Croton (scientific name: Codiaeum variegatum) is a perennial herb and shrub from the plant family Euphorbiaceae. Croton’s name is derived from a Greek word, krótos, meaning tick. It has more than 100 species with varying colors and shapes, but Garden-Croton is widely used indoors.
Its leaves resemble tick symbols and are of varied-colors. It has greenish to fiery flame-colored leaves that attract attention. According to Farmers Almanac, they attain a height of 10 feet outdoors, and indoors they are much smaller with rosette pattern, making them a good houseplant.
Perennial plants are plants whose life-cycle is more than 2 years, and in botanical terms, it refers to the plants which have no woody parts. Therefore, mostly shrubs and herbs. Crotons generally perform best in a mixture of peat moss and organic moss.
Crotons require bright light to sustain their growth. They should be placed near the brightest light source. Inadequate light will cause it to shed its leaves and die. Over time, they get large and heavier; therefore, larger pots or containers should be used to plant them to avoid tipping over.
Like other plants, crotons also require regular watering to thrive. During summer and spring months, these should be kept moist but not soggy as this is the premier time for their growth. Excessive water would cause it to root-rot, whereas less water would dry the plant. Optimum watering can be done by supervising the soil and weather conditions.
Being tropical, these plants do well in warmer temperatures. Experts at Ambius suggest that it should be kept between 20°C-26°C. Sudden cold or heat spells would disturb the growth of the plant. When the temperature rises indoors, its leaves should be sprinkled with water to adjust changes.
Crotons can endure humidity quite well. Their tropical nature allows them to be indulgent with a 40%-80% humidity, with 70% being the optimum. Humidity can be boosted by misting and placing them in a rather humidified area, e.g., bathroom.
An occasional dosage of 18-6-12 fertilizer can be useful in tremendous growth. 18-6-12 fertilizer is composed of 18% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 12% potassium. Garden Lovers Club suggests that fertilizer should be fed in spring, early summer, and mid-summer. Feeding in months of winter and fall isn’t advised.
This plant is toxic to ingestion. The milky sap in it can cause nausea and general ingestion problems leading to vomiting. One has to be careful about curious pets and children as it can cause fatal issues in small pets and toddlers.
Crotons have an exceptional ability to combat volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that causes eyes, nose, throat irritation, shortness of breath, and cancer cells’ growth. If one lives near an industrial area, high VOCs concentrations can cause fatal problems of the lungs and kidneys. This plant is the best natural remedy to beat it.
Like many plants, spring is the best time to repot them. These could be repotted every two years with a container one size larger than the previous for continuous growth. Utmost gentle handling is required; otherwise, there’s a chance that they could dry.
These don’t require additional care other than the essential water, light, and soil requirements. Croton leaves attract dust. They should be gently cleaned. Furthermore, it’s recommended that once placed in bright sunlight, these shouldn’t be moved. Relocating crotons causes shock, which could result in dry-out or falling of leaves.
Crotons face a few issues that are described below.
- Limping and drooping of leaves
- Dust magnets
Crotons don’t catch any serious diseases, but they are prone to the following conditions.
- Pesticides (mealybugs, spider mites, and caterpillar)
- Fungal and bacterial issues
To avoid these, one should always keep an eye on the leaves. If pests-attack is caught in the early stages, it can be cleaned using cotton-balls dipped in rubbing alcohol. Otherwise, if the attack spreads, it is advised that the planting-container should be changed immediately. The application of pesticides and fungicides can also eliminate the damage.
Corresponding to other houseplants, crotons also require appropriate light, temperature, and water. Their beautiful multiple-colored leaves emerging from the rosette add elegance to the beauty of the house. Their natural ability to reduce VOCs is a decisive factor in adopting this plant.