How to grow and care for Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum) Indoors

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Croton Plant Care, Codiaeum variegatum Care

Botanical name: Codiaeum variegatum
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Common name: Croton, Joseph's Coat

Croton Plant Description

Croton Plant commonly called Joseph's Coat is are popular plants on account of their vivid foliage colors and varied leaf shapes.

The stiff leaves in Croton are borne on an upright stem; the usual pattern is large and lobed foliage on which there are distinctly colored veins.

Crotons are not easy to grow under room conditions but if they are cared for appropriately, they make resilient and beautiful plants ideal for home decor.

Croton Plant Size

Croton Plants are tropical, evergreen shrubs which can grow to a height of about 9 ft and bear large, thick, leathery and shiny leaves.

Croton Plant Origin

Croton Plants are native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Western Pacific Ocean islands where they grow in open forests and scrub.

Croton Plant Varieties

The basic variety is Codiaeum variegatum and over the years different named types have appeared.

Most varieties of Croton Plants have Laurel-like foliage, but there are also forked leaves, long ribbons, lobed leaves, twisted and curled types. Identification is not easy.

Popular varieties of Croton Plants include Norma with green leaves with red veins and splashes of yellow, Bravo with green leaves splashed with yellow, Reidii with green leaves splashed with red, aucubifolium among many others.

The lobed Croton varieties include Craigii and Holuffiana. Other common varieties are Gold finger, Gold star, Gold Moon, Mrs Iceton, Excellent among many others.

Croton Plant Care, Codiaeum variegatum Care

Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum) Care Indoors

Croton Plant Light Requirements

Croton grow best in bright light with some direct sunlight, near an east- or a west-facing window. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Croton Plant

Keep soil moist at all times for Croton during the growing season but reduce watering in the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist.

Ensure the pot for your Croton Plant has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to the yellowing of leaves. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Croton Plant

Average warmth with a minimum of 150C is ideal for Croton. Protect your Croton from draughts and don't expose them to low temperatures as the leaves may get brown edges or drop and the plant may die. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Croton Plant

Croton Plant require high humidity. To raise humidity for your Croton, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves of your Croton Plant by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

You can also grow your Croton Plant in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a closed terrarium for houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Croton Plant

Feed Croton Plant every 2 weeks during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Withhold feeding for your Croton during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.

Replenish the top 2-3 inches of soil with fresh soil every few 2-3 years for the large Croton Plants. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to Repot Croton Plant

Repot Croton Plant during the growing period only if the plants are overcrowded as they grow best when pot-bound. Carefully cut through the roots with a knife and pot them separately.

Use a pot one-size larger and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot.

To control the size of your Joseph's Coat keep it in the same pot, so that the roots are confined.

How to Prune Crotons (Joseph's Coat)

Pruning of Croton Plant is done by removal of yellow and dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

Croton can become leggy with age or too large. Cut-back the branches to the desired height to encourage fresh and vigorous growth for a more compact plant.

The best time to cut back your Croton is at the beginning of the growing season. Do not cut back the plant by more than one third.

The foliage emanating from the cutting-back, can be used to propagate new Croton plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum)

Croton Plant can be propagated during the growing season from stem cuttings or by air layering.

How to propagate Croton from stem cuttings

Take non-woody stem cuttings about 4 in. long from a healthy Croton.

Strip off the lower lower leaves leaving 2-3 leaves on top and allow the sap to dry.

Dip the lower cut end of the Croton cutting in a rooting hormone and insert it in moist rooting soil.

To hasten rooting of your Croton cutting, create a mini greenhouse by covering the set up with a polythene bag and ensure the leaves do not touch the bag too much by propping it with sticks.

Place the set up in warm, shaded spot and maintain the soil moist through out unril there is new growth. New growth indicates the cutting has rooted.

Remove the plastic bag (cover) when at least 2 new leaves have developed on your Croton Cutting.

In 4-6 months, there should be adequate root development and normal Croton care can begin.

How to Propagate of Croton by air layering

This consists of notching the stem of a healthy Croton plant and then coating the notch with a rooting hormone

Surround the notched area with damp moss and then cover it with a polythene film or clear plastic wrap.

Maintain the moss moist through out until there is adequate root growth.

After the roots have formed sever the stem just below the covered part and carefully pot the rooted Croton cutting in moist soil.

Place the set up in a warm shaded place. Maintain the soil moist through out until new growth has been observed and the plant has grown at least 2 sets of new leaves.

Croton Plant Care, Codiaeum variegatum Care

Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum) Problems Indoors

Croton Plant loss of leaf color

Too little light is the reason for loss of leaf color in Croton Plant. Move your Croton to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light with some direct sunshine.

Croton Plant grows best in bright light with some direct sunlight, near an east- or a west-facing window. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Croton Plant loss of lower leaves

There are three possible causes of loss of lower leaves in Croton Plant.

One possible cause of loss of lower leaves in your Croton is dry air if the leaves have dry tips.

To raise humidity for your Croton, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

You can also grow your Crotons in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a terrarium.

The second possible cause of loss of lower leaves in your Croton is that the soil is too dry especially if the leaves have brown tips.

Maintain the soil for your Croton moist at all times and never allow the soil-ball to dry out completely.

The third possible cause of loss of lower leaves in your Croton is the temperature is too low if leaves have brown edges.

Protect your Croton from cold draughts inorder to maintain a constantly warm temperature.

Croton Plant yellowing of leaves

Soggy soil is the cause of yellowing leaves in Croton. Check the condition of the of the soil. If the soil is soggy, repot your Croton in fresh, free-draining soil and ensure the pot has a drainage hole.

Croton Plant sudden leaf drop

Sudden change of growing conditions is the cause of sudden leaf drop in Croton Plant.

Gradually acclimatize your Croton to new growing conditions and do not move it suddenly to new growing conditions.

Croton Plant Pests

Common plant pests in Croton are Mealy Bugs and Spider Mites.

Isolate the affected Croton to prevent spread to other plants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Also, keep your Croton properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.

Is Croton Plant toxic?

As with many plants of the Euphorbiaceae family, Crotons (Codiaeum spp) produce a sap that can cause skin irritation and eczema in sensitive skin.

Croton's bark, roots, latex and leaves are poisonous. The sap contains the toxic chemical compound 5-deoxyingenol. Consumption of the plant's seed can be fatal to humans.

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