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There are few plants that offer the natural, striking coloration of Crotons. These thick leaved Euphorbia relatives are native to southeast Asia and are commonly used in outdoor planters. In parts of Africa, are used as windbreaks and even biofuel. As a houseplant, Crotons offer vibrant colors and relatively easy care. Many varieties of Croton are commonly seen for sale, offering different color combinations, textures and leaf shapes. Please note that Croton are not pet safe, and the sticky sap in their leaves and stems can cause skin, mouth and eye irritation and vomiting.
Croton do best in a well lit, bright area, with a few hours of direct sunlight throughout the day. The more direct sun a Croton receives, the better and more vibrant it's coloring will be. Shown above is the more common Croton 'Petra', with bright reds, oranges and yellows. Without enough sunlight, 'Petra' will fade out to almost all green.
For watering, Croton prefer and do best when they are kept evenly moist at all times. While they can tolerate drying out, it is best to prevent it from happening, and you certainly don't want to leave them dry for too long, as they will wilt and lose their leaves. An evenly moist soil is best, and a planter with drainage is a great option so that excess water does not pool at the the bottom of the pot, causing root issues. Check the soil every 3-4 days and water as needed. If the top inch or so of the soil is dry, your Croton could most likely use a drink. We find it best to check with your finger, as opposed to relying on a moisture meter. They can often times be quite inaccurate.
While it is not completely necessary, you can use a general purpose, high quality fertilizer from Spring through Fall. We recommend diluting the fertilizer to about 50% strength. Fish Head Farms soil conditioner is a great option to use year round to provide essential nutrients and promote strong, healthy growth.
A loose, well draining soil or soilless mix is ideal. A peat based mixture with lots of perlite, vermiculite or sand will do the trick. For a pre-mixed formula, we find that a Cactus/Succulent blend is perfect!
Croton are moderate growers, especially once they are established. We recommend repotting every year or 2, but only if they are noticeably pot bound. Even then, you only want to move up 2" or so in pot sizes to reduce stress. This should be done in the Spring or early Summer months. If you have just recently purchased your plant, do not repot it for at least 6 months.
Croton are great at tolerating lower humidity levels. As long as they remain moist and are given enough sunlight each day, Croton are easy going with other household conditions. Regular indoor temps and humidity levels are fine for Croton, while they can handle higher temperatures and humidity levels perfectly as well, making them great inside or out, in the Summer months.
The most common pest issues for Croton include Mealy Bugs and Red Spider Mites, however, Thrip and even Scale Bugs can cause issues. It is always best practice to isolate any new plants you bring in to your home for a few weeks to watch for little pests. For help and tips on prevention and treatment of pests, see our At Home Pest Recipes here!
If you have any more questions, or need further assistance, please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email!