Garden Croton (Codiaeum variegatum, Euphorbiaceae)
Crotons are popular plants to grow indoors. Their thick, glossy, vibrant and multicolored leaves are a beautiful addition to any home. Some consider these plants too particular, but if taken care of properly they are resilient. They often reach about 3 feet in height. The garden croton in the Armstrong Greenhouse stands at about 5 feet tall.
The croton naturally flourishes in tropical environments. Crotons can be grown outside in USDA zones 11 and 12. When grown inside, the plant must be kept away from a cool drafty vent. They prefer warmer temperatures. Their leaves will drop if it is too cold.
Crotons do not like to be moved. Often they will drop all of their leaves when they are introduced to a new environment. If this happens when the plant is first introduced to your home, do not assume it has died. Be patient and the leaves will grow back.
Light: The plants will need full sun or bright light for at least 12 hours a day.
Watering: Water the plant until water is thoroughly running through the bottom. If the plant is indoors it is easiest to do this in a bathtub to achieve the best watering. These plants also prefer a humid environment. Misting around the plant and placing it on a moist pebble tray can help keep proper humidity.
Soil Requirements: Crotons do well in a rich soil. Potting soil for house plants can be used starting off. Once the plant needs nutrients replenished, a generalized house plant formula of fertilizer will work. If you choose to repot a croton, the best time to do so is in the spring.
Tip cutting is the easiest form of propagation. The cuttings should be done in the spring and summer for best results. Seeds are another option. The seeds will yield the best results if grown indoors and kept around 75°-80° F.
United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resource Conservation
Service. 2015 http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=COVA3
Rhoades, Heather. "Croton Indoor Plant - Care of Croton Plants" Gardening
Know How. February 13, 2015.
page and photos by Erica Awalt