All about the Croton
Despite the fact that its name sounds like something you’ll hear in a space movie, the croton plant is an incredibly varied houseplant, mesmerizing everyone with its thick, leathery leaves that have a shiny surface and that grow in a wide variety of colors ranging from red, yellow, green, orange, cream, pink and black to a combination of all these.
The name ‘croton’ is derived from the Greek language, which means tick in reference to the croton seed that looks like a tick in shape. The croton plant goes by the names of Garden Croton and Variegated Croton. It is scientifically known as Codiaeum variegatum.
Different types of the Croton
Analogized on the basis of foliage’s shape and color, croton is classified into more than 100 varieties. Most need bright light spots and moist soil to bloom and are very pleasing to look at. Here are a few of its types:
- Croton lechleri
- Croton alabamensis
- Woolly croton
- Croton eluteria
- Croton conduplicatus
Origin of the Croton
Croton is a flowering plant, a member of the Crotoneae family called Euphorbiaceae- also known as the Spurge family. It transcends across a wide band from India via Indonesia to South-East Asia and is also native to Moluccas.
How to (generally) take care of a Croton
The croton plant has a reputation for being finicky, but in reality, if you’re properly aware of what this plant needs to be happy, it can make for a resilient and tough-to-kill plant. Let’s find out how you can do that:
Watering a croton plant is a delicate science. It is fond of frequent watering and moist soil but can’t stand overwatering. Too much water can cause its roots to rot, but too little water can dry it out. You can use the appearance of croton’s foliage as an indicator of its water needs.
If the leaves are wilting, it is a sign of overwatering, whereas falling off or drying out of the lower leaves confirms under-watering. Keep the soil moist, but water only when the top half-inch to an inch of the soil is dry to the touch.
Water the plant frequently during the growing summer and spring seasons and reduce it to biweekly during the dormant winter season.
Like many houseplants, the croton plant likes to be placed in a spot where its lightning, soil, temperature, and humidity requirements are intact. Have a look at the following specifications if you’re having trouble in choosing a good location for your croton:
- Sunlight exposure: Croton will need lots of bright, indirect, or partial shade light to maintain those stunning multicolored leaves. As houseplants, you can place them in front of eastern, southern, or western windows where maximum bright light is available or even under artificial grow lights.
If your croton doesn’t get adequate light, it may lose its vibrancy and will grow tall and lanky with spare leaves lacking the rich, dark hues.
- Soil necessities: Croton likes a well-draining soil rich with lots of organic material. You can use a combination of organic compost and peat moss with an ideal range of soil pH levels between 4.5-6.5 pH.
- Temperature requirements: Being tropical in nature, croton is fond of warm environments. A temperature range of 15-21°C is ideal for this plant. Degrees below this range or exposure to drafts and cold areas like a windowpane in winters can be lethal for the plant and may cause it to shed its leaves.
- Humidity preferences: Croton prefers an ample amount of humidity. Keep the moisture levels at 40-80 percent, otherwise, the plant may drop some of its leaves. Daily or weekly misting and running a humidifier will serve to boost the humidity levels at your home.
Fertilization generously boosts the growth of croton. A general houseplant fertilizer, such as an 8-2-10 mix that is high in nitrogen and potassium, would suffice for croton.
You can feed it once in the active growing seasons with a pattern of once in early spring, once in early summer, and again in mid-summer. There’s no need to feed it during the dormant winter seasons.
Croton is one of those generous houseplants that purify the surrounding air like a champ! Its wildly variegated leaves absorb the toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
It may have breathtaking foliage, but it is definitely more than what anyone bargains for. Croton plants are toxic to both humans and animals. It emits a milky sap from broken stems that can lead to contact dermatitis in humans. Swallowing of the sap may cause ingestion distress with chances of mouth irritation in dogs, cats, and children.
Propagating a Croton Plant
Croton propagation is pretty simple and can be easily achieved. It can’t grow well from the seed, as the plant becomes unstable, and the result is different from the parent plant. Only stem cuttings can produce an identical plant to the parent plant that can be potted up independently.
To perform stem cuttings, you need to first create a subtle stem cut (about 7-10 cm) from the top of your plant and place it in the soil to grow roots. Keep in mind that this growth will require a warm temperature; thus, you will need to create a greenhouse atmosphere for it to grow. You can do this by covering the plant with a plastic bag. Additionally, make sure the new soil is moist.
Under these conditions, croton will most likely grow roots in a month, after which you can transplant it elsewhere. As the new plant matures, it will develop its usual vibrant colors.