being kept evenly moist during summer months, with reduced watering during winter months. Choose a well-draining potting mix and make sure not to overwater the plants, as that can lead to root rot. Let the top 2 inches of soil dry out slightly between waterings. Temperature and Humidity Crotons appreciate higher humidity, so if they are grown in a dry environment, try placing the pot on a bed of pebbles with water just below the top of the rocks to increase humidity around the plants. Keep in mind that crotons are from tropical climates and will not tolerate cold temperatures. It is best to keep them above 60 degrees at all times; any cooler than that and they will start losing leaves. Fertilizer During the growing season in the spring and summer, feed your potted crotons with either slow-release pellets or liquid fertilizer every two weeks. In the winter, when the plant growth slows down, feeding the plant about once a month is sufficient. Croton in the landscape only requires occasional fertilization in the spring and summer. Pruning Croton plants only need occasional pruning to cut back the plant when it is getting too tall, or to remove bare stems. Cutting the stems back at the desired height encourages new growth. You can also snip off the growing tips of the stems to encourage bushy growth. Potting and Repotting Croton Crotons will need to be repotted occasionally when they outgrow their pots. Choose just one pot size larger than the current pot and fill it with well-draining potting mix. Pests and Problems Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot. Another problem associated with soil that is too wet is fungus gnats, tiny flies that infest potting mix. How to Propagate Croton Croton is easy to propagate from stem cuttings. Using gloves, cut a stem 3 to 4 inches long with 3 to 5 leaves. Dip the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone powder and insert the cutting in a 4-inch pot filled with damp potting mix. Keep it moist at all times but not soggy. At a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees F, roots should form in about one month. Wait until you see some vigorous vegetative growth before transplanting the cutting to a larger container. Types of Croton You'll find a kaleidoscope of colorful leaves on a croton plant, including yellows, pinks, oranges, bronzes, reds, purples, and greens. While most plants may feature a simple variegated leaf with a clean edge of cream or gold, crotons go all out. The variegation comes in an endless variety of patterns. The most common, though, is a croton leaf boasting brightly colored veins and margins with the bulk of the leaf being a deep green. Other types feature spotting or speckled foliage with a backdrop of green, while still others develop leaves that emerge one bright color and fade as they age. Popular varieties include: 'Petra' croton Denny Schrock This selection of Codiaeum is one of the most common varieties of croton. It has large leaves with veins in reds, oranges, and yellows. 'Gold Dust' croton Denny Schrock Codiaeum 'Gold Dust' is a smaller-leaf variety with deep-green leaves splashed with specks of gold on well-branched plants. 'Andrew' croton Doug Hetherington This variety of Codiaeum variegatum pictum is variegated with a wavy creamy yellow band around its leaf margin and a two-tone gray-green central leaf body. Try These Tricks to Establish Perfect Humidity for Your Houseplants 'Red Iceton' croton Doug Hetherington Codiaeum variegatum pictum 'Red Iceton' has foliage that emerges yellow or chartreuse, and gradually turns gold with a wash of red. Frequently Asked Questions Is the croton plant toxic? All plant parts contain a sticky sap that oozes out when a leaf or a stem of broken or cut off. Therefore, you should aways wear protective gloves when handling croton plants. Do all crotons have large leaves? Most crotons have large leaves, but there are some small leaf types and very narrow leaf types that can add lovely texture to a garden. Why does my croton plant drop its leaves? A common reason for croton defoliation is that that the plant is overwatered or underwatered. Temperatures that are consistently below 50 degrees F or sudden temperature changes can also cause the plant to drop its leaves. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Better Homes & Gardens is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources—including peer-reviewed studies—to support the facts in our articles. Read about our editorial policies and standards to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. "Croton." Pet Poison Helpline. "Codiaeum variegatum." North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension.