A croton plant (Codiaeum variegatum pictum) was originally an outdoor, decorative bush growing in tropical regions where temperatures never went below 50°F (1o°C). Croton plants come in 100 different varieties and have become a very popular houseplant within the last 15-20 years. An indoor croton is an upright plant with beautiful, multicolored, hard, leathery, shiny leaves that come decorated in vivid patterns of red, yellow, green, orange, purple, and black. Leaf shapes can be long, short, narrow, wide, oval, curly, twisted, or oak- leaf. Individual leaves and entire croton plant branches can be used in flower arrangements.
Croton Plant Varieties
Croton “Petra” is the croton we most frequently see. It has wide, large, oval, vividly patterned leaves in yellow, red, green, orange, and other autumn colors.
Croton “Gold Dust” has smaller, shorter green leaves covered in yellow (gold) specks.
Croton Icetone (Red Iceton): This artistic looking croton variety has glossy, pointed, oval leaves that start out light green and yellow and then become pink and red as the plant matures.
Croton “Mammy” (Mamey): The croton mammy has long, narrow, curling and twisting leaves. The leaves are dark green with splashes of yellow, red, orange, and sometimes even some purple.
Croton Dreadlocks: The narrow, curly leaves of a croton “dreadlocks” hang down like bunches of long hair in colors ranging from dark green to red to green leaves with yellow specks.
Croton Revolution: The curling, narrow leaves of this croton are usually dark green with a few yellow dots.
C. Icetone C. Gold Dust C. Revolutions C. Mammy C. Dreadlocks
Croton Plant Problems
Leaf Loss: Can be caused by over watering, severe under watering, temperature too low
Loss of Leaf Color: Leaves may revert to all green when there is not enough light
Plants pests: If the color in the leaves looks faded, check for spider mites
A croton plant is a little temperamental and not as forgiving as some other houseplants; but are a bright addition to any home or office if you remember a few important are tips:
Warm temperature and high humidity if possible
Water less and do not fertilize in winter
Wash leaves often and examine for spider mites
Croton plants are poisonous and must be kept away from children, cats, dogs, and other pets. Read more about common houseplants that could harm children and pets in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
Croton leaf color develops best in a bright but cool location. Move your plant to a location that is not quite as warm and reduce the amount fertilizer you are using.
Croton plants are extremely poisonous houseplants. The sap from a Croton Plant will irritate your skin and stain your clothes. More importantly, a croton has a #3 toxicity level, which means ingesting any part of the plant can cause serious digestive and respiratory problems.
I recommend removing the croton flower and its stalk as soon as possible. Flowering hinders leaf production and the sap from the flowers may cause plant diseases and attract plant pests.
Since the roots are probably still intact, I think you may be able to save your croton. Cut the bare stems back to about 2” above the soil. Move your plant to a bright location and keep the barely soil moist but not soggy. Use a product called superthrive every time you water. Be patient, the plant should eventually look better than ever.
The fine webbing indicates that your croton has spider mites, a very harmful plant pest that sucks the color from the plant leaves. Spray your croton with the ” green solution.” This is a mixture of 1/2 water,1/2 alcohol, a few drops of mineral oil, and a few drops of biodegradable soap. Repeat the spraying in 10 days.