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Crotons are one of those plants that COULD be a beginner plant. They’re pretty chill and straightforward to look after.
I wouldn’t recommend them as a beginner plant, unless you’re only planning on getting the one plant.
They attract dust and spider mites like no other plant. The spider mites love their croton, and will. Not. Move.
Here is my Croton:
She lives on my bedside table, far away from all my other plants where she can’t bother them with her spider mites.
(She’s currently clean, though for how long, I don’t know.)
Where do Crotons come from?
Crotons are a large family, part of the Euphorbiaceae (or Euphorbia) family. Also referred to as the spurge family, which is a hilarious word. Spurge. I either love or hate that word, I can’t decide.
The typical Croton we see in the house plant trade is Codiaeum variegatum (that’s what the one in the picture above is). It’s native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and stretches of the western Pacific.
Where should I put my Croton?
Away. From. Other. Plants.
In my experience, they’re not too fussy about where they live. But it’s your best interest to assume that yours is already infested with spider mites and keep it in permanent isolation.
A good place to pop it would be in a bathroom window, preferably near the shower. Every week or so, shower it in tepid water to wash off any spider mites.
You may think I’ve overreacting. That’s fine. You do you. But I swear, they’re spider mite time bombs.
What kind of light do Crotons need?
You may notice that the new growth on my croton is green, whereas they’re typically more colourful. I think that’s because I keep it in medium light (though it gets a few hours of bright indirect light).
From what I’ve noticed, Crotons aren’t THAT fussy about light. They’ll thrive in bright light (though be careful not to let them burn) BUT they’ll still grow very well in medium light – you just won’t get the cool colours.
If you’re keeping your Croton in lower light and it isn’t growing, increasing the light could help.
What level of humidity do Crotons need?
Crotons come from pretty humid conditions in the wild, but they also have quite thick, waxy leaves, so ambient humidity is fine. If the humidity in your home is less than 40%. consider a humidifier if you notice the leaves start to drop.
Crotons are one the few plants that I would recommend misting regularly. Regularly dampening the leaves will blast of dust and make a less hospitable environment for spider mites.
How to water Crotons
I water my Croton when the lower leaves start to wilt. They do get crispy leaves (and drop leaves) if they get too dry, but they recover well.
Mine is upstairs, so it gets watered with water straight from the tap. I let it dry out quite a bit then put some water in the cache pot, put the nursery pot back in and let the Croton bottom water like that.
How to fertilise Crotons
So I googled this to find the ‘ideal’ fertilising suggestion and their dozens of articles, all with conflicting advice. For every article that recommends a high nirogen feed, another recommend low nitrogen.
So, I’ll just tell you what I do, which is apply a very diluted seaweed fertiliser to damp soil every six weeks.
Pests common to Crotons
Erm, spider mites.
I think we’ve covered this.
The key to getting rid of spider mites is consistency. Keep washing the leaves every few days for, er, months. I know – it’s a ballache.
You could try a miticide, but I’ve never found one that worked particularly well. Systemic granules like Bonide come highly recommended, but they don’t sell them here in the UK, so I can’t really vouch for their effectiveness.
What potting mix do Croton need?
Mine is still in the nursery pot and I’ve had it 18 months!
When it comes to repotting, if I were repotting into soil I’d use my standard soil mix but I’m going to try my Croton in leca because it makes pest care easier (because they’re easier to shower, not because leca inherently reduces pests)
What type of pot do Croton need?
This really depends on what type of plant carer you are. I’m an underwaterer, so I’ll steer clear of terracotta, but if you’re a bit of an overwater, go for a plastic pot. From what I can tell, they don’t have particularly vigorous root systems, so you may not need to repot for a while
How to propagate Croton
The easiest way to propagate croton is by taking a stem cutting. It’d probably be easiest to just lop a section of the stem of the top, making sure you have at least three leaves to increase the chances of rooting. Pop the cutting in water or soil and wait as long as it takes.
Are Crotons toxic?
Yes BUT they’re only toxic when ingested and apparently taste rank, so accidental poisonings are rare.
Also, be careful when taking cuttings because the sap can cause skin irritation.
- Used as ornamental hedges in places that don’t drop lower than 10C. Nice
- There are several hundred cultivars
- They bloom! The flowers look rather like a snake plant flower.
- You can encourage a bushier Croton by pruning back the new growth