How to Grow and Care for Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum) Indoors

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

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

Joseph's Coat 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, Codiaeum variegatum

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


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


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


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

The 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.


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 Plant 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.

Where to Buy

Crotons in various sizes and colors are available online at Etsy.

Codiaeum variegatum Care Indoors

Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum) care indoors is easy as it requires bright light with some direct morning or evening sunlight, warm and humid conditions and consistently moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with regular feeding during the growing season.

Codiaeum variegatum does not like too frequent repotting as it does well when pot-bound. Regular pruning is necessary to keep it neat and tidy as well as promote compact and bushy growth. Keep reading for more on the growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Croton Plant, Codiaeum variegatum


Water Croton Plant liberally during the growing season while allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to keep the soil moist at all times.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can result in the yellowing of leaves followed by leaf drop. Read more on how to water houseplants the right way.

Light Requirements

Croton Plants grow best in bright light with some direct morning or evening sunlight to enhance the leaf colors.

Turn the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for even growth.

Avoid moving the Croton Plant to a new location before acclimating it as it can cause it to drop all its leaves.

Codiaeum variegatum can also grow under grow lights where the natural light is not sufficient. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Temperature and Humidity

Average warmth with a minimum of 150C is ideal for Croton Plant. Keep it away draughts and don't expose them to low temperatures as the leaves may get brown edges or drop and the plant may die.

Croton Plant requireS high humidity inorder to thrive. To increase humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or grow the plant in a bathroom, laundry area and other moist areas in the home.

You can also grow Joseph's Coat in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium. Learn more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation.


Feed Croton Plant every 2 weeks during the growing period with a balanced, liquid fertilizer for a lush growth.

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

Potting Soil

The best soil for Croton Plant should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant . Buy quality potting mix from Amazon.


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 the sections separately.

Use a pot one-size larger and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease. Check out these Pots with Multi Mesh Drainage Holes on Amazon.

Replenish the top 2-3 inches of soil with fresh soil every few 2-3 years for the large plants.

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


Pruning of Croton Plant involves removal of yellow and dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy as well as minimize pest and disease infestations.

Joseph's Coat can become too large or leggy with age. Cutback the branches to the desired height to encourage fresh and vigorous growth for a more compact plant.

The best time to cutback 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 plants.


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

How to propagate Croton Plant from stem cuttings

Take non-woody stem cuttings of about 4 in. long from a healthy Croton Plant. Strip off the lower lower leaves and retain 2-3 leaves on top. Allow the sap to dry (callus) to avoid rotting.

Once calloused, dip the lower cut end of the cutting in a rooting hormone and insert it in moist rooting soil.

To hasten rooting of the cutting, create a mini greenhouse by covering the set up with a clear polythene bag or sheet.

Mkae sure that the leaves do not touch the bag or sheet too much by propping it with sticks.

Place the set up in warm, well-lit spot and maintain the soil moist through out until there is new growth which indicates the cutting has rooted.

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

In 4-6 months, there should be adequate root development and routine Codiaeum variegatum care can begin.

How to Propagate of Croton Plant 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 to help it stay in place and maintain it moist.

Keep 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 cutting in moist soil.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching.

Maintain the soil moist through out until new growth has been observed and the new Codiaeum variegatum has grown at least 2 sets of new leaves.

Croton Plant, Codiaeum variegatum, Joseph's Coat

Codiaeum variegatum Common Problems

Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum) growing problems include leaf drop, loss of leaf color, yellow leaves, brown leaf tips and edges, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Loss of leaf color

Loss of leaf color in Croton Plant is caused by too little light. Position the plant in a brighter spot where it will receive bright light with some direct sunshine.

Bright light with some direct morning or evening sunlight enhances the beautiful leaf color. You can also grow the plant under a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.

Loss of lower leaves

Loss of lower leaves in a Croton Plant is due to three possible causes. One possible cause is dry air if the leaves have dry tips.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to elevate humidity.

Crotons can also be grown in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium.

The second possible cause of loss of lower leaves in Joseph's Coat is that the soil is too dry especially if the leaves have brown tips.

Water Joseph's Coat liberally during the growing season to maintain the soil moist at all times. Water less during the cold season but never allow the soil-ball to dry out completely.

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

Keep the plant away from cold draughts like windy windows and doors inorder to maintain a constantly warm temperature.


Common pests in Croton Plant are Mealy Bugs and Spider Mites. Keep the plant properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and treat pests in houseplants.

Yellowing leaves

Yellowing leaves in Croton Plant are due to soggy soil. Check the condition of the of the soil. If the soil is soggy, repot the plant in fresh, free-draining soil and ensure the pot has a drainage hole.

Sudden leaf drop

Sudden leaf drop in Croton Plant is caused by sudden changes in the growing conditions. Gradually acclimatize the plant to new growing conditions and do not move it suddenly to new growing conditions.

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